Cycle Touring Kit List
Here is a detailed listing of the cycle touring equipment I have in current use, together with manufacturer and retailer links.
The list reflects my personal preferences, rather than what I’d necessarily recommend to you. I can’t do that unless I know about your plans, your preferences, your budget, and many other factors that influence gear choice (although I’ve thrown in a couple of general recommendations to help out).
For many years I deliberately refused to publish my kit list on this blog, but you lovely people continue to email me to ask what I use, so I grudgingly concede. Here goes…
Bike & Luggage
- Touring Bike
- Oxford Bike Works Expedition, custom built to my own specification. Exhaustive details here.
- Rear Panniers
- Crosso Twist 52 (review / Amazon* / eBay*) or Carradice Super C (old review / Spa / SJS), depending on whether or not I need full waterproofing. I don’t use front panniers.
- Handlebar Bag
- Ortlieb Ultimate 5 Classic (Wiggle*) with padded insert if I need something small; Klickfix-compatible Biologic Tour Bag (Evans* / Amazon*) if I need something big. I also like baskets.
- An assortment of Exped and Seal Line rolltop drybags between 5l and 20l capacity. Avoid ultralight models. Plastic carrier bags work too.
- Extrawheel Voyager (review). I use this only when I need to carry tons of extra stuff (Arctic in winter, Mongolia off-road).
- MSR Hubba in green (review / OutdoorGear.co.uk* / Rutland Cycling*) if I’m on my own; MSR Mutha Hubba HP (OutdoorGear.co.uk*) if my better half is along for the ride.
- Tent Alternative
- I don’t really like tents. So if it’s practical I’ll sleep in a Alpkit Hunka bivvy bag or Hennessy Deep Jungle Hammock, depending on mood and likelihood of trees.
- Sleeping Bag
- Alpkit Pipedream 250 if I’m going lightweight, Snugpak Softie Elite 3 if I’m not, Big Agnes Storm King if it’s stupidly cold and that’s all that matters (like, -10°C or below).
- Camping Mattress
- Exped SynMat Hyperlite M (OutdoorGear.co.uk*) for most stuff, Exped Downmat 7 (review / Webtogs) if it’s stupidly cold. If I was going round the world again I’d take a Therm-a-rest ProLite or RidgeRest.
- Exped AirPillow UL for my poor old neck (have also used Mammut* pillows); McNett Tenacious Tape (Amazon* / GoOutdoors.co.uk*) for gear repairs; toothbrush. On a long tour I’d take a cheap silk liner* to prolong my sleeping bag’s life.
Cooking isn’t always essential, but if I’m away for long enough to want to cook my own food or make a brew, here’s what I use:
- If on my own: Vango compact gas stove if canisters available (Amazon* / *) or DIY beer can stove (viral how-to video). In groups or on long trips: MSR Whisperlite Universal (review / Amazon* / GoOutdoors.co.uk*) or Dragonfly (old review / Amazon* / GoOutdoors.co.uk*).
- Depending on circumstances and luggage limitations, either Decathlon 2-person alu cookset, MSR Quick Solo system (Amazon* / OutdoorGear.co.uk*), or Alpkit MyTiMug.
- Water Purification
- Rarely necessary (if in doubt, boil or add iodine), but my filter of choice is the Sawyer Squeeze (Amazon*).
- Utensils & Accessories
- Spoon, traditional Opinel No8 folding pocket knife ( *), airtight tupperware container, film canister of sea salt, English teabags, scouring pad, small bag of laundry powder.
On shorter trips I’ve been getting on very well with the baggy shorts, merino jersey, and breathable windshell from Polaris’ new touring-specific Challenge collection.
I then throw in whichever of the following items are relevant:
- dhb EQ2.5 cycling jacket (Wiggle*). I sometimes supplement this with a bin bag. I don’t bother with overtrousers. My legs just get wet. (Then they get dry again because I’m riding a bike.)
- Advanced Multisport Optics ‘Prowler’ sunglasses with NXT photochromic lenses.
- Down jacket
- Big Agnes Shovelhead, if it’s really going to get cold at night.
- Light hiking shoes, recently Salomon Goretex or cheap Decathlon. I always pack flip-flops.
- Various Buffs, depending on circumstances – UV protective, high-vis, visor, fleece, Union Jack. They’re stupidly useful. Helmet – sometimes, generic.
Tools, Spares & Accessories
- Basic toolkit
- Topeak Alien II multitool (Amazon* / Wiggle* / CRC), Topeak Road Morph G hand pump with gauge (Amazon* / Wiggle* / CRC*), Park Tool GP-2 self-adhesive patches (Amazon* / Wiggle* / CRC*), Park Tool TL-1C tyre levers (Amazon* / Wiggle*), bog-standard puncture repair kit, small bottle of chain lube, strip of Gaffa Tape wrapped round seatpost, handful of assorted cable ties/zip ties.
- Extended toolkit
- Cassette tool, crank extractor, bottom bracket tool, adjustable spanner, 10/12mm hex key for Shimano freehub removal, strips of inner tube rubber, hose clamp, electrical terminal block.
- Basic spares
- Innertube, chain links, brake shoes/pads, 3x spokes (rear driveside, rear non-driveside, front).
- Extended spares
- Another innertube, spare chain, gear cable set (inner/outer/ferrules), brake cable set, hub/headset/bottom bracket bearings, film canister of grease.
- Other extended trip gear
- MSR stove service kit if applicable.
Gadgets and electronics are a topic for elsewhere, as they’re even more dependent on personal preferences and aims for your tour.
Now go and read about why you don’t need any of this stuff.
Researching bike touring kit for your own trip?
Perhaps reading the first (and only) comprehensive guide to equipment for cycle touring would help?
If you’re in the process of researching gear, and you’d find it useful to read a 257-page guide to of every aspect of equipment choice (rather than just a list of what I happen to be using), do check out the ebook I’ve written specifically for people in exactly your kind of situation.
It’s called Essential Gear For Adventure Cycle Touring, and it’s available for download right now at GearForCycleTouring.com.