18 September, 2015

Packing Tips for Your Next Adventure

By Igor

Adrian and I will be touring Denmark and Northern Germany for the next two weeks for a very special event, but before we left I wanted to share a few tips for packing bikes, equipment, and clothes you can use for your next trip.

See if you can pick out why this is a special trip
Our experience in hiking and backpacking always comes in handy when we're building a gear list for trips on and off the bike. The key is simply to take less stuff, and what you do take is light, simple, and compact. Having a light load allows for longer riding and less fatigue at the end of the day. Who wouldn't want to travel further, or longer, and be less tired?
Igor's Campeur
Adrian's Campeur
You have to be real with what you are taking, especially for airline travel. For example, we are not bringing a camp stove. Not even for coffee! We're going to be in civilized areas with fantastic food and drink. Eat hot foods when you can, grab a smørrebrød for later, and don't be afraid to try new things.

Bring clothes that have more than one use. I'll be wearing a hiking shirt for riding. It dries quickly, packs tiny, and looks like a regular button-down off the bike when I go into restaurants and shops. Jerseys are so passé.

For packing clothes, rolling your clothes uses the least amount of space and means that you can use a smaller pannier (even less weight).
If you're going out for more than a weekend trip, wash clothes instead of bringing more. No washing machine? Bring a small cutting of Savon-de-Marseille and hand wash your clothes in a sink. Multiple uses!
Packing and unpacking bikes is the least fun part of a trip. To expedite your assembly, keep bolts and washers in the places where they will be sitting when you assemble your bike: fender R-clips and rack screws stay in the dropouts, fender screws stay in their bridges and fork crown, and upper hardware for the Campeur Front Rack stays in place on the rack and cantilever bosses.

When you're packing your site in the morning, don't hang around and linger. This is our routine: wake up, break down tent, drink some water, load up the bikes, and go. Eat a granola bar on the bike. This process takes less than 10 minutes and we're gone before others have even ground their artisanal coffee beans. You'll probably come across a coffee spot within the first hour of getting back on the road where you can also grab a breakfast. Now you've woken up, put in some kms, had breakfast, and are ready for a day's worth of exploring.

What are some tips you have for packing? Do you take any luxury items?


Anonymous said...

I'll second Igor's advice. I commuted to work by bike for 6 years, and rolled my professional office look clothes. Small package, few wrinkles.

N/A said...


Anonymous said...

If my eyes see what I think they do, congrats indeed!

Rubin Starset said...

If you're taking the route I think you're taking, here are a few tips back at you two.

1. Try to find an actual printed map, it'll have some random landmarks you'll never find online. The accordioned weatherproof one in German felt like the better one.
2. The terrain in Denmark is fairly boring, that's ok, because you'll eventually get to Germany.
3. Køge is expensive, you might find this store.
4. The ferry is HUGE and might even hide an arcade!
5. When I went with my friend (early August) almost all the hostels were booked up, and hotels, if you decide you don't want to camp in a night, try to figure out accommodations a day ahead.
6. If you find this bridge (and they haven't replaced it yet) you're still on the correct route. Stop to have a picnic,.
7. You learn much about the amazing far distances Europeaners will ride on their really horrible bikes.
8. The pasta and wine here was to die for.
9. The city of Waren was kind of an interesting place to stop and cool our heels for two days. Check out the Müritzeum. We stayed on top of a pizza shop. Good pickles.
10. Spend a night in the bowling center!
11. Lastly when you're finally in Berlin, treat yourself to a night at this place.

Thanks for the post. I really appreciated the exploded bag with you two in it photo.

marc mcshane said...

hello! looks like you will have fun, for sure.

i'm currently riding across the US... i'm about half way right now. i've been out for just over 5 weeks and i am completely engrossed in the life that is built around packing and unpacking. a few things that i have learned so far:

1: everything MUST have a specific home in your bags or consider it lost! i've gotten in the habit of putting things back immediately after using it. i've had to turn around at least 3 times so far for forgotten items. not fun. i find that keeping everything in different colored drybags or ditty bags makes it easy to keep organized.

2: i am packing some heavy, luxury items. in particular a bulky camera, a small tablet/laptop for editing photos, a tripod, and a few other accessories like chargers. for me this is important enough to justify a ton of extra weight. if i were doing a shorter tour i could get away with a lot less. if there is something you really feel is important, i say take it... just be prepared for some heavy panniers. that, having been said, after two weeks i ended up mailing some items home that i just wasn't using. to be honest, i can't even remember what they were so it proves i just didn't need them.

3: bring a kindle. it's just that simple. load it up with stuff before you leave. they take up essentially no room and weigh next to nothing. it has been invaluable on many occasions... late at night, taking a mid-day rest in the middle of nowhere, and of course, when the weather doesn't cooperate. of course, i'm riding solo and don't have anyone to talk to.

you guys go have a ton of fun!

Stefan R. said...

well said .. the only downside with for example normal shirt is the not so good transpiration, a cycling jersey does this job much better.

Alex Wirth said...

We toured around Switzerland/Austria/Germany for a couple of weeks and we could have probably gotten away with one pannier each. We bought food on the way and didn't bother camping as there was always plenty of rather nice, very affordable accommodations (We typically called one day ahead). Don't bring a lot of clothes…that way you can pick up cool t-shirts or garb that aren't available over here. A short section of cord to hang your clothes overnight is helpful… it's much easier alternating washing two sets of cycling clothes every day than having more and trying to do a bunch of laundry at once. Have SO MUCH FUN! Enjoy the coffee.

Colin Santos said...

I'm a little late to this, but my favorite luxury is an Alite Monarch camping chair. It's so nice to relax the back after a day of cycling.

Ron Bell said...

Great advice! Alas, my wife packs everything and we have never toured without a plug in hair dryer to boot! Also, since we always tour on the tandem, it is four loaded panniers minimum. We usually do the bed and breakfast thing and STILL HAVE 4 LOADED PANNIERS! As an old back packer I am always amazed! But, we still manage to put in the miles with smiles, I wish you two a great adventure and look forward to reading all about it in the future. Thanks for your blog and for the hard to find items that I have purchased from Velo Orange.

Bon Voyage!


Unknown said...

Good tips, though I'm unlike Igor as I do like to "hang out and linger" at camp in the AM. That's part of the fun of touring for me, the camping aspect, making coffee and breakfast at camp. And I've been touring in places recently where there's no coffee/breakfast option down the road, so if I didn't make it in camp, I wouldn't have it all!

Robert said...

I've done many touring trips....( am in Japan now)
1. iPad mini vs computer or kindle - it's a reader, backup storage for photos, Internet capable.
2. Cubin-fiber home-made bike cover for trains - expensive, but weights only a few ounces.
3. 2 small front panniers on the back
4. I'm a photographer, but only take a small P&S - small, not bothered by the jostling, shoots RAW, and is good enough. Weighs nothing.
5. Forget camping. Too much hassle, too much stuff. I stay in small inns, finish my day with a hot bath and cold beer. Very civilized.

Johnny White said...

These are pretty good tips. Especially the Savon-de-Marseille one. Packing enough clothes can be one of the most challenging part.

I make sure though to bring my camera gear though. You don't want to regret not documenting any trip!

Alma Cox said...

Really useful tips. I am planning bike riding with my daughter. I need so desperately tips like yours. I am sure that I won`t cope with "bike packing". Thank you for sharing! Greets!

Pauncy said...

Useful tips, but I'm curious about the use of front rather than rear panniers. What's the thinking here please?