Touring Gear

I prefer packing light, so I can go further and see more things each day. Bicycle plus gear should be light enough that it feels like cycling, not hauling a load. Plus, there’s the satisfaction of seeing just how little one can live with, of boiling it down to the necessities.

Staying in hotels or hostels, rather than camping, saves a lot of weight, both in the gear itself and in the supporting racks. In the areas that I’ve toured self-supported (California and western Europe), lodging is readily available and not all that expensive, if selected judiciously. A hot shower, a good night’s sleep, and a place to dry out the gear are worth the additional expense to me. I also like the security of having gear locked in the room while I go out for dinner or explore the town.

My bicycle is a Rivendell roadbike circa 1998, which was before the custom era at Rivendell Bicycles. However, Grant selected slightly lighter tubing suitable for my weight, but kept the chainstays adequate to support a rack. The bike with wheels weighs 21.5 lbs (9.8 kg). Gearing is a triple chainring with 28, 39, 52 teeth in front and an 8-speed 11-28 cassette in back. And yes, I do use the entire range! I use bar-end shifters so I can rip through the gears with a flick of the little pinkie.

The wheels I currently use for touring are built with Mavic Open-Pro rims, Ultegra hubs, and 32 14/15 DT Revolution spokes, 3-cross in the front and rear. I built the wheels myself (it's easier than knitting!) so as to know how to fix them on the road, if need be. Fortunately, there hasn't been any need in several years of riding them. But just in case, the spare spokes go in a piece of vinyl tubing and reside in the seat tube. Tires currently in use are 25 mm IRC Duro or Continental Ultraskin, though I've used Avocet Road's in the past.

Rack and pack
Rack and pack

The Nashbar Daytrekker panniers are small and lightweight and just the right size for the Nitto mini-rack. The mini-rack is well suited for a light load. It attaches to the seat post and chain stays and doesn’t require eyelets (though my bike has them). To keep the panniers stable, I made short straps that attach to the eyelets at the hub and clip into the straps on the bag. A MountainSmith rackpack fits perfectly on the mini-rack. It is lightweight and easy to attach with velcro straps. Plus, it has a waterproof cover that is great for protecting camera, maps, and notes in the rain. The handlebar bag is an Eagle Creek pouch that converts into a hip pack. I added loops so it can be attached to the handlebars with velcro straps.

I pack all clothing in heavy duty Zip-lock bags, which helps keep things organized, as well as dry in the rain. The Nashbar panniers are water repellant, but not watertight, so wrapping is essential for rain days. My clothing list could be trimmed further, but I prefer wearing street clothes to dinner, and my black dressy wool sweater paired with black Munich-style stretch pants are serviceable formal dining attire. Maybe the Teva sandals are a bit incongruous, but they are a step up from cycling shoes!

The total weight of gear, rack, and bags comes to less than 15 lbs (6.8 kg), not include maps, pamphlets, or phrasebooks.

Items in italics are optional, depending on length and remoteness of tour.

  • Bike Gear
  • water bottles - 2
  • pump
  • Eagle Creek pouch, converts to hip pack, modified for handlebars
  • Nashbar Daytrekker Panniers
  • Mountain Smith rack pack (with nylon rain cover)
  • Nitto mini-rack
  • Cateye Micro II headlamp with lithium batteries (for early, late season tours)
  • taillight
  • Tools and Parts
  • tubes – 1 or 2 new
  • spare folding tire
  • tire levers
  • patch kit
  • spoke wrench
  • spokes – 2 each size, nipples
  • chain tool
  • Park multi-tool (allen wrenches, screwdrivers)
  • adjustable wrench – small
  • seat binder bolt
  • chain links
  • cassette remover
  • electrical tape
  • latex gloves (grease, rain, first aid)
  • chain oil - tiny bottle
  • zip ties
  • Victorinox knife - small
  • sandwich size plastic bag and rubber band for cyclometer in rain
  • brake and gear cables
  • Travel
  • maps
  • personal info
  • cash, wallet, medical insurance card
  • Opinel knife
  • plastic spoon
  • Canon Powershot S400, 2 batteries, 2 cards, charger, adapter
  • small notepad
  • pencil
  • Clothing
  • cycling shoes
  • helmet
  • prescription sunglasses
  • cycling gloves
  • cycling shorts - 2
  • cycling jerseys - 2
  • DeFeet Woolie Boolie wool socks – 2 pr
  • cotton blend socks – 1 pr
  • Munich-style long sports pants
  • T-shirt (synthetic)
  • Wool sweater
  • underwear
  • Teva sandals
  • Cool weather clothing
  • Coolmax undershirt
  • leg warmers
  • arm warmers
  • vest
  • Sierra Design rain jacket with hood (essential!)
  • rain pants
  • leg band for rain pants
  • headband
  • toe warmers or booties
  • long-fingered gloves
  • Personal items
  • suntan lotion
  • fingernail clippers
  • brush
  • shampoo – small bottle
  • earplugs
  • small travel alarm clock
  • medications
  • first aid tape
  • first aid kit
  • toothbrush and paste