Equipment list for a biking trip

What do you need to take with you on your next cycling adventure? There are a number of factors that could affect your kit list: your destination, the length of your ride, the weather, and more. Discover all of the essentials that you won't want to forget!

What do you need to take with you on your next cycling adventure? There's no single right answer to this question. There are a number of factors that could affect your kit list: where you're going, how long your trip will last, what the weather is going to be, who is in your group (solo, couple, family), what baggage system you're using (panniers, bikepacking), and how comfortable you want to be.

That said, it should still be possible to pull together a basic kit list that can act as a general inventory for all bike rides. Which is exactly what we're going to try to do in this article. As you can see, our checklist is neither exhaustive nor set in stone. We like to think of it as a guide and a source of inspiration that everyone can adapt to suit their own needs and expectations.

Bike touring: why draw up a kit list before setting off?

Firstly, so that you're familiar with your kit and can be sure you haven't forgotten anything. And also to be as organised as possible. It's a chance to categorise everything (kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, etc.) and figure out how to spread all your stuff across your different bags. You might want to visualise it in the form of a table or even a sketch. Try to memorise your checklist as best you can. This will give you a sort of mental map of your set-up. It'll serve you well once you're under way as you'll be able to find the item you need in an instant, without having to rummage around in all of your bags.

Bike touring equipment


Classic approach
- 2 front pannier bags
- 2 rear pannier bags
- 1 handlebar bag
Tip 1: make sure your bags are waterproof so that your belongings will stay dry in all weather conditions.
Tip 2: always opening the wrong bag? To stop yourself muddling them up, identify them with a sticker or badge.

Bikepacking approach
- 1 handlebar bag
- 1 saddle bag
- 1 frame bag

Additional bikepacking luggage:
- 2 fork bags
- 1 or 2 top tube bags (to be fixed to your frame's top tube)
- 1 or 2 food pouch bags or stem bags (to be fixed to your stem or handlebar)

Other containers
-1 backpack (optional).
To be laid horizontally on your pannier rack. Don't wear it on your back as it'll make you sweat more and cause neck and shoulder pain. A backpack can be useful for transporting your valuables when you're not on your bike, for example, when visiting somewhere or doing your shopping.

- compression bags or dry bags. To make your things take up less space, to protect them even better from the rain and to keep them separate.
- sealed bags for your waste so that you won't leave anything behind other than your tyre print.

Bike touring clothing

Aside from being heavy, clothes can take up a lot of space. There's no point taking too many different outfits. Get back to basics and just remember to wash your underwear whenever you have the chance.

Cycling kit
It should be simple and practical, not get in the way of your pedalling, and protect you from the elements if necessary.
- 2 T-shirts or short-sleeved tops (to be worn as a base layer. Not cotton – go for merino wool, which dries quickly and reduces odours)
- 1 long-sleeved thermal top (it will serve as a second base layer)
- 1 pair of hiking shorts or cycling shorts (some people swear by their chamois pad. Others do without one with no problems. Each to their own, depending on how sensitive they are!)
- 2 sleeves (they keep your forearms warm and are easy to take off. Perfect for chilly mornings)
- 1 windproof, waterproof jacket (for effective, lasting protection from the rain, opt for a model with a waterproofing rating of 10 000 Schmerbers or more)
- 2 pairs of boxer shorts or technical underwear / 2 pairs of sports pants and bras
- 2 pairs of socks
- 1 buff or cap
- 1 pair of sunglasses
- 1 pair of cycling gloves (to protect your hands if you fall off)
- 1 helmet
- 1 neon jacket (a must in poor visibility and outside of built-up areas)
- 1 pair of shoes (with cleats, if you use clipless pedals. Avoid a road-style model with cleats that stick out too far as this makes it harder to walk. Otherwise, a pair of all-round trainers, such as trail running ones, will do the job).

In cold weather:
- 1 long-sleeved thermal top
- 1 down or fleece jacket
- 1 pair of tights or cycling tights
- 1 pair of overshoes
- 1 pair of long, warm gloves

Non-cycling clothing
It's all about being relaxed. It should keep you warm and be comfortable to sleep in.
- 1 cotton T-shirt
- 1 fleece
- 1 pair of hiking trousers
- 1 lightweight down jacket
- 2 pairs of pants
- 1 pair of socks
- 1 pair of flip-flops or sandals to let your feet enjoy a well-earned breather.

In cold weather:
- 1 set of thermal base layers
- 1 pair of long, warm socks
- 1 hat


Sleeping kit

What's the best way to sleep outside when bike touring? Well, there are several options depending on how much you value your creature comforts and how much space you have in your bags. Here are the most common ones:
- Which tent is best for bike touring?
A free-standing model can be used in all conditions, including on hard surfaces such as patios and garages. If you have an awning, this will allow you to cook in bad weather and shelter your baggage. This is the solution that traditional bike tourists, with pannier bags, tend to go for.
- A tarp: a light, compact solution that you can rig up in mere seconds to serve as a minimalist shelter for you and your kit. Ideal for bikepacking.
- A bivvy bag: which is a light, miniature cocoon that you can snuggle into inside your sleeping bag. It'll ward off the rain and insects. You might want to pair it with a tarp.

Other bits of camping equipment:
- 1 sleeping bag (a down filling is perfect for touring sports. It has the benefit of being light, warm and easy to pack down. Synthetic fillings are more moisture-resistant and generally cost less)
-1 inflatable mattress or roll mat (how warm you are depends in large part on how well you can isolate yourself from the cold and damp of the ground. Get a model designed for cold conditions)
-1 head torch

Unless you're going to rely entirely on bakeries and restaurants, you'll need to carry a certain amount of kitchen equipment with you. Obviously, you're hardly going to conjure up Michelin-star dinners with this kit,but you'll at least be able to heat something up!

-1 mini camping stove (you won't have to look far to find refills in France. If you're travelling in a country where they're harder to find, go for a multi-fuel stove that can also burn petrol or alcohol)
-1 stove wind shield (optional, but makes cooking much easier when it's a bit breezy)
- 1 cooking pan
- 1 collapsible / folding bowl or plate
- 1 collapsible cup
- 1 spork
- 1 folding knife
- 1 lighter
- 1 soft, folding washing-up bowl (optional. Makes it easier to wash the dishes, yourself and your laundry)
- 1 all-in-one soap (washing up, cleaning yourself, doing laundry)
- 1 small sponge
- 1 small piece of fabric / tea towel
- 1 thermos (optional, but means you can enjoy a hot tea or coffee, or a nice cool drink)
- 1 picnic blanket or large piece of fabric to sit on and mark out your eating space (optional, but very handy for families)
- 1 or more 1.5 L plastic bottles for water supplies, depending on your needs.
-1 water filter (if you'll need it where you're going. In France, safe drinking water is easy to come by. You'll almost always find a tap in a cemetery).
- Zip seal bags for storing food

These items can be shoved into one or two small bags. Obviously, your emergency extras will depend on who you are and where you're going. Don't hesitate to consult your doctor if you're unsure about what you should be taking with you.

- 1 toothbrush (some models fold up or have a removable handle)
- 1 mini tube of toothpaste or toothpaste tablets
- 1 small microfibre towel
- 1 all-in-one soap (see above)
- 1 pair of tweezers
- 1 tick hook
- 1 small tube of sun cream
- 1 antiseptic spray and wound dressings
- 1 mosquito repellent
- A little saline solution
- 1 anti-chafing cream
- Paracetamol
- Toilet paper (to save space and stop it getting wet, put the amount you need in a sealed bag. Don't forget to clean up after yourself!)
-1 survival blanket (to protect from hypothermia, the gold side should face outwards. Or the other way around to protect you from the heat)


- 2 drinks bottles
- Set of lights (removable LED ones or built-in)
- Bike computer (optional. Not necessary if you use a smartphone).
- Smartphone holder
- Bike lock (there's no perfect solution: D-rings are the most effective but they're also heavy. A cable only really works as a deterrent)
- Mudguard (optional, to stop your back and bags getting splattered in wet weather. Watch out for mud building up under longer models that sit close to the tyre)

To carry out the most common repairs and odd jobs around your camp.
- 1 inner tube
- 1 mini pump
- 1 set of tyre levers
- 1 set of patches and glue
- 1 tubeless tyres repair kit (if you use tubeless)
- 1 chain tool (this could be a multitool)
- 1 set of Allen keys (again, could be a multitool)
- 1 pair of wire cutters (multitool)
- 1 chain quick link and spare links
- 1 spoke key and a few spare spokes
- 1 pair of thin plastic gloves (optional, to keep you clean when you're putting your hands near greasy parts)
- 1 small rag (optional, for putting your tools on or giving everything a quick wipe)
- 1 old toothbrush (optional, for cleaning your drivetrain)
- 1 tube of chain lube
- A few zip ties (useful for all sorts of makeshift repairs)
- 1 roll of heavy-duty tape (for makeshift repairs, particularly your bags)
- 1 versatile pocket knife (for clearing a camping space, cutting a pole for your tarp, and cutting anything else you might need to cut)
- 1 strap (optional, for strapping on extra baggage or tying up your bike on the train)
- 1 piece of cord (optional, for drying your laundry and hanging up anything that needs to be hung up!)

- 1 smartphone (the bike tourist's Swiss army knife: GPS, weather forecast, camera, torch, notebook, etc. Switch it to aeroplane mode when you're not using it to save battery)
- 1 external battery (a high-capacity power bank that can charge your smartphone several times)
- 1 camera + lenses if you're a keen photographer (keep it to hand. If it's safely stowed in the bottom of a bag, you'll never actually use it)
-1 mini tripod (optional, for taking photos on the go)
-1 on-bike or helmet camera (optional, for taking action shots of your journey)
- Medical insurance card
- Debit / credit card
- Cash (enough to get you out of any tight corners)

If you're new to bike touring, why not go exploring with Decathlon Travel? Choose your region and the theme you're most interested in, and you'll get an itinerary and all your accommodation. It's a great way to try bike touring for the first time without having to go it entirely alone.

So there you have it. You're ready to hit the road. Or at least, on paper… First, you'll need to pack up all of your kit and test your set-up in real-life conditions. In other words, you'll need to hone your checklist by conducting field tests. Remember that nothing's set in stone. Quite the opposite. The more you ride and the more experience you have, the more you'll be able to refine things. So don't be afraid to correct it as many times as necessary! The best solution for your needs is something you'll learn over time by making little tweaks here and there.


Olivier Godin

A fan of cycling in all its forms. Particularly enjoys taking the scenic route. Has equally fond memories of the Great Divide, Paris-Cape Town and Scandinavia as he does of crossing the Pyrenees, cycling the Millevaches plateau and riding around Picardy! Loves a good climb, because it's a natural high - both figuratively and literally. Rides alone, as a couple and as a family. Endeavours to convey the call of the road in his books. Author of "A vélo, 50 itinéraires pour pédaler le nez au vent" published by Gallimard.

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