I figured this could come in handy for people considering self-supported bikepacking (using hotels or B&Bs, not tent camping) in Europe.
Because bikepacking involves carrying everything with you I'm super frugal with what I bring as it all has to:
- Fit within my bike bags
- Be lightweight and not cumbersome
- Have definite function for the itinerary (which is most focused on the riding and less so on formal evening niceties)
So I tend to go for minimalist and functional. During my July bikepacking adventure I'm glad I didn't follow Rick's packing advice as I would've been lugging around far too much!
My basics were:
- 2 bike kits (consisting of jersey, bib shorts, mesh base layer)
- 2 tech t-shirts (short-sleeve) - one wool, one wicking nylon
- 1 button-down short-sleeve shirt
- 1 pair of slim-fit shorts with hidden cargo pockets
- 2 pair of lightweight tech fabric boxer-briefs (Fruit of the Loom, in case folks are curious)
- 3 pair of socks (6-7" cuff that work both on and off the bike)
- 1 long-sleeve tech shirt (from Under Armour)
- 1 packable bike rain jacket
- 1 cycling vest (gilét)
- 1 swimsuit (bike short racing style)
- sun sleeves
- knee warmers
- 2 pair of bike gloves
- 2 Halo headbands (for sweat management on the bike)
- 1 tech fabric cycling cap with a broad sweatband
- bike helmet
- Teva sandals
- cleated bike shoes
- small wicking towel
- toiletries (deodorant, toothpaste, travel toothbrush, contact lens stuff, hairbrush, razor)
- small bottle of castile soap (for washing me and for sink washing of clothes)
- small tubes of sunscreen (usually bought in Europe as their sunscreen is much better than U.S. stuff)
- on-the-bike nutrition (energy gels, sports drink powder, candies, granola bars)
- 2 bike bottles (700 ml each)
- 1 foldable bike lock (Abus Bordo Lite)
- iPad Mini (carried in a waterproof padded sleeve)
- Ziploc bag of electronic chargers and cables (for phone, GPS gadgets, iPad)
- solar rechargable 20,000 milliamp charger battery (with 2 USB-A ports and 1 USB-C port)
- Ziploc bag with small assortment of bike tools, spare tube, and chain lube
- 3 empty Ziploc bags for incidental use
The bike has 4 bags:
- 16.5 liter rolltop saddle bag (waterproof)
- 4.5 liter frame bag that attaches to the top tube (waterproof)
- 2 liter handlebar bag (not waterproof)
- 0.5 liter top tube "bento box" bag (held nutrition - not waterproof)
I used a compression sack for my clothes to keep them compact - made packing them a lot easier, and as they were tech fabric they didn't wrinkle.
I also have a smaller saddle bag for tools (usable when not going from town to town and I'm riding big climbs for the day - on longer days it lived in the frame pack) and a packable day pack (good for shopping - lived in my handlebar bag when not in use). I always kept some room for purchases made along the way - and the day pack could pinch hit as a general use pack if too many things were bought (though the goal was to keep my upper body unencumbered).
The total weight of the stuff I carried in the bags was 10-11 pounds. Each water bottle, when loaded, weighed 2 pounds and change. The bike weighs 18 pounds. The bags kept things stable and workable and I never felt like I needed anything extra.
The kicker: everything I brought got used.
This worked great for all situations I encountered. I even was able to dine in a Michelin star restaurant in St. Moritz wearing the button-down shirt, shorts, and Tevas as they were very presentable. Washing clothes in the sink was easy and they all dried quickly after washing.
Had I needed anything it would've been easy to get things in almost any town. I did purchase a couple new bike jerseys (one for the event I competed in, the other from a French label that isn't available in the States) and they fit into the bags without issues.
I hope this helps folks! Questions? Ask 'em!