You’ve decided to go on your first bike tour, but it’s likely you’ve never had to pack for a trip quite like this before. Longer tours and bagging require more gear and more specialised gear, while shorter tours are a little bit easier to wing.
If you have a tendency to pack too many clothes, it’s a good time to break that habit. Even if you’re having your clothing transported for you on your tour you still don’t want to pack and unpack huge bags every day. For a week long bike tour I will typically bring the following for clothing:
2-3 bike jerseys
1 long-sleeve baselayer
1 cycling jacket (preferably waterproof)
2-3 pairs of bike shorts or pants
1 pair of cleat shoes
3 pairs of cycling socks
3 pairs of underwear
2 sports bras
1 pair of cycling gloves
1 pair of sunglasses
1 cycling hat
1 dress to change into when I get to camp
Adjust these items according to the weather on the tour you are taking. Typically two pairs of any item is enough, as you can hand wash the used item with water and have it dry while you are riding the next day.
Camping supplies are another major factor on a bike tour, and you can get fancy or keep things simple. For camping I would suggest bringing the following:
1 lightweight tent
1 ground tarp
1 light sleeping bag (according to weather)
1 camp pad
If you’re on a tour where you will have to cook your own food you will also want to bring a lightweight camp stove, camp dishes and flatware. For the most part I have either been served food on my bike tours or been able to purchase food along the way.
Hopefully you’re used to carrying some tools on your bike so you’re prepared for any length of ride, but there are a few extra things you’ll want to consider when going on a bike tour.
1-2 spare tubes
1 small tyre pump
1 patch kit
2-4 bungee cords or compression straps (to attach items to the top of your bike rack)
In addition to the basic items you might want to bring some entertainment for the trip like books, paper, pens and a radio for playing music while riding. Solar chargers are available for charging electronics on your bike and you can get a variety of bike speakers for your phone or iPod. It can be tempting to get all of the gear, but keep in mind that more stuff means more packing and more carrying. Keep your packing list thorough, but simple, to ensure an enjoyable tour.
About Terra Ash Bruxvoort
Terra Ash Bruxvoort is a twenty-something Des Moines, Iowa, USA, based cyclist and writer. She was the last person in her second grade class to learn how to ride a bike, and didn’t fall in love with the sport until her sophomore year of college. She started out riding trails, became a bike commuter, started touring and eventually raced time trials. She’s been riding almost daily (even through the freezing Iowa winters!) for five years. You can read her musings on nature, raw foods and minimalism at Modern Girl Walden (moderngirlwalden.wordpress.com) and her observations on bike commuting on Twitter @bikecommprobs.