Use this bike touring packing list as a guide for exactly what you should bring on a short tour, or a starting point for a longer tour.
When we first started cycle touring in 2013, we read all the packing lists, bought a bunch of specialized gear, and then overloaded our bikes with way too much stuff!
Overpacking is practically a cycle touring rite of passage. I’ve never heard of anybody who wished they’d brought MORE stuff on their first bike tour!
We hope this bike touring packing list inspires you to minimize what you take on your bike trip. If it’s your first time, you’ll still pack too much, but maybe not WAY too much, like we did.
Before we’d even been on the road for one month, we started leaving items behind, donating a coffee cup here and a spare t-shirt there until our loads were lightened a little. We kept leaving more stuff behind throughout our 2-year bike trip, until, while cycling in China, we were able to shrink our bags down to 2 large back panniers and 4 small front ones.
This leaner, lighter set-up made everything easier on our trip. We could go further each day and climb mountains more easily. It also made hopping on busses or trains a little easier.
It still wasn’t easy… here’s how it normally goes when we try to get our bikes on a train.
It also taught us how little we actually need in our lives to make us comfortable, warm, safe, and happy.
That, my friends, is possibly the biggest lesson of bike touring.
Though this bike tour packing list was for a week-long bike trip on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast, I would not pack significantly differently for a longer tour – though I would bring more bike tools and more underwear! I can fit all of this into two Ortlieb Back Roller panniers and a 32L kayaking dry bag strapped to my back rack.
The picture above shows how I set my rear end up ;), though I no longer carrier front panniers.
Bike Tour Packing List
Wool cycling socks x2 pairs
Wool camp socks
Underwear x1 (luxury)
Sports bras x2
Cycling shorts x1 pairs
Loose shorts x1 pair
Tank top x1
Long-sleeve Merino shirt
Showers Pass rain jacket
Fall weight jacket
This guide to bike touring shoes will help you decide what to bring.
Allen keys (all sizes for bike parts)
Spare chain link
Spare brake cables
Spare gear cables
Cycling safety glasses
Big Agnes Copper Spur Tent
Camp pillow (luxury)
Trangia Camp Stove
Water bag (4L)
Swiss army knife (w corkscrew & can opener)
Tupperware containers x2
Camp plates x2
Bamboo cutlery set
Spice mixes (1 Italian spice mix, 1 Mexican spice mix)
Granola (home made)
Ramen (emergency rations)
Granola bars (home made)
MacBook power cord
Olympus OM-D EM5 Camera
All camera kit (spare battery, power cord, spare lens etc)
iPhone with Kindle & books installed
External hard drive + cable
Spare cash (hidden)
Toothbrush, paste, floss
Mini first-aid kit
Toilet paper (luxury)
Our biggest tip for packing for a bike tour is to only bring the items you deem “must-have”. If something is in the category of “would be nice” or “maybe” leave it behind. If you’re going on a long tour and are really concerned about not having certain essential items, leave all your “maybe” items behind with a friend.
Then, if you run into problems, you can always have them sent in the mail to where ever you are in the world. Chances are, you will never need to do it though.
If you’re not sure about what pack or have any questions about the items on this list, just post in the comments and we’ll give you a quick answer.