Bike Touring & Bikepacking List Breakdown
A How To Guide On Packing
Planning for bike touring and bikepacking trips are the best. It can be very strategic or effortless. Over the years I’ve developed a decent, and streamline way to developing a list and packing my gear. Some things to consider are duration, location, terrain, and weather. By designing your packing list around these four essential variables you will begin to see things fall into place. I tend to lay out all my gear on my floor a few days before departure. This can change based on the length of the trip. For extended touring/ bikepacking more than two weeks, always plan ahead.
Types of ways to packing gear
Packing your gear can be achieved in 2 different ways, using pannier bags and bikepacking bags.
Panniers, provides you with enough space to pack gear in the front and rear of the bicycle over an extended period of time. This is a traditional bicycle touring format that is widely used for on-road adventures and mounts to the bicycle racks installed on your bike. You can also use the top of the bicycle rack for mounting a bag and storing more gear and other paraphilia.
Bikepacking bags, give you more of a compact way to travel and at a faster speed. Your setup can become lighter which leads you to pack less or the same in a more strategic way. Your overall setup becomes more balanced with bikepacking bags and you, in turn, are more agile when traveling in backcountry or remote areas. Bikepacking bags are made from durable ripstop and waterproof materials. The three essential parts needed is the handlebar bag, frame bag, and seat bag.
These 3 main components will store your sleeping system, food, water and much more. You can also attach accessories around the bike such as water bottle holders, small pouches that fit and mount to the handlebar bag on the back and more. I have over the years, transitioned from traditional touring panniers to a full bikepacking setup. However, it all depends on where you are going, length of travel, and personal preference.
I remember my first bike touring trip when I road across the country from New York to California, which took me 75 days to complete. I brought the entire kitchen sink with me and used traditional pannier bags for my setup. An image of what that looked like is seen below. Since then I’ve lightened up my gear after going on several shorter trips in the U.S. I think everyone on their first tour tends to bring everything they can in hope to not forget anything. But what I’ve learned is to pack whatever you need and then cut it in half.
Packing for a bike trip is very much similar to packing for a camping trip, except your going to need a few extras like tubes, tools and perhaps an extra tire if you are going on the long haul. My packing list essentials below will give you insight for packing for a bicycle tour and bikepacking trips where you will be either off-road or in more remote areas.
Here is what I brought with me on a 3-day bicycle touring trip in Virginias Blue Ridge Mountains. These items were stored in pannier bags and attached to racks in the front and rear of the bicycle.
Ricoh GR (This is my go to camera for street photography and highly recommend it.)
Cycling Jersey/ Big
Cycling shoes/ Altra running shoes
Pump/Tube/Patch kit/Tire levers
Allen key set
(Hilieberg Akto Tent
Seirra Designs Sleeping Bag
Snow Peak 3 Piece Titanim Cookset
Map/ GPS (The unit I have is the Garmin eTrex 30 which is on sale on my online store. Great unit that uses AA batteries)
This is a bikepacking setup that I used for a 3 day bikepacking trip in Vermont. These items were all packed in my Revelate Designs bikepacking saddle and handlebar bags you see in the image.
EcoPro 50 Degree Synthetic Sleeping Bag
Thermarest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad
Clothing on bike
Endura MTB Shorts
Merrell Wicking Tech Shirt
Clothing in tent/ sleeping
Patagonia Nano Puff
1 Pair Merino Wool Socks
1 Pair Tech Boxer Short
Snowpeak 3-piece Titanium Cookset
Point & Shoot
Mobile Phone (Maps)
Finally, is my older setup with pannier bags wrapped around the bike. The image of all the gear and packing essentials I brought with me are below.
Schwalbe marathon folding tire, tripod, camp stove/pot/pan, spork, bowl/ fuel, solar panel, Konovo slide cam, flannel shirt, thermal pants, jeans, bib shorts, cycling jersey, tent,
Camera/ solar panel cables in Ziploc, 13” MacBook Pro in Pelican case, audio recorder, microphone, GoPro Hero 3 Black, studio headphones, tripod head, ultimate lithium batteries, gps, G-Drive mini, first aid, spare tube, Yactclub Zines/Promo material, passport.
Rain Jacket, 2 pairs waterproof shorts, dessert boots, North Face soft shell , boxers helmet, sneakers, Patagonia Nano Puff, sleeping pad.
Hand pump, tire levers, allen wrenh set, chain lube, chain breaker, mechanic grease, wrenh, dual screw driver
Items not pictured: camp towl, shovel, bike locks, headlamp, front/ rear bike lights, knife, pepper spray, watch, water bottles/ canteens
My rigs setup for bikepacking and touring over multiple trips
I hope this article provides value for you. If you have questions about bicycle touring and bikepacking contact me for a personal 1 & 1 consultation and I can offer you value on getting you started from selecting the right bike and equipment.