Tom’s Cycle Touring & Bikepacking Kit List


This is a list of the gear I currently use on my cycle tours and bikepacking trips, together with manufacturer and retailer links. Affiliate links are identified with an asterisk (*). Read my affiliate policy here.

This is a collection I’ve developed over the last 18 years of riding Earth, acquiring cycle touring and bikepacking gear, and writing about it. I hope it’s interesting, but please don’t assume I’d recommend every item on the list to you. Gear choice is a personal thing!


Cycle Touring Equipment

All-Purpose Touring Bike

For mixed-terrain and long-haul trips I have, for the past 10 years, been riding a prototype Oxford Bike Works Expedition, custom-built to my specifications. Here’s a 10,000-word illustrated essay about the design and build process, and details of the most recent upgrades.

Further reading:

Cycle Touring Panniers

My rear panniers are either Extrawheel Wayfarers or Carradice Super Cs (review / direct / eBay), depending on whether I need roll-top waterproofing. 

When I use front panniers, I take Crosso Dry 30s (Amazon / eBay).

I strap things to the rack-top with flat bungees* to avoid damage.

Further reading:

Handlebar Bag

Ortlieb Ultimate 5, now known as the Ultimate 6 Classic, in the 7‑litre size (Ortlieb.com / Cyclestore / Tredz / Amazon / eBay), or a larger-capacity Biologic Tour (discontinued). I also like Klickfix shopping baskets (Amazon / eBay).

Drybags For Panniers

I always have a big pile of roll-top drybags between 2l and 20l capacity, which I add to as the oldest ones wear out. I use them to organise gear inside panniers, seat packs, etc. The longest-lasting have been made by SealLine (direct / Amazon), Sea To Summit and Alpkit. The oldest SealLine ones have been going strong for 10 years (it’s the same company as MSR & Therm-a-Rest).

Plastic carrier bags work too.

Cycle Touring Cargo Trailer

Extrawheel Voyager, now the Voyager Pro (review). I love it, but use it only when I need to carry tons of extra stuff (Arctic in winter, Outer Mongolia off-road, etc).


Dirt-Road Bikepacking Equiment

Off-Road Bikepacking Bike

My dirt road bikepacking bike is a newly-built Oxford Bike Works Outlander which is purpose-designed for the Ascend Armenia 2024 race/rally later this year and the “training rides” I’m doing in the meantime.

Bikepacking Frame Luggage

All my bikepacking luggage is from UK direct retailer Alpkit – a Stingray custom frame bag, Big Papa seat pack, Fuel Pod top-tube bag, a Stem Cell, and a Kanga handlebar harness with a 20l Airlok Dual. (They don’t sponsor me – I just like their stuff.)

I also wear a Deuter 3‑litre hydration pack, and sometimes a LowePro all-weather hip pack for camera gear.


Cycle Touring Tent & Camping Equipment

Tent

If I’m riding solo, I usually take a 2‑berth MSR Hubba Hubba (direct / Amazon / Go Outdoors / Alpine Trek / REI / MEC / eBay*). Mine’s a 2014 model and I’m only just starting to consider replacing it.

If my wife is along for the ride, we’ll pack our 2010-series 3‑berth MSR Mutha Hubba HP. The current equivalent is known as the MSR Hubba Hubba 3P (direct / Amazon / Alpine Trek / REI / MEC / eBay). It’s 14 years old and going strong.

For minimalist bikepacking I’ve been using the British-designed Terra Nova Starlite 2 (my review / use TOMA15 for 15% off when bought direct / Amazon UK / eBay).

Also read:

Tent Alternative

I don’t actually like tents. So if it’s practical I’ll sleep in a standard-issue British Army Paratex bivvy bag (eBay) or, better, a Hennessy Deep Jungle Hammock (my review), depending on mood and likelihood of trees.

Sleeping Bag

In 3‑season conditions, I curl up in an Alpkit Pipedream 250 (discontinued; try the slightly lighter Pipedream 200 or heavier 400) plus a Scottish Silkworm liner (Amazon UK / eBay).

For winterlike conditions I use an older down-filled Big Agnes Storm King rated to ‑25ºC.

Camping Mattress

For regular touring and camping, an Alpkit Airo 180 (direct) has replaced a series of Exped mats, none of which lasted more than a few years. In winter, however, there’s still little better than the Exped DownMat series (my review of the DownMat 7 / direct / REI / MEC / Amazon / eBay). Also read:

Extras

Alpkit Drift inflatable pillow & cover (direct), Alpkit Qark headtorch (direct), McNett (aka: Gear Aid) Tenacious Tape (Go Outdoors / REI / MEC / Amazon / eBay) for gear repairs (duct tape also works), the toothbrush from my bathroom.

Camp Stove & Cookset

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:

Stove

If I’m solo, the Vango Compact canister stove (direct / Amazon / eBay) or a homemade alcohol stove (how-to video) usually do the job. In pairs/groups or on longer trips, the Alpkit Koro (direct) is lightweight and good for canister gas alone, whereas the MSR WhisperLite Universal (my review / direct / REI / MEC / Amazon / eBay) also allows us to use many liquid fuels. 

Also read:

Cookware

If on my own, I take an older version of the MSR Trail Lite Solo kit (direct / Amazon / eBay) when touring, or Alpkit MyTiMug (direct) to save weight when bikepacking. In pairs/groups, the Alpkit AliPots (direct) usually do the trick.

Also read:

Water Purification

If I need one (rarely), my filter of choice is the Sawyer Squeeze (REI / Amazon / eBay).

Utensils & Accessories 

Spoon, Opinel No8 stainless steel folding knife (REI / MEC / Amazon / eBay), a couple of tupperware containers, canister of sea salt, British teabags, scouring pad, hotel bathroom shampoo bottle filled with washing-up liquid, ziploc bag of laundry detergent.


Clothing

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:

Waterproofs

Alpkit Balance waterproof jacket (direct), sometimes supplemented with a bin bag, and a pair of very expensive but very waterproof Patagonia overtrousers (men’s/women’s).

Sunglasses

Basic cycling sunglasses (Decathlon*).

Insulated jacket

For 3‑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

My feet get on well with Salomon’s low-profile Gore-Tex hiking shoes. I love Darn Tough socks and bring whatever thickness suits the climate. I always pack flip-flops or Crocs.

Headwear

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, Topeak Road Morph G tyre pump with gauge, Park Tool GP‑2 self-adhesive patches, Park Tool TL-1C tyre levers, regular puncture repair kit, small bottle of Green Oil 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.

Further reading:

Tech

Gadgets are even more dependent on personal preferences. I currently use a Google Pixel 4 XL smartphone for navigation and communication, keep it charged with an Anker PowerCore 10K rapid-charging power bank and a 4‑way USB mains charger, and take photos with a real camera.

Further reading:


I’ve written many blog posts about choosing equipment for cycle touring and bikepacking that will help you make informed buying decisions that match your trip, preferences and budget.

This library of free content includes regularly-updated posts about commercial touring bikes and custom-built expedition bikes, cycle touring and bikepacking tents, cycle touring panniers, stoves for cycle touring and bikepacking, sleeping pads, cookware… seriously, the list goes on. 

Warning: Any blogger who tells you there’s a “best” set of equipment for cycle touring or bikepacking, or that you absolutely must have something (especially if it’s expensive), probably has a vested interest in you buying it. Just saying.


Latest blog posts about cycle touring & bikepacking gear: