There are so many different ways to approach this topic. I think the easiest is to keep it simple and truly focus on the gear you need to pack with you on trip. I don’t want to get into details about specific bike parts and how to fix them if they break. I figure you can do one of two things:
- go to your local bike store and have them show you how to fix parts that might break while riding (like changing a flat, broken spokes, snapped chain)
- you can look it up in Google, watch and practice yourself.
I simply want this post to be about what you need to take with you rather than how to fix the actual problem youre having. Im not an expert enough to do that, so Id rather leave you to find a person that can help you.
This is my list of things that I take on a bike tour:
- a bike lock
This is important if you are planning on using your bike for sightseeing and may have to run into somewhere to use the washroom or get some food. If you’re traveling with others, its not as critical as you can ask them to watch your bike for you. If youre traveling alone, a lock is a necessity.
- water bottle
We all have our favourite water bottles. You can choose to keep them on your bike or wear it on your back. Whatever your preference, just make sure to take them with you.
The Swiss army knife for bike enthusiasts. There are many types available. Your local bike shop will have a variety. Make sure you buy one that will work everywhere on your bike. I once bought one that didnt have the allan key size I needed to be able to move my saddle back and forth. I ended up buying another one that fits everything on my bike.
- flat tire patch kit & tire levers
A simpler way to get you back on your bike after a flat tire. Tubes take up a lot of room while patch kits are small. Ive had some patches that have lasted a long time and others were simply holding my tube together until I could buy a spare at a bike shop. Either way, you need to have at least a couple of these with you.
- spokes & spoke wrench
I only learned about taking extra spokes after a friend of mine came from a cycling trip in France. He broke 15 spokes in a couple of weeks. His girlfriend? She never broke one. Sometimes, you have luck and other times you dont. Buy a few of these for your wheel size and have them handy. Heres hoping you wont have to use them.
- bike pump
There are two ways to look at this. Some people prefer the old school way of having a bike pump attached to their bike. Other people like the one-shot compressed air pumps. They fill your tires fast and get you back on the road in no time. If youre unsure which to buy, ask around. People will always give their opinion on what they like and why. I prefer the old school method of pumping my tires by hand. I figure it gives my arms a workout instead of just having them hold me upright on the bike for hours at a time.
- mini first aid kit & saddle sore cream
Bring along bandaids/plasters, disinfectant and some pain relief pills. While youre at it, throw in some cream for saddle sores. The friction of the saddle on your private parts will eventually need some relief. Try out a few types and pack the one that works best for you. Dont be afraid to ask your fellow riders at the local bike store which brand they prefer. Men and women are not built the same, so do some homework here!
- toilet paper/facial tissues
As a woman, I find it necessity to take toilet paper with me on cycling trips. Even if I were a guy, Id be packing some too. Simply put, you just need the stuff for the emergencies when you cant find a public toilet in the middle of a highway with the nearest town being 60 kms away. I take the paper tube out and squish it down. Never have regretted bringing it with me.
As with everything, there is always room for those of you to add something to my list. These are the things Ive learned to take with me. Feel free to browse other websites and see what they have on their list. Ask other local cyclists what they would pack. I figure the more you investigate, the less likely it will be that you will leave a critical piece of gear behind.
Here goes my list of handy things to take with you:
- head and tail lights
I always take headlights and taillights with me on cycling trips. Many times I have aimed to be at my destination before dusk and those plans were not actualized for a variety of reasons. I figure its worth packing them just in case. Theyre small and so easy to put on. I want to be visible to other drivers as well as illuminating the road in front of me. I would actually consider these necessity rather than an optional choice.
- plastic bags
These can be used for a variety of things from keep soaking wet clothing from touching dry clothing, to keeping clothing dry if your pannier covers aren’t doing the trick (or you forgot them or never bought any in the first place!), to throwing away food or putting on your feet when its raining and cold.
- electrical tape
Again, you just never know when you might need to use this stuff to hold a broken something or other in place until you can reach the nearest bike shop. You dont need to bring a brand new roll, but a little can be helpful.
- waterproof pannier covers
I have a set of these and I love them. They are bright yellow making me more visible in the darker, rainy weather. They also protect my gear in my panniers from getting soaked from both rain and any nasty road dirt that my tires will be kicking up off the road. I just dont chance it. I always take these with me just in case.
Got any other suggestions for this list? Feel free to contact me and make your plea to have your item included on this list.
Oh ya, just for fun, Ive included this YouTube video so you can see how people actually pack all their gear into their panniers. Its the same one as on the top of the page but just in case you missed it the first time.
Until next time, happy trails!