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 .
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.
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.
- What’s The Best Touring Bike? (2023 Edition)
- A Massive List Of Expedition Touring Bikes For Round-The-World Rides (43 & Counting)
- 3 Critical Questions To Ask Before You Choose A New Touring Bike
- Touring Bike FAQ (Part 1 of a 7‑part series)
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.
- Do I Really Need Ortliebs? A Buyer’s Guide To Panniers For Cycle Tours & Expeditions
- Crosso Dry, Twist & Expert Pannier Review & Detailed Photos
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*).
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.
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:
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.
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.
- 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
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.
For winterlike conditions I use an older down-filled Big Agnes Storm King rated to ‑25ºC.
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.
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.
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:
Basic cycling sunglasses (Decathlon*).
Shoes & Socks
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.