Bike Touring Gear: 10 Useful Gear Picks (The Small Stuff)

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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

Bunyan Velo - packing for bicycle tour - Bartender handlebar, stem bag

Bicycle Touring Gear - Bunyan Velo Bartender Bag

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

Bicycle Touring Gear - Packable Backpack - compressible

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

Bicycle Touring Gear - 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

Bicycle Touring Gear - Icebreaker wool

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

Bike Touring Gear - Revelate Pocket - Sweet Roll for Bicycle Touring

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

Bicycle Touring Gear - Collapsable Water Bladder

PDW 3wrencho

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

Bicycle Touring Gear - PDW 3Wrencho

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

Sea to Summit Traveling Light Garment Bag - packing for bike tour

SOG Aegis

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

Bicycle Touring Gear - Knife

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

Bicycle Touring Gear - Salsa Straps

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

Bicycle Touring Gear - Titanium Spork

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  • Neil and Harriet Pike

    Hi Logan, I am still finding it hard to believe that your setup is more functional than a couple of panniers. With all that stuff hanging off doesn’t it take a long time to load and unload your bike and haven’t you lost stuff? Just wondering like! Harriet

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Hey there. I don’t think so…. Virginia is running two panniers and it always takes her twice the time (may just be her though) ;) But seriously, this pic is a little excessive as we were heading out into nothingness for a couple of days — with a packed food bag, the spare fuel bottle hanging off the back, the helmet hanging off the back, etc. It’s really quick packing usually, the straps stay in place and I just slide the drybags in place on the front. The base luggage is a sleeping bag drybag (front), a drybag with sleeping pad/pillow/WC (front), the tent bag/spare tire (rear), saddlebag and a camera bag. Everything else is kind of extraneous and changes here and there.

  • Jake Kruse

    those icebreaker undies are so great. been riding in a pair for close to a year now. still use a chamois now and then for extremely long rides, but really prefer the quick drying and soft comfort of merino at this point. not to mention they can be worn for days (weeks) on end without becoming offensively odorous.

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Yeah, I think my record is 8 days without washing them out. The surprising thing is their durability!

  • anna

    Do you really use the she wee thing? I’m sure I’d make a right mess!

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Virginia says: Yes I pull it off, but it does take a little finesse. I have heard tale of a few she-wee accidents though.

  • John Q.

    Very, very helpful reviews! I will be doing the odd touring beginning in Sept. and it helps to have had someone do some gear shakedown for me. Cheers, John Q.

  • Luke Clark

    Nite Ize clips sounds super useful – just ordered myself a pair. Do you know what size the Sea-to-Summit clothes bag you use is? I was planning to just use a drybag, but that looks far more organised.

  • http://www.uninspiredramblings.com/ Chris

    Awesome. I’ve been looking for a packable rucksack that folds up small but doesn’t feel like its made of tissue paper – looks like the Verto is it. Bought it last week and its great – good compression, solid fabric, decent straps and two pockets. Also ordered the Niteize clips and cord. I do at least have the PDW 3Wrencho already – so solid. I’ve tried to get along with a spork but I find them really difficult for any liquid based food… its just too frustrating to not be able to finish the end of my soup!

  • Tim Donner

    nice post. I like the use of the space under your saddle, between the seatpost at our saddlebag. But I am wondering how did you secure the gear there? Did you simply lash it to the rails of your saddle, or is it sitting on some bar that isn’t visible in the picture. I am looking for a similar set up and am curious. Thanks!

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Sorry for the delay, just saw this for some reason. It is a medium!

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Yeah, the Verto is sturdy… been using it quite a bit for extra food and such…holding up well.

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Yep, on the rails… here is a closeup… cheers!

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Thanks!

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Whoops, here it is:

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    OK, this image loading thing is tricky… this should do it:

  • Tim Donner

    awesome! Easy enough and functional. Thanks for the close up pic and safe travels!

  • Wakatel Lu’um

    I’ve just ordered one of those bartender bags by Randi Jo due to this review…thanks for the tip!

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    You won’t be disappointed … a very handy piece of gear!

  • zenbiking

    My experience with the Salsa straps has been different than yours. I use them for lashing the dry bag with my sleep kit (bivy, down bag, and small sleep pad) to my handlebars. Total weight is just under 4 lbs. For off pavement rides, I’ve found that they tend to slip loose after a while, especially when I hit rough spots in the road or singletrack

    I’m testing some of the Sea-To-Summit Accessory straps this week on the GDMBR. Some testing riding in the fields in my neighborhood is good so far. I think the Salsa straps are great when they aren’t required to support a lot of weight.

    I DO think I’ll pick up a set of those Nite Ize clips. I can see all sorts of ways to use those.

  • Andi

    My favorites as well (and Icebreaker in general). I think I got two weeks (or even more?) out of mine in Bolivia :) Jup, first thing you think when holding them is: That thin – they won’t last a month. But they do and I never use chamois. If anyone wants to know: Worst so far have been the Lundhags. They started to desintegrate after a month just from normal use and no riding!

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Yeah, mine might even make a third 6 month trip… amazing.

  • Sean

    Just wanted to add that one really good alternative to the Salsa straps are the Surly Junk Straps. They are essentially really long nylon toe straps with a metal cleat/buckle that bites into the strap to prevent slipping. I find they work well if you have a larger load on the bars, such as a packraft lashed to a Sweetroll.

    Titanium sporks rule

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