Essential Gear for Bicycle Touring and Bikepacking

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essential gear bicycle touring bikepacking

Cycle Touring and Bikepacking Gear List
All the equipment you’ll need for a Bike Trip

This article is part of our series about Essential Gear for Bicycle Touring and Bikepacking
This section is about bicycles, accessories, luggage, and racks. For the other sections check below.

Many people worry about the gear they should bring on a bicycle trip, we thought about that for long before we set off for our multi-year bicycle world tour, so we decided to write this series of articles to answer the question: what gear should I bring on a bicycle trip?

The choice of the gear really depends on what kind of trip are you planning: are you going to ride the Tibetan Plateau in winter? Are you going to traveling South East Asia? Or your plan is an exploration of Europe?

So, if you don’t plan some extreme expedition our advice is not to worry too much about the gear. If you’re on a budget, don’t invest too much money in equipment, save it for the trip instead. You can travel on an old refurbished mountain bike, use buckets as panniers and get a cheap tent.

Quality gear though is an investment that could last a lifetime or at least several touring years. So, if your wallet is not crying, consider the motto “you get what you pay for”.

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Essential Bicycle Touring Gear List

bike touring gear list
Kona Sutra from Evans Cycles

The Bicycle

The most important piece of equipment, it’s your bike that will make your dreams come true, together with your force of will.

Depending on your plans, you probably won’t need the best touring bicycle on the market, I toured my first 25,000km on an 80-years-old refurbished leisure bike.

I like to say that “every bike is a touring bike, as long as you tour with it”, I’ve seen people touring on folding bikes, cheap mountain bikes, and even grannies. Of course, you need to check your bike properly before going on tour, your safety depends on it.

How to choose the right bike for an expedition is not a topic that we will face in this article, we will make one about this as soon as possible.

In the meanwhile, you could check these 

18 Great Touring Bikes Under 2,000$ – The best Custom Bicycles in the USA – 35 best Handmade Touring Bicycles in the World

If your budget is tighter, take a look at our selection of

21 Best Touring Bicycles Under 1,000$ or even How to get a free touring bike out of junk

Or, for the girls who want a specifically designed bike:

10 Great Woman Specific Touring Bikes

Basic accessories for Cycle Touring

gear list bicycle touring
Bike Mirror on

Fenders (Mudguards)

Fenders keep you dry and clean on rainy days. Most touring bikes already come equipped with it. If you plan on cycling dirty roads in the rainy season, bear in mind that the mud can stick between the fenders and the tyres, stopping the wheel from rolling.

This can’t be avoided, the best thing to reduce this phenomenon is to have a wide clearance between the mudguard and the tyre.


Most of the bicycle travelers did not use this but to me is fundamental. Knowing what’s coming behind you improves your safety by numbers. Have a look at these and see what fits your handlebars.


Another one of my favorite items, a loud bell helps you get noticed by cars, trucks, and people on the road. Moreover, it can save you from having to say all those “hello” in countries like The Philippines or Indonesia.

Water Bottles

Well, this goes by itself. Plastic ones tend to be smelly after a while, insulated water bottles are the way to go for a long trip. Some people like Hydration Packs, I don’t.

Another thing you might consider if heading to remote destinations is water bottles with built-in filters, that would solve the problem of finding drinkable water in some countries.


Having your bike stolen will most likely put a sad end to your tour. Having a good lock will make harder for any malicious folk to deprive you of your dream.

We personally use TiGr Locks, a titanium lightweight bow lock made in the US, Kryptonite U locks are maybe the most used by owners of pretty cool bicycles. Check our review of the TiGr Bow Lock.


We rode a lot without helmets, basically because we are so prone to leaving them somewhere behind us.

We are not proud of that, we think riding always with a helmet is a great way to improve one’s chance to survive accidents. Have a look at the safest helmets on the market.


Cycling glasses are a fundamental ally, and not just during sunny days.

The cycling eyewear, in fact, in addition to the fundamental role of protecting our eyes from UV rays, also keeps dust, smog, wind, and insects at a due distance.

Check the best cycling glasses here, from cheap to pro.

Non-Essential Accessories for Bicycle Touring

gear equipment cycle touring bikepacking
TiGr bow lock, buy it on


Since I ride with a trailer, I wouldn’t have survived without a kickstand. Anyway, I consider it a must for me, I can stop wherever I want to take pictures, take a leak or whatever, without having to worry about finding a place to lean my bike, and helps a lot when loading.

Some like to lay the bike on the ground, I personally hate that, it ruins the panniers, make the luggage move in an unwanted way, may scratch the bike. Elena though doesn’t have one and never wanted one, so it’s completely up to you.

A kickstand for a loaded bike must be sturdy, so double kickstands, like the Pletscher Double Leg or the Ursus, definitely work better. We compiled here a list of the best kickstands for cycle touring.

Map Holder

For those who are fond of paper maps, this is the stuff you need to keep it open and dry on your handlebars. Have a look at this incredibly sturdy one from ClickFix, it uses the same mount as most handlebar bags.

Phone Clamp and/or GPS clamp

If you’re more into the technological type of navigation, you’ll need something to hold your GPS device or Smartphone. Something like these or with an integrated power bank.

Hub Dynamo

Dynamo Hubs are great for bicycle touring. They can power your lights and USB devices (see the “electronics” section), getting energy from your cycling.

Good ones really have an almost unnoticeable drag. There are various models from several brands,

Bags and Racks for Cycle Touring and Bikepacking

best gear bicycle touring bikepacking
Pletscher Double Kickstand (photo by Available on


The best friends of the touring cyclist, those are the bags where you put your stuff. The most famous and appreciated brand is Ortlieb, they have a lot of different models. Other brands are VaudeAltura, Crosso, Brooks, etc.

Despite being dominated mostly by Ortlieb, the bike panniers market is very lively, also for bicycle touring, with dozens of brands making very good alternatives to Ortlieb, most of the times for a fraction of the price.

We compiled this list of the best bike panniers in 2020 hoping to help you figure out which pannier to buy. We wrote field test reviews of Crosso Panniers and MSX-Mainstream ones. Check also this Dry Bags buying guide.


Where your panniers are going to be hanged. Racks must be good quality, they are one of the pieces of equipment most likely to fail.

Tubus is one of the most trusted brands, Tortec makes some really lightweight ones, or you could go for a top-notch Lynskey Titanium Rack, able to carry up to 77kg (!), of course, it is quite expensive.

Handlebar Bags

Most tourers agree that the handlebar bag is the place to keep your most precious belongings, passport and money. I also love to keep my camera there, always at hand when the surroundings require a portrait.

Here also Ortlieb is the most appreciated although there are many alternatives, check our list of the best handlebar bags.

best gear bicycle touring
Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic panniers on Evans Cycling

Bike Trailer

A trailer is a nice companion for touring, the main advantage is taking some weight out of the bicycle frame. I toured for two years with an Extrawheel Trailer and absolutely loved it, the Topeak Journey also looks quite nice. Have a look at our review of the Extrawheel Bike Trailer.

Saddle Bag

Bikepacking is becoming increasingly popular nowadays. Bikepacking is a way of bicycle traveling that reduces or eliminates the use of traditional panniers. Belongings are stored in capacious frame, handlebar and seat bags.

There are a lot of saddlebags out there, from small to huge. The cool Specialized Burra Burra is one of the largest on the market, while Ortlieb also makes some nice ones. We are currently using MSX Mainstream.

Frame Bag

Another way to get rid of the panniers is using a Frame Bag like these. Those can contain a fair amount of luggage without depriving your bike of its aerodynamics.

Bear in mind that full-size frame packs must fit your bike geometry and size, that’s why many of them are tailor-made.

bicycle touring bikepacking gear
Specialized Burra Burra Seat Bag

Dry Bag

Dry bags are increasingly popular among travelers. They are basically cylindrical bags made by impermeable material. In bicycle touring, they are often placed on the rear rack.

Racktop Bag

An alternative to dry bags is rack-top bags like this Topeak, specifically designed to be held on top of the rack (as the name suggests).

Bunjee Cords

Useful to Secure your luggage, tight your bike on the roof of a boat in Borneo or above a truck in Kazakhstan

Essential Camping Gear for Bicycle Touring and Bikepacking

bike touring gear

Read More About Bicycle Touring Gear

Unless you’re going on a so-called “credit card tour” (meaning sleep only in hotels and eat only in restaurants), the most of your nights out bike touring will probably be camping nights.

Camping and bike touring go hand in hand, and camping is one of the fascinating aspects of traveling by bicycle. Finding the perfect spot, sleeping in nature, cooking your own meal, enjoying the stars and waking up in the wilderness. These are experiences you’ll carry with you forever.

Choosing the right camping gear for your expedition marks the difference between nights amazing and memorable or horrible and restless, if you’re traveling in climatically extreme areas your very survival will depend on it. Read more…

Tools and Spare Parts to bring on a Bicycle Expedition

When you’re out bike touring for a long while you want to be able to fix all the more common failures that can happen to your bike.

While some more complex issues may need the help of an expert mechanic (or at least a workshop), flat tires, broken spokes, gear regulation, wheel tuning, brake fixing and pad replacing, bolt tightening are the kinds of stuff you’re most likely to face when out touring.

Most of them are not hard at all (well, tuning a wheel is not easy), and you can deal with it yourself (better say that sometimes you must). Read more…

Electronic Equipment to Bring on a Long-Haul Bicycle Expedition

We don’t need to get as far back as in the days of the pioneers of bicycle touring, just 20 years ago is enough to find ourselves stripped of all the electronic stuff that we are now so much used to.

Some people, still nowadays, enjoy the old-style, a way to be more in touch with nature and take a break from the stress of the modern world.

All these electronics though, give bicycle travelers a new set of possibilities which can simplify and also improve the bike touring experience.

Shoot great videos and pictures, stay in touch with your relatives and friends, know always where you are, and even work remotely while traveling.

We put together this list of gear to help you think about what you may need for your next bicycle expedition. Read more…

Bicycle Touring Clothing Essentials

The choice of with clothes to take with you while bicycle touring is strongly dependent on the weather and climate you’re going to cycle.

If, like most of the bike tourers, you plan to ride and camp mostly at temperatures above 0°C (32°F) don’t invest too much money in clothing. Most of the time, using ordinary sports clothes and maybe one or two bike jerseys will be just fine.

We put together this list of gear to help you think about what you may need for your next bicycle expedition. Read more…

Check Also

17 best lightweight tents under 200$ – 23 best bike panniers compared
19 best handlebar bags for bicycle touring
Essential Camping Gear for Bicycle Touring and Bikepacking
Tools and Spare Parts to bring on a Bicycle Expedition
Electronic Equipment to Bring on a Long-Haul Bicycle Expedition
Bicycle Touring Clothing Essentials
12 Best and Safest Bike Helmets for Road Cycling, Urban Commuting, and MTB
The 11 Best Cycling Sunglasses – from Cheap to Pro 

Have a look at

The Best Online Stores for Bicycle Touring and Bikepacking

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