The Big Cycle Touring & Bikepacking Kit List

This is a complete list of the equipment I currently use on my cycle tours and bikepacking trips, together with manufacturer and retailer links (affiliate links are marked with an asterisk (*); full policy here). I last updated it on March 18, 2023.

The list reflects the personal preferences I’ve developed over 16 years of riding, refining, and saving up to afford better gear. In other words, it’s what works best for me at this point in my adventure cycling career. It doesn’t mean I’d recommend all this equipment to you, because I know nothing about your plans, your preferences, your experience level, your budget, or any of the other other factors that influence gear choice. Anyone who tells you there’s a ‘best’ set of equipment for cycle touring or bikepacking, or what you absolutely must buy, probably has something to gain from doing so.

I’ve published dozens of of detailed articles about planning bike trips and choosing equipment for cycle touring and bikepacking that will help you make informed and relevant buying decisions. This library of free content includes mega-posts about the best touring bikes, cycle touring tents, cycle touring panniers, stoves for cycle touring and bikepacking, sleeping pads, cookware… seriously, the list goes on. (I even once published a book on the topic.)

So please consider my kit list below a source of inspiration at best, a waste of bandwidth at worst, and definitely not a list you should be copy-pasting. Okay? Okay.

Expedition Touring

Touring Bike

For mixed-terrain and long-haul trips I have, for the past 8 years, been riding a prototype Oxford Bike Works Expedition, custom-built to my specifications. Here’s a 10,000-word illustrated thesis detailing the original design process and how it’s changed since.

Also read:


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.

Also read:

Handlebar Bag

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


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. Most seem to be made by Exped (direct / Amazon), SealLine (direct / Amazon), Sea To Summit or 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.

Bike 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

Bikepacking Bike

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:

Bikepacking 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, two Stem Cells, 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.

Camping Equipment


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 from 2014; note that the 2022 model has documented issues with splintering poles, so best to wait for the updated model. 

If my wife is along for the ride, we’ll pack our 2010-series 3‑berth MSR Mutha Hubba HP. The 2023 equivalent is known as the MSR Hubba Hubba 3P (direct / Amazon / Alpine Trek / REI / MEC / eBay).

For minimalist bikepacking I’ve been using the British-designed Terra Nova Starlite 2 (my review / use TOMA20 for 20% 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:


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.


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 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:


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.


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


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.


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 even more dependent on personal preferences, but I currently use a Google Pixel 4 XL smartphone for navigation and communication, keep it charged with an Anker* power bank and a 4‑way USB mains charger, and take photos with a real camera.

Also read:

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

Hi Tom, I’m new to your fantastic and informative website. I’m 65 and in 1984 I did a long tour thru Northern California into Oregon and up the western side of Washington close to the ocean. It was in October and November and was getting into the rainy season in the Pacific Northwest. I had a budget 12 speed and all my gear was as low budget as you could get. My panniers were from REI I think but were simple. I waterproofed them with Campdry spray. I did at least 3 coats on each bag. It was a cheap way to get maximum waterproofing. It worked after many hours pedaling in the PNW rain on many days. I implemented several other cheap hacks at that time but can’t remember them all. Anyway, I was inspired to write this when I read your article on panniers. Keep up the good work. Antonio

Hey Tom,

I am a clueless American looking to bike tour England and Scotland. Do you have any advice for renting a reasonably capable bike for light road touring? My needs are not great. Any drop bar bike with a non-rusted drivetrain that can accommodate 35mm tires should suffice. Can such a machine be rented in the London vicinity? 

Thank you,

Hi James,

I would start by contacting the London-based touring bike specialists in this list. They may not rent bikes themselves, but they will probably be able to point you in the right direction.

Hope that helps!


Thanks Tom I’ve recently built a solid tourer based on a Thorn Sherpa frame. Your blog really helped with deciding on components and thanks for letting me know about Paul’s Thumbies. Looking forward to future adventures. Cheers Stu

Hi Tom.

Thanks for sharing this list. It’s a super detailed and helpful resource as always. 

I found the bivvy bag / hammock preference refreshing — a more practical choice in the field. I love the simplicity of a bivvy bag. 


The bivvy really comes into its own in fair weather. I’d add that it works best in combination with a bottle of insect repellent! In the temperate zone, pairing it with a synthetic bag and stopping to air-dry your kit every couple of days helps a lot as condensation is difficult to eliminate completely. A final point which I think is sometimes skipped over is that in heavy rain you should really try and find additional cover if possible as a bivvy bag is not a magic bullet. I’ve “slept” through enough storms in a bivvy bag to know that while you might survive the night, you will probably still be soaked to the skin by daybreak!

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!

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

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.

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…

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