The Big Cycle Touring & Bikepacking Kit List

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.

The kit list reflects my personal preferences developed over 14 years of road-testing and refining. There’s some great all-round cycle touring and bikepacking gear here, but it’s not what I’d recommend to you, because I know nothing about your plans, your preferences, your budget, and other factors that influence gear choice. Beware of anyone who tells you there’s a ‘best’ set of equipment for cycle touring and bikepacking. There’s only what’s best for you.

To help with this, 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 🙂


Expedition & Road Touring

Touring Bike

For road and mixed-terrain trips I ride my Oxford Bike Works Expedition, aka: “Tom’s Expedition Bike”, which was custom built to my design in 2015. Here’s a 10,000-word illustrated article on how it was designed and built.

Panniers

Crosso Twist 60s (my review / Cyclesense* / eBay*) or Carradice Super C (my review / direct / Evans* / eBay*), depending on whether I need roll-top waterproofing.

I don’t use front panniers, but if I did, I’d use Crosso Dry 30s.

Handlebar Bag

Ortlieb Ultimate 5 (now the Ultimate 6 Classic) (Cyclestore*, Tredz* w/ price match, Amazon*). I also like Klickfix baskets (Amazon* / eBay UK*.

Drybags

An assortment of Exped and Seal Line roll-top drybags between 5l and 20l capacity. The Seal Line ones have lasted longer. Plastic carrier bags work too.

Bike Trailer

Extrawheel Voyager (my review). I use this only when I need to carry tons of extra stuff (eg: Arctic in winter, Mongolia off-road).


Dirt-Road Bikepacking

Bikepacking Bike

My dirt road bikepacking rig is an ‘upcycled’ bike based on the Kona Explosif 2007 cromoly frame I used for my round-the-world attempt.

Bikepacking Luggage

All my bikepacking frame bags are from Alpkit – a Stingray custom frame bag, Big Papa seat pack, Fuel Pod top-tube bag, two Stem Cells, and a Kanga handlebar harness with a 20l Airlok Dual.

I also wear an old Deuter 3‑litre hydration pack, and a LowePro hip pack for camera gear.


Camping Equipment

Tent

If I’m touring solo, I use the classic MSR Hubba Hubba NX* (eBay* / Amazon UK* / GoOutdoors* / REI*).

If my partner is along for the ride, we’ll pack the MSR Mutha Hubba NX* (eBay* / Amazon UK* / REI*).

Finally, for minimalist bikepacking trips I’ve been using the Terra Nova Starlite 2 (my review / eBay*/ Amazon UK*).

Tent Alternative

Actually, I don’t really like tents. So if it’s practical I’ll sleep in an Alpkit Hunka bivvy bag or Hennessy Deep Jungle Hammock (my review), depending on mood and likelihood of trees.

Sleeping Bag

For 3‑season riding, an Alpkit Pipedream 250 plus a silk sleeping bag liner (Amazon UK* / eBay*).

For winter conditions I use an old Big Agnes Storm King rated to ‑25ºC.

Camping Mattress

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 for warmth than the Exped DownMat 7 (my review / eBay* / AlpineTrek.co.uk* / Amazon UK* / Backcountry.com*).

Extras

Exped Air Pillow UL (eBay* / AlpineTrek.co.uk* / REI* / Backcountry.com*) for my poor old neck (I have also used Mammut pillows and bundles of rolled-up clothing); McNett Tenacious Tape (eBay* / Amazon UK* / GoOutdoors.co.uk* / REI*) for gear repairs; toothbrush.

Cooking

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 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.
Cookware
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.

Clothing

On long trips I usually wear whatever I’d go hiking or backpacking in given the climate. This usually seems to consist of BAM bamboo T‑shirts or thin merino baselayers, long-sleeved cotton shirts from charity shops, regular shorts with padded riding shorts underneath, and zip-off hiking trousers from TK Maxx or Decathlon.

On shorter trips I’ve been getting on very well with Polaris’ touring-specific Challenge collection*.

I then throw in whichever of the following items are relevant:

Waterproofs
Alpkit Balance waterproof jacket, sometimes supplemented with a bin bag. I don’t bother with sweaty and uncomfortable waterproof over-trousers – my legs just get wet. And then they dry again.
Sunglasses
Basic cycling sunglasses (Decathlon).
Down jacket
Big Agnes Shovelhead, which I got from an expedition sponsor in 2014 and could never otherwise afford.
Shoes
Light hiking shoes, usually entry-level Salomon Goretex ones or something mid-range from Decathlon. I always bring flip-flops.
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 (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. Read my detailed article on assembling a fix-anything toolkit for a cycle tour or bikepacking trip.
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.


Now go and read about why you don’t actually need any of this stuff.

5 replies on “The Big Cycle Touring & Bikepacking Kit List”

This website is amazing however I would like to contact you personally because my boys and I we are going on 1300km trip for 3 weeks. We are only 17 years and we don’t have much experience in cyclo tourism. I just want to ask if you can give us tips/advice. I really hope you can contact me.

Jérémie,
Great idea. And do not worry too much. I started touring on about such a distance at around 15 with 4 other friends — same age — on a 3 speed folding 70’s bike, which included climbing up quite some mountain and didn’t stop since. All you need is for each a bike (really any will do, you will learn along the way what’s good, what’s not, and can always stop and rest), some bag strapped to a rack with 1. water (you will all drink a lot) and water bottles (at least 1.5 liter per rider, more in summer if you’re not riding through villages with cemeteries : they all have drinking water), 2. a repair kit with extra patches and maybe an inner tube or two for the bunch (assuming all have the same tire-width, if not one extra tube per), a working pump of course and the few tools you need and know how to use: knowing how to change brake pads for instance is useful 3. a shelter of sorts with ground protection, small mattress and sleeping bag and very few extra clothes, among which a rain poncho, a wool sweater (even a thin one — amazing how helpful), an extra pair of socks and underwear, and of course 4. a Marseille or “black” soap to wash clothes (they dry at night and if not, just strap them to your bag in the morning, they will dry in an hour in summer), yourselves, your hair and dishes, toothbrush and a rag/towel, sunscreen, a few antiseptic wipes or alcohol or Betadine, one Betadine wet tulle, tweezers, some small plastic bags (useful for many things, among which not leaving garbage along the way) and some tape for repair or closing cuts; If you’re planning on traveling in hot summer do take some electrolytes — sodium, potassium — for rehydration because you will forget to drink as often as you need and that can lead to problems (if you’re in France, Adiaril, for kids, works wonders and costs almost nothing) 5. all the food you need to go from one town to the next : you will eat a lot so also take some dry bananas/fruits and nuts of all the kinds you like to give yourselves a boost one in a while. And of course some sort of hat or cap with a tiny visor for protection from sun/rain.
According to you rough plans and weather a stove and 1.5 or 2 liter pot with lid to cook soup, pasta, or make salad and a spoon/fork and cup/plate for each. Good for hot meals/breakfast/coffee and boiling water which will neutralize germs and viruses in it … A folding knife for cutting bread, cheese, etc. And that’s really it. Start slow (your 62 km average is more than fine, but I would count more on 70 a day and a few days rest here and there at a nice stream/lake to cool, rest and have fun): have you ever done 80 km a day not “bike traveling”? Let’s say on a regular Sunday? Or do you cycle daily to work or your sons to school? If not, and you plan includes hills or mountains, maybe start with an easier distance, let’s say 600 km. Then if you see after a week that all is nice and dandy (it takes a week to adjust), then plan on pushing further… Bicycling in “touring” mode is first and foremost about being free and taking it as it comes: don’t overplan distances or gear…

this has been a great read, thankx. my life partner and two sons ages 9 and 12 are planning a trip from Belgium to Cape Town South Africa. Our trip will start in July 2021 and planning to arrive in Cape Town in July 2022. We will be doing the Cairo to Cape Town route crossing through Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia,Kenya,Zanzibar,Tanzania,Malawi,Zambia,Botswana,Namibia,Cape Town. Our aim is to live on a budget of 10 euros per person per day. So we will be camping a lot. We are starting to look at the market to start buying everything including all the bikes and need all the help possible. Myself and my wife will have two bags in the front and two at the back each and the kids will have two bags at the back each and the two 3 man tents. We have all the bags already its just the rest… Which bikes will be best for the boys etc… Cheers . Hope to hear from you. Keep safe

Hi, thanks for posting this. We all like to read about trip planning.
Way (way…) back when I did a long trip (2000 miles). Started all geared up, but 4 days later we sent about half the stuff back home in a box. Too heavy and totally unnecessary.
Planning another trip, shorter, 4 days, but curious to know if you have an idea of how much luggage weight is enough or too much for your taste when travelling? I never calculated that before, and am targeting around 25 pounds, but will probably be slightly over it.

Hi Pierre! 25 pounds (11kg) is roughly what I’d carry these days, excluding water and food, on a short summer bikepacking/camping trip. I do prefer the feel of a lightly-laden bike, especially for off-roading, now that I have the ability to invest in lightweight gear. In previous times I had to use whatever I could afford, no matter how much it weighed, and my legs just had to get used to it!

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