This is our England to India bike touring packing list, with every bit of kit needed to cycle over 6,000 miles, no matter the conditions!
Getting the right gear is pretty damn crucial. Whether you’re a seasoned tourer or a complete newbie, having an enjoyable trip all comes down to having the right bike touring packing list (and perhaps not having shit weather too!).
Over the past few months we’ve also had a number of emails asking about our gear and for recommendations, so it seemed fitting to put it all into one article.
Everything listed below is what we currently have for our England to India tour (besides about 2kg of walnuts we were given last week) but this packing list would be suitable for any long-distance tour through varied conditions.
It’s designed to comfortably get you through 3-4 seasons without any unnecessary baggage e.g none of those things you discover at the bottom of your pannier after 6 months of no use. It also includes gear fitting for mulit-day hikes, sightseeing and everything needed to run this blog (which you may not need).
I’d describe us as cheapskates with high standards; everything has been painstakingly researched for the best quality and price. It’s stood the test of multiple tours and fits comfortably into two front and two rear panniers, a small handle bar bag and frame bag. Where possible the actual products we bought are listed, with a brief review from the road and a link to where we bought them from.
Below is a summarised version of our bike touring packing list. If you read further down you’ll find a detailed breakdown of what we take, some gear reviews and recommendations for the road.
Panniers, bags & bike add-ons
- Front pannier rack – Zefal Lowrider
- Rear pannier rack
- 2 x Rear pannier bags – Azur 30L Waterproof Panniers
- 2 x Front panniers – Carradice Carradry 20L Universal Pannier
- 2 x Bottle cages
- Waterproof phone mount and holder
- Waterproof handlebar bag
- Small frame bag – Zefal 1.3L
- Rucksack – 30L Packable Bag
- Dry bags – Karrimor Helium Dry Bags
- 2x Water bottles
Camping and sleeping
- Tent – Vango Tempest Pro 200
- Camping mat – Mountain Equipment Helium
- Sleeping bag – Vango Latitude 300
- Microfiber towel
- String fairy Lights
Cooking and Eating
- Camping Cutlery Set
- Steel camping mug
- Stove – Vango Compact Stove
- Tea towel
- Cooking pots
- Can opener
- Chopping board
- Wooden spoon
- Chopping knife with sleeve
- Plastic tupperware
Tools & Bike Gear
- Bungee cords
- Bike lock – Kryptonite D-lock with cable lock
- Headtorch – Black Diamond Storm
- Bike lights
- Replacement tubes
- Tire patch tools
- Multi tools – Allen key set & screwdriver set
- 2 x Adjustable wrench
- Rag for dirty bike
- Spare fittings and parts
- Lycra cycle shorts and trousers
- 2x Sports shorts
- Lycra shorts
- Long cycle socks
- Sprayway softshell waterproof trousers
- Sub Sports thermal skin top and bottoms
- 2x Cycle jersey
- 2x Base layers – Mountain Warehouse
- Sports top
- Waterproof Jacket – Mountain Hardwear Thunder Shadow Waterproof
- Insulated Jacket – The North Face Thermoball Jacket
- 3x Socks
- Thin Gloves
- Thick gloves
- Neck tube/scarf
- Shoe cover
- 3x Underwear
- Base layer
- Sports top
- Thermal top and bottom
- Neck warmer
- Camera – Sony HX60 compact & Nikon D3400 DSLR
- Lenses – Sigma 10-20mm & Nikon 35mm
- Tripod – Joby Gorilla Pod DSLR
- Computer and case – Acer R11 Chromebook
- Mobile phone – Motorola G6 Play
- Spare memory cards
- External Harddrive – Seagate 1TB External Harddive
- Powerbank – Outxe 24,000 mAh Solar Charged Power Bank
- Solar Charger
Health and medical
- Hand sanitiser
- Tooth brush & paste
- First aid
- Rehydration salts
- Sun cream
- Toilet paper
Miscellaneous Items & Life Savers
- Penknife – Leatherman Rebar
- Bank Card
- Water Purifiers
- SAS survival book
- Duck tape
- Sewing kit
- Flint Stick
- Rechargeable batteries
- Nail clippers
- Foil Blanket
Take a look through, maybe use it as a template, or compare it with your own. Below we’ve got a more detailed breakdown with product reviews and recommendations for buying your own.
If you have any questions about the gear then let us know in the comments at the bottom!
Our Bike Touring Packing List: Panniers, bags & bike add-ons
Front pannier rack – Zefal Lowrider
Bought from Amazon for about £30 and our overall impression is pretty sweet. They can be fitted on bikes with or without front eyelets (quite handy) but can be tricky to fit. Once they’re correctly mounted they’re sturdy and can hold 18 kg (as printed on the rack) though we have held much more.
Rear pannier rack
Both our bikes (Surly LHT and Ridgeback World Tour) came with original rear pannier racks. If you’re buying a new one our advice is to get a wide one. These can easily have a tent strapped along it with panniers on either side.
2 x Rear pannier bags – Azur 30L Waterproof Panniers
As long as they’re big enough, sturdy and waterproof you’re all set to go. You don’t need to fork out £100+ for Ortliebs but it is worth getting a good quality pair which will last. We run with Azur 35 litre roll top waterproof panniers which we picked up second hand for £20 for two pairs (thanks Tom from Milton Keynes!).
Try and pick up a pair with feet or stands on the bottom which stops them getting worn after scraping on the ground.
2 x Front panniers – Carradice Carradry 20L Universal Pannier
Same rules apply from the rear to the front, just pack them lighter as steering is a pain if you’re front heavy. For the price Carradice Carradry universal panniers are top notch. Got them just before our England to India tour and they’ve been great so far.
Most touring bikes are fitted with two sets of eyelets for two bottle cages, if not you can buy strap-on ones. Ours cost about £3 from Amazon and Decathlon and do the job perfectly. Is it worth spending a ton on flashy ones? We don’t think think so, what do you think?
Another cheap product from Amazon which is actually very good quality. With offline maps like Guru.Maps and Maps.Me you can have a high level of GPS from your phone – this waterproof phone holder does just the trick.
It’s been constantly used for nearly 3 years (and in seriously shit weather) and has never let us down. Can strap to any handlebar size and works with touch screen so well worth the money for £10.
Waterproof handlebar bag
Good for essentials you’ll need quick access too. Sarah uses her for things like camera, wallet, sunglasses etc. whilst I use mine for a towel and casual clothes so the whole thing can easily be taken into the shower.
Small frame bag – Zefal 1.3L
Really useful to carry small bits and bobs like bike lights, sunglasses and tools for fixing punctures and pumping up tyres. Ours cost about £12 from Amazon and are just the right size to fit essentials but doesn’t get in the way.
Rucksack – 30L Packable Bag
If you’re not going to spend the whole time on your bike it’s also a good idea to have a light daypack. Last year we bought this this bag from, you guessed it, Amazon, but were dubious of the quality because of the price and foldaway size. So far we can’t fault it, have packed at least 20 kg in it, run in it etc – it’s still going strong.
Dry bags – Karrimor Helium Dry Bags
A must for any trip. Even if your panniers are waterproof it’s good to get a few just to be on the safe side. They’re pretty cheap, super lightweight and come in a variety of sizes. Use them for electronics and valuables; keeping all of your clothes in one also means it’s quick and easy to take them out and store.
2x Water bottles
Our Bike Touring Packing List: Camping and sleeping
Tent – Vango Tempest Pro 200
It’s going to be your home so make sure you’re happy with it. Unless you fancy hauling a heavy load then go for something lightweight, weather resistant and easy to pitch. For the last few years our choice has been the Vango Tempest Pro 200, which is awesome for the price.
It’s been through Storm Ali, Storm Gareth and heatwaves, so far it’s fared very well whilst being pretty light and easy to put up.
Camping mat – Mountain Equipment Helium
Finding the right camping mat can take a while to find the right one for you but it’s worth testing out a few. The Mountain Equipment Helium mats are comfortable, relatively lightweight and are, most importantly, hard-wearing.
You can find ridiculously lightweight matts but we question how easily they would be to puncture, and it seems like the online community also shares these doubts. This is quite a good compromise between weight, comfort and reliability.
Sleeping bag – Vango Latitude 300
Depending on your personal preference you might want a warm sleeping bag, or to layer more with clothes. We choose the Vango Latitude 300 which is seriously warm (comfort up to -7 and extreme up to -18) but isn’t too hot unzipped in warmer conditions.
Not a necessity but worth it to chillout, sleep or take on multi-day hiking trips if the conditions permit. Surprisingly small and lightweight even with ropes.
You can buy tiny lightweight microfiber towels but in cold conditions they often don’t wick enough water or dry quick enough. The ones from Mountain Warehouse are a good compromise; still lightweight and small but able to dry a lot of water and dry up quickly.
String fairy Lights
Again, not a necessity but a cheap and easy way to light up your tent with an added ambience!
Our Bike Touring Packing List: Cooking and Eating
Hardwearing and light is all you need. Metal ones last a lifetime, save on plastic waste and often don’t weigh that much more.
Simple metal cups which can be heated directly on a stove and don’t weigh much. Can pick up cheap ones from Decathlon or Amazon.
Stove – Vango Compact Stove
There are loads of fancy stoves that promise to boil water quicker than the sun but in our experience they aren’t worth the money. This Vango stove is super lightweight and works just as well as similar stoves 5x the price.
If you’re going to remote regions then perhaps pack two.
A bowl is better than a plate. Porridge from a plate is just not the same.
Lightweight which won’t ruin quickly from the stove. You can also get good mess tins which can be used for storage and cooking. Ours were another charity shop find, bought for less than £5, but they’re light and long-lasting.
Lightweight plastic ones easy to slide into the back of a pannier and don’t take up much extra room.
Plastic ones can easily melt on the stove, so go for a wooden one with a short handle to cut down on weight and space.
If you’re like us, you’ll probably cook loads of food, and this is good for saving spares. Make a big batch for dinner and finish the remainder off in the morning to save time.
Make that can of chopped tomatoes and chickpeas taste good with a few spices. You can also get spice mixes in sachets which are cheap and make a tasty meal pretty quickly.
Get one with a sleeve so you don’t slice your bag apart!
Our Bike Touring Packing List: Tools & Bike Gear
Used to strap things like your tent, camping gear or plastic water bottles to your panniers.
Bike lock – Kryptonite D-lock with cable lock
If you’re going through urban areas then get a good one. It’s better to lug around a 1kg lock and not lose your ride; it also may be a requirement for insurance claims. We use a Kryptonite lock and cable which works to lock two bike wheels and frames to something sturdy.
Headtorch – Black Diamond Storm
A headtorch can be more useful than good bike lights when cycling at night, generally the battery life is better too. Right now we’re using Black Diamond Storm headtorches which are great but I think have too many options (different colours, single beam, multi beam, flashing colours, you can pretty much have a disco in your tent…).
Besides all of the options they’re pretty kick-ass, have wicked battery life and are submersibly waterproof which is handy for cycling in bad conditions.
Some people ride with seriously expensive bike lights but personally we rather a good headtorch. Our headlights are £10 from Amazon and for the price are just fine. They have a good amount of visibility and a rechargeable battery which lasts a good 10-12 hours.
Depending on where you’ll be cycling it’s probably best to go with Schrader valves as they’re more commonly used. Although it’s a bit risky you can also use car pumps at petrol stations – just be careful you don’t blow them!
Tire patch tools
Get good quality tyre levers, something to sand down the tyres, some chalk to mark them and good quality patches and glue. We’ve also used glueless patches which can be quicker but often don’t last for as long.
2 x Adjustable wrench
Get two lightweight wrenches so you can unscrew things with nuts and bolts on either side. Also make sure they aren’t too thick, so they’re able to take off peddles and fit in thinner spaces.
Whilst it’s good to save space, minipumps can take an age to fully inflate a tyre. A mid-sized one with a pressure gauge is a good choice.
Rag for dirty bike
To clean grease and dirt from the bike and also helpful to keep parts if you’re dismantling sections.
Spare fittings and parts
We take a bunch of spare nuts, bolts and fittings in case anything falls off along the way. We also have a spare break cable and spare inner tube. If you’re in relatively developed areas I don’t think you really need to take more spares than this, but that’s personal choice.
It’s amazing what these guys can do. They’re often stronger and more convenient to fit than some metal fittings, are cheap and can be found all over the world.
Our Bike Touring Packing List: Clothes
Clothes are another personal choice but we pack pretty minimally, with enough to get us through all but super-extreme conditions, without taking unnecessary things. I’ve put how many items of each we take but this may not be fitting to everyone. If you’re going to warmer parts you can sub out some of the layers, if you’re cycling across the Antarctic then you should probably add a few more!
Lycra cycle shorts and trousers
No particular brand, just well fitted ones with a bit of padding around the sensitive areas.
2x Sports shorts
A pair of longer, thicker shorts and a pair of shorter, thinner shorts which can be coupled with lycras or thermals for warmth/comfort.
For hikes in warmer climates: they don’t get too hot and they stop chaffing.
Long cycle socks
For longer days in the saddle or harsher conditions I’ll couple these with some warm cycle leggings and trousers/shorts. Great for cold weather and tight ones also help you avoid muscle soreness.
Hard-wearing and breathable ones are key for colder climates. I use a pair of soft-shell waterproof trousers from Sprayway which don’t overheat and can also be used for hiking and general wear.
Last year we picked up some Sub Sports Thermal items and they’ve been great especially for the price. They are meant to be crazy tight but boy do they keep you warm, wick away moisture and don’t take up too much space in panniers. Also good for hiking or general cold weather.
2x Cycle jersey
One thin, one thicker one to cover all conditions. You can spend tons on these but we’ve picked up all of ours from charity shops for less than £5.
One word of caution, don’t go for luminous green tops. Bugs will be attracted to you like ants to lollipops and you’ll have a swarm around you as soon as you stop. On the other hand this can be quite a good incentive to get from A to B fast…
2x Base layers
I actually find these more practical than cycling jerseys and they’re considerably lighter. Mountain Warehouse do them super cheap and they can be worn casually or for hiking, with thicknesses to suit your conditions. You can also use them under jerseys for extra warmth.
A thin layer for warmth and a slight windbreaker, just make sure they’re quick drying. I like the ones with thumb holes on the sleeves which can give extra warmth over the hand and knuckles.
Warm, wicking microfleece
You can get lightweight fleeces that keep you real warm and dry quickly.
Getting the right waterproof is pretty crucial as the wrong ones can have you sweating so much you’ll end up very dehydrated.
We actually use hiking ones, which also have a long back suitable for cycling. The Mountain Hardwear Thundershadow is slightly expensive for us (£60) but are top quality. They’re very breathable and can be worn in warm conditions without overheating and they also have air vents under the armpit.
The only flaws we’ve found is that they’re a bit difficult to zip up or down whilst you’re cycling, besides that they’re worth the money.
Insulated Jacket – The North Face Thermoball Jacket
For us, a good insulated jacket is one of the most important things on a bike touring packing list. If you get yourself the right insulated jacket it will be your best friend. I picked up a North Face Thermoball and we’re pretty much inseparable. It’s small and packs to less than your average fleece but it’s real warm and acts as a windbreaker. It’s also nice and breathable so can do some good miles in it without overheating.
Thick but breathable hiking socks do a great job. They can keep you nice and warm in the winter but don’t make your feet overheat in hotter conditions.
Even warm regions can be cold at elevation or in wind so these are good for warmth and as a windbreaker. Find a pair with touch sensitive fingers if you’re planning on using a phone for GPS.
Mine are VERY warm but also have touch sensitive fingers for GPS.
Simple beanie hat that wicks moisture and keeps you warm.
Can be used in cold weather over your face or over your head as a hat. They actually can be used for a whole variety of things and work well in a variety of weather conditions. Another top item in our packing list.
We brought them but rarely use them as we have Gore-tex shoes and waterproof trousers. Do you find them useful for touring?
Keeps hair off your face.
Our Bike Touring Packing List: Casual Clothes
The same ones from Mountain Warehouse just thicker.
Zip off trousers which can also be used for cycling/hiking.
Another long-sleeved, quick-drying, thicker top with thumb holes.
Extra warm pair of high socks to keep you warm camping.
Thermal top and bottom
Simple, comfortable, long-johns-style under layers to keep you warm.
Another beanie, good for after washing in cold conditions.
A simple cycling pair from Decathlon bought for £4.
Our Bike Touring Packing List: Electronics
The Sony compact has an incredible zoom and is a top choice for a point and shoot camera. The Nikon cost £350 and is worth every penny: an awesome, lightweight DSLR.
With the zoom on the HX60 and these two lenses most aspects of photography are covered. The Sigma is a super wide angle and is perfect for sweeping landscapes and architecture. The 35mm produces beautiful street, close-up, or portrait snaps and for £130 is probably the best photography bargain you’ll find!
Tripod – Joby Gorilla Pod DSLR
A recent addition to our bike touring packing list has been our DSLR Joby Gorillapod Tripod. It’s bloody brilliant, light and well worth the money. Can wrap it round trees or posts with a camera and lens up to 3kg.
Computer and case – Acer R11 Chromebook
Insanely long battery life, 4GB of ram and being very light make this our choice for taking on the road and touring.
Mobile phone – Motorola G6 Play
We think this is a great phone for the money. The battery will last a full 1.5 days with GPS on airplane mode and the camera takes some pretty nice snaps too.
Spare memory cards
External Harddrive – Seagate 1TB External Harddive
Powerbank – Outxe 24,000 mAh Solar Charged Power Bank
Has enough power to recharge a standard mobile 8-10 times which is pretty good but does take a while for the powerbank to fully charge. It’s also water resistant and dust proof apparently (though we haven’t put this to the test) and is solar charged too.
Small but powerful speakers.
All kept together in light stuff sack.
A recent addition from Decathlon and it works pretty well! We strap it onto the bikes and have it charge the powerbank as we’re cycling on sunny days.
Our Bike Touring Packing List: Health and medical
Tooth brush & paste
Really good after a long day in the sun.
Amazing what this cream can do. Basically if you have a skin related problem, chances are Sudocrem can solve it!
Our Bike Touring Packing List: Miscellaneous Items & Life Savers
Penknife – Leatherman Rebar
Another essential on a bike touring packing list. A good penknife can be used for a thousand different situations and the Rebar from Leatherman is top of the pile. It also comes with a lifetime guarantee which is reassuring.
Basically we use this to have our food stops on. Really thin and lightweight so it takes up no extra room in the bag but stops you getting a muddy butt.
We use a Starling and Revolut card when we travel which are frickin awesome.
You never know when you’ll be away from a proper water source; these purifiers can clean all natural bacteria from even the dirtiest water.
If you’re into camping or the outdoors then this is probably going to be the best thing you ever buy.
Can be used for sewing clothes back together and in extreme situations for temporary stitches.
You may never use it but if your lighter runs out you’ll be very happy you have it!
Foil blankets take up no room but can provide a surprising amount of warmth if you get into difficult situations.
If you’re stuck somewhere this is a good way of getting peoples attention. Could be a lifesaver.
Our Bike Touring Packing List
There we have it. Besides the food we carry with us everyday this is everything that will be taking us from England to India. If you’re new to touring I hope it can be of some help when building your own bike touring packing list. If you’re a seasoned tourer we’re interested to know how this compares to yours?
Any questions or opinions please let us know in the comments below!
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