Welcome back on Apache Pine! Today we will keep on talking about bike travels and, more specifically, what to take with you on a bike tour, what gear to use and how to pack when leaving on this kind of adventure.
A few days ago we discovered together how to get ready for a bike travel and some tricks and tips to keep in mind when you are a beginner at it.
Today we’ll get into more detail about the gear to use on a cycling adventure and how to take with you what you need without making your “suitcases” to heavy of a load.
The fundamental rule we’ll follow is: less is more. But keep in mind that too few doesn’t work either. So many bike riders, especially when at their first adventure, end up shipping the majority of their load back home, or asking friends and family to send over stuff they decided to not bring at first, spending lots of money and wasting time.
In general, the truth is you won’t need much and that even incredibly small stuff can be super heavy, so it’s not just about the size, but also the weight. Remember: when it comes to gear, light materials are best, like for example wooden objects, which are also sustainable and ecofriendly, in order to make your adventure more sustainable.
We feel like it’s the case to state you’ll probably make some mistakes even following every single guide by the letter, however don’t worry: in time you will learn what you must take with you, what to leave behind and how to articulate your stuff according to the sort of bike travel you’re leaving for.
Of course, first things first, needless to say you must gear up with proper, light, waterproof panniers, which will be your suitcases and bags during your bike tour. There are many kinds, according to your budget and your necessities: just pick the one that suits you best!
Also, we do not particularly suggest to bring a big backpack with you. A very small, light camelback or 10/15 liters small rucksack will be more than enough. Indeed, it’s better to not load your shoulders with too much weight: this should only be a bag where to put the stuff you use more often or you might need to take with you during off-the-bike moments.
Once you are ready with you “suitcases”, time to fill them up! So let’s see what to the take on a bike travel, what gear you need and how to pack everything.
We’ll give clothing for a bike travel peculiar attention, as it’s probably the most difficult thing to choose and pack when it comes to getting ready for a bike trip.
The password when it comes to clothes to take on a bike travel is: versatile. Clothes that you can use in many different occasions and that can be “modeled” according to weather conditions are what you want to have with you. Of course, make sure they’re lightweight and packable clothes, which means no bulky and furry stuff. Also, make sure they can dry fast. Of course, always be considerate of the places you are going to visit: you won’t need more than a light rain poncho if you are going to Mexico in June, as well as you surely won’t be using short sleeves and trousers if you are going to Ireland in October.
Also, there is no on-the-bike and off-the-bike distinction when it comes to what you wear: take with you items that can be used in any situations and be ready for rain, wind, or sun, incredible wilderness or city streets and places. Talking about the sun, don’t forget to bring with you sunscreen if you need it, or to protect from UVs with appropriate clothing (there are for example some incredibly light long-sleeves t-shirts that are created exactly for that).
So if we are to make a list of the basic clothing you should pack when traveling by bike, this would include: cycling trousers, helmet, cycling gloves, rain shell, t-shirts, a light and warm pile sweater, underwear and socks, shoes that are good for both biking and walking. Of course, adapt this to your travel, weather conditions and temperatures. Always opt for a layered sort of clothing, so that you will never feel uncomfortable in any occasion.
If you are bike touring and camping at the same time, it’s very important to have the right (hence light) and essential camping gear. So once again, light materials and small sizes are vital, starting from your tent. Provide yourself with a hiking and cycling tent, so you’ll be sure to have a piece of gear that will meet both your packing requirements and all sorts of weather conditions.
Same goes for your sleeping bag and your camping mat, which should be suitable for biking: it is very important that they can reach supermall sizes, so you can take them around with you easily and pack them according to your necessities.
For what concerns cooking tools for bike travels, one aluminum mess tin per person will be more than enough. Choose the lightest and smallest cooking system you can find and provide yourself with a single blade knife (our wooden knives are a perfect example of what we mean), which will be a lot more useful and resistant than a swiss army one.
The overall amount of gear should not weight more than 15 pounds per person, which is a fairly reasonable, yet not exaggerated amount of extra weight to take with you. Always remember to add an extra 1 or 2 pounds to this weight, as you will have water and food with you, which of course should be as light as possible. Opt for a light water container and aim at buying food day by day (if possible!).
Remember lighting devices, better if that’s a forehead light, which will be useful both on and off bike times.
Well, well, well, this will be a very interesting point, especially if you intend to film and document your bike travel. Technology weighs, so you’ll have to compromise somehow.
First of all, try to “pack” your smartphone with everything you need: we are talking about apps for outdoor adventures and activities, as well as a good phone case to keep it safe, especially if it’s a nice and sustainable wooden phone case like this one.
If you are passionate about photography and videomaking and you are thinking of getting a new phone, you might want to consider the idea of getting one with a really good camera, so you’ll be able to use it to document your bike travel as well, without the need of taking an extra piece of gear with you.
In general, keep you cameras small and light, so you’ll be able to carry them with you even during these sorts of occasions and create beautiful videos and visual storytellings also when on the road. Cameras made especially for sports and extreme activities are a great solution, so you can stick them on your handlebar and shoot picture with a quick and single gesture without having to stop.
Also, remember to bring a good, yet light power bank with you. If you are planning to spend many days into the wild, away from civilization and electricity plugs, we suggest a portable solar panel, which will also give you the chance to produce and use clean energy and respect the planet, besides recharging your devices anytime, anywhere.
How to pack a bike
Once you have everything in front of you, how do you pack for your bike travel? Divide your stuff into two sets, one including about the 60% of the overall weight and one including the 40%. The first set will go in the front pannier and the second one will go in the back one. Nevertheless, always experiment and play around with weight distribution in order to find the best asset for yourself and your bike.
For what concerns your tent, sleeping bag and sleeping pad, normally bikers pack them on the rear rack, in order to discharge their weight on the rear wheel. Of course, that’s not necessarily true for everyone: some bikers actually pack their sleeping bag or their pad right in front of them.
Always make sure to not cover lights and reflectors with your stuff, as it won’t place you in a safe position when cycling during dark hours. Always remember that, even if you didn’t plan to, unforeseen events might require you to do it anyways...always be ready for adventure!
Also, we suggest to place everything inside a big plastic bag before placing it inside your pannier: indeed, unless you are truly and legitimately sure they will resist even the heaviest of storms, some of them can still leak, even if waterproof!
Time for a check!
Once everything is ready, run a test. Bike for a day around similar roads and situations you are probably going to find on your path and make sure you made the best packing solution for a bike travel: comfortable, light enough and easy to load and unload.