How to pack


It's not what you carry, it's how you carry it!

We're often asked about what to bring along when touring. Everything we need, is the answer! As with everything in life what one needs may not be what another wants. Here's the best and most exaustive gear list we could find. It has been assemble by Judy Colwell - who's well known by most cyclists browsing the net. Should you want to see other interesting lists, we also give you other links. If you know of others, don't hesitate to e-mail us the links!

Judy's words of wisdom

Pick and choose what fits your needs. There is more here than I would take, but it jogs my memory about things to consider. If touring alone or in desolate areas, check with commercial lists,and add in. All clothing does double/triple duty! As someone wrote somewhere,"If you aren't sleeping in all the clothing you brought, then you brought too much". I, myself, think this is a bit extreme, but is a place to start in thinking "less is better".

Also, you'll notice that there is very little in the way of "natural fibers". Cotton can be a disaster on a trip, especially if it is cold and wet. Wool, while wonderful, takes forever to dry. I've discovered that I can get away with two cotton t-shirts for hot weather; the new Polartec(tm) fabrics are better (IMHO) than wool for this type of travel. I know someone who rode in 90+deg(F)heat in a long-sleeved light colored Capilene(tm) shirt and was very comfortable. Clothes: dark colors disguise dirt: black, deep green, royal blue , etc; [Something light weight/colored if it's expected to be hot; something nice (e.g.presentable).] Take *small* amounts of things like toothpaste, soap, etc. Unless you are in a really isolated area, you can always buy some on the road... and get a chance to talk with "locals" at the same time (this is particularly fun in foreign countries).



25c (phone $)
Address card
Airline/rail tickets
Driver's license (picture i.d. if traveling by airline)
Emerg. contact info (updated!)

Health insurance card
Passport/hostel card -copies
Photo (extra, self)
Youth hostel card

 Special Items

$$$/checks (3)
Credit cards (MC/AmEx)
Foreign currency
Travelers' checks
ATM cards
Bike repair book (sm)
Fanny/hip pack

Map marker (yellow or neon pink)
Swiss Army Knife/whistle
Leatherman tool(?)

 Hobby Items

Film (~1 roll (36) per 2 days )
Dicatating recorder (new batteries; 2 tapes)
Journal (addresses at back)
Notebook, sm. spiral
Pen (ballpoint, click "on/off"style)
Bike Accessories
Bags: ziplock, garbage/compactor
Bungie cords (2)
Compression straps (4)
Cyclometer (w/new battery)
Food (group), bag (Outdoor Res.bag -sits on back rack; bright yellow)
Handlebar bag (?)&rain cover/plastic bag
Light (rear) w/new batteries
Lock (combo; keys can get lost)/Cable (flexweave, med. weight)
Panniers & rain covers Pump/pump strap
Rack straps (2)
Rearview mirror
Reflective safety triangle for rear of bike
Water bottle (1)& Camelbak (with extra "flow biter")

Bike Tools,*etc.
Tool pouch
Carriage bolt, 5"(1)
Chain lub
Chain tool
Clipless pedal replacement screws and shoe clips
Cool Tool-type (don't duplicate other tools already in pack)
Hose clamps, sm (2)
[the hose clamps and carriage bolt(s)can act as a splint in any manner of odd situations; never had to use it myself but...]
Patch kit (check glue!) / or glueless patches
Tire Boot (wrapper from a Power Bar works very well)
Tire pressure gauge
Tire irons (3)
Wrench, allen (2-10mm)
Wrench, pedal (if cranks don't have hex)
[my Park pedal/headset wrench bolts under a water cage for easy carrying ]
Wrench, spoke
*Other tools which you know how to use

 Bike Spare Parts

Brake pads (2)
Cables, brake/gear (1 ea.)
Chain links-(3) / "Superlink"
Nuts/bolts (1-1/2 #8)
Rack mounting bolts (2)
Spokes, both sizes (5 total) or Kevlar emergency spoke

Tire (1)
Tubes (2); packed in cornstarchy ziplock
Tire "boot"
"S"hook for panniers (just in case...)

 Clothes, Riding

Arm warmers
Bike gloves
Bike shoes w/new laces
Bike shoe cleats
Bike shorts (2)
Long blk lycra tights (riding & around town)
Helmet visor

Shirt, Capilene-type s/s t (2: denin blue; forest green)
Shirt, Capilene zip t-neck l/s
Shirt, Capilene silk-weight l/s crew (for extreme sun while riding)
Shirt, cotton t (1, colorful)
Shirt, nylon SPF-30 l/s, white (LLBean)

 Clothes, Rainy/Cold Wx

Anorak, Polartec Microfiber zip t-neck
[LLBean:royal blue & purple; (1 sz. sm/1 sm. med. for layering;t akes the place of a bulky Polartec 200 anorak)]
Hat, wool (if expecting really chilly weather)
Helmet cover, goretex
Gloves (heavy wt.); Liner Gloves, capilene

Over-Mittens, goretex
Long underwear bottoms (blue capilene)
Rain booties, black ultrex (maybe or maybe not)
Rain hat (black Outdoor Research "Sombrero")
Rain suit - goretex/ultrex
Sox, goretex!!($40 from REI)

 Clothes, Off-Bike

Mosquito head net (?)
Visor/sun hat
Pants, long: dark blue (Supplex nylon for quick drying)
Pants, shorts; Baggie shorts (Patagonia) (nylon quick drying)
Pants, shorts; "presentable" longer length shorts (to cover oh-so-weird tan line)(Supplex)
Shirt, long sleeve; (sun protection)(see above)

Shirt(s), short sleeve (1/2); polo,t -neck,or ...? (see on-bike clothes)
Sox (3 pr.)(coolmax; 1 wool or 1 coolmax; 2 short wool; 1 long wool or expedition capilene)
Underwear (3)(dark colors)

 Camping Gear/Hostel

Bandana (napkin)
Bowl (6 1/2"Lexan)
Fuel bottle (11 and/or 22oz)
Matches/Bic lighter
Mug plastic,insulated w/top
Pot (titanium)
Spoon, soup/fork (lexan)
Spoon, wooden (cooking)(opt.)
Stove (MSR Whisperlite International)
Candle/candle lantern (probably not)
Flashlight-new batteries/headband for holding it
Ground cloth (plastic trash compactor bag-new; or tent "footprint")
Sleeping bag (Down/Lite loft/Primaloft)& compression sack/Outdoor Res. stuff sack
Tent/rainfly -w/9 good stakes (+1 extra=10) [gold aluminum stakes from REI which look like knitting needles are terrific!]

Thermarest (check for leaks)
ThermaRest "chair"(car-camping/cycling only)(usually)
Stuff bags, OutdoorResearch Advanced Hydroseal
Shower: H2O Shower (3 liter size)(maybe)
Alternative: Water (carrier) Sack with available shower attachement. Can then be used for storing extra drinking water on bike if necessary (and if left on top, will also get warm as you pedal to camp).
Water carrier (no... a sturdy ziplock bag can probably suffice)(see comment under "Shower")
Water filter (pore size to restrict Giardia and Cryptosporidium)


$10 bill
Bags/garbage/ziplock/kitchen (2)
Bear rope: Carabiner attached to 50' bear cord, in small stuff sack
Bear spray
Clothes pins (2)
Safety pins (5 asst.-doubles as extra clothes pins)
Compass (on bike w/bell)or separate
Gatorade, powder (in isolated areas)
Trail Mix/Cliff Bar(s)
Emergency food (one dehydrated meal)& sugar/tea bag(s)

Emergency space blanket/bag
Shoelaces (2)
Super Glue (tiny tube)
Tape, duct (3')(wrapped around film can or bike frame)
Tape, electrical (some)
Tape, ripstop repair & Thermarest repair
Tie wraps (nylon)
Wire, insulated (3')/bailing
("Ten essentials"-make sure they are included)

 Misc. Personal

Bandana (1)
Chapstick w/SPF 15-30
Shampoo/Soap; All purpose biodegradable (Joy brand/Campsuds)
Scrunge (1/2 sz)
Glasses/Contacts & all purpose solution; enzyme cleaner
Mirror (or use rearview mirror from bike)
Hair brush
Hair gel (?)
Insect repellent
Nail brush
Nail clippers
Nail file
Razor, disposible
Toilet paper (tiny roll in fanny pack)
Dental floss
Baking soda
Band-aids (10)
Bandaids, butterfly (20)

Towel(s)[PacCloth camping type is great for drying wet tents in the morning, wet bodies, wet hair; 3 old linen [must be old so that the linen is very absorbent ] kitchen towels sewn together are absorbent &light weight and wide enough to provide some degree of modesty if necessary ]
1st Aid kit (in red stuff sack, restocked) or Commercial Kit
Adhesive tape, extra wrapped around film can
Alcohol wipes (5)
Antihistimine tabs (e.g.Benadryl)
Aspirin/Advil (20)
Benzoin swabs
Compress pads (6)
Moleskin! precut to fit saddle sore (rounded edges)
Neosporin (tiny tube)
Pepto Bismo tabs (16)
Prescription medications

 General Packing

I put items that I may need to get to quickly in the left panniers (I lean my bike on its right side), and less necessary items in the right panniers.

 Handlebar Bag (Bicycle Handlebar Bag)

Small bike repair book

Spare cables
Extra ballpoint pen/pencil
Dictation recorder

 Left Front Pannier

Rainy weather gear
Cold weather biking items (e.g.ear warmers,gloves)

Extra food (if necessary)(I don't store food in my clothing/sleeping bag panniers)

 Rigth Front Pannier

Cooking gear (stove, fuel, pot, bowl, cup, etc.)

Paperback book

 Left Rear Pannier

Emergency 1st aid kit
Bike tools
Personal "kit"

All off-bike clothing (so that I can grab the whole pannier & head for the shower)
Spare tire

 Right Rear Pannier

Bike clothing
Sleeping bag

Extra straps,ziplocks
Misc. items

 Back Rack (top)

ThermaRest mattress

Food (in bright yellow OR bag)

Note from Arkel

Judy's list is the most extensive we saw so far. Use it as you see fit - she's been gracious enough to authorize us to use it here. As for packing panniers, each person will have a preference, but we designed out GT series touring panniers with the goal of putting everything *inside* the panniers, including tent and Thermarest. We believe it makes for a better handling of the bike and it makes the panniers easier to carry off the bike (like in airports).

Print this list, and have fun packing!