If you're going out on a bike tour, a basic list of items to bring is a valuable tool when you are first planning your trip. It's a place to start thinking about what to pack, and helps you assess what you already have and what you need to acquire. It also -- and this is important too -- can tell you what NOT to bring, helping you keep your load as light as possible. Plus it'll serve as a handy checklist, allowing you to check off items as they go into your pack.
This list is for a person doing "light" touring, i.e., not camping but staying at motels, bed-n-breakfasts, etc., along the way. No camping gear is included.
1. Bike Equipment - Touring Gear
The following items are somewhat specialized for bike touring, but are probably necessary for biking long distances over multiple days.
- Panniers - the bags on your bike that store all your stuff
- Racks - what the panniers are mounted on
- Camelbak - if you have a long way between water points, the extra H20 you can carry on your bike may be a lifesaver
- Tail light/headlight - as much so that you'll be seen by others, as enabling you to see yourself.
- Rain cape/jacket
- Bungie Cords - for strapping down your stuff
- Ziplock bags/plastic shopping bags - for storing your wet and dirty items
- Matches and whistle - in case of emergency
- Journal - to document interesting people and places
- Book - for leisure reading at night and rainy days
2. Bike Equipment - Tools/Repair
These items are needed to do basic repairs, oftentimes when you are actually riding. If you are riding with others, divide these tools among yourselves. Other than the spare tubes (recommended at two per person) often only one of each tool is necessary in a group. Anything else is excess weight.
- Frame mounted pump
- Patch kit -- related: how to patch a tube - how to change a flat tire
- Spare tubes (2)
- Allen (or hex) wrenches -- what is an Allen wrench?
- Adjustable wrench
- Leatherman tool, with pliers, knife, etc
- Zip ties, 6-8 in various sizes
- Duct tape - a 6-ft (2 m) length wrapped around a pencil - good for patching tires
- Rags for wiping hands
- Bike lock - one can be shared among several riders
- Bike Multi-tool -- What is a multi-tool?
Maybe we've become too dependent on technology, but I'd say the following items are nearly indispensible on a bike ride of any duration, particularly when traveling through unfamiliar territory:
- Cell phone
- Phone cord/charger/extra batteries
- Extra batteries and charger for camera
- GPS device
- Laptop - can be replaced by mobile device, depending on intended use.
- Handlebar mount for phone if desired
Note: I found that my iPhone served functions of phone, camera, GPS and laptop. The only problem was maintaining adequate battery life. If you use your phone continually as a GPS tool, I found that it'll usually suck through batteries in 3-4 hours. You don't want to be stuck out in the wilds with no way to call for help if needed.
4. Clothing - On and Off the Bike
When packing your clothes, you have to balance your own comfort/preference for your attire with what you want to carry. Plus the expected weather, including your daily high/low temps will affect this greatly.
- Bike shorts or long tights (2) - rotate/wash daily- Article: bike shorts reviews
- Cycling jerseys (3) - rotate/wash as needed - Article: bike jersey reviews
- Bike gloves (two pair) - one pair of riding gloves, another for warmth - Article: What Bike Gloves Are For
- Bike shoes
- 3 pair socks
- Underwear/sports bra/t-shirt
- Shorts/pants to wear at night - one pair of each
- Short/long-sleeve shirts - 1-2 of each
- Sweatshirt/Jacket as needed
- Pair of shoes and/or sandals for wearing off the bike
- Swim suit
5. Personal Comfort/First Aid
In addition to the typical toiletry items you carry when you travel, you want to bring:
- contact lenses/prescription eyeglasses
- lip balm
- band-aids both for cuts and covering blisters
- saddle cream - Article: How to Avoid Chafing and Rash from your Bike Shorts
- Icy-Hot or other muscle cream to reduce aching and soreness
- Motrin, aspirin or other pain reliever
- High energy food for on the bike - Article: Tips on Nutrition for a Long-Distance Ride