Cycle touring – the little things

The Internet’s awash with cycle touring packing lists – there’s one on here, too. However, there are at least two very important items that most packing lists forget to tell you about, but we’ll get to those in a bit.

Daft as a brush

Have you seen videos, or read write-ups of people cutting their toothbrush in half, supposedly to save space and/or weight? I’ll straight-up tell you that if you don’t have room for a toothbrush, or the weight of half a toothbrush will tip you over, then you’re taking too much stuff!

Seriously, cutting your toothbrush down surely is one of the daftest things ever! More so since folding toothbrushes are a thing, and are usually cheap, like these here. I use a folding toothbrush when I go touring or camping.


Walk to the (usually tiny) travel section of your local supermarket, and you should find tiny tubes of toothpaste, tiny bottles of shower gel and tiny tin of anti-perspirant. If you’re only going cycle touring for a few days, get some of those.

Combined with your new folding toothbrush, you’ll save a lot of space and weight, while still having what you need to freshen up and remain hygienic. Win – win, right?

The things you’re not told to take

For starters, if you have long, or longish hair, take a hair brush or a comb. Simply brushing your hair using your fingers will not be enough on longer tours, and you risk ending up with dreadlocks. Especially a comb will take very little space. Of course, if you like having dreadlocks, carry on by all means.

See also  A suggested cycle touring pack list

Your mileage may vary, but my fingernails take a beating, forever digging through panniers, pitching my tend, then packing everything up again. That means nail clippers are a godsend and I’ll always carry those on especially longer rides. They also come in very handy to trim cable ties down nicely, avoiding the often-sharp sticking-out bits that result from cutting them with a knife.

Cycle touring means being outside, and being outside means being exposed to the elements. Your lips will suffer, so do yourself the enormous favour and carry lip balm, or vaseline.

All of these items are small, so you should be able to easily find room for them. Also, if ever I saw you trying to brush your teeth with a cut-in-half toothbrush, expect me to mercilessly take the mick out of you!

2 thoughts on “Cycle touring – the little things”

  1. J-Cloths are great for using as flannels and light as a feather. They can also be torn into strips if you need string, bag ties etc. I used strips to tie pipe lagging onto my bike frame when I took it on a recent train journey. Zip Ties are always useful for getting tyres onto the wheel rim if you have weak hands (me) or for tying things on to the bike/making repairs when needed. Wet Wipes (carefully disposed of) for when it is difficult or too cold to find/use a shower. I am working at Glastonbury this week and I will be relying on wet wipes and not their disgusting showers. Sudocrem is a very wise thing to pack – much better than chamois cream, I find.

    My previous tours have been around three months, and I DO recommend some showering during those times!!

    • Good tip about the J-cloths, and cable ties are ALWAYS useful! They saved me while cycling the Wild Atlantic Way, when a bolt holding my rack up sheared off.
      While wet wipe or flannel washes are essential when going off-grid touring, I agree about having a shower every so often!


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