Cycle campers - what to pack?

Fancy taking on a multi-day ride for the first time, but you're stumped when it comes to fitting all your kit on the bike? Journalist Katherine Moore offers a few tips from Cycling UK on what to pack for your bikepacking trip

Sleeping kit

Let’s start with perhaps the bulkiest part - your sleeping set up. There’s no wrong or right answer here, as it mostly comes down to personal preference. 

Option 1: a bivvy bag - essentially a waterproof outside layer for your sleeping bag, is the most lightweight option.

Option 2: In foul weather, it’s wise to pack a tarp for additional shelter. For more privacy and protection against the elements, some prefer a small, lightweight tent. 

Option 3: a hammock which you can string up between trees or fence posts, though you might also need a tarp and under blanket in colder or wetter weather.

Choose a sleeping bag suited to the weather conditions. Summer weight bags are lighter and pack down smaller, but you’ll need more warmth if you’re planning to camp in lower temperatures.

A sleeping bag liner is also a good idea to help keep your bag a little cleaner and warmer, but not essential.

Use an inflatable sleeping mat if you’re using a bivvy bag or tent.

Of course, if you’re choosing to stay indoors at guest houses or B&Bs each night, then you won’t need to carry camping gear.

Cooking kit

Are you planning to cook your own meals, or enjoying some hospitality at a cycle friendly pub on your route? Common cooking kits include a small stove and gas, with a spork and knife as well as lightweight cooking and eating pots. Don’t forget a mug if you’re starting your day with porridge and a brew! If you’re heading out into the wild, you may also need water purification in the form of a filter or tablets


Besides personal toiletries, a little chamois cream might come in handy, and don’t forget sunscreen and SPF lip balm. It’s also a great idea to have some basic first aid materials on hand, as well as any personal medication and pain relief.


Even if you think you’ll only be riding in daylight, you must pack lights. Along with your other kit, make sure you pack suitable charging cables. A battery pack is a really good idea. If you’re using a gps computer for navigation then don’t forget its cable, as well as any charging devices you may need for an e-bike or electronic gears.

Bits and bobs

Remember your usual tools and spares for repairing any mechanicals. A spare mech hanger and little pot of chain lube also come highly recommended, from experience! Oh and don’t forget the snacks!

How to pack your bikepacking bags

So that’s what you’ll need to take, but how do you pack it all? The golden rule is to keep things you might need to use closer to hand, while kit such as your camping gear can be buried deeper. If your bikepacking bags aren’t 100% waterproof, use dry bags inside to keep your spare clothes, sleeping gear and electricals from getting wet. 

So that’s what you’ll need to consider taking. When you’re ready to try your first multi-day cycling trip, check out our new cycling routes in Kent, Norfolk and Cornwall.