What gear do you need?

Maybe less than you think.

One of the biggest barriers to cycle touring is the daunting equipment requirements. However, this need not be the case. For instance, by staying at bed and breakfasts rather than camping you can massively reduce your gear requirements. Alternatively, taking turns driving a support vehicle can almost eliminate your cycling load, give you a rest every once in a while, and provide insurance in case of gear failure. That said, there is something immensely satisfying about multi-day self-supported cycle touring with a tent.

Every additional item carried on a cycle trip adds both volume and weight. This doesn’t matter much if you have arranged for someone to drive a support vehicle but it matters a lot if you have not. The more volume you have, the more and bigger the panniers and knick-knack bags you must carry. This poses a bit of a problem if you are flying to your starting point but otherwise is not usually much of an issue. Additional weight is also not as big a problem as you might think. Load is much easier to carry in panniers than in a backpack. Heavily loaded bikes do require more effort to get up hills but the gear ratios available on touring bikes can morph hill climbing from a difficult process to merely a slow process. Of course the slower uphills on loaded bikes is offset by amazing descents. A little appreciated fact is that loading a bike with gear lowers the centre of gravity of the bike thereby making it more stable. Loaded bikes also have more momentum resulting in noticeably better gliding. Riding a fully loaded touring bicycle does take a bit of getting used to but adjusting to a loaded bike is way easier than learning to ride a bike in the first place and you did that right?

Here at Two Tired Cycling we are minimalists at heart and that is reflected in our gear recommendations. Knowing that many people choose to carry more gear than we do, we have included some equipment here that we would deem optional, but others might deem essential. Since we have little first–hand knowledge of this equipment, if you think it may be useful, we encourage you to do additional research. The folks at the Cycletourer website have very extensive gear recommendations and we suggest this as a place to start. That said, I am sure there are many out there who would deem much of our list to be extraneous and we can’t really argue with that. At the end of the day you will determine what you need and it likely won’t be exactly what is on this or that list.

Touring bicycle

Bicycle –
Pedals –
Saddle –
Pannier racks –
Rear panniers –
Front panniers –
Seat bag –
GPS/Bike computer –
Bell –
Water bottles –

Additional bike gear

Helmet –
Bike lock –
Repair kit –

Camping gear

Tent –
Sleeping bag –
Sleeping pad –
Camping pillow –
Headlamp –
Utility tool –

Cooking gear

Camping stove –
Cook set –
Tableware –
Food –
Water –


Cycling shirts –
Cycling shorts –
Cycling shoes/socks –
Cycling gloves –
Sunglasses –
High-visibility vest –
Rain gear –
Cold weather gear –
Non-cycling clothes –

Personal care

Insect repellant –
First aid kit –
Toiletries/medication –
Sunscreen –
Clothes drying line –

Miscellaneous items

Travel documents –
Smart phone –
Money/cards –
Map/map case –
Camera –
Ear buds/music –
Extra batteries –