The Big Cycle Touring Kit List
After 11 years of researching, refining and road-testing, this page represents a detailed listing of the cycle touring equipment I currently use, together with manufacturer and retailer links.
Please know that 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
- Generally I ride an Oxford Bike Works Expedition, custom built to my own specification (exhaustive details here). Sometimes I go fast and light if the roads are good, in which case I prefer my 2012 Kona Sutra with tweaked gear ratios.
- Rear Panniers
- Crosso (my review / Cyclesense* / eBay UK*) or Carradice Super C (my review / direct / Evans* / eBay UK*), depending on whether or not I need full (roll-top) waterproofing. I don’t use front panniers.
- Handlebar Bag
- Ortlieb Ultimate 5 (now 6) (Cyclestore*) with padded insert. I also like Klickfix baskets (Amazon* / eBay UK*.
- An assortment of Exped and Seal Line roll-top drybags between 5l and 20l capacity. Plastic carrier bags work too.
- Extrawheel Voyager (review). I use this only when I need to carry tons of extra stuff (e.g. Arctic in winter, Mongolia off-road).
- MSR Hubba Hubba NX (GoOutdoors* / UltralightOutdoorGear.co.uk) if I’m on my own; MSR Mutha Hubba HP (*) 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 (direct) plus a Scottish Silkworm sleeping bag liner (Amazon* / eBay UK*).
- Camping Mattress
- Exped SIM Lite UL 2.5 M (now discontinued) for fair weather, Exped DownMat 7 (my review / AlpineTrek.co.uk* / Amazon* / eBay UK*) if it’s going to be really cold. If I was going round the world again I’d take an Exped SIM Lite 3.8 M (AlpineTrek.co.uk* / eBay UK*).
- Exped AirPillow (eBay UK*) for my poor old neck (I have also used Mammut* pillows and bundles of rolled-up clothing); McNett Tenacious Tape (Amazon* / GoOutdoors.co.uk*) for gear repairs; toothbrush.
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 UTC canisters available (direct / Amazon*) or DIY beer can stove if not (viral how-to video with 3 million views). In pairs/groups or on long trips: Alpkit Koro if UTC canisters available (direct), MSR Whisperlite Universal if using liquid fuel (my review / Amazon* / eBay UK*).
- If on my own: either a MSR Quick Solo system (Amazon* / OutdoorGear.co.uk*) or just an Alpkit MyTiMug. In pairs/groups: an Alpkit AliPots cookset (direct).
- 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 long trips I usually wear whatever I’d leave the house in given the climate. This usually seems to consist of BAM T-shirts, long-sleeved shirts and shorts from charity shops, and zip-off trousers from TK Maxx or Decathlon.
On shorter trips I’ve been getting on very well with Polaris’ new touring-specific Challenge collection.
I then throw in whichever of the following items are relevant:
- dhb EQ2.5 cycling jacket (discontinued). 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.)
- Very basic £3.99 cycling sunglasses from Decathlon.
- Down jacket
- Big Agnes Shovelhead, which I was given in 2014 and could never otherwise afford.
- Generally light, non-waterproof 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 attached to LHS seatstay.
- Extended toolkit
- Cassette tool (or NBT2), 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. Read this article.
- 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?
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It’s called Essential Gear For Adventure Cycle Touring, and it’s available for download right now at GearForCycleTouring.com.