Alan's Canonical Packing List for Bicycle Tours

Your first impression on glancing at the table below is probably, "Wow, - this guy likes to carry a lot of stuff!" Actually, the main reason the list is so long is that it is extremely detailed. For example, I show separately every item in the medical kit. Most of the items are small and light. Also, this list is meant to be comprehensive - most people won't want to take everything listed. For example, things I normally don't take are shown in parenthesis. My total load (not counting bike, racks, and panniers, but including camping gear, cold weather clothes, electronics, etc.) typically weighs about 35-40 pounds.

Before I left on my first self-supported tour in 1996 I spent many hours researching packing lists that I found in books, on the World-Wide Web, and in cycling-related Internet news groups. I added some of my own items and made up a master list. I weighed each item, added that data to the list, and carefully selected the things I planned to take. (Hey I'm an engineer, what can I say?) I will say there was method to my madness: I needed almost every item I took and didn't forget anything important.

I weighed each item on either an old-fashioned balance-beam doctor's scale (large items like the bike) or on a small balance-beam scale with a resolution of 1/4 ounce (7 grams). Items that weighed less than about 1/4 ounce are listed as zero pounds.

Packing Philosophy

There are two philosophies about packing for bicycle touring. Some folks think that weight doesn't matter. They believe that bicycle touring is not about going fast so you shouldn't hesitate to bring along anything that you think you might need. On the 1996 tour I met a fellow riding with both a Bob trailer and front panniers who estimated he was pulling 120 pounds up those hills.

The other philosophy is "lighter is better". At the extreme, these are the folks who drill holes in their toothbrush handle to reduce weight. While I don't go that far, I do believe it is worth the trouble to analyze what you take and figure out ways to lighten the load. My philosophy is that you're already going plenty slow enough on a bike - there's no reason to load yourself down any more than necessary.

One trick to travelling light is to try to make each item serve multiple purposes. Select clothing that you can wear for off-the-bike activities as well as for riding. Jeans for example are heavy (typically over 1.5 pounds) and are useless for riding. I leave them at home. A multi-tool saves weight compared to separate tools. How many different types of soap do you really need? One container of liquid soap can serve for washing clothes, washing dishes, bathing, shaving, and perhaps even washing hair. You get the idea - use your creativity to come up with clever ways to minimize the load.

Don't forget that if you are travelling in a group, some of the items (cooking gear, less-critical tools) can be shared.

Each item should be evaluated based on its weight and utility. My criterion for tools and parts is only to bring items that (1) I am likely to need and (2) would leave me stranded and unable to ride if needed and not available. For example, you can still ride with a broken shifter or derailleur so I don't bring spare parts for those (except for a spare cable because it is so light and is the most likely part to break). However if you damage a tire beyond repair you can't ride, so I bring along a spare light-weight foldable tire sufficient to get me to the next bike shop. (I have needed it several times.)

On the other hand, it is possible to be too analytical. Every bicyle tourist should take along at least one frivolous item. If you otherwise have done your packing homework you'll have plenty of room for it.

Excel spreadsheet format
Check-off list in Microsoft Word format
Home page

Things to take on a bicycle tour
S= Supported tour
U= Unsupported tour
AC= Provided by Adventure Cycling on their tours
(parentheses) = Things I normally don't take
(__)(__)Bike (68-cm steel touring bike)29.15029.150
(__)(__)Fenders (SKS w/mudflap)1.0601.060
(__)(__)Water bottles (3)0.1500.450
(__)(__)Frame pump (Silca)0.3700.370
(__)(__)Rear-view mirror0.1500.150
(__)(__)Seat bag (Rivendell Baggins)0.7300.730
(__)(__)Map holder0.0000.000
(__)(__)(Heavy-duty cable/lock)1.060
(__)(__)LED Headlight w/batteries0.3500.350
(__)(__)Tail light w/batteries0.2500.250
(__)(__)Reflectors w/hardware0.2500.250
(__)(__)(Handlebar bag)?
(__)Rear rack1.5001.500
(__)Front rack0.9500.950
(__)Front panniers (Ortlieb)2.4402.440
(__)(Rain covers)?
(__)Rear panniers (Cannondale)4.2304.230
(__)Trash compactor bags (2)
(Used as waterproof pannier liners)
(__)Straps and bungee cords0.2500.250
Assumes "U-only" tools are provided on supported tours:
(__)(__)"Cool Tool" (adj. wrench, 4/5/6/8/10
mm Allen key, 14/15 mm hex wrench,
x-point screwdriver, chain tool)
(__)(__)*(3/4/5/6 mm allen key)0.125
(__)(__)*(8/9/10 mm hex wrench)0.130
(__)(__)*(Chain rivet tool)0.180
(__)(__)Swiss army knife (includes screwdrivers)0.1300.130
(__)(__)S&S coupling wrench0.1900.190
(__)(__)*Tire levers0.0800.080
(__)(__)Tire pressure gauge0.0600.060
(__)(__)Mini pump (for spare)0.2650.265
(__)(__)Shrader valve adapter00.000
(__)(__)*Spoke wrench (.127")0.0300.030
(__)Tool pouch0.1600.160
(__)Cleaning cloth0.0000.000
(__)(Latex gloves)?
(__)Scotchbrite pad0.0000.000
(__)*Small flat file0.0100.010
(__)*Cassette remover (Hyper Cracker)0.0900.090
(__)(Freewheel remover)0.200
(__)(Big wrench for above)1.600
(__)Small Channel lock pliers0.3200.320
(__)*13/15 mm cone wrenches0.2500.250
(__)Needle-nosed pliers (includes wire cutters)0.2500.250
(__)(Wire cutters)0.120
(__)(Small crescent wrench)0.250
(__)*(Small Vice Grips)?
(__)*(Bottom bracket tool)?
(__)*(Crank puller)0.430
(__)(Chain cleaner)0.375
(__)(Floor pump)1.900
SUACSpare PartsEachTrip
(__)(__)*Patch kit with tire boots0.1000.100
(__)(__)Spare tubes (2)0.3000.600
(__)(__)Rubber bands0.0000.000
(__)(__)Spare folding tire0.5600.560
(__)(__)2-3 Spokes each size0.0500.200
(__)Parts pouch0.1600.160
(__)Spoke nipples0.0000.000
(__)Chain links0.0200.020
(__)Toe clip strap0.0300.030
(__)(Hand cleaning paste)?
(__)Nylon filament tape0.1600.160
(__)*Black electrical tape0.1600.160
(__)*(Metal wire)?
(__)*Plastic tie wraps0.0100.010
(__)*Brake cable0.0600.060
(__)*Derailleur cable0.0300.030
(__)Spare bolts/nuts0.0500.050
(__)(Brake pads/blocks)0.080
[Weight note: I'm 6'7" (2 meters) tall.]Pounds
SUACCycling clothes EachTrip
(__)(__)(Cycling shorts)0.400
(__)(__)(Cycling jersey)0.470
(__)(__)Poly shorts for riding (3)0.4001.200
(__)(__)Poly shirts for riding (3)0.4201.260
(__)(__)(Sports bra)?
(__)(__)Socks (4 pairs)0.0950.380
(__)(__)2 Sweatbands0.0800.160
(__)(__)Cycling shoes2.3802.380
(__)(__)Cycling gloves0.1250.125
(__)(__)Reflective ankle bands0.0000.000
(__)(__)Extra shoelaces0.0000.000
(__)(__)Fleece sweatshirt1.0901.090
(__)(__)Poly long-sleeve T-shirt0.7200.720
(__)(__)Poly glove liners0.0800.080
(__)(__)Warm gloves0.3300.330
(__)(__)Bandanas (2)0.0450.090
(__)(__)Thermal socks (2)0.0950.190
(__)(__)Arm warmers0.1600.160
(__)(__)(Leg warmers)?
(__)(__)Rain jacket or cape0.8450.845
(__)(__)(Rain spats/shoe covers)0.770
(__)(__)Rain pants0.5300.530
(__)(__)(Shoe covers or boots)0.240
(__)(__)Helmet cover w/neck flap0.0900.090
SUACOff-bike clothes EachTrip
(__)(__)Wool cap0.3600.360
(__)(__)Sun hat0.1410.141
(__)(__)(Polyester shirt)0.375
(__)(__)(Polyester slacks or skirt)0.940
(__)(__)Convertible slacks/shorts0.8900.890
(__)(__)(Tennis shoes)1.750
(__)(__)(Sweat shirt/pants)?
(__)(__)(Foldable raincoat)0.875
(__)(__)(Swim suit)0.330
SUACToilet kit EachTrip
(__)(__)Carrying pouch0.0750.075
(__)(__)Throw-away razor0.0150.015
(__)(__)Tooth brush0.0300.030
(__)(__)Dental floss/toothpicks0.0150.015
(__)(__)Nail clippers/file0.0300.030
(__)(__)Sewing kit0.0300.030
(__)(__)Ear plugs0.0000.000
(__)(__)Sink drain stopper0.0150.015
(__)(__)(Deodorant, 2.25 oz)0.235
(__)(__)(Hair bands/barretts)?
(__)(__)(Feminine products)?
(__)(Shaving cream, 11 oz)0.905
(__)(__)Tent/ground cloth
(Eureka Zeus 2EXO 2-man tent)
(__)(Mallet for tent stakes)0.800
(__)(__)Tent/mattress repair kit0.0000.000
(__)(__)(Poly sleeping bag "20 deg")3.470
(__)(__)Down sleeping bag "20-35 deg"2.4402.440
(__)(__)Waterproof bag for above0.1700.170
(__)(__)Inflatable pillow0.2000.200
(__)(__)(3/4 Thermarest pad & bag)1.700
(__)(__)X-long Thermarest Prolite2.1252.125
(__)(__)(Thermalounger camp chair)0.670
(__)(__)Kitchen garbage bags (4)0.0310.124
(__)(__)(Weber candle lantern)1.440
(__)(__)Uco candle lantern w/refl.0.5000.500
(__)(__)(Spare candle)0.110
(__)(__)50' rope/twine0.1000.100
(__)(__)Plastic clothes pins (8)0.0150.120
(__)(__)Mosquito head net0.1000.100
(__)(__)Large sponge0.1000.100
(__)(__)(Water container)0.070
(__)(__)Net bag for laundry0.2000.200
(__)(__)Cold-water detergent0.2000.200
(__)(__)(Bike cover)?
(__)(__)(Mini flashlight w/2 AA bats)
(I use bicycle light for a flashlight)
(__)(__)Petzl head lamp w/2 AAA bats0.1700.170
(__)(__)Campfire starter sticks (4)0.1250.125
(__)(__)(Water purifier/filter)0.890
(__)(Wash basin)?
(__)(Shower bag)?
For camping, add to toilet kit:
(__)(__)Soap/soap dish0.3600.360
(__)(__)Washcloth & sponge0.0800.080
(__)(__)(Bath towel)
(I use sponge to dry after shower)
(__)(__)Plastic cup0.0400.040
(__)(__)Plastic plate/bowl0.0600.060
(__)(__)Plastic knife/fork/spoon0.0800.080
(__)(__)(Pouch for utensils)0.160
(__)*Cutting knife0.0600.060
(__)*(Cutting board)?
(__)*Wood/plastic stir spoon0.0200.020
(__)*(Can opener)(I use Swiss army knife)?
(__)(Dish soap) (I use Woolite)?
(__)*Dish scrubber0.0300.030
(__)*Dish towel0.2500.250
(__)(Plastic bottles)?
(__)Salt/spices ?
(__)Food (purchased as needed) ?
(__)*Whisperlite stove0.8450.845
(__)Windscreen for stove0.1400.140
(__)*Fuel bottle, 22 oz0.3450.345
(__)*(Fuel bottle, 11 oz)0.235
(__)*Aluminum Boy Scout cook kit
(1.5 qt pot, fry pan, 2 bowls, handle)
(__)*(Aluminum/Teflon cook kit)
(1/1.5/2.5 qt pots, 3 fry pans, handle)
SUACFirst Aid KitEachTrip
(__)(__)*Total weight of kit0.5000.500
(__)(__)(Prescription medicine)
(__)(__)Benadryl (antihistamine for bee stings)
(__)(__)Antiseptic wipes
(__)(__)Adhesive tape
(__)(__)Ace bandage
(__)(__)Chap stick (lip balm)
(__)(Salt tablets)
(__)Water purification tablets
(__)(__)Health insurance card
(__)(__)Emergency contact
(__)(__)List of contacts/phone numbers
(__)(__)Driver's license or other ID
(__)(__)Business cards
(__)(__)Wallet/credit cards/ATM card/cash
(__)(__)Photocopy credit cards & important papers
(__)(__)Medicine and glasses prescriptions
(__)(__)Credit card billing addresses & 800 numbers
(__)(__)Check book for above0.1100.110
(__)(__)Transportation tickets
(__)(__)*Maps/itinerary (AC Northern Tier)0.7800.780
(__)(__)(Bike repair book)
(__)(__)Voicemail quick-ref guide
(__)(__)Portable radio/MPE player0.1900.190
(__)(__)Weather radio0.4700.470
(__)(__)(Small laptop computer/charger)5.050
(__)(__)GPS w/bike mount0.8300.830
(__)(__)Digital camera w/extra memory0.6000.600
(__)(__)Spare batteries (4 NiMH AA) + charger0.6700.670
(__)(__)(Two-way radio)0.850
(__)(__)(Cell phone)
(__)(__)Extra water bottles in panniers
(__)(__)Quarters for phone & pay showers
(__)(__)(Trashy paperback novel)0.500
(__)(__)Wristwatch w/alarm
(__)(__)Safety pins0.0000.000
(__)(__)Sun screen, 8 oz0.5900.590
(__)(__)Insect repellent, 5 oz0.4200.420
(__)(__)Power bars (4)0.1500.600
(__)(__)Ziplock storage bags0.3000.300
(__)(__)Toilet paper0.2000.200
(__)(__)Prescription glasses w/case0.1560.156
(__)(__)Reading glasses0.1000.100
(__)(__)(Deck of cards)0.125
(__)(__)(Small binoculars/case)0.800
(__)(__)(Back pack/fanny pack)
Less bike, fenders, etc.-31.960
Less racks, panniers, straps-9.570
Less one set of clothes and shoes-4.350
Less Adventure Cycling-supplied stuff-2.930

Last update 02/12/2008