Bike Touring Packing List (Printable PDF)
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One of the most annoying parts of leaving for vacation is arriving at your destination and realizing you forgot something! But when I started planning my bike day trips, I realized just how much more serious it would be to forget something important. And it’s even more serious for multi-day adventures.
Bike touring can be a simple week’s journey through a local hiking trail or a multi-month venture. It would be best if you packed your luggage according to the length of your trip and the number of people joining you. Always bring a little extra food and water to be safe.
What’s the best way to pack your gear? Should you carry extra clothes in a backpack? Learn all you need to know and download our convenient printable packing checklist below!
What Should You Bring on Your Bike Tour?
You should bring sufficient supplies and changes of clothes for the estimated duration of your trip. If you believe your journey will last a week, then make sure you pack a little more than you think you’ll need. It’s always better to be safe and prepared.
The amount of supplies you bring on your bike tour depends heavily upon the distance and intensity.
One of the hardest things to determine is how much food you should bring with you versus buying along the way.
Occasionally, eating at restaurants and cafes along your way is easier. However, this is far more expensive and unreliable.
This is especially true because of the number of calories you’re likely to need for your ride. According to Elo Smart Nutrition, you should eat between 600-1,200 calories if cycling for five or more hours.
This includes stopping during your bike ride to eat some calories. This is important for maintaining energy and for building muscle mass.
If you don’t eat enough calories, your body could start to burn muscle mass. This is especially true for long-distance bike rides that burn a significant amount of calories. Eating regularly and staying hydrated are essential to avoid the loss of muscle.
Below I’ll give you a complete checklist that I use personally for your next bike tour. And I’ll give you some recommendations for the types of food you may want to bring with you!
1. Cycling Supplies
The most important thing to bring on your tour is proper cycling supplies. These include the following:
- Helmet (perhaps a spare)
- Cycling shoes
- Spare pair of shoes (boots or jogging shoes)
- Spare clipless pedals
- Chain lube
- Spare chain
- Spare tire tubes
- Tire patch kit
- Portable pump
- Spare brake pads
This is a general checklist for your bike tour. Cycling shoes might seem like an excessive item to include, but these shoes are essential for your ride. They make a significant difference while riding and help prevent blisters and other damage to the feet.
The checklist for your essential bike repair kit was inspired by the list found on Exploring Wild. The amount of supplies you bring varies depending on your trip length.
However, always bring a spare tire tube, a patching kit, and chain lube. I sometimes get these essentials on day trips because this damage can happen anywhere.
Last, bring extra supplies in your repair kit if you’re traveling through a remote area. If you want to learn more about DIY bike repair, check out the Cycling Weekly channel!
You should pack at least 2-3 different cycling outfits if you plan on taking a trip that spans a week or more. Although you’ll need to plan to wash your clothing periodically, you’ll need to prepare for a few days without a suitable washing spot.
I recommend you bring the following clothing on your tour:
- 2-3 spare biking outfits
- Loose fitting long sleeved shirt
- Waterproof outfit
- Rain Pancho
- 2-3 pairs of cycling socks
- Thermals as weather demands
- Breathable clothes as weather demands
Knowing your trip’s weather before packing your clothes is essential. Lightweight cycling clothes are a must if you are traveling through the desert. However, according to NASA, you’ll also need a warm pair of clothes for the evening, which can reach below freezing.
If you’re planning a trip through South America or the Pacific Northwest, waterproof gear is a must! Overall, know the environment of the places you’ll visit!
Second, don’t be afraid to try padded riding gear or cycling pads. These are gel patches in the shorts and sometimes inside the riding shoes.
They decrease friction and help alleviate pain from being on the bike all day. They’re also excellent for preventing chafing and other painful abrasions to the skin.
Last, even though most cycling clothing is tight, bring loose-fitting clothes as well. Bike touring isn’t always about speed and agility. Rather, it’s meant to be enjoyed, and the tightness of riding clothes might not always feel comfortable!
3. Blankets and Sleeping Bags
Blankets, pillows, and other sleeping supplies can be the most space-consuming items in your luggage. You’ll want to be as minimal as possible when choosing this gear and only bring the essentials.
I recommend the following for your biking tour:
- Ultralight sleeping bag
- 1-2 spare, breathable blankets
- Ultralight pillow
- Feet warmers
- Ultralight pillow (5 great picks)
A large quilt is hard to fit alongside a sleeping bag. Consider bringing small, spare blankets rather than one large quilt. These blankets are more breathable in case you hit a hot night when you don’t want to use your sleeping bag.
Wobbly Ride offers some excellent advice for choosing the best sleeping bag for your trip. The basics include finding a sleeping bag that’s your size, material preference, and waterproof!
It might be better to purchase a bag that’s a little larger than what you need. Larger sleeping bags can be padded with clothing and jackets if you get particularly chilly.
You’ll also have a little extra room for foot warmers at the bottom. It would be best if you didn’t put your hands or feet directly on these warmers, so it’s best to have some extra space.
Thermarest offers a useful size guide for choosing your first sleeping bag. They advise that some brands leave an extra 4-8 inches based on your height. If you purchase a bag for a 6-foot person, it will probably be between 6 foot 4 inches to 6 foot 6 inches.
4. Camping Supplies
Some basic camping supplies are a must, no matter how long your trip is planned to be. These include a tent, fire starter, and tent tarp.
I recommend you bring the following items:
- Cooking stove
- Waterproof tarps x2 (one for sleeping and one for covering the tent)
- A sleeping role
- Fire starters & waterproof matches
- Hammock (check out Bikepacking Hammock Setup Guide)
While these aren’t all essential, they’re recommended for longer trips. Fortunately, supplies such as hammocks are easily folded and snuggled in your luggage.
Bring a hammock rather than folding chairs because they take up less space and are more comfortable. They don’t take up much room and are easily set up and taken down. You’ll enjoy a hammock after a long day of sitting on your bike.
Last, always bring a gas-powered or electric cooking stove! According to the US National Parks System, you can’t assume that building a fire will be allowed. Rules vary between parks, and fire might be banned for drought or other reasons.
Self offers some wonderful recommendations for choosing a stove for camping on the road!
5. Cooking Supplies
We already discussed what types of fire starters and stoves to bring, but you’ll also need to bring dishes for cooking.
I recommend you bring the following:
- One cooking pot (perhaps more if you’re bringing your family)
- Collapsible frying pan
- Collapsible water container
- Utensils (Titanium Spork)
- Swiss knife
Collapsible cookware is one of the best ways to bring cookware with you. These pans can be folded inside one another and easily fit inside your luggage bags.
6. Food and Drink
You should bring sufficient food for at least 5-7 days. This food should be nutritious yet high in calories, carbohydrates, and protein.
The foods I recommend you bring with you include:
- Carnivore Crisps Jerky & Organ Meat (10% off link)
- Kion Protein bars (10% off link)
- Dried fruits
- Canned meat
- Powdered milk
- Dried Noodles
- Water purification tablets or water filter bottle
- Redmond Re-Lyte Electrolytes (15% off link)
These aren’t necessarily meals, but they can provide a decent supply of calories and energy. You should only bring wet or raw foods with you since these will be too difficult to keep fresh.
7. Emergency Kit and Bug Repellent
You should always bring an emergency kit with bug repellent. This is true whether you have a medical condition or not and regardless of the length of your trip.
I recommend your emergency kit include the following:
- Biker or hiker first aid kit
- Ace bandages
- Alcohol or hydrogen peroxide
- Butterfly clips
- Any necessary medicine
- A map and GPS (Garmin In Reach is Awesome)
How Many Supplies Should You Bring For a Multi-Day Trip?
You should bring a spare of clothes, water, and food for at least one extra day. The amount you need depends on the intensity of your trip and your personal needs. But this is a good rule of thumb for starting the plan for your trip.
You should pack accordingly if you know you’ll be traveling through remote areas. I recommend bringing at least enough food and water for 2-3 days.
Although you’ll need spare clothing, this is less vital than having extra food and water. If you are traveling in remote areas, there’s no guarantee that you will be able to find fresh water and food in these areas.
You can wash your clothes in some waterways as long as permitted. Most private and public parks in the United States and Canada don’t allow you to wash clothes in rivers.
Street Directory advises that soaps and detergents aren’t suitable for water and water life. It’s been known to kill fish and underwater ecosystems.
If you must wash your clothing, follow these steps:
- Place dirty clothes in a barrel or bucket if you have one
- If not, place clothes in a pile on a large rock
- Get the pile wet by dumping river water on them
- Once wet, use soap to scrub the clothes
- Rinse them by dumping water over the pile
- Hang them to dry
You’ll prevent contamination by keeping the clothes and soap as far from the waterway as possible!
How to Properly Pack Your Tour Bike
People usually bring between 15-50 pounds of supplies with them, depending on the length of the trip. But, if you pack your supplies properly, it makes travel much more manageable.
Cycle Tourer offers some amazing tips for properly setting up your packs, luggage, and panniers. In summary, they advise:
- Packing kitchen supplies in one pannier
- Packing sleeping and tent gear in the second
- Avoid wearing backpacks
- Prioritize how you pack your equipment based on use and need
Packing for a bike tour is a little more complicated than packing for your usual vacation. You’ll want to pack your water and energy bars in an easily accessible place.
No one wants to pull over in the middle of a bike ride and rip their packs apart for a granola bar!
How to Safely Pack Medical Supplies on a Bike
Padding, insulation, and cold packs are a must for anyone bringing temperature-sensitive medicines. While you can bring ice packs, they can become heavy and will probably melt within a day or two of leaving for your trip.
However, I recommend using frozen disposable gel packs. These are usually available at convenience stores and hospitals.
But the most important thing to remember is to plot your course according to your needs. If you’ll regularly need to resupply and refresh your ice, then make sure you have access to these items on your way.
Bike touring is a great adventure and an excellent way to see the world. But everyone can get lost, and if this happens to you, it’s important to be prepared.
This is why packing your gear correctly is so important. Forgetting your tent, jacket, or fire starter could completely derail your trip!
I hope this checklist is useful for you before you embark on your trip.
Download the Printable PDF Checklist here: