A Bicycling Packing List

Get rolling on a biking vacation, either the easy, go-at-your-own pace touring variety, or the more adrenaline-charged mountain bike version—but first gather up your equipment.


The Bike

Deciding on whether to bring a road, mountain, or hybrid bike depends completely on what kind of terrain you expect to encounter on your trip. If you're going to be sticking to paved, smooth surfaces, go with the road bike; you'll be able to travel much faster than on a mountain or hybrid. If you plan on going off-road for any distance, consider the mountain or hybrid depending on how rugged you expect the terrain to be.

All helmets sold in the United States are required to meet CPSC standards. The major difference between helmets is comfort. As helmets get lighter and better vented, they become more expensive.

A shirt or jersey that wicks moisture away from the skin is the best. If you're going to wear cotton, don't wear anything that you really care about—it will probably get ruined.

Cycling shorts have a pad in the crotch that prevents chafing and offers some extra padding. If you're weary of skintight Lycra, baggy versions are now widely available.

Eye protection is essential, as it will protect your eyes from errant branches and debris-not to mention bugs!

What kind of shoes to choose depends upon what kind of pedals are on your bike. Clipless pedals require specially made shoes that pop into the pedal like ski boots into a binding. If you have flat pedals or pedals with a toe cage, almost any sneaker will work.

Water and Food
Pack more than you think you'll need, as it's better to have too much than not enough. Many bikers use backpack water carriers because they hold more than water bottles, and they're easier to drink from while riding. Food is a matter of personal choice, but you might want to bring foods that are high in energy-replacing carbohydrates. Fruit, peanut butter, nuts, and energy bars are easily packed and make for good pick-me-ups.

Flat Kit
A good flat kit should include a spare inner tube (make sure it's the right size!), a hand pump, tire levers (for removing the tire), and a patch kit. Learn how to use it before you go…figuring it out while you're stranded on the side of the road will be no fun.

First-Aid Kit
It's always a good idea to carry a few first-aid items. Pack along a few Band-Aids and alcohol swabs in case you wipe out.


Mountain-Biking Shoes
Typically, mountain-biking shoes allow you to walk or hike over rough surfaces. Sneakers or low-rise hiking boots work, too.

Off-road, something always seems to work its way loose or need a slight adjustment. There are a number of multi-tools out there. Before you buy one, take a look at your bike and see what types of screws and bolts it has.


Extra Water and Food
As you sweat it out, you need to be certain to drink—even before you get thirsty.

Waterproof sunscreen won't run off as you sweat.


Ear Band
If it's cold, you may want to slip an ear band or hat under your helmet for warmth.

Long-Sleeved Jersey
On top of a long-sleeved jersey, it's a good idea to have an insulating layer. And if it's really cold, wear a windbreaker as well. It's better to peel off extra layers than to freeze.

Tights, Knee and Arm Warmers
Knee warmers extend from the ankles to the midthigh. They're perfect for peeling away as the weather warms; just stick them in a pocket. The same goes for arm warmers, which extend from the wrists to the biceps.

Published: 9 May 2000 | Last Updated: 2 Sep 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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