Bike touring may be one of the lightest ways to travel but it is still easy to misplace items. Especially when there are two people setting and breaking camp virtually every day, or needing items immediately like raingear in a storm, electrical chargers for a coffee shop stop, bike tools for punctures or even first aid. We all know no one packs the same as each other!
When we were first looking at bike touring equipment, we found that quite often we liked the same items. This has an advantage in that we could sometimes leverage discounts for buying multiple products from the same store. Also if anything broke we would know how to fix both. And if one of us had researched and discovered the ultimate, best-reviewed, top-performing, bang-for-your-buck item how could we leave our partner in the lurch? At this current time we have the same bikes, panniers, hoodies, socks, rain pants, seats, lights, sleeping bags, mats and locks (his and hers much?).
The biggest disadvantage we could preempt was packing the exactly identical panniers. To minimise the confusion, and let’s be honest the arguing, we labelled each pannier and handlebar bag, with our names and categories, on both the outside back and inside lids.
The labels can be seen whether the bags are open or closed but are they can’t be seen when they’re attached to the bikes. It was just a simple permanent marker on electrical tape, so they don’t mark the bags in case we want to reorganise, resell etc. Items are grouped into similar categories which are:
Cook: Trangia, fuel, utensils, groceries, backpack
Clean: Toiletries, towels, electricals, raingear
Sleep: Mats, sleeping bags, pillows
Wear: Clothes, underclothes, shoes
The pannier front pockets carry the bike tools, first aid and bike locks. Our handlebar bags have items we use constantly like phones, sunglasses, snacks, camera, bike lights, beanies, gloves and lock keys. We also have organisational bags within the panniers to corral small bits and pieces. That way we’re not pulling apart everything just to find one item. Our clothes and sleeping gear are in compression stuff sacks to maximise the pannier space. As we buy food almost every day we usually have a bag full of groceries strapped somewhere or items stuffed into crevices.
To be honest, in a tent we are pretty neat due to space restrictions, but as soon as we are in accomodation our room can suffer from pannier explosion with stuff draped everywhere! Bike touring however has definitely given us a better understanding of what we really need to travel and yet still be comfortable. It still surprises me that both our clothing/shoes and toiletries can fit in one pannier. That’s the size of a medium backpack! We haven’t missed anything yet, we use every item and have even pitched out a few things. Hopefully we will keep some of these ligher packing habits for further travel trips.
If you would like to see the detailed breakdown of our gear list click here