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
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.
I don’t use front panniers, but if I did, I’d use Crosso Dry 30s.
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.
I also wear an old Deuter 3‑litre hydration pack, and a LowePro hip pack for camera gear.
- Click here to open my detailed article on choosing a tent for cycle touring & bikepacking in a new tab.
For winter conditions I use an old Big Agnes Storm King rated to ‑25ºC.
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 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 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.
- 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.
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:
- 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.
- Basic cycling sunglasses (Decathlon).
- Down jacket
- Big Agnes Shovelhead, which I got from an expedition sponsor in 2014 and could never otherwise afford.
- Light hiking shoes, usually entry-level Salomon Goretex ones or something mid-range from Decathlon. I always bring flip-flops.
- 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.