Bike Touring Gear: 10 Useful Gear Picks (The Small Stuff)
There are several small, but very useful, pieces of gear that have impressed me on our current tour, and a couple of items that have been with me since our last tour that have definitely proved their worth.
Not to sound overly materialistic, but sometimes certain products can win the minds and hearts of those who use them. I guess that’s a eloquent way of describing what makes up a gear nerd. I have become slightly attached to all of the items on this list and I would certainly not leave home without them.
Bunyan Velo Bartender Bag (bar/stem bag by Randi Jo Fabrications)
This has been my favorite new piece of gear on this trip, hands down. It is a perfect nook for stowing small stuff that requires quick access. For me that’s sunscreen, a GPS, apricots, a banana or two, a beer… etc. Also, the webbing on the side is perfect for sheathing sunglasses by the earpiece. The bag is well made and dries quickly. Links: Bunyan Velo / Randi Jo Fabrications
The North Face Verto 26 Packable Backpack
We both decided to bring stuffable backpacks on this trip. It fits our style of travel—cycling remote routes that might require extra food and water (in a bladder), or doing side hikes from a base camp, or the occasional bus trip. It also makes a good carry-on for flights. Gin uses a similar model from Arc’Teryx, and I also have an REI Flash 18, but the Verto 26 takes the cake. It can carry very little or expand to 26 liters via a nice draw cord compression option. Also, it has a side pocket for a water bottle and a top zipper pocket for quick access. The pack folds and stows neatly in it’s own internal pocket. It seems to be very well made and only weighs .31 kg (11 ounces). More at REI
Niteize clips and Cord
I have packed this clip/cord combo on trips for years. This is actually my third set… the first two have been accidentally left strung on trees in various campsites. With these ingenious carabiner style clips you can make a clothesline anywhere: hotel rooms, shelters, trees, boats, tractors… More at Nite Ize
Icebreaker Merino Wool 150 Underwear
Yep, I am writing about underwear; never thought it would come to this, but here you go. I ditched padded underwear a while ago. I find the Selle Anatomica Saddle comfortable enough that I just didn’t need them. So I carried 2 pair of these Icebreaker Merino boxer briefs on our Latin America tour and am still using the same two pair… over 10,000 kilometers later. I am amazed at their durability; they are holding up with out a misplaced thread and I really thought they wouldn’t last a month. Comfortable, thin, soft and dry very quickly. More at Icebreaker
Revelate Pocket (Large)
For our current trip the Revelate Sweet Roll plays a major roll in Virginia’s luggage ensemble. But just as important is the addition of the large Pocket. It snaps on to the Sweet Roll with integrated clips and is a solid replacement for the traditional handlebar bag. It also doubles as her walk-around purse with the addition of her DIY bright green strap that clips on the integrated eyelets on each side of the Pocket. I can vouch for Gin being pretty rough on gear, and both the Sweet Roll and the Pocket have stood up to the beating. More at Revelate
Platypus Platy (2 Liter Foldable Water Bladder) / WC
We are carrying two of these—one for extra water and one for… a water closet. In east Africa you may camp where there are things that bite, crawl, slither, stomp, or chew… right outside of your tent. Oh, the other thing is Gin’s v-to-p converter. Need I explain more? More at Cascade Designs
As a light packer, I love things that double, or triple for what they can be used. How about a nice little axle bolt wrench (for the Rohloff) that doubles as a great tire tool, and triples as a bottle opener. It also fits nicely in a tool roll. Indispensable. More at Portland Design Works
Sea-to-Summit clothes bag
This is just one of those things that works well. Actually I am pretty sold on all of Sea to Summit’s TravelLite packing system (I also use the toiletry kit). This bag just happens to be sized perfectly to fit my full wardrobe, (2 Ts, 2 pairs of underwear, 1 pair long johns, 1 longsleve wool shirt, 1 pair pants, 1 pair shorts, 1 towel, 1 pair socks), not including a rain jacket and what I am wearing (usually riding shorts, wool jersey, socks, shoes). It is also sized perfectly to slide neatly into my long flap saddlebag. It’s nice to have a separate container to be able to pull out and toss on a dresser, unpack and repack. More at Sea To Summit
I am a sucker for a good knife, and this is my favorite to date. It has a large 3.5” blade, perfect for fruit slicing, which is the bulk of its duty. There are a couple of other details that make this the ideal blade. It weighs only 88 grams which is light enough that it doesn’t weigh you down; I carry it all the time. The Aegis has the pocket clip oriented so the blade points up when in the pocket, which in my opinion just feels right. And, as a bell/whistle, it’s a very fast spring actuated blade, so it’s kind of fun. More at SOG
Salsa Anything Cage Straps
I have 10 of these straps (2 lengths) that came with 2 Anything Cages and 3 Minimalist racks. These are the best straps I have ever used, period. They simply keep a tight lock on whatever is in their grip, without fail over two tours. Also, they are the perfect size for bike touring gear. Not to mention, the little flashes of red are kind of snazzy. More at Salsa
Snow Peak Titanium Spork
OK, eleven pieces of gear. I know I talk about my spork all of the time. But, I feel like if I left it out of this post I would be cheating on the little inanimate object I hold so dear. Sometimes I bring it to restaurants because I simply prefer it over typical silverware. And, I may or may not have had nightmares about losing it. Considering putting it on a cord to wear around my neck. More at Snow Peak
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