Joe (bostonsteamer) wrote,

Bike Touring Pack List

I got in touch with Robert from because I wanted to see his packing list. After checking out the mileage this guy has racked up, I knew he'd have a great answer to the question "what to pack for a long bike tour?"

Below is his list (sent to me via email, Copyright Robert)

Packing for a bike ride is different from camping or backpacking because there are usually stores, bike shops and places to eat along the way (depending on where you're going!).


  • Helmet
  • Sunscreen
  • Light sleeping bag
  • Small tent
  • Sleeping pad, ridgerest and/or self-inflating sleeping pad. Usually I bring both. (Ridgerest is light and other pad offers more thickness.)
  • A lot of socks. Maybe 7 pairs or so.
  • Underwear [ed: how many pairs?]
  • 2 changes of shirts and pants. I like long-sleeve to protect against sunburn. This means less surface area to put sunblock on.
  • Warm jacket or sweater
  • Wind breaker for riding in cool mornings and/or a light rain coat and/or something bright like a reflective vest to be seen by traffic. [ed: one article of clothing can fulfill all 3 requirements]
  • I put many clothing items in a cloth sack and then that doubles as a pillow at night.
  • For water proofing, I have some garbage bags to put things in and then put the covered items in panniers. Most days are dry so the garbage bags aren't needed. They can be folded up into a small space.


  • 1 or 2 spare tire tubes
  • Small patch kit for redundancy and for fixing a gash in the outer tire, if I get one on rare occasion.
  • Tire irons
  • Pump
  • All-in-one type tool often found in bike shops. It usually has several allen wrenches and two screw drivers, regular and phillips head.
  • Pocket knife.
  • (optional) Spoke wrench and small crescent wrench.

Other items:

  • Toothbrush/floss/bandaids
  • Camera
  • Radio. I listen through speakers rather than headphones. Also good for use during camping. I love listening to different stations as I travel through the areas.
  • I even have a big AM antenna booster called the Select-A-Tenna. Boosts fringe AM signals and isn't too heavy. Most folks would feel it was unnecessary.
  • Last few trips, I brought an MP3 player with energetic music for hill climbs. I only use one ear piece. Not both, so my traffic-side ear can hear traffic. I don't turn it up too loud. Sometimes I cut off second ear piece, or just use something to hold it to cord so it doesn't flop around.
  • Prepaid cell phone that I buy minutes for just before trip. I don't normally use a cell phone, but it is great on the trip.
  • Sheet of paper with contacts, addresses and so forth for people you wish to be in contact with.
  • Bank card. Also I bring a checkbook. Some campgrounds want exact change and there is no one around to make change and no park ranger handy. Just a self-pay box. Then I write a check if I don't have exact change. Most campgrounds take checks.
  • Some folks bring a laptop computer for taking advantage of Wi-Fi connections to check email.
  • Red rear blinker in case you ride at night.

Other tips:

  • Stop at laundromats to do laundry along the way.
  • Put Green Slime tube sealer in the tire tubes. [ed: I've read mixed reviews about products like these]
  • Tools can be heavy and there are often bike shops along the way. The big crescent wrench needed to remove peddles before putting your bike in a box (e.g. to take it on a train) is available in most bike shops.
  • Your LED bicycle light can be removed from the handlebars and doubles as flashlight.
  • Buy snack food such as apples and cartons of chocolate milk along the way.
  • Don't cook or bring much food. I eat in a lot of restaurants along the way. [ed: this would save on weight but at an added expense...on the other hand, it might be worth the cost to taste the local flavors along the way]
  • If you don't bring a laptop, one can find computer access in many public libraries. Libraries in small towns can keep limited hours.
  • Get maps along the way.
Tags: bike
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