Minimum necessary gear for bike packing

fair weather cyclist

Well-Known Member
Hi, I've been cycling for a couple of years and I'm thinking about embarking on a wee bike packing trip next spring.

I've got zero experience about bike packing therefore I need some advice from you expert bike packers. I thought I'd give you some details about my project.
  • 5 days (4 nights) trip doing 75-80 miles a day
  • End of May/beginning of June 2022 in the Scottish Highlands
  • I'm planning my route so that I will stay overnight in bed and breakfasts therefore I will not be camping
  • I'm also planning to cycle on roads as much as possible and pass little towns and villages where I can stop have food mid-ride
  • I'd like to travel as light as possible
What equipment do I need? I'm thinking clothing and footwear/bike repair kit...all this stuff.

I also need to buy bike bags and need advice with this too. I'm pretty set on starting with a handlebar bag, one like this apidura https://www.apidura.com/shop/expedition-handlebar-pack/ and then if needed also a frame bag such as this one also from apidura https://www.apidura.com/shop/expedition-frame-pack/

Given I have no idea of what the bare minimum amount of kit I should bring with me is, I have no idea if I need both of them or if I can get away with just the handlebar bag (maybe the bigger 14l one).

Also, I just googled "bike packing bags" and apidura came up first but if you guys can suggest any other brands and products that you like and consider to be good, please let me know.

Thanks :okay:
 

chriswoody

Legendary Member
Location
Northern Germany
Firstly, do you even need to use soft bags? what kind of bike are you using? Bike packing with soft bags and going ultra light are fine if you are going to be completing an off-road tour where you are expecting to be lifting bikes over obstacles or pushing up impossibly steep tracks. Soft bags are also great if you have a road bike which doesn't have rack mounts, other wise, I probably wouldn't be going down that route. The small extra weight penalty of a rack and a couple of panniers, really won't be noticeable on this type of tour.

If you are going to go ahead and get dedicated bags then decide on a budget and how much use you realistically think you will get out of them. I've originally gone for Topeak bags on my bike, more at the budget end of the spectrum, but from a well known make. Overall they are fine, but I have needed to replace the top tube bag after the zip split. I've realised I really like this approach to touring, so I've replaced it with a more expensive, but more robust bag from Revelate designs. A lot of folk on here have mentioned Planet X bags as being keenly priced and well made, though I've no direct experience of them.

You mention a handlebar roll, one thing to consider is the width of your handlebars, a typical road bike I think is abut 360mm between the drops? Which means you wont be able to fill the roll to its full capacity because it won't fit between the drops, or allow you to grip the bars properly. A full gravel bike like mine will have handlebar widths of 460mm and up, which allows you to fill the front rolls much more. There are also issues with cable runs with front rolls, again they will foul the roll which will result in poorer shifting performance and poor braking on rim braked bikes.

If going for a seatpack, bear in mind the type of frame you have on your bike, again modern seatpacks are made for modern sloping top tube frames, which have a lot of seatpost showing. Anything below 15 cm of free seatpost and you will struggle to fit it. With frame bags that fit under the top tube and take up the space inside the frame, again if the frame is on the small size or really compact a frame, then you may struggle for room. It's a real pain sometimes to find the dimensions of these bags and measure up your frame to see if it fits.

Kit wise, if you're going to be cycling on road between towns, then you really won't need much, personally I'd take a spare pair of undies and a toothbrush. Seriously though, you don't need to take cooking gear, or sleeping gear, so it really is just a spare change of clothes, maybe some town clothes as well. Waterproofs and a bit of spare food like flapjacks. Tool kit wise, you just need to take what you would normally take on a day ride and maybe check to see what bike shop options there are on your route incase it goes a bit wrong. Ultimately, you're riding on roads near towns, so you don't need a massive amount of stuff to get you out of trouble. You could get away with a small seatpack or a frame bag for this stuff and I think that would be my preference if you were going to go down the soft bag route. I've also found a small "gas tank" bag, that sits behind the stem on top of the top tube, to be really useful for a couple of spare energy bars.
 
Last edited:

oldwheels

Legendary Member
The Scottish Highlands covers a lot of ground. It can be a long way between places. Also looking at a map is not much of a guide as what is marked as a place which looks like a village may be just one house.
I have given lifts to some who specified they wanted to go to a specific place which when I stopped was in fact just a cross roads with nothing near.
You cannot rely on getting food just anywhere and need to carry a full day's supply at least.
 

Baldy

Über Member
Location
ALVA
The minimum is a toothbrush and a credit card. You might want to add a change of cloths and as you're planning on Scotland a set of waterproofs. I wouldn't rely on finding a village shop, they only exist in TV series.
 

presta

Veteran
This is my list for up to a month touring by hostel. If you don't have a S/C kitchen you won't be needing some of the food.

Panniers
Fleece Jacket
Fleece Jumpers 2 Off
Ron Hill Bikesters 2 Off
Synthetic T Shirts 2 Off
Zip-Off Trousers
Lycra Shorts 2 Off
Cagoule
Over Trousers
Windproof Jacket
Fleece Gloves
Balaclava
Cycle Cap
Sun Hat
Underpants 3 Off
Socks 3 Pr
Hankies 3 Off
Espadrilles
Cycle Shoes
Sun cream
Pannier Liners
Rucsac
Bumbag
Compr. Straps 2 Off
Belt 2 Off
Spex Case
Plastic Knife, Fork
Platypus Bag
Sterotabs
Carrier Bags
Document Wallet 2 Off
Towpath Permit
Camp Towel

Washkit:
Bag
Soap & S/W Bag
Shampoo
Razor
Comb
Toothpaste
Toothbrush
Persil

Atlas Pages & Bag
Hbks: YHA/SYHA/Ind.
Tube/Train/Ferry Info
Chequebook
Map Measurer
Mity Info

Food:

Muesli
Milk
Large Loaf
Marge
Fish paste
Rice
Tin Curry/Chilli
Nuts
Biscuits
Sandwiches
Sandwich Bags

Water Bottles 3 Off
Indigestion Tablets
Elastic Bands
Bag Seals
Phone & Charger
Calculator
House Key
Spare Bike Key
CR1632 & CR2032
Small Change
Pencil & Rubber
Paper
Spex
M52, FT4, Belt
Computer
Lights F&R
Pump & Hose
Lock & Key
Cycle Clips
Magnifying Glass
Wetwipes & Bag
Tissues
Oil & Bag
Spare Tube
Map Holder Clip 3 Off
Spare Cables B&G
Spare Pads
Toe Strap

Toolroll:
Adjust. Spanner
Allen Keys 3,4,5,6
Screwdriver Fl/Pz
Cone Key
Chain Tool
Spoke Key
Jnr.Hacksaw Blade
Tyre Levers/Brush
Insulation Tape
Sellotape
Penknife
PVC Gloves
Tyraps
Spare Pump Hose
Rag
Tube Patches
Tyre Patch
Tyre boot
Valve stem washer
Rubber Solution
Chalk Grater
Chalk
Split Links
Spare Chain Links
Spare Bolts

First Aid:
Elastoplast
Savlon
Antiseptic Wipes
Bandage
Paracetamol
Nail Clippers
Scissors
Nylon Cord
Cotton
Buttons
Needles
Pins, Safety Pins

Wallet:
Cash
HSBC CC
Lloyds CC
Debit Card
Driving Licence
YHA Card
Clubcard
 
If you staying in B&B, only need a saddle bag with one change of clothes plus a jacket, small toolkit and recharging stuff. Its only 4 nights. Cycling in civilisation means you can drop by an LBS, a shop etc if other needs arises.

Restrap is a company based in Leeds, all handmade.

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Baldy

Über Member
Location
ALVA
This is my list for up to a month touring by hostel. If you don't have a S/C kitchen you won't be needing some of the food.

Panniers
Fleece Jacket
Fleece Jumpers 2 Off
Ron Hill Bikesters 2 Off
Synthetic T Shirts 2 Off
Zip-Off Trousers
Lycra Shorts 2 Off
Cagoule
Over Trousers
Windproof Jacket
Fleece Gloves
Balaclava
Cycle Cap
Sun Hat
Underpants 3 Off
Socks 3 Pr
Hankies 3 Off
Espadrilles
Cycle Shoes
Sun cream
Pannier Liners
Rucsac
Bumbag
Compr. Straps 2 Off
Belt 2 Off
Spex Case
Plastic Knife, Fork
Platypus Bag
Sterotabs
Carrier Bags
Document Wallet 2 Off
Towpath Permit
Camp Towel

Washkit:
Bag
Soap & S/W Bag
Shampoo
Razor
Comb
Toothpaste
Toothbrush
Persil

Atlas Pages & Bag
Hbks: YHA/SYHA/Ind.
Tube/Train/Ferry Info
Chequebook
Map Measurer
Mity Info

Food:
Muesli
Milk
Large Loaf
Marge
Fish paste
Rice
Tin Curry/Chilli
Nuts
Biscuits
Sandwiches
Sandwich Bags

Water Bottles 3 Off
Indigestion Tablets
Elastic Bands
Bag Seals
Phone & Charger
Calculator
House Key
Spare Bike Key
CR1632 & CR2032
Small Change
Pencil & Rubber
Paper
Spex
M52, FT4, Belt
Computer
Lights F&R
Pump & Hose
Lock & Key
Cycle Clips
Magnifying Glass
Wetwipes & Bag
Tissues
Oil & Bag
Spare Tube
Map Holder Clip 3 Off
Spare Cables B&G
Spare Pads
Toe Strap

Toolroll:
Adjust. Spanner
Allen Keys 3,4,5,6
Screwdriver Fl/Pz
Cone Key
Chain Tool
Spoke Key
Jnr.Hacksaw Blade
Tyre Levers/Brush
Insulation Tape
Sellotape
Penknife
PVC Gloves
Tyraps
Spare Pump Hose
Rag
Tube Patches
Tyre Patch
Tyre boot
Valve stem washer
Rubber Solution
Chalk Grater
Chalk
Split Links
Spare Chain Links
Spare Bolts

First Aid:
Elastoplast
Savlon
Antiseptic Wipes
Bandage
Paracetamol
Nail Clippers
Scissors
Nylon Cord
Cotton
Buttons
Needles
Pins, Safety Pins

Wallet:
Cash
HSBC CC
Lloyds CC
Debit Card
Driving Licence
YHA Card
Clubcard
Wow, more kit there than I took for 10 months in South America.
 
OP
F

fair weather cyclist

Well-Known Member
The Scottish Highlands covers a lot of ground. It can be a long way between places. Also looking at a map is not much of a guide as what is marked as a place which looks like a village may be just one house.
I have given lifts to some who specified they wanted to go to a specific place which when I stopped was in fact just a cross roads with nothing near.
You cannot rely on getting food just anywhere and need to carry a full day's supply at least.
Thanks for the advice.

When I plan my route, basically what I do is I use in parallel RidewithGPS and google maps so for example if I see a village on ridewithgps, I then zoom in google maps and make sure there are amenities like coffee shops and/or supermarkets. I'm very thorough and I do a lot of research, like I know google maps may not be the most up to date and maybe coffee shops may have closed down in the last year, so what I'm currently doing and will plan to do closer to next spring is do research on the places I'm planning to stop at for food. Like, is that coffee shop still open? I can find that information easily. From this point of view, I guarantee I'm going to be 100% prepared. Never missed a meal in my life, not going to start now :laugh:

I take it you’ve not been to Scotland?
I’ve a loop of 60 or 80 mls and there can be nothing til the end
Thanks. I live in Scotland, just not in the Highlands. Been in the Highlands by car dozens of times, never on a bike packing trip though.

More details:
  • I will be using a gravel bike set up tubeless. Not because I plan on riding off road but because I can use bigger tyres and run lower pressure to make my ride more comfortable
  • The gravel bike I will be using have flared handlebars 44cm wide according to the specs (haven't measured it yet)
  • Bag wise, I already have a topeak saddle bag where I currently keep my tools; I also have a small topeak top tube bag which I use currently on my longer rides to keep food/phone/keys/credit card
  • I sweat a fair bit so I will be bringing with me 2 750ml bottles I have and I'm toying with the idea of attaching another bottle cage on the fork. Although there are no mounting points so it'd need to be a bodge job with duct tape and zip ties (bad idea? maybe an hydration vest would be better? I'm open to suggestions)
Thanks to all the others who have replied so far. There's a TON of good advice. Keep it coming :okay:
 
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