Thursday, August 20, 2009

Bike Trip Packing List

"You can't travel happy, heavy, and cheap. Pick two."
Rick Steves really says it all for me with that quote. For years I've prided myself on traveling light and, lucky for me, MM subscribes to the same mantra. Not only does traveling light make it easier to get around cheaply, it makes me HAPPY. Happy because I'm not slogging up hill with 45 pounds of gear on my bike (or back, or whatever) and happy because it makes me feel free from my all the Stuff that clutters up my life.

This is what MM and my bikes looked like on our week long tour of the Oregon Coast. My bike is the one with the blue bags, his has the black.

Not bad, right? I can sure tell you that we seemed to have a LOT less stuff than many others on the road. No trailer, no front panniers, no giant rear rack. We actually fit all of our stuff into two panniers each (each bag had a 40-43L capacity) and a few things on top of the back rack - namely the tent, MM's running shoes, and a bag for carrying groceries.

So for those of you who enjoy packing lists, here's what we brought!

Bags and packing gear
  • 2 rear panniers each
  • 1 handlebar bag each
  • Assorted bungee cords. The bungee net was our favorite.
  • A couple carabiners
  • Extra bag to carry groceries. We used a zippered cooler bag which was unnecessary. An empty sleeping bag sack would have been just great.

Bike Gear

  • Rear racks
  • Standard tool kit - multi tool, tire irons, patch kit
  • 2 tubes each
  • 2 portable pumps
  • Chain Lube
  • *note* we meant to bring some extra cables and a small wrench but we never got around to it.
Camp stuff
  • Sleeping bags. To save bulk and weight we brought summer bags.
  • Sleep pads
  • Tent
  • Dry bag. Since the tent was on top of the rack instead of in our panniers we kept it in the dry bag to keep it from being rained on during the day. This ended up being very valuable. You could probably achieve the same thing with a heavy duty garbage bag if you don't happen to have a drybag of the correct size.
  • Backpacking stove
  • 3 small canisters of fuel. We only used one, this was far too much since we didn't cook often.
  • 2 Lexan bowls
  • 1 heat proof spatula
  • 2 spoons
  • 1 camping knife
  • 2 mugs
  • 1 cooking pan with handle
  • Lighter and matches
  • Headlamp with extra batteries
  • Mini first aid kit
Bike Specific Clothes
  • Helmet
  • Gloves
  • 1 pair Bike shorts

Clothes - packed into a packing cube that keeps things organized and doubled as a pillow

  • 2 shirts
  • 1 fleece jacket
  • 1 water resistant biking jacket
  • 1 pair fleece pants
  • 1 pair normal shorts
  • Long johns and thin t-shirt to sleep in
  • Socks/undies/sports bras
  • Bathing suit
  • Sarong (luxury item, more to come on this)


  • Riding shoes (that's runners for me, real riding shoes for MM)
  • Flip flops
  • MM brought a pair of runners as well but since his riding shoes are a comfortable XC mountain bike style he didn't actually need them.


  • Camera and battery charger
  • Sunglasses
  • Map and directions
  • Mini wallet
  • Cell phone and charger

Toiletries - packed into a large Ziplock bag

  • Mini towel. I like the 12" x 14" sweat towel type.
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Chap stick
  • Hair elastics
  • Sunscreen
  • Contact solution/case/extra lenses/glasses
  • Toothbrush/paste/mouthwash
  • Toilet paper in Ziplock bag
  • Body wash, shampoo, conditioner
  • Pain killers

The italicized items only came with me because we had access to actual showers and real bathrooms. I don't take them on backcountry trips.

Regardless of whether we were going for a week or two months, I wouldn't have packed anything more. There are always Laundromats available and if we ended up needing anything else we could always stop in at a store and buy it.

Is there anything else you'd suggest to bring on a biking trip? Anything you think I over packed on? Do you have any stories about packing too much for a trip or converting to the packing light lifestyle?


  1. excellent concise list, this is exactly the way I pack for touring!



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