Going on a bike tour? Alongside planning your route, carefully selecting your cycle touring kit is one of the most important parts of preparing for a two-wheeled adventure.
It sounds obvious, but you’ll have to carry whatever you bring, so it’s worth selecting well thought out, lightweight essentials and doing away with any unnecessary items.
That being said, you don’t want to find yourself in the middle of nowhere, underprepared and miserable, so be sure to include a few basics to make your journey run smoothly.
So here are the best bits of kit for a cycle touring trip, the ones that we love and wouldn’t want to leave behind. What would you take on your two-wheeled adventure?
[part title="1. Water bottles and bottle cages"]
Water is your number one essential! It’s best not to rely on shops being open, so mount bottle cages on the downtube and seat tube, take plenty of water and be sure to top up regularly.
[part title="2. Chamois Cream"]
The thought of rubbing cream into your nether regions can be a little off putting for some, but if you’re planning on spending hours in the saddle, chammy cream could be your knight in shining armour.
Chuck in a few single use sachets to keep the weight down and have a look in our round-up here to find out the best choice for you.
[part title="3. Padded shorts"]
The right pair of padded shorts can be the difference between smiles and tears on the bike, so make sure you’ve road tested your choice ahead of departure.
Pack at least two pairs to keep clean and fresh. If you've never used padded shorts, TWC Editor Kirsty offers up some advice here.
[part title="4. Shoes"]
Clipless ‘SPD’ style pedals are great if you plan on covering a fair distance as the stiff sole and optimised foot position ensures that you don’t lose any power when pedalling.
Chuck in a pair of lightweight shoes or flip-flops too; no matter how comfy your cycle shoes, you’ll be desperate to take them off at the end of the day!
[part title="5. Tool kit and spares"]
A tool kit and spares is a must when you’re travelling by bicycle. As an absolute minimum, include a pump, a multi-tool with a chainbreaker, puncture patches and glue, tyre levers, tubes and a ‘tyre boot.’
A couple of spare spokes, a few extra links of chain, handy-sized nuts and bolts and zip ties are also useful.
[part title="6. GPS cycle computer"]
One of the best things about recording your ride on your cycle computer is reliving your adventure once you upload when you return home. But, it’s not just for reminiscing; a cycle computer allows you to stay on top of your mileage and can also be useful for navigating.
Be sure to take regular maps or photograph the route on your phone just in case you lose signal.
[part title="7. Chow kit"]
If you’re planning on camping out, a lightweight stove, pan, cup and spork make the task of refuelling just that bit more fun; even instant noodles taste good when slurped from a cup whilst watching the sunset.
Try the MSR ‘Micro Rocket,’ for a good value, lightweight way to make a cuppa; just don’t forget the teabags!
[part title="8. Merino base layer"]
Versatile, comfortable and warm, merino base layers are superb for cycle touring as they don’t crease and remain relatively pong-free for extended periods of time.
It’s vital to choose ethically sourced merino from a reputable company to ensure the welfare of both livestock and farm workers.
Howies women’s long sleeve base layers are versatile, soft and durable and tick all the eco-boxes.
[part title="9. Hydration tablets"]
When spending a long time in the saddle, particularly if you’re perspiring, an electrolyte drink will help ward off cramps and keep you hydrated.
Take a tube of sugar-free hydration tablets to turn regular water into a balanced, non-sticky beverage that is easy on the gut. Nuun make some great flavours such as Grape and Cola.
[part title="10. Rain jacket"]
No matter where you’re going, it’s best to be well prepared so a lightweight, waterproof jacket is a must.
Breathable, high tech fabrics such as Gore Tex can be worth the extra money as they keep out the weather without making you sweat.
[part title="11. Thermarest sleeping mat"]
You’ll need plenty of rest if you’re pedaling all day, so if you’re planning on camping out, a lightweight sleeping mat can make all the difference.
Thermarest’s NeoAir Women’s XLite weighs just 300g, slows the loss of body heat through the ground and can make even the roughest ground feel comfortable.
[part title="12. Musette bag"]
A simple cotton musette bag takes up hardly any space and is really useful for any days where you ditch the bike and head out to explore on foot.
[part title="13. Touring shorts"]
A versatile pair of touring shorts works well both on and off the bike. Choose something slim, lightweight and water resistant and look for soft materials without rough seams that might chafe.
[part title="14. Dry bags and stuff sacks"]
Stuff sacks are great for compressing your gear and keeping everything organised.
If your panniers aren’t completely waterproof, be sure to include a dry bag for protecting essentials.
[part title="15. Cards"]
Perfect for whiling away a lazy evening on the road, a pack of cards always makes it’s way into my pannier. Simply add beer, and that’s your evening entertainment sorted.
Are you inspired to head off on a freewheelin’ adventure? What essentials would make it onto your kit-list?