Making a pack list for bike touring follows one simple rule: no bike tourer is created equal. That being said, my pack list consists of what I consider to be essentials for my personal needs and wants. It also fits the two trips I’m planning for this year, both of which are in developed countries where I will have easy access to help if presented with some sort of emergency. I’ve separated my gear into 6 basic categories: Cookware, camp gear, hydration, electronics, bike tools, and ‘miscellaneous’ (everything else). What I have not included in this list is my clothing and my bags, which I’ll save for another post.
Also, I didn’t include toiletries. I bring a tooth brush, toothpaste, and deodorant, in case you were wondering.
- GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Dualist Cookset: A great multipurpose pot that comes with two bowls, two coffee cups, two sporks, and a nifty little carrying case that doubles as a washing container; we never bring the carrying case with us. My only complaint with this cookset is that you need to be very careful when boiling water; if you let it boil too long, you can burn the plastic top.
- MSR Pocketrocket Backpacking Stove: This cheap and simple stove runs on isobutane propane blended fuel. It works just fine when traveling by car to your bikepacking trip.
- Beer Can Stove: This EXTREMELY cheap stove has some assembly required, and you must be willing to drink one beer prior to assembly, but it’s totally worth it. It runs on rubbing alcohol, a fuel that can be found virtually anywhere, so there’s no need to try to pack it with you. It is also incredibly cheap. For more information, click here: http://tomsbiketrip.com/how-to-turn-a-beer-can-into-the-only-camping-stove-youll-ever-need-video/.
- Metal Wind Guard: This is a very handy tool if the wind keeps preventing your stove from efficiently heating.
- Cooking gloves: I bring these simply because I like to grab really hot things right away and not have to worry about the repercussions.
- GSI Outdoors Java Press: This is an essential cooking item for my wife and me. We both love coffee, and this lightweight French Press makes it better than our coffee-maker at home.
- Fire Starters: I always bring a lighter and long-neck lighter, various sets of matches, and two tea light candles (not sure why I bring them, I just do).
- REI Pack Towel Ultralight Towel: I also bring a small packing towel for cleaning up after each meal.
- Kelty Light Trekker 20°F Sleeping Bag: It’s lightweight and keeps me warm. Works great for me.
- REI Halfdome 2 Tent: This is a very comfortable 3 season, two-person tent. It is a little on the heavy side and will be more than roomy enough for just me, but I’m not going to spend $300 on a solo tent so that I can shave some grams off my bike weight this summer. My only problem with this tent is that it builds up a fair amount of condensation on the inside at night. Overall, it has been a great tent though.
- Therm-a-Rest Z-Lite Sleeping Pad: I love this simple, fold up sleeping pad, however, my wife is not a fan. She thinks it does not provide enough insulation from the ground and is simply not comfortable.
- Platypus Big Zip LP Reservoir – 3 Liter: This water pack is great; lightweight and I’ve never once had a leak problem.
- Klean Canteen 40 oz Stainless Steel Water Bottle: This is a bomb-proof water bottle, with over a liter of storage.
- Two generic Water Bottles: Any will do, but it’s best if they have a logo supporting your local bike shop (Santiam Bikes!).
- MSR MiniWorks EX Water Filter: This is a great water filter if you’re going somewhere with questionable water. I’ve used it for years and never gotten sick!
- IPad Mini: This is an essential device for me. I love reading but am not a fan of straining to see the words by flashlight. This alleviates any potential vision problems and lets me focus on the rising action!
- Garmin Edge Touring Bike Computer: This little device is great. It has all the features I need without over-complicating the interface with random modes and gimmicks which I’d probably never use anyway. It’s worth looking into if you’re in the market for an easy-to-use touring GPS.
- Smart Phone: Just in case.
- Small lantern, headlamp, and small flashlight: I basically only use these when nature calls in the middle of the night; still, I want to make sure I’m well equipped when the time comes.
- Ipod and headphones: For those long, lonely sections of the road where you need a Harry Potter or Iron & Wine to keep you company.
- Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus Adventure Kit Solar Power: Wondering how to charge all these gadgets when out in the middle of nowhere? With the power of the sun of course! My confession is that I haven’t tried out this fine piece of machinery yet. Come mid-June I’ll have a definite opinion on its strengths and weaknesses.
- Canon PowerShot SD1300 IS Camera: This is not featured in the picture because it took the picture. A pretty simple point and shoot camera, but I think it takes great pictures and has enough features that I can at least pretend to be a photographer.
- Alien II Multi-Tool: Has a lot of great tools. Should assist with most minor mechanical issues.
- Gerber Multi-Tool: Handy back-up tool if you need one in each hand. Also has a pliers.
- Small Adjustable Wrench
- Chain Grease
- Electrical Tape and Gorrilla Tape
- Zip Ties
- Bike Tubes
- Tire Levers
- Patch Kit (with Super Glue)
- Wear patches (clear)
- 3 Emergency Tire Boots
- Fiber Fix Spoke
- Extra Garmin rubber rings for GPS
- 2 Permanent Markers: For marking potential loose spokes and other stuff.
- Miscellaneous screws, bolts, nuts, and pieces of rubber
- Rubber Bands
- Extra Helmet Pads
- Extra SPD Clips
- 2 extra quick-links for each bike
- Small Day Pack: Yes, underneath all the little miscellaneous items is a daypack, which is really nice if you want to leave camp and go to dinner somewhere, go for a quick hike, or whatever.
- Carabiners: Various sizes of carabiners are nice for strapping little or big things onto the pack as you go.
- Bug Repellant
- First Aid Kit
- Pills Kit: Ibuprofen, allergy medicine, benadryl.
- Miscellaneous Kit: Mirror, batteries, ear plugs, wine opener.
- Bag of Bags: A bag full of ziploc and garbage bags of various sizes; this really comes in handy.
- Emergency Blanket: I don’t really know why I bring this. I’d probably forget I even had it if an actual emergency arose.
- Pack Towels: Medium for me, large for my wife.
- Trowel and Toilet Paper
- Bungee Cords: Various sizes.
- Whistle: Why not? Mine also has a compass and temperature gauge (I didn’t buy this and am kind of embarrassed I own it, but it is nice). Oh yeah! It’s good for scaring away bears.
- Plastic Wine Glass: Multipurpose glass works for wine, beer, and whisky.
- Frisbee: Essential for having fun with your spouse at the end of a grueling day of biking.
Too Much or Too Little?
You may be thinking that this looks like way more gear than necessary for a 600 mile bike ride, and you may be right; for you. Like I said at the beginning, the art of packing one’s bike is not a definitive endeavor. It is as idiosyncratic as the biker carrying all the gear. I have never been a true minimalist, both when it comes to backpacking and now biking. I wouldn’t argue with you if you said that a French Press and a frisbee seems a bit excessive, but if I’m willing to carry the extra 1/2 pound, who’s complaining? You may be saying that this gear list looks way too brief. Where is the pillow? The extra tools? The real camera? The Posturepedic foam mattress? Bring it along if it helps you have peace of mind or helps you sleep at night. It’s called a supported tour for a reason: you bring what is necessary to support you, not someone else, because no bikepacker is created equal.