How to pack for cycle touring

Getting your packing right before a big ride is just as important as planning your route
What’s in your bag? Here are Cycling UK’s top 11 essential things you don't want to leave at home without when touring by bike

Are you planning your next big day out in the saddle? Maybe you’re thinking bigger and heading off on a multi-day tour by bike. You’ll want to be as sure about the kit you’re taking along with you as you are about the route you have all mapped out.

Wisely choosing your touring kit is one of the most important parts of preparing for a cycling adventure. Don’t forget, you will be carrying whatever it is you’ve decided to pack. The most prudent ‘bike packer’ is the one who has lightweight essentials and doesn’t carry anything they don’t need.

We have put together a list of must haves to help you prepare for your own cycle tour.

1. Water, water, everywhere

Water has got to be your number one essential. You can’t assume that the shops will be open, or indeed that you’ll be anywhere near one when you need that thirst-quenching glug. So mount bottle cages on your downtube and seat tube and take plenty of water. Whenever you get the chance to top up those bottles, do so.

2. Food for fuel

Top of your kit bag needs has to be food because there’s nothing worse than experiencing the dreaded ‘bonk’ (when your body runs low on glycogen which makes you stop in your tracks).

3. Padded shorts

This almost doesn’t need explaining, does it? If you’re going to spend hours in the saddle enjoying the fantastic scenery, you don’t want to be distracted by an uncomfortable derrière.

4. Pump, puncture repair kit

Make sure you’ve at least got a pump, a multi-tool with a decent chain tool (or chainbreaker), puncture patches and glue and tyre levers

5. Spare inner tubes

Because pushing your bike home or onto the next place to stay with a puncture is never fun. Don’t just rely on patching up your inner tube – you might need to swap it over.

6. Rain jacket

Whether it’s an off-road ride in Wales, or an on-road tour through Tuscany, no matter where you are heading in the world, if you’re outdoors, you can get wet – so be prepared with a lightweight, waterproof jacket

7. Phone

We know it’s obvious, and for so many of us now, we wouldn’t dream of going anywhere without it – but having a phone is a must in case of emergencies or to alter your accommodation arrangements en route because of unexpected delays. Also for those with a smartphone, the GPS mapping and tracking software apps can be a help if you’re not accustomed to map reading.

8. A map

Not only because Ordnance Survey is great, but because exploring brings us the greatest of discoveries. It’s nice to have the means to consider adding to (or taking away from) your original route as you go along on your trip.

9. First aid kit

And just as importantly, a decent knowledge of how to use it – just in case.

10. Cash as well as cards

The social side of cycling gives you’re the chance to shoot the breeze over a pint or a cuppa and a piece of cake, plus cycling brings huge benefits to the rural economy. There are still times, though, when you’re not going to be able to use your bank card and cash is still king.

11. Dry bags or bin liners

If your panniers aren’t entirely waterproof, a dry bag or some bin liners to protect your change of clothes will help you to avoid putting on damp clobber the next day.


Don’t agree with our list of essentials? We’d love to hear from you about what we might have missed. Share your essential kit list with us by leaving a comment below.