When planning what to bring on a bike tour, gear is not the least of your concerns. Luggage may not be as exciting as your choice of route or companions. However, preparing thoughtfully for your trip can make the difference between comfort and a grueling slog, or between a minor hiccup or a total breakdown. With our combined touring experience here at the shop, we’ve learned what works for us. It can be incredibly valuable to make a checklist in order to help prepare for your tour. Ultimately what you decide to bring will depend on the style and length of your trip, as well as your personal traveling preferences.
What to Bring on a Bike Tour
The first decision to make is how much you are willing to “rough it”. If you will be biking from hotel to hotel and eating in restaurants, a credit card will be your most important piece of equipment. If you’re riding farther afield and camping, you’ll need carry everything you’ll need. Keep things you’ll need during your ride in smaller bags or in jersey pockets. Otherwise you’ll be digging through your panniers looking for your squished banana.
- Water bottles: 2-3 can be mounted on your bike. Crushable bottles like Platypus are good for extra water storage if you’ll be riding long stretches between water sources.
- Money and Identification (I like to keep it in a small plastic bag in my jersey pocket)
- Phone, charger, and any foreign sim cards or solar panels you may need to make it work
- Basic first aid kit
- Toiletries (still important to brush teeth on a bike tour!)
- Any other comfort items (like chamois butter)
And last but certainly not least…
- Food! Even if you’ll mostly be eating out, you’ll want riding snacks to keep your energy up. Maybe even something to put in your water. See this post for suggestions on eating well during a tour.
Unless you are doing a supported ride with a follow car to pick you up, you’ll need to be self-reliant. At the minimum, you will need to be able to fix flat tires and tighten/loosen all bolts on your bike. If riding with others, you will probably only need one set of tools between you, with the exception of tubes.
- Spare tubes: 2 or more(make sure they are the correct size for your tires, especially if you have different tire sizes)
- Tire Levers: 2 or 3
- Patch kit
- Mini pump (we reccomend Topeak Morph pumps)
- Set of hex keys, in a multi-tool or separate (check every bolt on your bike to make sure you have a tool that fits it)
- Lock (U locks are the most secure, but heavy. If you’ll mostly be stopping in rural areas or are riding in a group, a cable lock will probably suffice.)
For longer or more remote riding, consider bringing extra tools. Hopefully you won’t need them often, or at all, but the little extra weight can pay off when stranded in the middle of nowhere.
- Extra spokes: at least one per wheel (each wheel side requires a different spoke length, so make sure you have the correct lengths!
- Spoke wrench (also wheel-specific)
- Chain breaker (included in some multi-tools)
- Spare tire (foldable tires are much easier to carry)
- Duct tape (I like to wrap it around my water bottle so I don’t need to bring the whole roll, but you could use your seatpost or anything else)
- Small bottle of bike lubricant
- Lights, especially if you’re not riding during summer
- More general tools like pliers, knife, screwdrivers, etc. – a lightweight multi-tool is a great way to get most of these functions in one small package.
- Cable Ties – For some of our staff, cable ties are the new Duct tape, and very useful in a pinch!
Is this all I should bring on my bike tour? No… But, these are just the most bike-specific things you’ll need to pack. You’ll find our checklist for other supplies including camping gear, clothing, and more in our soon to come post Touring Checklist: What to Bring on a Bike Tour Pt. 2.