OK, you have your ideal bike, maybe you have bought some Panniers to carry your gear, and you have decided on your trip direction and duration.
Now you could be staring at your bike and wondering ‘What do I take with me’. You might as well ask ‘How long is a piece of string?
If you were to ask 100 cyclists what is the ideal packing list for your journey, you will most likely get 100 different answers. Often you will read of cyclists who tour for extended periods that send unwanted gear back home while touring. The less you carry, the easier those hills will seem.
Depending on the length of the trip you are considering, a typical touring cyclist will pack about 20-25kgs (44-55lbs) distributed between two bags at the front, two at the rear and possibly a handlebar bag. For extended tours of two days or more, then tents and mats etc, can be strapped on the rear rack, or attached to certain makes of panniers.
So, let’s look at a typical basic list of essentials.
|1 DAY TRIP||2 DAYS+ TRIP|
Don’t forget, if the weather is warm, your chocolates will melt. Sounds obvious, but who wants melted chocolate over all your gear when miles from home. With everything you need to organise for your trip, it’s easy to forget the obvious.
The bike lock is quite heavy, especially if it’s a decent secure and strong make, but it is very important to take it with you. Its unfortunate that we live in a world where some people are less than honest, and a quick toilet break in a town somewhere could result in the loss of the bike and gear.
It’s absolutely essential you take water on your trip, and take enough to suit the weather conditions. If you are traveling in a hot climate you will require far more fluids to stay hydrated. For hot countries, using insulated water bottles to keep your water or fluids cold is ideal. However, for normal climates you could just pack a normal plastic water bottle to save on weight.
TWO SETS OF CLOTHING
Taking two sets of quick drying clothing is ideal so that you can wash a set and dry at night.
TOUR BOOK GUIDES
If you are following a tour, many cyclists advise photocopying the relevant pages of your route, rather than take the whole guide book, to save weight.
If you are planning on cycling and hiking or walking for long periods, then hiking shoes are comfortable, supportive and durable. If you prefer the sneaker type of shoe, then choose a proper cycle touring and mountain bike shoe that has a recess, if you are using clip-less pedals. Do not use the hard plastic sole type that racing cyclists use, and ensure your shoes are comfortable for extended use, in both cycling and walking.
It’s advisable to always take your mobile with you in case of problems. Also, for entertainment on extended trips, you could take a small tablet with you that has books and games installed. Modern Tablets are really slim and lightweight these days – certainly lighter than lugging a few novels with you on your trip. Don’t forget you will need to get to a power source to recharge them, so don’t forget your chargers. Again, modern chargers are also lightweight, so should not overburden your weight limits.
There is nothing better, or cheaper, than cooking your own meals in the great outdoors. Even on a one day trip, cooking your midday meal is really something. Who needs the expense of restaurants when you can stop anytime and cook your own food? It’s surprising that even the most basic of foods, taste better outdoors. Is that true or imagined? – don’t care, love it.
So, I would recommend investing in some cooking gear and utensils. Very soon I will put up an article about the subject.
Recently, cameras which can be attached to your cycle helmet, handlebars, or even your chest have become very popular. These serve a couple of functions, a photo or video record of your touring experience as it happens, or a record of events if someone causes you injury when cycling on roads.
Whatever the reason, they are readily available and a fun way of recording your experiences.
The above has looked at the essentials, but what about those luxuries to make your touring experience more comfortable? Well, that is up to you and the strength of your will – and your legs.
More extras, more weight.
These extras could include a thicker sleeping mat, a camping pillow, a folding chair, even a warmer – yet heavier – tent. If you are in your 20’s, who needs comfort in the great outdoors?
But if you are a tad older – like me, extra comfort means a lot more. In the end it’s up to you.
Try out different combinations and see what’s comfortable for you, and what you want to get out of the touring experience.
Just go for it, you and your body will love you for it.