I'll be cycling through relatively lonely areas for a few weeks (towns every 40 miles or so). I'm looking for a good guide on what gear to pack.

It's the Pacific coast trail from Seattle to San Francisco during June. Weather should be fairly sunny but possibly foggy in mornings. Road conditions should be nice. Camping most nights, with the occasional hotel. Meals will be mostly bought along the way, with some food taken along just in case. No previous experience with travel cycling, but a few summers of 300 mile weeks commuting to and from work.

  • 8
    Are you aware we have Bicycles.SE bicycles.stackexchange.com ?
    – sharptooth
    Feb 12 '14 at 9:30
  • 3
    Outdoors.stackexchange.com Feb 12 '14 at 9:41
  • road or off-road? camping or not? taking your own meals or buying along the way? weather conditions/which season? mountain or flat terrain? do you have previous experience or not?
    – nsn
    Feb 12 '14 at 10:36
  • 2
    I was aware of both bicycles.se and outdoors.se. I felt like this was more of a travel question.
    – Hounshell
    Feb 12 '14 at 15:25
  • I believe this question is primarily opinion based and/or too broad. A "good" guide to one person may be a horrible guide to another for subjective reasons, or possibly for objective reasons, which would make the question too broad, as @nsn indicated.
    – Flimzy
    Feb 15 '14 at 1:10


  • Wear confortable clothes. Try everything heavily before travelling. Remember that you will do the same leg movement for several hours. Seams or other similar things rubbing the skin will "burn" and to the limit hurt.
  • Take lite clothes to cycle. Even with cold weather you will heat up.


  • Try not taking more than 20Kg (the less the better as you can imagine)

Eating and drinking

  • Carry a lot of water (and drink it). Remeber that 1Lt water = 1Kg and that's weight you will carry so manage well you water reserve.
  • Prefer carbohydrates
  • Small cereal and chocolate bars are excellent snacks. (Try to avoid too much chocolate or sweet things though, including "sugar" drinks. These will make you more thirsty).


I am not sure it fits your situation but considering you will be cycling and camping it might be a good idea to take some cooking gear. Now and than it's good to be able to prepare a warm meal or drink something warm. Tea, for example, is a nice drink to carry if you like it. Just take a small camping stove and a camping cooking kit. You can find these for very affordable prices and lite enough. If you're in a "MacGuyver mood" you can also build your own camping stove.


  • Before departure you should do a checkup on your bike. Brakes, brake cables and the tire condition is fundamental. Put oil on the chains and other mechanical parts.
  • Take the tools you need to do minimal repairs. Choose carefully to avoid weight. Most good quality bicycles only need one or two types of tools to do standard repairs like adjusting brakes or removing a wheel. Think of what are the most commons things that can happen and prepare for those situations. Some examples are flat tires (very common), adjust brakes (after few hundred km's you will need that), broken chain (rare, discussable, but the tool to fix it is small).
  • Take a tube to replace in case of a flat tire, and a tube repair kit. A small pump is also important.


There is not much to say here. Reduce your needs to the bare minimum. Take whatever you really need, as small as possible and adequate to the weather conditions. Of course like all camping (and biking) gear smaller means either less resistant, less warm or a lot more expensive. Try to balance your needs.

Physical preparation / finishing successfully

It's good that you have some preparation. You should at least enjoy cyicling and do it regulary. It's important to know your limits and plan the Kms/day you will do. Above that, the most important thing is will. If you really want to do it you will do it. Listen your body though and allways have plan B (eg.: extra meal, extra water for emergencies, extra stop points planned etc.) in case you have to rest or stop earlier in the day. You should also be prepared to skip a scheduled night stop. It can happen that you plan a place to stay and upon arrival you discover you can't stay there for some reason.

Last words

  • Avoid carrying things on your back. Try to put everything on the bike. You will probably need a back support and double bags.
  • This depends a lot on the terrain, but if you're going in a flat clean road) even if it's unpaved/dirt you can use the maximum pressure in the tires. It will be easier to cycle. If you start "feeling" too much the ground decrease the pressure a bit. It will increase safety and comfort (it will be a bit harder to cycle though). You have to evaluate it yourself.
  • Don't try any "stunts" with the bicycle. Even if the stunt is not that big deal like climbing a small step. The center of gravity of the bike shifted and its behavior is completely different with the extra load. You can easily get a flat tire or worse fall and injure yourself or break something on the bike jeopardizing the trip. I learned that the hard way. I was lucky enough not to jeopardize the trip but it was a short miss.

I've made this trip. Get the book Bicycling the Pacific Coast by Vicky Spring and Tom Kirkendall.

Also, check out warmshowers.org.

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