Gear to take on your next multi-day bike trip

Sensible packing suggestions for more fun on your bike trip.

Do Not Overpack
Travel gurus unanimously list overpacking as one of the most common travel mistakes. On a long distance bicycle trip, the extra weight of unnecessary items can make the difference between a fun trip or a disastrous one.

Factors Affecting Gear Selection
Inevitably, the gear you will need for your trip will depend on the distance you will travel, access to food along the journey, weather conditions, where you'll sleep, how your bike handles the gear load and whether the trip is supported.

Specific Gear Suggestions
Assuming that you are embarking on a multi-day bike trip, I have broken the gear you will need into 2 categories:

1. Trips w/Beds
(staying each night in a hotel, motel, inn, pension, guest house, bed and breakfast, etc.)
2. Camping Trips
(any trip requiring at least a night of camping)
These packing lists are NOT definitive but they've worked for me. Base the gear YOU will take on YOUR comfort level and the factors I mentioned above concerning gear selection.

Do A Dry Run
Several days BEFORE YOU GO on the trip, do a dry run. Pack everything on your bike to see that the load is stable, THEN ride your loaded bicycle at least a few miles to make sure you are comfortable with the load. If something doesn't seem right, redistribute the weight or eliminate items until you ARE comfortable.

Trips w/Beds:
On such trips, I've gotten by with about 25-30 pounds of gear. On my Brompton folding bike, most of this weight goes in the bag that locks into the carrier block on the bike frame. The block is affixed just above the front forks, giving me a lower center of gravity and making the bike handle even better. On other folding bikes, using rear panniers or a trailer are other choices.

Here's the complete inventory of my gear. This is typically the maximum amount of items I take.
__ Bicycle Helmet
__ Eyewear (sunglasses & contacts)
__ Cycling gloves
__ Pants clips or velcro straps (keep your pant legs from getting dirty)
__ Waist/fanny pack
__ Two pairs of lined shorts (think baggy swim trunks)
__ One pair of long pants
__ Two pairs of cycling shorts
__ Three cotton tee shirts
__ Three pairs of socks
__ One pair of ordinary athletic shoes
__ One long sleeve cotton tee shirt
__ One light nylon anorak, with hood (for rain, wind & warmth)
__ Light nylon pants for rain, wind & warmth (pack in a pocket)
__ Pre-moistened towelettes (small bag)
__ Small, basic first-aid kit
__ Toothbrush & toothpaste
__ Shampoo
__ Disposable razor
__ Sunscreen
__ Pen and paper
__ Smartphone & charger
__ Printed maps & essential info (as backup when your cell's battery is dead)
__ Headlight, taillight
__ Water bladder (Alternate: 2 bike water bottles)
__ Pannier rain covers and plenty of zip lock plastic bags (to keep your gear in)
__ Bike U-lock and/or six-foot cable lock
__ A few bungee cords

__ Bike repair gear (air pump, cables, spokes, tubes, patch kit, chain lube & duct tape)

Camping Trips:
Camping involves greater self-sufficiency and planning as you will be providing your own shelter, bedding and sustenance (food). As well as everything listed above, you will need the following:
__ Tent
__ Ground tarp
__ Foam mattress pad
__ Sleeping bag
__ Food

By selecting your gear wisely, the above mentioned camping items can weigh under 10 lbs; however, this is based on 1-2 days of rations of food that does not require cooking (nuts, power bars, cookies, fruit, prepared food bought in route). If you plan on cooking your own food, you will need to pack the following as well:
__ Camping utensils (fork, knife, spoon, can opener)
__ Cooking gear
__ Seasoning
__ Dried food packets

I consider the above to be the minimal gear needed to comfortably support an independent bike trip. Obviously, you will need other items (money, identification & travel documents are a few things that come to mind) so factor the specifics of your trip with your comfort level and how your bike handles the weight to determine exactly what you'll take.

Happy trails!