Hit the Open Road With Ease: A Packing Guide for Bike Touring

A quick guide of everything you need on your long-distance bicycle tour

Bike touring is an exciting prospect. Hitting the road and getting from place to place with the simple motion of pedaling of your feet. But if you are heading out on that long-distance adventure, being prepared is key. And packing can be a difficult feat. You do not want to over-pack, adding weight to your haul, but you don’t want to be ill prepared.

Related: What is a Touring Bicycle?

What you need will depend on where you are headed, the road conditions, and how long your trip is, but here is a basic guide to what you will need on the road, for any type of tour.  

1. Panniers. Determine what type of pannier you would like to travel with. A pannier is the pair of bags that commonly is setup by mounting on the rear carrier, or a set of smaller ones on a low rider. Today, there are many different types of bicycle panniers that are designed to hold laptops, clothing, shoes, or even food. For long touring, it is good to have a set of waterproof or water-repellent panniers. Otherwise, most sets include separate or built in rain-covers.

2. Racks. Make sure you have the appropriate front and rear racks to store your panniers.

3. Handlebar bag. Use the extra space on your handlebars to store more of your things. The handlebar bag is also easily accessible, so you can store things that you may want to grab as you ride.

4. Seat bag. If you need even more packing space, a seat bag is a smaller pack that can hold necessary items, like a spare tube, patch kit, and other small gear.

And packed in those bags, you will need a number of things. Depending on if you plan on staying at hotels, buying food on the road or cooking it yourself, this list can differ for everyone. But here are a few things everyone should have in their packs.

- Sunglasses

- Extra tubes

- Tire Levers

- Headlights/Tail Lights

- 2 Water bottles (in water bottle holders)

- Patch kit

- Spare brake and shift cable

- Spare spoke

- Bike Pump

- Bicycle Multi-Tool

- Bungee Cords

- Bike lock

- Toiletries

- Clothing. Bike shorts, jersey, bike shoes, rain gear, gloves, arm warmers, etc.

- Battery chargers

- Duct tape

- Travel towel.

- Cooking supplies (if cooking on the road)

- Camping/sleeping supplies (if camping on the road)

For a lighter load, stick to lightweight gear options and less clothing. Clothing can always be washed. Also, limit the amount of food you take, it can be a great reason to try some local cuisine as you tour. And be wary of carrying too many electronics, they can add weight, and extra stress from worry. Most importantly, remember all your bike gear and tools. These will come in handy if any problems arise when you are stuck in the middle of a long highway.