July 17, 2024

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The Ultimate Bike Trip Packing List

The Ultimate Bike Trip Packing List

Table of Contents

Whether venturing abroad or trying a new route at home, traveling on two wheels is a fun way to explore at your own pace.

A thorough packing list will ensure you’re prepared for a multi-day bike trip. You’ll need to consider the local climate, duration of the trip, and potential bike contingencies to be ready for on your adventure. At the same time, you should travel light and narrow your list to just the essential apparel, gear, and accessories so you’re not pulling unnecessary weight.

Read on for more on what to pack for your next bike trip.

Packing Checklist

Apparel and Shoes

Essential Gear

Accessories


Apparel and Shoes

When and where you’ll be cycling are key factors that should guide your packing list for a bike trip. “There isn’t much difference between a short trip and a long trip,” says adventure YouTuber Ryan Van Duzer. “The weather is what makes the difference on what clothing to pack, whether it be base layers for warmth or waterproof protection,” adds Van Duzer.

Besides the riding conditions, it’s also important to consider comfort, performance, and durability in your cycling apparel. “Look for clothing and apparel with merino wool to prevent odor, especially on longer trips and if you’ll be repeating outfits,” advises Van Duzer. Other items, like padded bike shorts and cycling shoes, should balance lasting comfort with performance to enhance your pedaling power, efficiency, and stamina. Choosing high-quality, durable apparel will help ensure you get plenty of miles out of your purchases.

Best Men’s Cycling Shorts

Giordana Men’s FR-C Pro Cycling Shorts

Giordana FR-C Pro

Competitive Cyclist


If you’re planning on longer rides and multiple days in the saddle, padded bike shorts are essential to stay comfortable. The Giordana FR-C Pros excel when it comes to comfort and performance. The shorts’ Cirro OmniForm chamois is designed with multiple layers that form to the shape of the rider while providing ventilation and relief channels in sensitive areas. The chamois also incorporates aloe vera into the fabric to soothe skin and prevent odor. While the FR-C Pro’s tight fit takes some getting used to, the elastic leg bands and waist panel manage to achieve security without being overly compressive. After regularly wearing these for months, we love that the high-quality, anti-abrasion fabric offers soft supportive compression that make you want to ride all day.

Price at time of publish: $190

Best Women’s Cycling Shorts

Pearl iZUMi Women’s Expedition Shorts

Pearl iZUMi Women’s Expedition Short

Pearl iZUMi 


The Pearl iZUMI women’s expedition shorts impressed us for their high-quality construction and long-lasting comfort. The brand’s Elite Transfer fabric provides a flexible, yet supportive fit and wicks away moisture. We love the padding’s barely-there feeling and ability to stay in place during long rides. The wide waistband design prevents chafing and an overly restrictive fit so you can mix up riding positions and pedal comfortably for hours. Pearl iZUMI incorporated three pockets in the expedition shorts — two cargo pockets and a center-back pocket — allowing easier access to snacks or an extra layer. With a competitive retail price, these shorts are a great value, too. For an even more aerodynamic fit, consider the bibbed version of these shorts.

Price at time of publish: $70

Best Riding Jersey

Showers Pass Apex Merino Tech T-shirt

Backcountry Showers Pass Apex Merino Tech T-shirt

Backcountry


The Showers Pass Apex Merino Tech T-shirt is designed with cyclists in mind. Made with an 87 percent merino wool and 13 percent nylon blend, the shirt is breathable and odor-resistant. “I like wearing natural fibers like merino wools — they don’t stink compared to polyester materials,” notes Van Duzer, who has ridden across the continental United States and other countries around the world. The Apex Merino Tech shirt features a relaxed fit and lengthier back in both the men’s and women’s versions for optimal coverage, especially when hunched forward in an aggressive riding position. It also boasts UPF 40 sun protection and a reflective label to enhance visibility on the road.

Price at time of publish: $71

Best Gloves

Giro La DND Mountain Cycling Gloves

Amazon Giro La DND Mountain Cycling Gloves

Amazon


The Giro LA DND Mountain Cycling Gloves offer tactile handling and durable protection for the hands. While they’re popular with mountain bikers, these rugged gloves are well-suited for road cycling too, not to mention boasting the benefit of avoiding knuckle tan lines. The DND gloves use a three-panel construction and an AX Suede palm that enhances the grip and prevents bunching. They’re made with breathable, four-way stretch fabric and reinforced fingertips that are touchscreen compatible. To lessen the impact of vibrations and bumps, the gloves include thin gel padding.

Price at time of publish: $22

Best Socks

Giro Seasonal Merino Wool Sock

Giro Seasonal Merino Wool Sock

Giro


The Giro Seasonal Merino Wool Sock achieves an ideal balance between comfort and durability. Made with 70 percent merino wool, the socks are breathable, moisture-wicking, and odor-resistant. The heel and toes are reinforced with nylon to extend the life of the socks. The Giro socks feature six-inch cuffs, shielding the lower legs from sun and anything the road throws at you. They’re available in four sizes (S-XL) and come in a variety of colors and patterns. Note that this is a mid-weight sock, which may be a bit excessive for road cycling in hotter climates.

Price at time of publish: $12

Best Cycling Shoes

Fi’zi:k Vento Infinito Carbon 2 Cycling Shoe

Backcountry Fi'zi:k Vento Infinito Carbon 2 Cycling Shoe

Backcountry


The Fi’zi:k Vento Infinito Carbon 2 Cycling Shoes deliver top-notch road cycling performance. The Infinito shoe is incredibly stiff and places the cleat towards the center of the foot, providing efficient power transfer to the pedals. Despite their stiffness, the shoe avoids pressure points and hotspots by creating a snug wraparound fit for comfort and support. This fit comes courtesy of the BOA Li2 closure system, which consists of two dials that carry out two-way adjustments to the finest degree. While you’re pedaling away, the shoe’s Microtex upper facilitates airflow to regulate moisture and temperature. Though the Infinito fetches a premium price, it delivers exceptional performance and durable, lightweight construction that’s a worthwhile investment for avid road cyclists.

Price at time of publish: $370

Best Jacket

Rapha Trail Lightweight Jacket

Rapha Trail Lightweight Jacket

Rapha


The Rapha Lightweight Trail Jacket was made for cycling. The fit delivers freedom of movement and the entire jacket can be stuffed into the chest pocket and strapped to the bike frame for convenient transport. The ripstop nylon fabric construction is lightweight, breathable, and windproof. Cyclists can easily adjust the drawstring hood, which nearly fits over a helmet, while riding. Meanwhile, elastic cuffs provide a no-fuss method for keeping sleeves in place. The Trail Jacket is available in both men’s and women’s versions and in six different sizes.

Price at time of publish: $90


Essential Gear

Whether you’ll be hauling your own gear on a bikepacking trip or cycling on a multi-day tour, there are some essential items you’ll need to stay safe, comfortable, and prepared for the unexpected on the road. Besides upgrading your bike pedals and seat, you’ll want to think about integrating storage and safety features on your ride, too. It’s also important to be prepared for flat tires and roadside fixes.

Best Helmet

Bontrager Velocis MIPS Road Bike Helmet

REI Bontrager Velocis MIPS Road Bike Helmet

REI


The Bontrager Velocis MIPS Road Bike Helmet is designed to help cyclists reach top speeds while staying cool. The polycarbonate helmet opted for fewer, but larger vents (10 total) to balance ventilation and aerodynamics. The vents and internal channels keep air flowing through the helmet, while the pads wick away moisture for long-lasting comfort. The Velocis MIPS helmet comes in three sizes (small, medium, and large), and the BOA closure system makes it easy to adjust and dial in the right fit with a single hand. The helmet features a multi-directional impact protection system (MIPS) developed by doctors and scientists to reduce rotational motion to the head and brain during impact.

Price at time of publish: $225

Best Pedals

Shimano EH500 SPD Dual Sided Bike Pedal

Amazon Shimano EH500 SPD Dual Sided Bike Pedal

Amazon


Whether you choose to ride in cycling cleats or other active footwear, the Shimano EH500 PSD bike pedals have you covered. One side of the hybrid pedal is compatible with SPD clips, while the other is equipped with eight traction pins for reliable grip, rain or shine. SPD, which stands for Shimano Pedaling Dynamics, is the brand’s clipless pedal that delivers a secure foot-to-pedal connection and easy multi-release system. While some pedals only release by kicking your heel out horizontally, the EH500 SPD pedal will unclip if you move your heel in multiple directions — a safety perk for newer cyclists.

If you’re on a multi-day cycling tour, having the option to swap out your cycling shoes for regular footwear is incredibly convenient when taking shorter sightseeing rides or running errands. And then when it’s time to complete another leg of your journey, you can switch back to riding clipped-in.

Price at time of publish: $85

Best Bike Mirror

CatEye BM-45 Bar End Mirror

Amazon CatEye BM-45 Bar End Mirror

Amazon


The CatEye BM-45 Bar End Mirror is small but effective at keeping an eye on traffic behind you to stay vigilant on the road. It’s made from aluminum and glass, adding durability and providing a virtually distortion-free view, respectively. The BM-45 mirror’s compact design means it hardly protrudes from the handlebars and won’t compromise a bike’s sleek aesthetics. Weighing just over an ounce, this ultralight mirror won’t slow you down.

Price at time of publish: $18

Best Hydration

Evoc Hip Pack Pro 3L

Competitive Cyclist Evoc Hip Pack Pro 3L

Competitive Cyclist


The Evoc Hip Pack Pro 3L is adeptly designed for keeping cyclists hydrated, fitting comfortably around the waists. The hip pack features two water bottle holders and space for a 1.5-liter hydration bladder, giving riders multiple choices for their hydration method. It’s secured via two broad elastic straps that attach via velcro and a quick-release buckle. The Airo Flex material used in the straps plus the wide design prevents chafing and tightness on the hips and stomach. Riders can tighten or loosen the straps with a single pull — allowing easy adjustments to prepare for inclines and descents.  Ventilated padding along the back helps maintain airflow and comfort during longer rides. Aside from the water storage, the pack is equipped with a zippered hip pocket and an organizer pocket for tools, but the capacity is limited.

Price at time of publish: $100

Best Pannier Bag

Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic Pannier

REI Ortlieb Back-roller Classic Panniers

REI


The Ortlieb Back-roller Classic Panniers are well-suited for weekend trips and cross-country rides alike. The panniers offer 40 liters of storage space and are compatible with rack diameters of 8, 10, 12, or 16 millimeters. Between the waterproof polyester exterior and the roll-top closure system, your belongings and gear will stay protected from the elements. Where the back-roller panniers truly excel is their mounting hardware — Ortlieb’s QL2.1 system. Securing the panniers to your bike is as straightforward as grabbing the handles to open the lower latches and fastening the adjustable hooks to the rack, then letting go of the handle to lock it in place. To remove, simply lift the pannier by the handle, and the latches will automatically release.

Price at time of publish: $200

Best Men’s-specific Bike Seat

Ergon Men’s SMC Core Bike Saddle

Ergon Men's SMC Core Bike Saddle

REI


The Ergon SMC Core Saddle features a multi-layered system of padding to deliver an ideal balance of cushion, support, and responsiveness. The saddle uses Ergon’s Core 3D and TwinShell technology to form a multi-layered design, which encompasses a BASF Infinergy elastomer foam layer sandwiched between two nylon composite shells. This allows the SMC Core to move side to side to support pelvic movement while pedaling, reducing back strain and pressure on the sit bones. We were impressed by the seat’s stability on tough terrain and tactical trails. It’s also equipped with a pressure relief channel, which expands as it moves toward the back of the seat, helping to prevent numbness in sensitive areas on longer rides.

Price at time of publish: $150

Best Women’s-specific Bike Seat

Selle Italia Women’s Diva Gel Superflow MTB Road Bike Saddle

Selle Italia, Diva Gel Superflow,

Amazon


The Selle Italia Diva Gel Superflow Saddle delivers lasting support and pressure relief in a race-ready design. The seat top is fitted with a lightweight gel layer that cushions the sit bones and dampens vibrations and bumps. Meanwhile, the nylon base of the seat provides a firm base for pedaling power and stability. The Superflow Saddle also features a substantial anatomical cutout in the center of the saddle to direct weight to the sit bones and alleviate pressure in sensitive soft tissue areas. The cutout, combined with the titanium rails and nylon base, keeps the weight to just around .6 pounds (depending on size).

Price at time of publish: $83

Best Multitool

Crankbrothers M19 Multi-Tool

REI Crankbrothers M19 Multi-Tool

REI


The Crankbrothers M19 Multi-tool has been on the market for over a decade and remains popular with cyclists for its functionality and ergonomic, durable design. As its name suggests, it contains 19 different tools, including a mix of hex keys, screwdrivers, spoke wrenches, and a chain tool. It’s equipped with side grips to maintain a firm hold while tackling roadside fixes. It comes with a sleek aluminum carry case that keeps it from snagging on other items but adds a bit of weight that some may deem unnecessary.

Price at time of publish: $31

Best Pump

Lezyne Micro Floor Drive Hand Pump

Moosejaw Lezyne Micro Floor Drive Hand Pump

Moosejaw


The compact Lezyne Micro Floor Drive Hand Pump helps save on space and weight without sacrificing performance. It’s rated for high pressure tire inflation, with 160 PSI maximum pressure. “Most mini pumps are undersized, whereas this has the functionality of a normal pump in a smaller package,” notes Van Duzer. The Lezyne pump is made with replaceable parts that are designed to last, including a stainless steel foot peg and CNC-machined aluminum barrel, piston, base, and T-handle. While the portable pump can be easily tucked in a pannier, riders also have the option of securing it to their bike with the included Composite Matrix frame mount. The Lezyne pump comes in two versions: one with a built-in pressure gauge and one without that cuts down the overall cost and weight.

Price at time of publish: $55

Best Phone Mount

Peak Design Universal Bar Mount

Amazon Peak Design Universal Bar Mount

Amazon


The Peak Design Universal Bar Mount can accommodate a variety of mounting setups, including bikes, e-bikes, and scooters. It’s attached via a grippy silicone band to any handlebar between .75 to 2.2 inches. The Bar Mount uses a magnetic SlimLink attachment to secure the phone in place and a push-button release to remove it. This setup allows riders to grab and put their phone back without taking their eyes off the road ahead, plus the flexibility to have their phone in portrait or landscape alignment.

Price at time of publish: $50

Best Tent

Mountain Hardwear Nimbus UL 2 Tent

Mountain Hardwear Nimbus UL 2 Tent

Mountain Hardwear


The Mountain Hardwear Nimbus UL 2 Tent boasts an incredibly lightweight design that lends itself to bikepacking trips. It weighs just over 2 pounds when packed in its stuff sack, or you can divide the tent components and weight between two riders if bikepacking as a duo. The tent floor and sides are made from ripstop nylon for durability, while the mesh canopy enhances ventilation and cuts down on unnecessary weight. Mountain Hardwear did without dyeing the rain fly, helping save water and chemicals to reduce the overall environmental impact of the Nimbus UL 2. Campers can stake out the rain fly to create a 7.7-square-foot vestibule for safely storing cycling gear and provisions.

Price at time of publish: $420

Best Sleeping Bag

Rab 20F Mythic Ultra 360 Down Sleeping Bag

Rab Mythic Ultra 360 Down 20F

Rab


When packing for a bikepacking trip, weight is a leading factor in selecting gear. Weighing less than 1.5 pounds, the Rab Mythic Ultra 360 Down Sleeping Bag is a featherweight design that doesn’t skimp on performance and durability. The mummy-shape sleeping bag is insulated with a 900+ down fill to keep campers comfortable at below-freezing temperatures, and it’s treated with a water-repellent coating to shed moisture. During our testing, it was cozy even during a cold, windy night with wind gusts up to 50 miles per hour. The Mythic Ultra 360’s 7D ripstop nylon construction is equipped with Thermo Ionic Lining Technology (TILT) that efficiently traps body heat to reduce the total down used, thus saving weight and packing volume.

Price at time of publish: $720

Best Cooking System

Jetboil Stash Ultralight Camping and Backpacking Stove

Amazon Jetboil Stash Ultralight Camping and Backpacking Stove

Amazon


This is a lightweight, all-in-one cooking system that stows easily in a pannier or handlebar bag. The Jetboil Stash Stove is the brand’s most lightweight and compact, weighing just over 7 ounces. All of the cooking systems components — isobutane fuel canister, titanium regulator, fuel-can stabilizer, and lighter — pack inside the .8-liter FluxRing cook pot. Meanwhile, the rubber-coated handle folds over the lid for packability and locks in place while cooking. With an average boil time of 2 minutes, 30 seconds, the Stash Stove makes morning coffee and meals a breeze. The wide-mouth cook pot design also makes it easy to eat from, meaning you can skip plates and bowls for less weight or other on-the-road essentials. The one downside is that it doesn’t have a push-button ignition, so you’ll need to pack matches or a lighter.

Price at time of publish: $111


Accessories

Even the most minimalist packers will make room for accessories on their bike trip. Items like sunscreen and a first aid kit are essential for a smooth cycling adventure. Other accessories, like chargers and sunglasses, will come in handy for phone battery backup and keeping your focus on the road ahead.

Best Sunglasses

Julbo Fury Sunglasses

Julbo Fury Sunglasses

Julbo


The Julbo Fury Sunglasses are designed with a wide cylindrical lens that protects the eyes from sunlight as well as bugs and debris on the road. The lightweight, cycling-specific glasses are made with shatterproof polycarbonate lenses and a robust, yet flexible frame. They nearly cover your entire field of vision and stay securely in place while cycling at high speeds. Though the Fury sunglasses maintain a snug fit, they are equipped with shock-absorbing inserts at the temples and bridge of the nose for enduring comfort. Cyclists will appreciate that the vented structure allows plenty of airflow to prevent the lenses from fogging up. The Fury sunglasses are available with two different lenses. The Spectron 3CF lens is best suited for riding in bright light, while the Reactive photochromic lens adjusts based on the light conditions.

Price at time of publish: $140

Best Sunscreen

Blue Lizard Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen Stick

 BLUE LIZARD Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen Stick with Zinc Oxide, SPF 50+

Amazon


The Blue Lizard Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen delivers broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection. Its main ingredients — zinc oxide and titanium Dioxide — shield skin from 97 percent of the sun’s rays without using any chemicals that can harm the environment. Blue Lizard’s formula also contains skin-nourishing ingredients, including aloe vera, shea butter, sunflower-seed oil, and vitamin E. The fragrance-free mineral sunscreen is water resistant for 80 minutes, and the stick design makes it easy to quickly reapply on pit stops or even without dismounting the bike.

Price at time of publish: $10

Best First Aid Kit

Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight/Watertight .7

Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight/Watertight .7

Amazon


The Adventure Medical Kit Ultralight/Watertight First Aid Kit packs a wide assortment of bandages, medications, and supplies to treat the more common issues cyclists experience on long-distance rides. It has Moleskin and topical adhesive for treating and preventing blisters as well as wraps and tape for support or immobilization. There’s also a modest supply of over-the-counter medication to treat inflammation, pain, and insect bites, though we wish it also included medication for gastrointestinal problems. The first aid kit exterior is made with durable ripstop silnylon, while the interior features two watertight pouches to keep items clean and dry. Weighing just 8 ounces, this first aid kit will have minimal impact on your packed bike weight.

Price at time of publish: $32

Best Portable Charger

ChargeCard Ultra-Thin Credit Card Sized Portable Charger & Battery Bank

ChargeCard

Amazon


Whether to navigate, record your ride, or dispatch a motivational playlist, our phones are essential travel companions. The ChargeCard ensures you have an emergency boost of power for your phone if the battery gets precariously low. The stainless steel battery resembles a sleek credit card and weighs just over 2 ounces. It’s compatible with Micro USB, Lighting, and USB Type-c connectors. It also features LED indicator lights to let you know how much charge is left. Although it saves precious space, its charging capacity is limited compared to other portable chargers.

Price at time of publish: $60

What to Know Before You Pack for a Bike Trip

Take only the essentials

Packing light while bringing everything you need takes planning and practice. “I only pack two [cycling] shirts and one pair of bike shorts,” says Van Duzer. Since they’re made with quick-drying materials, washing shirts and bike shorts in your shower or bathroom sink is a quick and easy way to get back-to-back wears out of the same outfit, he adds. By keeping your cycling apparel to a minimum, you’ll ensure you have plenty of room for essential gear, accessories, and clothing and footwear for when you’re not riding on two wheels.

Choosing to borrow or rent items upon arrival can help cut down on your packing list. Van Duzer brings all his own gear (including his bike) and clothing, only buying food once he arrives at his next cycling destination. “Most airlines will take your bike as checked luggage and won’t charge extra as long as it fits their parameters,” says Van Duzer.

Prepare for all weather

Even in the most temperate environments, there’re bound to be variations in temperature and precipitation, especially if you’re heading out first thing to ride into the afternoon. Unless traveling in the warmest climates, packing a jacket to protect against rain and wind is recommended. Choosing waterproof gear and storage is another good idea for covering your bases if the weather takes a turn for the worst.

Choose versatility

Prioritizing versatility in your cycling gear, apparel, and accessories can prepare you for a variety of conditions and help keep your packing list on the lighter side. Selecting lightweight, packable layers that can be easily taken on and off and worn in variable temperatures is key, as they’ll be practical for multiple seasons and different cycling destinations. It may take some time to mix and match to find what combinations work best for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Should I take my bike with me on a trip or rent?

    If traveling by car, transporting your own two wheels on a bike rack is an easy solution. If you’re riding for several days or more, the cost of flying with your bike may be cheaper than renting — not to mention the benefits of being certain that you’ll have a bike that fits and handles well.

  • Where do I keep all of my things on a bike trip?

    Bikes have versatile storage options, including rear and front racks, baskets, and bags that attach to the frame, handlebars, or installed racks.

  • Can I use my bike trip equipment on rides at home?

    Yes — using your bike trip equipment and gear at home can help prepare you for your trip as well as enhance your day-to-day cycling experience.

  • What materials should I look for when preparing for a bike trip?

    For apparel, look for natural fibers like merino wool for optimal breathability and odor resistance. For bike gear, look for durable and waterproof materials like ripstop nylon.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

Kevin Brouillard is a contributing writer at T+L, specializing in outdoor gear and apparel. His work has been published in TripSavvy, Jetsetter, and Oyster, and he served in the Peace Corps in Cambodia for two years. He used his experience with outdoor adventure and cycling, as well as thorough research and tips from long-distance cycling veteran Ryan Van Duzer in compiling this list of what to pack for a bike trip. 

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