What this blog is about

Bicycle commuting, bicycle touring, bicycle racing; bicycle ADVENTURING.
To the grocery store, up a mountain, across the country or to the finish line--
it's all an adventure.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Bicycle Touring Packing List: IN REVIEW

Back in May, before my bicycle tour across the country-- this is the list I came up with. Here are my {thoughts in retrospect.}

  • 2 sports bras {could bring just one, plus a swim suit to wear while doing laundry}
  • a synthetic shirt {SENT HOME. Replaced with a long sleeve SPF shirt which worked great to circulate air and keep me cool. Eventually cut the sleeves off when it got humid.}
  • a thin wool shirt (cool even in hot weather) {fantastic. Would do this again, but with Smartwool or IceBreaker instead of Patagonia. The Patagonia shirt-- surprisingly-- fell apart.}
  • a WWR jersey {brought it to publicize my sponsor. Would ride w/o a jersey next time.}
  • ..kinda tempted to bring a tank top, too. You know-- for the tan. {If I brought it, I definitely sent it home.}
  • arm skins (SPF protection and COOLS you off rather than keep you warm) {These things actually do kinda work.. but didn't need 'em once I had my SPF shirt, which was more appealing to wear anyway, as it was billowy.}
  • arm warmers {I wear arm armers a lot in everyday riding, I don't think I used them very often during the tour, though. Debatable. Depends on other clothing items.}
  • long sleeve wool jersey, medium weight {Worked great, though could substitute with medium weight short sleeve + arm warmers.}
  • wind jacket {Brought a bright yellow, convertable kind. Used it a lot and draped it over my load on the rear rack for increased visibility.}
  • rain jacket {YUP.}

  • 3 pairs of underwear {Yup.}
  • two pairs of cycling shorts {Yup.}
  • gym shorts {Yup.}
  • synthetic knickers {Did I really bring these? I think I ended up bringing long pants. Better choice. Or some convertables.}
  • knee warmers {Yup. Sent 'em home once it got hot though, of course.}
  • 50/50 wool/poly long john/tights {Nights can be surprisingly cold! Would bring again.}
  • Probably not rain pants.. but MAYBE some quick-drying MUSA pants. {I don't think I brought rain pants.. }

  • shortie bike gloves {YES.}
  • and.. a windproof? a liner AND windproof? {I brought some really basic long fingered gloves. Worked most of the time, except when wet AND descending. Will go with wool next time and a Gore Tex shell.}

  • helmet. duh. {Yes.}
  • cycling cap-- keeps rain out of eyes {Or a helmet with a visor.}
  • beanie-- keeps whole body warm and a back up for a wet cycling cap {YES.}
  • visor > I love this visor in hot sunny weather, so it's coming! {Haha, gave it to my touring buddy when I bought a cowboy hat! Really great for cooling off when you're in a desolate stretch with no shade.}
  • sunglasses, with a light and dark lens set {Oh definitely yes. Love my Rudy Projects.}

  • 2 thin short cycling socks, hot weather
  • 1 thin tall wool socks, cool weather
  • 1 thicker tall wool socks, cold weather and post-rain ride {Yes on all the socks. Sent the warm ones home once it got hot.}
  • cycling shoes {YES. I like it better to have a performance cycling shoe that's more efficient, then to take those shoes OFF at the end of the day and cool them off in something else. I don't like the one-shoe-for-both thing. Not for me.}
  • booties {YES.}
  • Keen sandals {Replaced them with flip flops. Will replace with Crocs for next tour. Keen's were too heavy and unnecessary. We didn't do any more walking than we needed to.}

  • MSR Whisperlite
  • Fuel bottle
  • Matches
  • {Yes to all. Also bring lighter as back up to matches. Even if they're "waterproof."}
  • 1 pot, 1 pan {Ended up with 2 pots, happy with that.}
  • Spatula {Yes.}
  • Wooden spoon {Ended up with a folding spoon.}
  • Cutting knife ..and a mini-knife sharpener (I'm a snob. And I like safety.) {Didn't bring the sharpener. :) }
  • Spices {At one point, we had a LOT of spices. Then we narrowed it down to what we could use most often. Only carried a few: salt, pepper, garlic, cinnamon, and one or two others.}
  • Hand-sanitizer {Oh, yes.}
  • Mug/bowl {My mug/bowl was one mug nestled inside another, which was handy. Plus it has measuring marks.}
  • Frisbee/plate/cutting board {Used a real thin-type cutting board after questioning the food-gradeness of the frisbee.}
  • Fork/spoon {Read: fork and spoon.}
  • 1/2 sponge
  • Camping Suds {Yup.}
  • Iodine {Yes, good for back up! Used it once, though we ended up finding water anyway.}
  • 2 small bladders (for when our water bottles aren't enough) {YES. Takes no space and no weight, it's just a no-brainier.}
  • Plastic bags {Ha-- we saved any useful looking plastic bags that we came across.}
  • Cord to hang food {YES. Not just for bears-- but for raccoons, too!}
  • 2 person tent w/ fly & tarp ground cloth {My 2-person was more like a 1-person. We were gifted a 3-person tent with MAJOR ventilation when we were halfway across.}
  • REI sleeping bag {20degree}, eVent compression sack {Yes.}
  • Thermarest or Ridgerest pad (undecided) {Went with Ridgerest foam pad for speed and it was comfy enough for me.}
  • Thermarest compressible pillow (YES, I'm BRINGING the pillow.) {And I'll bring it again!}
  • Cotton liner (an old bed sheet) (This is to keep my bag from getting stinky and also for those hot nights that a sleeping bag is just too much.) {Will buy a nice silk one next time. My sheet was haphazard and heavy.}
  • Bandana {Used one as a pee rag. :) }
  • Tent patch kit {Never used it, but glad I had it! Useful for patching other things besides tents.}
  • 3 tire levers, patch kit 
  • Mini pump
  • Huge Alien multi tool that has EVERYTHING
  • [except] very miniature pliers
  • Lube, 1/2 blue rag, small bottle of degreaser
  • {Yes to all. Definitely USED those pliers. That's a kind of leverage that's hard to come by otherwise.}
  • Mini Leatherman {I think we used this, but we didn't really need it. We had other tools to replace it.}
  • Brake and derailleur cable
  • Spare tube, tire boot
  • Extra bolts for rack, shoes
  • Brake pads
  • Zip ties
  • Hoseclamp
  • AAA batteries for bike lights
  • {ADD: Spokes! and a Tire!}
  • Curly combo lock {Yes, we brought one each, used them both to lock our bikes to each other and to something else. Often, though-- the bikes were unlocked. Really, I'd like to see someone just TRY and ride away on a fully loaded touring bike.}
  • Bungees {Yes, infinitely useful!}
  • Duct tape & electrical tape wound around a pencil {Yes. We nearly used it up!}
  • Reflective triangle {Definite YES.}
  • [Wind jacket is neon yellow]
  • Rear flashing light
  • Front light
  • {Yes & yes. Even if you don't plan to ride in the "dark," fog, rain, dusk and dawn are all low light conditions requiring lights for safety!}
  • Pepper spray
  • {Yes. ADD: Dog spray! We never sprayed it (very nearly did a few times), but pulled it out often in Kentucky. Some dogs recognized the can and gesture and went high-tailing the other way!}
FIRST AID *all in mini-packets
  • MEDS: Pepto-bismol, midol, sting relief wipe, benadryl, ibuprofen, poison ivy wipe, eye drops, Neosporin
  • ROAD RASH: alocohol, iodine and saline wipes. Gauze pads and mini roll. Band aids.
  • HOT/COLD: Hand warmers, chemical ice pack, icy/hot patch {Ditched the last two.}
  • TOOLS: nail clippers and very pointy tweezers
  • BLISTERS: mole skin
  • {Used a fair number of this, would still bring all of it.}
  • Travel towel (super thin, light, dries fast) {Yes, but I could bring a smaller one. Mine was full size! A luxury.}
  • Terry wash cloth 
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Razor
  • 'Feminine products' and a coffee bag to keep stinky ones in
  • Dr.Bronners for soap/shampoo
  • Butt'r chamois cream {YES! Although I would bring Belgium Budder, as it's Paraben Free.}
  • Bug spray
  • Sunblock, SPF chapstick
  • MAYBE a lotion bar {Don't think I brought this-- or I sure didn't use it!}
  • {Yes to the rest!}
  • Driver's license
  • Medical and car insurance card
  • A card with my medical info written on it
  • Debit card, credit card, checkbook, cash
  • Stamps and addresses
{Yes to all. Plus a blank notepad for writing notes, addresses, scratching out math etc.}

  • Camera, 3 batteries, extra memory card, charger and a tiny thingy that plugs your memory card into a computer {the cord that plugs the camera to the computer would have been fine as opposed to the other plugger thingy. Although the plugger thingy worked without needing a charged battery!}
  • Add: Joby! My lil' bendable tri-pod. This enabled SO many self-timed photos!
  • Phone, charger -- I am NOT bringing a phone on this trip. I am letting my cell plan expire and will rely on my touring buddy's phone for emergencies. {I BROUGHT MY PHONE! Kept it off most of the time to conserve battery.}

  • 1 paperback {I would bring one only if I were traveling alone. My traveling buddy was way to entertaining to need a book.}

..to read my "full explanation" as to why I'm bringing FOUR journals, click here
  • A Moleskine graph journal to make charts/graphs out of our trip
  • A panoramic drawing journal for landscapes
  • A square drawing journal for interviews
  • A mini drawing journal for everything else
  • Various pencils, erasers, colored pencils, sharpener, pens
{If I were traveling alone.. MAYBE. But definitely sent these all home! I know, I know..}

  • Kite! :)  {and it never flew. We threw the frisbee once, though. Sent that home too.}
  • Rubber bands. We used these to keep food closed, etc.
  • Clothes line, the kind that doesn't require any pins to use.

And there you have it! As I prepare to go on some shorter trips, I'll review what I've packed in a (somehow) more streamlined way.



ed said...

Wow. Very useful, but looking at the picture that bike seems soooo heavy!!! What was it like to ride with that much extra weight? Did you do some trial runs beforehand to see what you could handle?

RJ said...

Our gear was actually a pretty average weight for the scope of our trip. Excluding the bikes themselves (and the racks, etc)-- our gear probably fluctuated between 40 and 50 pounds, depending on how much food and water we had with us.

40 pounds is how much an average person would bring on a week long+ backpacking trip (including food). We traveled for 3 months on bikes-- which requires a few more pounds in maintenance gear.

Also, a lot of our stuff was bulky but light. Strapped to the top of my rack is my sleeping bag (bulky but light) and little camp pillow (bulky but light), stuffed into a stuff sack, on top of a foam sleeping pad (bulky but light) and I would drape my yellow jacket off this for visibility (the backs of my panniers were black, which sucked for visibility) and strap various laundered clothes that needed drying-- oh, and my cowboy hat.

And that picture at the top right corner-- that's when we were in an unpopulated stretch in Wyoming. Our water bladders were completely full.

Food is another thing that can be light, but bulky (and that's what I kept at the top of my bags, for easy access)-- like a bag of cereal or box of cookies.

We chose to be self-supported, which meant carrying a tent, stove, etc. Others, who don't want to carry as much and can spend more, can eat in restaurants and stay in hotels instead of carry the weight. There's nothing wrong with that option-- but I like all the adventure we had because of our self-sustenance.

Trial runs? Haha, nope. We had some last minute blips in our preparation, so no time for practice runs! We're both really confident cyclists, though (raced in college) and while the bags felt ridiculous that first day or two (just getting accustomed to the handling of the bike)-- soon it became normal and we were wobbly without it! ha ha. I could stand up and rock my bike up hills no problem. We never had to walk up a hill, though we heard of others (young strapping lads!) who had. ;)

Thanks for your question!

Bill said...

Thank you for sharing what you've learned!

ryanv2009 said...

I am going to do the cross country thing this summer with two close friends. As an experienced tourer would you feel the need to bring full on rain pants & waterproof shoe covers or just make do with what you have in order to avoid more $ on unnecessary gear. Also I am between a Trek 520 or Surly LHT for the ride. Wish us luck

RJ said...


waterproof pants: lots of people will tell you that you "NEED" them. You don't. There is nothing wrong with your legs getting wet.

waterproof jacket on the other hand?: YES. Keep your core warm. The best bang for the buck will be the entry level jacket from Showers Pass (about $79 or $89). It has a two-way zipper and pit zips for venting, has a 'tail', reflective bands, comes in an extremely bright orange and of course, is waterproof.

waterproof shoe covers: you will be more comfortable with covers. If you can't get covers, put on a wool sock (not too thick! don't stuff your shoes too full!), a plastic bag, then your shoes. You just got to make sure to always have plastic bags on you (we kept a collection of useful looking ones. It doesn't weigh anything) and you have to make yourself actually stop and take your shoes off when it starts to dump. I'd strongly recommend shoe covers if you can afford them. Your head, hands, feet and core are what you really need to keep dry or at least warm.

Also, ask yourself: do you think being wet and cold is FUN or MISERABLE?

Just because you're riding in the summer, does not mean that it won't rain! If you hit hot country during the hot months, you can also send gear home!

Good luck! And feel free to ask more questions!

peter said...

Traveling on a bike is not a bad idea. Thanks for point out the important & significant things to purchase before starting travel. I have a plan to go there on bike & stay there couple of days. for that i have already got an accommodation in a hostel from Hank Freid & will be back after some days. However it is really nice post having quality information

JRamm said...

Wow... what a great list to go by.

If I've got a Gore-Tex rain jacket do you think it also necessary to have a windbreaker as well? If so.. what's the advantage of having both?


Tim said...

It's cool to see a before and after kit list with comments and reflections. Helps others learn from your experience, like me who has never done a cycle tour, YET!!!

Heather Rath Brown said...

Thanks for taking the time to publish your list. My husband and I are doing a self-supported ride down the Pacific coast (as soon as our house sells!) and it is very useful to compile a list from those available.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the fabulous list! There are not too many lists out there written by women. Appreciate the details esp sports bra/swimsuit idea. Headed to France for 2 weeks in the Alps.

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rokn elbeet said...

اعمال شركة تنظيف بالرياض متميزة داخل المنطقة التي تعمل بها لانها تعمل علي تقديم كل ما هو جديد في عالم النظافة لتقديم خدمة متميزة للعميل فتعامل مع شركة تنظيف فلل بالرياض ستلاقي فريق من العمال لدك مختصين في اعمال نظافة الفلل وهذا يحدث ايضا مع شركة تنظيف خزانات بالرياض
والتي تعمل علي نظافة الخزانات وتعقيها للقضاء علي الاوساخ والبكتريا الصغيرة التي توجد بها معكم ايضا شركة تنظيف مسابح بالرياض التي تعمل علي الصيانة والتنظيف بواسطة اثنين من الفنين المختصين في مجال المسابح واليك خدمة اساسية تلبي لك العيش في بيئة خالية من الحشرات الصغيرة من خلال قسم شركة مكافحة حشرات بالرياض الذي يعمل علي القضاء علي جميع الحشرات المنزلية كما يوجد قسم اخر في مجال مكافحة الحشرات وهو شركة رش مبيدات بالرياض التي تقدم خدمة الوقاية والقضاء علي هذه الافات بواسطة مبيدات طبيعية

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