Why do you even need a cycle touring pack list?
If you’ve read anything else on here, you will realise by now that I’m very enthusiastic about cycle touring. So much so, I have an entire category dedicated to cycle touring, and another dedicated to cycle camping. Of course not everyone who goes cycle touring also goes camping – some prefer to stay in hotels or B&B’s, and that’s perfectly fine. Having said that, few things can beat that experience of waking up under canvas, after camping in the middle of nowhere.
Every cycle tourer needs a touring packing list, to help ensure you don’t inadvertently forget to pack something important. There is no such thing as a perfect cycle touring pack list – it will change from person to person, and from ride to ride, though some things will remain constant. What this means is that this is a suggested pack list – a foundation from which to work to build your own pack list, unique to you and your needs.
Shelter and sleep
Shelter is a basic human human need. My personal preference is to rely on a tent, but some prefer bivvies, a tarp, or even just sleeping in the open. Fair warning – British weather can be fickle, and sleeping out in the open could be a wonderful experience, or could end with you being woken at 4am by the pouring rain! Please adjust what follows according to your personal preferences.
- Tent. Mine cost me £11 from Tesco, some 10 years ago. Supposedly a 2-person tent, it’s just big enough for me and my gear.
- Sleeping bag (appropriate for conditions and expected temperatures)
- Self-inflating sleeping mat (in very cold weather, I also take a roll-up, closed-cell foam mat, to give additional insulation against ground cold)
- Tarp (depending on your preferences)
Again, adapt to your specific needs.
- Multi-tool (ideally one with a knife and pliers)
- Spoke tool, to adjust spoke tension
- Chain-breaker (often integrated on better multi-tools)
- Tyre levers
- Spare inner tube x 2 (yes, even if you normally use tubeless tyres)
- Tyre boot (in case your tyre was cut)
- Chain lube
- Zip ties x 3 (just in case)
- Puncture repair kit
- Pump or CO2 inflator (plus 5 cartridges)
- Spare gear cable
- Spare brake cable
- Spare spokes
- Spare SPD cleat bolts (if you use SPD pedals)
- Spare bottle cage / rack bolts
- Foil blanket
- Plasters in various sizes
- Antihistamine – please seek medical advice 1st
- Pain killers / anti-inflammatory – please seek medical advice 1st
- Insect repellent
- Insect bite treatment (for after you were bitten)
- Anti-midge head net (depending on where you’re going)
- Sterile water (in case you need to wash your eye out)
- Stretch bandage. Bonus points for using “vet wrap”
- Sudocrem (which doubles up as chamois cream)
- Superglue. Please note that this is contentious, and you should get professional medical advice before using this. Superglue (cyanoacrylate) bonds instantly with skin, and so can be used to glue shut open cuts. There are a whole bunch of Ts & Cs that apply, so if in doubt, don’t use it!
- Biodegradable wipes, or flannel in a zip-lock bag
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Small towel (I have a large kitchen towel I use for camping)
- Sanitary products (if you need it)
- Zip-lock plastic bags to contain rubbish
- Bio-degradable soap
- Nail clippers
- Lip balm or Vaseline
This in addition to what you may be wearing while cycling. On two or three day rides, I just carry clean clothes, saving the laundry for when I get back home, but on longer rides I’ll wash especially my shorts every other day.
- If colder weather is expected, a fleece top and a warmer coat
- A Thinsulate beanie. I shave my head, and sleep with the beanie on.
- Trousers, for when off the bike
- Flip-flops, sandals, or neoprene swimming shoes, as alternative footwear when off the bike, and if going wild-swimming
Not everyone cooks while on tour. Often, I just rely on shops and cafés, but sometimes you’ll have no choice. Even if you don’t plan on doing any cooking, being able to make that all-important first brew of the day is a big bonus.
- Camping stove. Mine’s a Vango gas stove.
- Lighter (my stove doesn’t self-ignite)
- Collapsible kettle (I’m a coffee lover!)
- AeroPress Go! If you enjoy decent coffee, even when camping in the middle of nowhere, get an AeroPress Go!
- Collapsible saucepan. This doubles up as basin to do dishes afterwards.
- Knife, fork and spoon. Mine’s a titanium set from Tesco. I’m not a fan of sporks.
- Salt shaker. I have a 3-compartment shaker, so carry salt, as well as garlic & black pepper.
- Tin opener – if you’ll be taking tinned food.
- Bio-degradable washing-up liquid.
If you can, consider taking some bungi cords, as well as some para-cord (to string up a washing line, do emergency repairs or tie things down). Washing pegs add next to no weight, so consider taking three or four along. When wild-camping, water can be a challenge, so consider taking a collapsible water carrier. You can fill that up as near as possible to your camping spot, thus ensuring you don’t have to carry an extra five or ten kilogram of water on the bike, while having enough water for drinking, cooking, doing the dishes and washing.
You may also want to consider some outdoor LED fairy-lights, which can be used either as ambient light inside your tent, or strung up outside, to provide enough light to prevent stumbling over things.
Always carry a bag to collect rubbish, and do a final scout around your camp site, after having packed up. Remember, the motto to live by is leave no trace.
If you have anything to add to the list, add it to the comments!