Here, for your curiosity, is a complete list of the equipment I currently use on my cycle tours and bikepacking trips, together with manufacturer and retailer links (any affiliate links are marked with an asterisk (*); full policy here).
The list reflects the personal preferences I’ve developed over 14 years of road-testing and refining. In other words, it’s what I think works best for me. It’s not what I’d necessarily recommend to you, because I know nothing about your plans, your preferences, your budget, or any of the other other factors that influence gear choice. Beware of anyone who tells you there’s a ‘best’ set of equipment for cycle touring or bikepacking. ‘Best’ is relative.
I’ve published dozens of of detailed articles about specific categories of equipment for cycle touring and bikepacking that will help you make informed and relevant buying decisions.
So please consider the list below a curiosity at best, a waste of bandwidth at worst, and definitely not a list you should be copying…
For mixed-terrain and long-haul trips I ride an Oxford Bike Works Expedition, custom-built to my specifications by Richard Delacour in the UK. Here’s a 10,000-word illustrated thesis detailing how we designed it. If you’re interested, you can contact Richard for a free Zoom consultation here. Also read:
- What’s The Best Touring Bike?
- A Massive List Of Expedition Touring Bikes For Round-The-World Rides
- Touring Bike FAQ #1 (of 7)
At the rear, Crosso Twist 60s (review / Cyclesense / eBay*) or Carradice Super Cs (review / direct / eBay*), depending on whether I need roll-top waterproofing. I don’t often use front panniers, but when I do, I use Crosso Dry 30s. Also read:
My dirt road bikepacking rig is based on the classic cromoly Kona Explosif 2007 frameset I used for my original round-the-world attempt. For full details, read:
I also wear a Deuter 3‑litre hydration pack, and sometimes a LowePro all-weather hip pack for camera gear.
- What’s The Best Tent For Cycle Touring & Bikepacking?
- 12 Crucial Qualities Of A Bicycle Traveller’s Perfect Tent
- Why Tents Suck, And Some Alternative Ways To Camp On A Cycle Tour
For winter conditions I use a Big Agnes Storm King rated to ‑25ºC.
My Exped SIM Lite UL 2.5 (now discontinued, try the SIM UL / eBay* / AlpineTrek.co.uk* / Moosejaw) suits me for most regular touring and bikepacking. In winter, there’s little better than the Exped DownMat 7 (review / eBay* / AlpineTrek.co.uk* / Amazon UK* / Backcountry.com*). Also read:
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 solo, Vango Compact (eBay* / Amazon UK*) or DIY beer can stove (viral video with 3.5M views) depending on fuel availability. In pairs/groups or on longer trips, Alpkit Koro for canister gas alone, or MSR WhisperLite Universal (my review / eBay* / Amazon UK* / REI*) if I also want to use liquid fuel. Read my detailed article on choosing a stove for cycle touring and bikepacking.
- If on my own, MSR Trail Lite Solo* system (eBay* / Amazon UK* / Backcountry.com*) for touring, or Alpkit MyTiMug for bikepacking. In pairs/groups, Alpkit AliPots.
- Water Purification
- If I need one (rarely), my filter of choice is the Sawyer Squeeze (eBay* / Amazon UK* / REI*).
- Utensils & Accessories
- Spoon, Opinel No8 folding knife (eBay* / Amazon UK* / REI*), tupperware container, canister of sea salt, British teabags, scouring pad, free hotel shampoo bottle filled with washing-up liquid, ziploc bag of laundry detergent.
On long trips I usually wear a combination of items from the backpacking and hiking departments, rather than cycling-specific clothing. This means bamboo or merino wool baselayers, currently a Patagonia merino ¾‑sleeved jersey (men’s/women’s); long MTB shorts with padded riding shorts underneath; and flexible, quick-drying hiking or climbing trousers for sun protection.
I then throw in whichever of the following items are relevant:
- Alpkit Balance waterproof jacket, sometimes supplemented with a bin bag, and a pair of very expensive but very waterproof and very breathable Patagonia overtrousers (men’s/women’s).
- Basic cycling sunglasses (Decathlon).
- Insulated jacket
- For three-season riding I pack a Patagonia Nano Puff recycled synthetic jacket (men’s/women’s). For serious winter camping I hide inside an Alpkit Fantom (men’s/women’s).
- Shoes & Socks
- Light, low-profile Gore-Tex hiking shoes (I get the best fit from Salomon) with whatever Darn Tough socks suit the climate. I always bring flip-flops.
- Various Buffs, depending on circumstances – UV protective, high-vis, visor, fleece, etc. They’re really useful. Helmet, obvs.
Tools, Spares & Accessories
- Basic toolkit
- Topeak Alien II multitool (Amazon UK* / Wiggle* / CRC*), Topeak Road Morph G tyre pump with gauge (Amazon UK* / Wiggle* / CRC*), Park Tool GP‑2 self-adhesive patches (Amazon UK* / Wiggle* / CRC*), Park Tool TL-1C tyre levers (Amazon UK* / Wiggle*), regular puncture repair kit, small bottle of Finish Line synthetic wet-weather chain lube, strip of Gorilla Tape wrapped round seatpost, handful of assorted cable ties/zip ties attached to LHS seat-stay.
- 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
- Inner-tube, chain links, brake shoes/pads, 3x spokes (rear drive-side, rear non-drive-side, front).
- Extended spares
- Another inner-tube, spare chain, gear cable set (inner/outer/ferrules), brake cable set, hub/headset/bottom bracket bearings, canister of grease.
- Other extended trip gear
- MSR stove service kit if applicable.
Gadgets are a topic for elsewhere, as they’re even more dependent on personal preferences, but here’s a list of apps I find useful.
Still struggling to choose?
How To Hit The Road is here to take the pain out of researching and buying equipment for a long bicycle adventure, with contributions from over 50 veteran riders. Available now as a low-price ebook or print-on-demand paperback.
Now go and read about why you don’t actually need any of this stuff.