Cycle Touring Gear List

*** Caveat.. this is now a really old list. I haven’t got around to updating it for most recent bike travels. There is an update that’s more minimal – link here  that’s also not quite bang up to date but may be useful…***

This is the latest iteration of my packing list as of March 2011… this is what I carried in the Andes. You could go lighter, I was geared for rain, sub-zero temperatures and high winds. For a shorter, fairer weather trips a small bivy or tarp tent would be perfect, as would a lighter sleeping mat and you could leave out some clothing and the tarp… and some other stuff of course depending on where you’re going… water filter for example.

I have listed by bag/pannier as it might show that that there is some logic to my bike packing.. maybe. So this is what my bike looks like on a cycling day.. (where I have reviewed a bit of kit elsewhere on this site I have hyperlinked to the relevant page). This lot weighs about 21kg including the panniers themselves, but not including food. I could go lighter easily but experience has shown that on a long trip the extra luxury of a bit more gear is quite welcome, and 21kg is still very light compared to most folk I meet who are often carrying 30kg or more. As a general rule of thumb if I cannot lift my bike (with food and water on-board) with one arm then I have too much.. the logic being that you may find yourself in a situation of having to negotiate rivers, drop-offs (for example between Lago O’Higgins and El Chalten here) or load/unload your bike from trains, boats, buses or trucks quickly, and especially if there are thieves around as is often the case in cities it is nice to be able to manhandle the lot all as one…

Me (typically) from head downwards:

  • Bell Volt crash hat or baseball cap
  • Sunnies…inexpensive (yet stylish, haha) ones because I invariably trash sunglasses by the end of an expedition..
  • Buff to keep sun off neck/neck warm…
  • Labgear long sleeve merino top – baselayer/riding shirt
  • Cycling mitts
  • Padded cycling shorts, not bibs, as liners for…
  • Endura Zyme 3/4 length baggies (in Camo :-)
  • Alpkit coolmax socks
  • Specialized Pro MTB shoes, a standout bit of kit… thoroughly knackered by now.. glued in Salta and again in Bolivia.. and again in Patagonia… but with around 10000 difficult km on the clock and still going..

Rear right pannier:

  • Rab Quantum Endurance 400 sleeping bag in an Alpkit waterproof roll-top stuffsac
  • Thermarest Prolite 4 sleeping mat
  • Silk sleeping bag liner
  • Thermerest fleece ‘pillow case’ – a fleece stuffsac that I use as a pillow stuffed with clothes
  • Integral Designs Siltarp – ultralight tarpaulin
  • Clothes bag – Alpkit waterproof roll-top bag with..
    • 2 pairs bamboo boxers
    • 1 other pair of cycling undershorts
    • 2 lightweight merino short sleeve baselayers
    • Specialized roubaix legwarmers
    • another pair of Alpkit socks
    • woolly hat
    • light cargo trousers (webbing belt)
    • cotton shirt for those rare times I want to look reasonably civilised ;-)
    • Montane microweight fleece top
    • light fleece tights/longjohns
  • Spanish dictionary

Front Right Pannier:

  • MSR Hyperflow waterfilter
  • MSR Titanium pot, artistically battered, containing
    • Homemade pot cosy
    • random spices, salt, pepper
    • pot scourer
    • fire steel
  • Primus Himalaya Omnifuel stove in a stuffsac with windscreen
  • Alpkit titanum fork and spoon
  • comprehensive first aid kit
  • small cordura bag (Alpkit) with general spares and repair stuff.. zipties, steel wire, patches for thermarest and tent fabric, safetypins, small roll of gaffer tape, needle and tough  thread, superglue, Seamgrip, stove spares, spare lithium AAAs for my headlamp and possibly a few other widgets I have forgotten about
  • small cordura bag (Alpkit) with the prescription shite I need to look after my eczema and asthma and a stock of moisturiser cream. Pain having to carry it but such is life :-)
  • small cordura bag (Alpkit) as a washbag.. toothbrush, toothpaste, Tiger Balm, earplugs etc. Call me a tart but I have a comb too…. ;-)
  • Also a little tin with a bar of soap.. this gets used for everything that needs washing.. hair, clothes etc. As a rule I don’t use soap when washing dishes (or me) etc in streams, not good for the environment but even greasy pans are cleaned effectively using a handful of sand or grit or even fine mud will scour something clean very well.
  • Polycarbonate mug.. years old, battered, cracked and about to die I think..
  • the old sarong I have been using as a towel for a long time..

Rear Left Pannier

  • off-bike shoes – Salomon trail runners
  • small plastic tub with camera charger, spare battery, spare cards, strip of neoprene to old my iPod on my arm when riding should I need it… (usually just on vicious headwind days) and a USB card reader
  • ruggedised 160Gb USB hard drive for photo backups
  • Asus netbook with power-supply and cable – cable is common to the camera charger too
  • Solartechnology Freeloader Pico solar charger for my iPod
  • iPod Nano
  • Petzl headlamp
  • Camera in a small army surplus canvas shoulder bag.. the camera bag sits at the top of the pannier and I can reach it as quick as a bar bag.. I don’t like bar bags you see..
    • Panasonic GF1 + 14mm & 20mm panasonic pancake lenses and a Leica Summilux 50mm lens with m4/3 adapter (see here)
    • lens cloth
    • brush
    • 43mm polarizing filter
    • pen
    • notebook
  • maps and copies of passport, flight itinerary, travel insurance etc in a plastic envelope
  • Patagonia lightweight down gilet
  • Mountain Equipment light primaloft jacket
  • Montane windshell
  • thin windstopper fleece glove liners and a pair of very light shells
  • raingear comprising
    • Montane lightweight waterproof smock with stowaway hood
    • Lowe Alpine lightweight rain pants
    • Sealskinz waterproof socks
  • small plastic envelope with $US and some emergency pesos in it
  • cash, passport and credit cards.. carry these distributed on my person in a couple of different waterproof  ’wallets’ but when I’m riding they just sit with my camera.. and go with me if I park up briefly to go in a shop for ex.

Front left pannier:

  • Food
  • Bogroll – for some reason as I write I take childish satisfaction from using that word, I haven’t used it for a very long time – in a ziploc bag with small box of matches
  • Handcleaner gel
  • few spare ziploc bags

Rear Rack top:

  • Alpkit heavy duty dry bag containing
    • Mountain Equipment Dragonfly 2 tent
    • Flipflops
  • tent footprint (cut from a piece of cheap blue polytarp)
  • 1 litre fuel bottle

Ortlieb waterproof saddle bag:

  • Bike tools.. chaintool, spoke key, tyre levers, couple of cone wrenches, 8mm socket, Park allen key multitool, puncture patches and glue, tyre boot
  • Bike lube (Purple Extreme this time, ace stuff)
  • 2x spare tubes
  • zip-up plastic pouch with bike spares… few nuts and bolts, spare brake and gear cable inners, cartridge brake pads, KMC chain joining links, and some other useful bits and bobs.
  • Leatherman Juice multitool
  • Petzl knife with a nice, usefully big blade
  • mini tripod
  • sunblock
  • lipbalm
  • couple of pairs of disposable thin vinyl gloves – handy for avoiding filthy hands when dealing with mechanicals when no washing facilities around, and work really well as extra warmth under cycling gloves when the weather is filthy.
  • Also a rag and small nailbrush for transmission cleaning
  • Inside my handlebars I have spare spokes and a rolled up copy of my passport.. handy proof of bike ownership should it be nicked and recovered.

My 1 litre fuel bottle is also strapped on the back, it sits nestled in between tent and rear right pannier. I burn gasoline but use a little bottle of pure alcohol, v cheap from pharmacies, for priming. It reduces the soot. You can also burn Benzina Blanca instead, also burns cleaner than gasoline but is about 4x the price. Buy it from ferreterias.

That is about it, I probably forgot something as I am writing this in a cafe.. but I’ll go back and edit later if I did. The logic in my packing is that stuff I need to get at while on the road is all on the left hand side of the bike.. so that riding on the right if I stop and lean my bike against something at the roadside then that stuff is always on the outside. Clever eh…

One other thing is that the Ortlieb front panniers rattle at the bottom on my racks on bad roads no matter what I do.. hence the bungee cords you might have seen wrapped around them in some photos. I don’t use a bar bag, I don’t like having stuff on my bars and my gear is compact enough that I can fit my camera gear in my rear pannier quite easily. It is as quick to reach, I reach round, release the strap and pull it out from it’s bag that sits at the top of the pannier.

In combination all the clothes I have work together well to handle various temperatures/conditions… and the merino stuff is amazing for not being smelly after days (and days) of use. Excellent stuff.

As for my bike… you can see that here.

3 thoughts on “Cycle Touring Gear List

  • Hi Mike, useful list – I am looking at ways of travelling slightly lighter next year as I definitely had too many spare clothes on last trip! One thing that would make an indispensable addition, especially having noted more than one photo of laden bikes lying on thier sides… Is something that I got online from the USA recently and would now not be without! Take a look at and get hold of one of these simple but useful devices, you won’t regret it. I used mine on a recent trip to the Outer Hebrides and never once had to search for a handy wall to lean against and could stand the bike at the side of the road or on a campsite with no fuss. Great when packing or unpacking at either end of the day.

    • hey, thanks for taking the time! yeh i’ve seen many riders with similar.. I’m not a fan of extraneous bits on my bike tho and have always managed fine without, and in some environments it won’t work.. the winds in Patagonia would have blown it over immediately, and suspect the soft sands in Bolivia it would have toppled.. I’m normally organised enough that if stopping on the road I only ever have to open one pannier so dumping the bike on it’s side is fine. Still, each to his own and all that :-)

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