Before I continue on to parts II and III of my 2019 tour summary, I thought I’d pause after part I to review my packing list and general thinking behind the setup I used for all my gear.
Because one of the most daunting tasks in tour preparation involves turning a big pile of collected gear:
Into a pared down setup that fits, is reasonably balanced, not too heavy, and is somewhat organized. It’s more or less a camping-friendly version of this.
I labeled the general locations of items on my Instagram stories (see next few photos). This setup worked for me given my particular trip itinerary, preferences and expected terrain, but will continue to evolve as I go on more tours and try out more gear.
I generally kept my gear divided this way during my entire trip, with a few items discarded along the way. I tend to bring clothing that’s at the end of its run vs. brand new, nice stuff after losing a favorite pair of cycling shorts on my last tour (don’t hang clothing up to dry when you stop for lunch, you will forget it). Overall I’m pretty happy with what I packed; the only things I didn’t use were my bear spray and my emergency blanket, but both of those are nice to have for peace of mind, and you can usually find a way to pass them on to other travelers at the end of your trip and pay it forward.
I more or less kept my gear organized by actions or activities, so that I could easily grab what I needed for campsite setup, or leave entire panniers in a garage if I had a warm showers host.
In an ideal setup, I’d have more weight distributed toward the front of the bike to make it less back heavy. It’s important to stay within the weight recommendations of your rear rack, so if I was carrying more water and food on tour I would add a front rack or put bottle mounts on my front fork. As was the case for my bike and gear that I had, sometimes it’s easier and perfectly manageable to load up the rear and strap the tent to the front. Not having a whole lot loaded on your front also has the perk of easier steering, and I find it’s easier to carry weight in the back. Next time, however, I’ll be using the Salsa Anything Cradle for easier mounting of my tent to the front, and will update with whether I feel it’s worth the $$.
Items marked with a * double as items I use for day to day commuting and producing less waste back home. That’s mostly to show that despite what looks like a huge shopping list, to go from commuting to bike touring I mostly had to focus on my sleep setup, cooking needs, and packing the right clothes.
PoCampo Kinga Handlebar Bag* (use code “My-PoCampo” for 10% off!)
Spare Cycling seatbag*
Ortlieb Waterproof City Roller Panniers* (different sizes and colors available, but Ortliebs all the way!)
(unknown brand) expandable trunk bag, similar idea here
rear rack* (mine is a slimmer style and disc brake compatible)
Bike Lock* (I used an Ottolock for this trip since it’s light and small, but you could do more security if you’re going to be spending time in cities or higher risk areas. I like using the Ottolock for road rides when at home for short lunch or coffee stops)
Front and Rear Lights* (I use my front light as a flashlight at camp; the rear light I linked is pricier than many others but has great daytime visibility and the charge lasts awhile, so I’m quite partial to it)
Stuff sacks and dry bags for organizing clothes, food, etc.
(in lieu of an inflatable pillow, I used my clothing in a stuff sack)
2 pairs wool socks
giro helmet* (same model, different color here)
wool baselayers (wore as pajamas)
rain pants* (I have the basic REI version and they do the job, but this pair gets much better ratings. I would recommend getting cycling specific ones that are more tailored around the ankles since baggier pants tend to get stuck in your chain.)
3 riding outfits
sun sleeves and gloves (the cyclist tan is cute and all, but seriously you will roast. summerweight sleeves will keep you cool as well on summer tours)
hat* (I have this one that fits easily under a helmet, and the brim is much better than a road cycling cap for keeping sun and rain off your face)
1 casual off the bike outfit
1 pair lightweight sandals (xero shoes are great if you want to go super lightweight; bedrock sandals if you like more support)
underwear and sports bras
coconut oil (tons of uses)
first aid kit
Light My Fire double ended spork*
Portable Camping Stove (but I just got a JetBoil for Christmas and can’t wait to use it!!)
Lightweight Camping Cookware Set
MSR or similar brand fuel canisters (sold at most outdoor retailers; remember not to fly with them!)
MSR Trailshot water filter
Collapsible silicone mug*
Small vial of olive oil
Snacks: including granola bars, dried fruit, cookies, candy, trail mix
Food/Meals – including Beans and Rice mix, mac & cheese, oatmeal, instant coffee
Water bottles* (3)
GoPro Hero (I have the 5, newer ones are now sold)
backup battery pack*
iPhone with Quadlock Case and mount* – check out this post for why I love my Quadlock, and use code ‘REBEL10’ for 10% off!
I’m sure I forgot something in this list, so let me know if I left you wondering about anything! I’ll update this post if I need to make additions/clarifications.
Legal stuff disclaimer: I generously received a discount on my Big Agnes gear through my 2019 ACA Award with Adventure cycling. I am a brand ambassador for PoCampo bags and receive a discount on their items as well. I received additional Quadlock Case mounts for writing a review as an addict of their products. Amazon links are affiliate links.