The ultimate packing list for single bike touring in Europe
Special Thanks to Shane Seppinni who is currently on the road and you can follow his adventures here: – Click Me –
Want to know what to bring on a bike tour across Europe? You’re in the right place. My goal here is to document what I brought and to help others reduce time spent researching what bike touring gear to buy.
I’ve provided affiliate links to products where possible. Amazon doesn’t carry the panniers I chose (the Sport Packer Plus Ortlieb front and rear bags) as of this post so I’ve linked to another great option. Check Craigslist and eBay for your panniers because they’re expensive if purchased new and there are great deals out there on used panniers!
All this gear can get expensive, but if you’re patient you’ll find sales on Amazon, REI, eBay, and on Craigslist. Less expensive alternatives exist too — I chose Isadore cycling clothes because they are sustainable, have amazing quality for the price, they use Merino Wool and the jersey was 40% off, but there are plenty of other options.
A great little book that goes over the different gear choices you have and gives a nice intro to bike touring is The Basic Illustrated Guide to Bike Touring and Bikepacking. I got this as a gift from my grandpa and read it one sitting.
Now onto what I’m bringing on my first bike tour.
Bike Friday NWT Silk: Bike Friday is an American manufacturer of high quality touring and road bikes. All of their bikes pack into suitcases. They are perfect if you want to easily bring your bike on business trips or on vacation. There are lots of good used ones to be found.
Shimano EH500 Pedals: These pedals are functional because you can clip in for long rides or you can wear your regular shoes for quick trips to the store. Get this model instead of the slightly cheaper one if you care about weight and if you want pegs to keep your shoes from slipping. I like the dual pedals because I can clip in for between cities but wear my sneakers when exploring the city itself.
Bike Friday Front and Rear Racks: I can’t recommend bike racks for bikes with 26” in tires because I haven’t used them. REI and Amazon have good selections. Look for light but sturdy racks and make sure to bring extra rack screws because they have a tendency to rattle out on the road.
Schwalbe Marathon Tires: These tires are heavier than most but the peace of mind they bring is worth every ounce. I got a flat after a bike shop in Tours, France over-pumped my tubes though so I wouldn’t pump past 85psi.
Cygolight Metro Pro: I’m not planning to ride at night but it is important to have a light in case of emergency. This one strikes a nice balance of brightness, chargeability, modes, and cost.
Cygolight Hotshot Pro Rear: This light is bright as hell. If you’re paranoid about getting rear ended by a four wheeled death machine then get this light.
The best water bottle cage in the world: I’m not kidding. These water bottle holders fit 27oz Kleen Kanteen bottles perfectly (and if they rattle just loop a rubber band around the cage). They’re perfect because they’re six bucks, durable as all hell, and lightwieght.
Brooks Cambium 17 All-Weather Saddle: I chose this seat because it comes weatherproofed, it’s vegan, and it is very comfortable with padded shorts on. It also has a nice bounce to it such that when you go over pumps it feels like the seatpost has suspension.
Mirrcycle Mirror: This mirror goes inside your handlebar. It’s convex so the field of vision is superb. If you’ll share the road with cars then this is a necessity. It helps to know when a four-wheeled death machine is barreling towards you from behind.
Mirrcycle Incredibell: The Incredibell gets the job done. It is better at warning pedestrians of your presence than it is at signaling to four-wheeled death machines, but for the price, it’s good enough.
Phone Mount: I’ve used this mount on my bikes for years because it can be mounted easily, it secures my phone, and it is inexpensive. It’s compatible with Ortlieb handlebar bags too.
Ergon Grips with Touring Bar Ends: Ergon grips cure elbow pain and numbness from vibrations. I like the feel of the biocork grips best. The bar ends allow for different hand positions throughout the day to prevent fatigue. The bar ends are interchangeable so you can get the GP5 ends for touring then switch to GP2s or 3s for riding back at home.
Giro with MIPS: Very comfortable and great built-in sun protection. I have no idea if MIPS technology is evidence-based but I do know that it makes wearing a helmet more comfortable.
Ortlieb Micro Saddle Bag: I carry things like my multitool, tire patch kit, and spare tube in here.
Ortlieb Ultimate6 Plus L: This bag is so convenient that I almost go as far as saying it, or something like it is a must. Ortlieb’s magnet closure is perfectly engineered.
Multitool/Tire Levers: This multitool gets almost any on the road repair job done.
Patch kit: Lightweight and has great reviews. But I went to the bike shop for help repairing my first flat.
Spare tire tube: I’m bringing one spare tube just in case my next flat happens on the road.
Chain grease: This chain grease has worked well for me and fits inside the Ortlieb Micro Saddle Bag.
Travel pump: I’m able to get my tires to what feels like at least 80psi with this inexpensive little hand pump. The upgrade option comes highly recommended but I think most riders would do fine without it.
Spare wheel spokes: Bring some just in case.
Extra rack screws: These have a habit of vibrating out and onto the road. I got some from a local bike shop.
Opinel Knife: Very lightweight and the price is right.
Most riders use plastic bottles because they are lighter and cheaper. I prefer stainless steel because the bottles don’t impart a flavor and because I’m paranoid about plastic contaminating my water in the summer heat. I like Kleen Kanteen because they fit perfectly in my bottle cages and they offer a stainless steel lid.
Isadore Cycling Cap: To keep my balding dome sunspot free (this was free with my order).
Cotton pants from Costco
3 pairs of underwear
Lightweight New Balances: For off the bike.
Costco sandals: For showers etc.
Shimano ME-5 for riding: I can’t recommend biking shoes with boa tightening enough. No more loosening of the laces, no concern over mud in velcro, and a perfectly snug fit every time you put them on. I’ve seen these for on sale as cheap as $119. If you have flat feet and need to use your own arch supports like I do, then these are wonderful because the midsole insert is removable.
Hi-viz vest: For when I have to ride alongside the four-wheeled death machines like I did on this hell-bridge
Adequate sun protection is arguably the most important part of my gear list. Any money and weight spent on sun protection are worth it. Spending every day for weeks or months at a time under the sun without protection, even if you’re not riding in the summer will at the least prematurely age your skin and at the worst kill you. So I wear sunscreen and/or sun protection rated clothes.
Wide-brimmed hat: This is for off-the-bike days.
Prescription Sunglasses: From Warby Parker.
Badger sunscreen: No perfumes, no corrosive chemicals, no stinging skin or eyes. It does leave a white tint, which I don’t mind.
Google Pixel3a: For maps and photos. This is the best phone for bike touring because it is relatively inexpensive, has the best available camera, records stabilized 4k video, and it is lightweight.
DJI Osmo Gimbal: For stable videos while riding. This is not necessary at all but I’d like to be able to record some stable riding footage. I opted for this combined with my phone instead of getting a GoPro because I can avoid carrying SD cards, extra batteries and all that fun stuff.
Bose Soundwear: I got these as a gift from my wife a while back and they are perfect for biking. They’re better than headphones because I can still hear what’s going on around me, the microphone is positioned so that wind doesn’t interfere with calls, and after about 10 seconds I forget that I’m even wearing them. They just disappear and enable seamless podcasts or music as though the universe is playing the soundtrack to my life!
Samsung Chromebook: Great screen quality, lightweight, decent price on a computer used mostly for blogging and watching videos.
Kindle: I went with a refurbished Kindle that works perfectly. Kindles are better than paper books for bike touring because they are easily packed, have a backlight, and can store thousands of books.
Powerbank: I got one that I don’t recommend so you’re on your own for this one
USB-C to C, USB to C, and USB to micro-USB chords: For charging.
Big Agnes Frying Pan SL2 Tent with Footprint: This tent was on sale for $149 when I bought it so I couldn’t pass it up. Others have recommended the MSR Hubba Hubba too.
Big Agnes Dumont SL 30 Sleeping Bag: This was on sale for $94 when I bought it.
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad: A nice lightweight pad that makes sleeping on the ground 1,000 times more comfortable. It does sound like your sleeping on a blown up paper bag though, which I don’t mind.
Exped Air Pillow: The sleeping pad gives some head support, but if you want better neck support then get an inflatable pillow like this one.
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Pump Sack Camping Mattress Inflator: This prevents your sleeping pad from getting moldy inside.
I want to maintain strong muscles on this trip. Resistance bands are perfect for this because they pack down to practically nothing, are lightweight, and are so versatile that one can exercise every major muscle group by using them and doing burpees.
I love to draw so pencils, a pen, and some paper are a must wherever I go. Here’s what I’m bringing:
Moleskin blank pocket notebooks: These double as my journals and sketchbooks.
Toiletries and Miscellany
Castile bar soap and case: For washing my fork, clothes, and body.
Paper Maps: For finding accommodations and points of interest along the way.
Packing Cubes: I use one for all my clothes to keep them organized in the pannier.
Floss: Please floss.
Toothbrush and paste
Earplugs: Just in case a hostel is noisy or I end up in a loud setting.
Anti-chafe cream: This stuff apparently prevents or soothes bib-burn but I haven’t had any chaffing with my Isadore bib.
A Fork: From the fork drawer…
Travel Towel: These dry quickly, are light weight, and don’t get as gross as a regular cotton towel.
Night Guard: From my dentist.
Albuterol Inhaler: Yay for asthma.
Passport: From the U S of A
Cork Wallet with credit cards: This wallet is lightweight, minimalist, vegan and cheap just the way I like it.
That’s all folks
Whew. That was a lot of things. There is definitely some fat here. Do I really need a gimbal to stabilize my phone videos? No. But it’s my first bike tour and a big part of this process is learning what things add to the experience and what subtracts from it.