The Five Most Important Items you can Bring on a Bike Tour
When you set out on bike tour, whether for the first time or the hundredth, there are those things that you never want to be without. After our touring experiences here are the top 5 things we can’t live without.
1. Waterproof storage system: It doesn’t matter if you’re using Ortliebs or your own favorite brand there is nothing more comforting than knowing that your spare clothing and sleeping bag will be dry when the rain hits. It seems like no matter where you are or what time of year it is you will experience some rain. Some prefer the pocketed panniers for organization but I’ll take waterproofing over organization any day.
2. Merino wool: No amount of words can describe how much I love merino wool. It keeps you cool in the heat, warm in the cold, and dry. Not to mention it takes significantly longer to accumulate stink than your average polyester. Even the polyester wool blends don’t perform as well as merino. On a bike tour you will be spending every day sweating in your clothes for hours on end. If a merino shirt can be worn for several days without washing you can ultimately pack less and wash your shirts less often. Ladies, the same goes for merino sports bras.
3. GPS: Some purists say this takes the adventure out of touring but I can tell you that we had plenty of adventures while using a GPS to guide us. It’s not like your GPS knows how steep a road you are heading toward (neither does your map for that matter). One of the main virtues of traveling with a GPS is the index of routable resources, such as hotels, grocery stores, gas stations, hardware stores, campgrounds etc. It’s nice to have your questions answered with a few pushes of buttons when, say your trailer breaks. It’s up to you how much you rely on this tool.
4. Spacious tent: you might be trying to keep your weight down, but your tent and sleeping gear are essential to feeling good day to day on tour. That kind of comfort is worth the extra pounds. I want to be able to stretch out and not have to worry about leaving my panniers outside the tent.
5. Tools: I’m assuming you are reasonably competent at your average bike adjustment. Having a good multi tool like the Alien IIcan be the difference between being stranded and making it to the next town. In addition to the multi tool I would add an adjustable wrench and pliers. With those tools you will be able to do nearly everything.
Those are the top 5 things I will always have with me on tour. A few other pieces of advice that I would recommend is to use Blue Loctite to attach racks and any other threaded assembly you don’t want vibrating loose. My seat post saddle bolt kept backing out and a little bit of Loctite fixed the problem and saved me some major headaches. Having a few extra tie downs either ropes or compression straps are always helpful for securing things to your racks. I like them better than bungee cords since they won’t lose their elasticity over time.
What things do you love to have on tour? Tell us in the comments below.