If you’re just starting out bikepacking, then this comprehensive list of bikepacking essentials is perfect for you to put your mind at ease, so you can be sure you are heading out fully prepared! The list is also a good reminder for more experienced bikepackers.
Firstly, what do I mean by bikepacking? Is it different to cycle touring? Well, the line between the two is certainly blurred, but I see bikepacking as ultralight cycle touring. Throughout the past decade, a new style of lightweight minimal ’bikepacking luggage’ has offered an alternative to traditional pannier bags and racks. These new bags fit on all types of bikes, rather than just your classic touring bike, opening up a lot more opportunities on-road and off-road, from around the world trips, to multi-day bikepacking racing, to mini weekend adventures.
Choosing what to bring on a bikepacking trip depends on a lot of things. What’s the goal? Where are you going, what will the terrain and weather be like? How often will you have access to shops to replenish food supplies? If you are racing then you will be looking for a very lightweight setup, stripping out any luxury items. If you are heading around the world then you might like a few luxuries to boost morale. But my biggest piece of advice is to challenge yourself to strip your kit back, keep it really light (but without putting yourself in any danger by not having the appropriate kit). I have added little tips to help with this in the kit list below, based on my 15+ years adventuring.
It’s also important to bear in mind that you will not start with the perfect kit setup for you. With each trip, you will tweak things, leave some stuff behind and add other bits. Get out on some test rides to find these things out. Also, remember that it’s okay to just make do with what you’ve got to get started, you don’t need the ‘best’ kit. Buy some stuff second hard, or borrow from friends and depending on how remote your trip will be you can also buy or replace things along the way if needed.
My kit lists don’t include specific manufacturers/brands, just generic suggested equipment. If you do want to see some of the brands I use, and why I use them, then take a look at my expedition spreadsheets here. But remember these are products that work for me. Where you’re heading, what time of year, your budget, your comfort preferences etc will all influence your specific kit choices. Please just use these resources as a guide to get you started.
Right, let’s get stuck into that list.
Bikes & Bags for Bikepacking
Bike – If you are new to bike packing, then the bike you have will be just fine to get out on the road and have a go with. You can bikepack on anything from a carbon road bike to a full-suspension mountain bike and everything in between. Certain routes may require a specific type of bike, like a hardtail mountain bike, but otherwise, there is a new generation of gravel and adventure bikes that will suit the majorities of trips perfectly. There are also other considerations to make such as what type of handlebars; drops, butterfly or straight bars, are you going for disc breaks or rim brakes etc. None of that matters initially, get out there on some test rides with what you’ve got and see how it feels. Then make tweaks from there.
Tyres – You need an appropriate tyre for the terrain that has good puncture and sidewall protection. You are not trying to save a few grams here.
Protective Tape For Frame – When you strap bike packing bags to your bike frame it can damage the paintwork so I would recommend offering a layer of protection with some electrical tape at the bag attachment points.
Saddle Bag – This is the primary bag as it has the most space and therefore is great for bulky items. It attaches to your seat post and saddle rails. How much they swing back and forth while you are riding depends on the style, some are more stable than others. I also tend to swap out my carbon seat post for a metal one, just to add some additional strength, it’s probably not necessary but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Handle Bar Roll Bag – This is a great place to store lightweight items such as your sleeping bag. You want to keep the weight fairly light in here so that it doesn’t alter your steering too much. You can buy a roll bag that attaches straight to the handlebars or a harness style which you can put any bag inside.
Handle Bar Accessories Bag – This is an optional extra, as it’s an additional smaller bag that attaches to the handlebar roll bag, but I think they are a great place to put all the things you might need to get to throughout the day. Such as wallet, suncream, sunglasses, food, camera etc.
Top Tube Bag – This is a must in my opinion. This is where I keep my electronics so that I can make sure everything can be charged throughout the day. So my battery power block can sit in here along with my mobile phone and various cables, reach my lights and GPS unit to charge while going along.
Food Pouch / Stem Bag – Again these are optional extras, I tend to always ride with 1, some people like 2, others don’t use them at all. They kind of look like cup holders and hang off your steering stem. They are great for filling with snacks that you can graze on as you are pedalling. They can also be used to hold additional water bottles.
Frame Bag – I have personally never used a frame bag, I have not needed the additional space and I also like having water bottles to hand when I ride. Off-road I also like the ease at which I can pick up my bike for difficult hike-a-bike sections, which is a bit trickier with a frame bag on. However, a lot of people love a frame bag for all the extra space it provides. You can also get a half frame bag, which if you have a bigger enough bike can sometimes allow you to have enough room to mount bottle cages.
Backpack – Not everyone likes riding with a backpack, but for certain trips, it can be a good additional option. Ultra-distance running packs are a good choice, you can carry a water bladder as well as a few clothing items that you need quick access to, and the shoulder straps also often have stretch pockets to fill with snacks. Another type of backpack I often take with me on trips is an ultralight stuff-away backpack, they can weigh as little as 30g for an additional 18L of space when you need it…like after a bakery or supermarket stop.
Aerobars / Handlebar Extensions – For trips that have long stretches of flat straight road, then aerobars can be a godsend to give you another position to put your hands in, this can also really help prevent cyclist palsy. Another option on a straight handlebar is to change the grips for those that offer additional hand positions (Ergon do a good range).
Bottle Cages – I generally prefer water bottles over a hydration bladder and therefore always have two bottle cages on my bike. Some journeys require both, but I personally wouldn’t ride with just a hydration bladder. It’s difficult to know how much fluid you have left and not as practical when adding electrolytes.
Bike Lock – I carry a very small lightweight lock, it’s more of a deterrent than anything. A very secure lock would just be too much weight to carry.
Bike Mirror – Okay so it might not look cool, but for long-distance road cycling trips have one small mirror (roadside obviously) that attaches to the bottom of my drop handlebars. This little thing has saved my bacon several times on busy roads.
Dry Bags – Everything gets put in lightweight dry bags, not only to stay dry but to group things together so I can find things quickly. Even if you are buying waterproof bikepacking bags I would still put everything in dry bags inside. The brand of waterproof bikepacking bags I used previously was not waterproof, got holes quickly and because the fabric is much thicker they were a lot less easy to roll and position. I now use a different make and just purchase the standard water-resistant bags which perform much better and make sure everything is in dry bags, especially my sleeping bag and off-bike clothes.
Electronics for Bikepacking
Bike Lights + Charging Cables + Bike Mounts – So you will need a back light to allow you to be seen if you are riding on the road. However, your front light needs to ensure that it is powerful enough to light up tracks in the dark, allowing you to keep riding if you need to, don’t skimp on this. Also, make sure it can be charged while it’s being used (not all can).
Head Torch – This is needed around camp, but it also is helpful whilst riding at night so that you can see the GPS screen and your routing. If it’s really powerful then it can help with offering more light for riding as well.
Mobile Phone + Charging Cable – Phones are so multifunctional these days, your phone will probably have many jobs whilst your bike packing, from making calls, taking pictures, updating social media, navigating, finding places to stay, looking up the weather etc. Some people use their phone as their navigation tool with Apps such as RideWithGPS or Komoot. I like to navigate with a separate GPS unit and have the route files loaded on these apps purely as a backup device. Either way, make sure you download your routes and maps so they can be used offline when you have no reception. I would also recommend before any trip that you program into your phone any emergency numbers you might need, such as the local Mountain Rescue for example.
GPS Device + Batteries or Charging Cable + Bike Mounts – As I mentioned above some people use their mobiles with navigation apps on, but I prefer a dedicated GPS unit. For road cycling trips I tend to use a bike-specific unit with dedicated mapping features (charged via USB) such as the Garmin Edge Range, and for remote off-road journeys, I tend to use hiking orientated GPS unit such as the Garmin eTrex range (these often take AA batteries). GPS units and mobile phones can fail you though, always worth throwing in some paper maps as a back up (and compass if your heading off-road).
Battery Power Pack + Charging Cable – How often you will be able to recharge your power pack will determine the size of it (and possibly even how many you take). I tend to take one very big power pack and have never had an issue with running out, you just need to think ahead and top it up at every available moment. It needs to charge my phone, GPS unit, bike lights and head torch every day.
Dynamo Hub – I have never used a dynamo hub but a lot of people do. I don’t have a specific bike packing bike, so getting a dynamo hub set up on several bikes just hasn’t really been something I have been able to justify, and not having one is yet to cause me a problem on both long trips or racing. But if you have the money then I think it is definitely something to look into as you can produce your own power as you pedal.
Solar Panel – If you are not using a dynamo hub, and planning a more remote journey where topping up the charge on your power back via a wall plug is unlikely, then consider taking a solar panel with you and charge your power pack as you ride. Solar panels have mixed reviews but I have always had great success using them.
USB Double Adaptor Wall Plugs – Whenever you get an opportunity get your electrical or power back charging. Even if it’s just 30 mins whilst you are having some lunch in a cafe.
Watch – When the battery life of your mobile phone is limited then I recommend taking a good old fashioned watch for telling the time and setting your morning alarm.
Camera + Charging Cable – You may also need spare memory cards, a mini tripod, chest mount, handlebar mount etc. depending on what you intend to capture.
PLB / Satellite Messenger – Personal Locator Beacons and Satellite Messengers are quite expensive, but if you are heading out bike backing regularly or off on a long trip then they are a great investment. Both offer an SOS emergency feature, but the Satellite Messenger also allows you to update tracking maps and send messages to loved ones.
Headphones – There are always a few times when out bikepacking, where you’ll need to take yourself out the ‘moment’ with some music or an audiobook, as long days in the saddle aren’t always easy and painless! Stay safe and don’t have your headphones in whilst riding on the roads.
Camping Equipment for Bikepacking
There are plenty of bikepacking trips that do not involve camping. You can stay at hostels, B&B’s or hotels that you find along the route. My LEJOG, TDF 1911 and Transcontinental Bike Race to name a few are trips where I have stayed in accommodation, and therefore not carried much of the kit in this section.
Tent / Tarp / Bivvy – For absolute simplicity then you might look at a flat tarp or bivvy bag. Or if you are heading somewhere wet then maybe be a tarp AND bivvy. However, I am a tent girl! I like to be able to zip the door up so that I am away from the bugs, wind and rain, allowing me to get a better nights sleep. There are lots of ultralight tents on the market now perfect for bike packing, look for ones that compress down to a small size so that the tent poles aren’t too long for the bikepacking bags.
Ground Sheet – This is not always needed, depending on your tent/tarp/bivvy setup and the terrain you will be travelling across. A light and inexpensive make-do alternative is an emergency foil blanket.
Sleeping Bag – A lightweight bag, or quilt (as these are growing in popularity), that has a really small pack size is going to be really important as storage space is so limited. For this reason, you will likely choose a down bag over synthetic, but it’s of course personal preference and down bags do have the negative that they lose their warmth when wet. Saying that I use a down bag for all my trips. Which bag I take will depend on the temperature rating needed for the specific trip.
Silk Sleeping Bag Liner – You can greatly extend the temperature range of a lightweight sleeping bag by adding a silk liner, perfect for spring and Autumn.
Sleeping Mat – To save weight and space you are likely to take an air mattress over a foam cell. For races and trips where speed matters then you will likely choose an ultralight mat and maybe even a 3/4 length one to save even more weight. However, if you are heading out on a long trip then I would go for a slightly heavier version which is more robust. (Punctures in your air mat are a real mood damper.)
Pillow – It is a bit of a luxury item, but a lightweight inflatable pillow at just 60g can give you a better nights sleep. However, if you want to save the grams then your down jacket stuffed into a dry bag will do the job.
Camp Stove – Make sure you choose a lightweight stove that will be compatible with the type of fuel available along your route. You can read more about types of stove here.
Gas / Fuel – As mentioned above, this will be determined by what type of fuel is available where you are heading, as you can’t fly with any gas or fuel, so will need to buy on arrival and top up along the route as needed.
Cooking Pot – I tend to use a titanium pot, they have great strength to weight ratio. They are quite expensive but will last forever ( I am still using the same pan 17 years on!) Pot size will depend on whether I am just heating water for dehydrated meal bags or whether I am cooking meals from scratch, and whether I am solo or in a pair or group. If I am going lightweight then I tend to use a small pot that also becomes my mug and bowl/plate.
Water Bottles / Bladders – This is definitely a personal preference. On cold-weather trips, I will take a large cycle water bottle and a 1L wide-mouth Nalgene bottle (the Nalgene makes a great hot water bottle on cold nights). In hotter climates, off-road, I might consider a water bladder (which only ever has drinkable water in it), but will then also have 1 normal water bottle which I fill with water for cooking, or that might need boiling before drinking or is still yet to be purified or filtered etc.
Emergency Fold Up Water Carrier – On remote or off-road journeys I carry a lightweight 3L water storage bag. Then, if I know I have a very dry section up ahead, I can fill this in addition to my standard bottles /bladders to increase my water capacity on the bike.
Water Pump – This isn’t needed on most trips, but if you know you will be refilling your water supply from fast-flowing rivers regularly, then a pump is a necessity to remove physical matter and microbes from the water.
Spork – Again I would recommend a titanium one, plastic sporks break.
Zip Lock Bags – I re-use these over and over again on trips for storing food in. I am particularly partial to ordering two meals at a restaurant, putting one in a bag and eating it cold later down the road. Pasta works well for this.
Lighter / Matches – Bring both, just in case.
Clothes Line / Spare Guy Rope – I have a piece of ultralight tent guy rope that I use as a clothes line between trees or strung out between my tent and bike. When you only have very limited amounts of clothes drying them quickly is paramount, hence a clothes line comes in handy. (I also am often seen riding along with shorts, pants and socks tired onto my bike bags, drying in the wind).
Scourer / Sponge – You only need a small piece and it weighs so little but is really paramount for keeping your pan usable if you plan to heat anything other than water.
Cycle Clothing for Bikepacking
Helmet – I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to protect your head.
Sunglasses – Make sure your eyes are protected at all times. As well as my sunglasses, I usually take a pair of cycling glasses with clear lenses, for when I am riding at night or in the rain.
Cycle Shoes – Is your trip on the road, gravel, off-road? How often will you be pushing your bike? Will you be eating in cafes and restaurants and wondering through towns and cities? Do you like cleated or clip-less? All these factors will determine what footwear will be best for you, and you might find you lean slightly more towards comfort over performance in your shoe. I always wear cleated cycling shoes for all types of riding and tend to choose a shoe that has a rubberised sole with good traction and some flex, rather than a stiff race shoe.
Cycle Gloves – Gloves take a lot of trial and error to find out what works for you. Personally, I don’t wear cycle gloves that much, but if I do, I wear a long-fingered glove with good gel padding in the palm.
Cold Weather Gloves – A heavier pair of warm long-fingered gloves can be a godsend, even in the summer, on those cold crisp mornings when you are on a long descent. If you are going somewhere really cold then invest in some Pogies.
Waterproof Gloves – I’m still looking for the ultimate waterproof cycle glove. I have even resorted to some rubber washing up gloves on a number of trips. But my current go-to is a Gortex over mitt that does a pretty good job.
Socks – Two pairs. Wash one, wear one. Merino wool is great, they wick moisture well and stink less.
Waterproof Over-Booties / Waterproof Socks – Personally I have never had much luck with finding waterproof over-booties that stay waterproof, but other people swear by them. I do quite like taking a thick pair of Sealskin waterproof socks if lots of rain or cold weather is likely as they do keep my feet much warmer. I am also a big fan of neoprene toe covers to keep the wind from freezing my toes.
Cycle Jersey – Personal preference what type, tight or loose-fitting, long-sleeved or short-sleeved, pockets at the back or not. Whatever your decision, for most trips of more than a couple of days I would recommend taking just two tops, wash one and wear one.
Sleeveless Wicking Base Layer – I sometimes take one of these instead of a second cycle top. This way I can wear it on its own for really hot days, or wear it as a second layer under a cycle top on cold days. Giving me 3 different cycle top solutions for different temperature scenarios.
Cycle Shorts – Whether you opt for tight lycra bib shorts, loose MTB/gravel shorts, or a pair of loose shorts over your lycra cycle shorts, is totally up to you. Just make sure it is sport-specific and therefore designed to be lightweight and quick-drying, and most people appreciate the cycle-specific padding in specialist cycle shorts for long days in the saddle.
Cycle Leg / Knee Warmers – Knee warmers are one of my favourite pieces of gear, but very much a bit of kit more for the lycra-clad ‘roadie’. They are such a convenient and simple way to help regulate your body temperature, without taking up much space when not using. But if you’re not a fan, and are likely to have cold temperatures on your trip then a pair of running tights, will do the same job.
Cycle Arm Warmers – Also very useful. If you don’t use these then I would suggest one of your cycling tops has long sleeves.
Insulated Gilet / Vest – (Optional) The temperatures you are likely to ride through will determine whether you need a mid-layer. I feel the cold so always take a super lightweight insulated gilet, as it’s so warm but packs down to nothing. You may prefer a long sleeve fleece-lined mid-layer to provide extra warmth, but I find it’s just my core that I need to keep warm, and long-sleeved mid-layers can be quite heavy.
Waterproof Jacket – Don’t skimp with your waterproof layer. It’s the one piece of clothing that I think is worth investing in and spending a little bit more money on if you can. Gortex jackets are ideal, they also are a great windbreak and can be used to layer up even when it’s not raining. I actually using hiking jackets rather than cycling jackets.
Waterproof Trousers – A good pair of waterproof trousers can not only offer great protection in the rain, (…cycling in soaking wet shorts can cause several skin issues in the saddle area). But they can also be used as an additional layer if it gets cold and windy, or they can be worn over your thermals in the evening if you need to go and get a meal somewhere.
Lightweight Rain Poncho – (Optional) This is my ‘must-take item, a cheap (£10) reusable waterproof rain poncho. I buy a new one for each big trip. I throw it on over the top of my clothes, even over my waterproofs, and I never get wet. It also goes over the top of the backpack.
Cap – Some people find this useful to wear under their helmet either to protect their face from the sun or the rain. A cycle-specific one is thin and breathable and fits nicely under a helmet.
Buff – Can be used in cold weather pulled up over your face, or you can wear it as a headband or hat. They can shade your neck from burning in the sun. Just a really versatile piece of kit.
Reflective Safety Vest – Only relevant if you will be road riding, Be safe, be seen!
Casual / Sleep Clothing
Down Jacket – Make sure all these ‘sleep/tent’ clothes live in a dry bag because they are very much part of your safety kit, as well as your daily comforts. A nice warm down (or synthetic) jacket is like stepping into a massive warm hug at the end of a long hard day.
Long-sleeved Thermal Base Layer Top – Once you are out of your sweaty or wet cycling clothes get into this dry layer. You will probably sleep in this layer too.
Thermal Base Layer Trousers – Something suitable to wear around camp, or to go and get some food, but also sleep in if it’s cold.
Underwear – After a long day in a padded chamois, pants are a welcome reprieve.
Sleep Socks – A nice pair of warm dry socks to put on at the end of the day is bliss.
Down Booties – (Optional) These are one of my luxury items that I take on cold-weather trips, I don’t sleep well if I have cold feet, so for their weight, I find these invaluable. But if you don’t feel the cold too much then these are probably unnecessary extras for you.
Flip Flops / Sandals – (Optional) Not something I ever take, but many people really like a change of footwear, for when they are in camp or towns etc.
Spares & Repairs Bikepacking Kit
Different trips will require different tool kits. So much will depend on the duration of your trip, how remote you will be, whether you’re on-road or off-road, in developed or developing countries, but most importantly your skills! An extensive toolkit is pointless extra weight if you don’t know how to use it all. My mechanic skills are sadly very limited, so I tend to take the bare essentials. It’s also worth remembering that you can’t pack tools and spares for every eventuality!
Bike Pump – Although weight is important, don’t just reach for the smallest and lightest pump, you will struggle to get enough pressure. I recommend something that allows you to get a higher pressure like the Topeak Road Morph G Pump.
Straps / Bungees – Voile Straps would be my recommendation, so useful.
Gaffa / Duck Tape – An absolute must! Bombproof for quick fixes on many things. Wrap it around something like your pump to save space.
Cable Ties – These are a cheap, quick and surprisingly strong option to solve a number of issues that might crop up.
Multitool – Make sure it has everything you will need including allen keys, torx keys, screw drivers and a chain breaker.
Spare Inner Tubes – I recommend two spare tubes, and make sure you replace them in a shop at the earliest possibility.
Inner Tube Repair Patches – On a long trip I would recommend a traditional puncture repair kit, and then some easy instant patches on all trips.
Tyre Levers – I like to take a pair of good quality plastic tyre levers but you will often find metal tyre leavers as part of your multitools.
Tubeless Repair Kit – You are likely to want to take tyre plugs and tool, a small pot of extra sealant and possibly a spare valve core as well as a valve remover. You will also need spare inner tubes and patches in case you need to switch back to tubes.
Tyre Boots – You can buy specific sticky tyre boots or you could cut up an old toothpaste tube into a square, and if you’re really desperate you can fold up a banknote to offer some protection between the split wall and the inner tube. You can also sew up a split tyre with a strong curved needle & some dental floss, which will give the tyre boot a better chance of working.
Spare Spokes & Nipples – 1 x front, 1 x rear drive side and 1 x rear non-drive side, nipple spanner and cassette remover (I use The Next Best Thing mk2). Even if you can’t change spokes yourself it’s worth taking the spares so that a bike mechanic can still fix it for you even when they might not have had your specific spokes. A ‘Fiber Fix’ emergency replacement spoke is a good option to get you as far as a bike mechanic/bike shop.
Spare Gear & Brake Cable – Have new cables put on your bike before you depart on a big trip, but you could take spare cable with you as well if it’s a long trip.
Spare Brake Pads – On longer trips, it’s definitely worth taking some spare pads with you.
Magic Chain Links / Spare Chain Length – Take a couple of magic quick-links and some regular chain links (plus the connecting pins).
Small Bottle of Lube – If you are heading out for more than just a couple of days, you will want to clean and re-lubricate your drivetrain for optimal performance. Take a small cloth for cleaning, and maybe an old mini travel toothbrush for cleaning cogs.
Grease – If you are heading out on a longish journey, then decant a small amount of bike grease into a little travel pot.
Gloves For Bike Repair / Cleaning – Thin cheap surgical gloves that pack down to nothing. To protect you from getting grease from your hands onto your clothes throughout the day mainly.
Spare Derailleur Hanger – These are prone to getting bent or breaking, so I would say this is a must for long trips on rough terrain.
Spare Bolts & Washers – Such as; chainring bolt, brake pad bolt and spare cleat bolt (I have lost cleat bolts on a number of trips).
Spare Tyre – I have never carried one, but I know some people do if on a round-the-world or such like.
Leatherman – Really useful to have a small pair of pliers to help with bike repairs, as well as a knife and scissors etc for cooking needs or first aid.
Tenacious Tape – If you’re on a long trip, then this self-adhesive tape is fantastic for providing long-lasting repairs to tears or rips on almost any surface, particularly things like your tent fabric or waterproof jacket.
Super Glue – Because it’s super handy.
Curved Needle & Dental Floss – Great for repairing many bits of kit, from bag straps to large gashes in tyre sidewalls.
Tent Pole Repair Tube – Having had a tent pole destroyed in a storm, I now always take a tent pole repair splint. You might then need to duck tape it into place.
Sleeping Mat Repair Kit – Punctures in your sleeping mat do happen and it is a really big spoiler to your day/trip if you can’t repair it.
Stove Service Kit – If a service kit is applicable, usually liquid fuel stoves, and if the trip is quite long.
Hygiene Kit For Bikepacking
Tooth Brush & Toothpaste – I often take dry powdered toothpaste, as it weighs a lot less than normal toothpaste. A mini travel-sized toothbrush saves weight.
Spare Hairband – This won’t be relevant to everyone, but if you have long hair then you might know where I am coming from at the frustration when your hairband snaps and you can’t get your hair out of your face. So take a spare just in case.
SPF 30 Suncream – Just wear it! It’s easy to not feel like you are catching the sun when you are cycling because of the cool breeze that’s created whilst moving, but you will probably be burning.
Lip Balm SPF – This is not a luxury item, in both hot or cold weather your lips take a hammering in the wind when you are cycling and can blister badly. So an SPF lip balm is a must in my opinion.
Soap – Not something I would pack on a short trip or bike packing race (embrace the stink or make do with what you stumble across in public services along the way). However, on much longer journeys a biodegradable soap that can be used for cleaning yourself, your clothes and your cooking pot is the best weight saving option.
Travel Towel – A small microfibre towel is something I would only take on a long journey of more than a couple of weeks. I would consider it a luxury item, but other people may consider it essential.
Insect Repellent – This is a must in most parts of the world for people who like me who get eaten alive! A mosquito head net may be needed too if you know they are going to be bad.
Water Purification Tabs – Whether you’ll need to purify your water will depend on how remote your trip takes you. You may be able to find taps along the route or you could buy water, or even boil it on the odd occasion if you were unsure, and therefore have no need for tabs. However, I think it’s worth taking some tabs anyway, as they weigh next to nothing, and then whenever you are unsure about a water source you will be able to have peace of mind.
Toilet Paper – You will learn to use it more sparingly than you might normally, but try not to run out!
Medical Kit For Bikepacking
Disclaimer: This medical kit is what I have found works for me over the years based on advice and training from my expedition doctors. Please obtain your own personal medical kit advice from your doctor.
Haemostatic Gauze – These are possibly only needed if you are heading to remote locations where emergency services will be slow to reach you. Originally designed for the military, a haemostatic gauze can help save a life when someone is bleeding out of control. It is a dressing containing a clotting agent, that you can pack into the wound of a major bleed, to speed up the normal blood clotting response.
Zinc Oxide / Strappal Strapping Tape – This is just the BEST tape thanks to its versatility. It can be used as strapping to prevent injuries, like a plaster to protect wounds but most commonly used as a second skin against friction sores like blisters. It is highly adhesive and suitable for wearing for long periods of time and tolerates water and dirt well. It is the one thing I will ALWAYS have with me.
3M Coban Wrap – This is an amazing lightweight self-adherent elastic wrap that functions like a tape, but sticks only to itself. It is wide like a bandage but will not slip, so no need for frequent readjustment. Great for binding ankles and knees.
Rehydration Sachets – Dehydration usually occurs during and after physical exertion (sports) and at high temperatures. Excessive perspiration, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, burns or the use of certain medicines can also lead to dehydration symptoms.
General Essentials – Steristrips, Triangular Bandage, Antiseptic Wipes, Betadine, Eye Wash, Orajel Extra Strength (Local anaesthetic for the mouth), Sterile Dressing, Anti-inflammatory Gel 2%, Paracetamol Pain Killer, Ibuprofen Anti-inflammatory, Imodium Anti-diarrhoea, Tick Remover, Safety Pin, Micropore Tape, Antihistamine, Hydrocortisone Ointment, Fabric Plasters, Surgical Gloves.
Remote Wilderness – If my journey was through very remote wilderness, where rescue was unlikely or going to be very slow, then I would also include the following in my first aid kit: Antibiotic – Co-amoxidav, Antibiotic – Metronidazole, Antibiotic – Ceftriaxone (needles and syringe needed for this), Intravenous Needles (hospital use), Steroid for Inflammation – Prednisone, Strong Antihistamine – Inorial, Acute Altitude Sickness – Diamox (if at high altitude), Mild Altitude Sickness – Ibuprofen.
Foil Blanket – If you are not camping, and therefore do not have a tent and sleeping bag to get into in an emergency, then a foil blanket is a MUST. You can also buy emergency foil bivvy bags which are even better. On many trips, I have had to get a few minutes nap under a foil blanket on the side of the road when tiredness consumed me.
Waterproof pouch – To keep your important documents and cash dry.
Credit Card & Cash – Spread it out in various places on you and the bike… just in case the worst happens and your bike or bag gets stolen!
Emergency Contact Info – If I am riding solo then I wear a band on my wrist which has two emergency phone numbers on it and my blood group etc.
Photo ID & Travel Insurance – Take a printed copy with you and leave a copy with an emergency contact at home.
Notebook & Pen – I would highly recommend creating a short summary of the day somewhere. I tend to use a voice recorder app on my phone and then write it up once I get home, but some people prefer a good old notebook and pen. It’s often the last thing you want to do at the end of a long day, but make yourself do it, it’s so good to be able to look back on these things years later.
Feel free to ask me any questions, happy to help where I can.
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