Needs vary by trip and by rider, but it's helpful to analyze your personal preferences before packing.
Are you taking a trip any time soon? Packing just what you need for that specific trip can be a challenge—whether you’ve traveled before, or not. If you’re traveling by bike, you of course have even more variables to consider. Will you be camping? Do you prefer to cook food at camp, or just pick up ready-made items along the way? Are you going solo, or riding with buddies who can share the load?
Packing is extremely personal, because only you know your preferences about certain things. For example, if you find camp cooking relaxing, then it’s probably worth the space, weight, and money to outfit your camp cooking setup with exactly the tools you need to get the job done right (whatever “right” means to you). However, if you’d rather just heat some water and eat dehydrated meals or grab gas station grub the whole way, an elaborate camp cooking setup is clearly not the place to expend your resources.
That’s where videos like this recent one from Dork in the Road on YouTube come in handy. After coming back from a Backcountry Discovery Routes adventure with some buddies, DITR decided to examine the full weight of the gear he took, take a look at what he used (and didn’t), and talk about what he’d change for next time.
Good packing is something that any traveler refines over time—and you’re almost guaranteed not to nail it on your first try. You might underprepare, or overprepare—but either way, something won’t be exactly how you want it.
That’s totally okay, because there’s always next time! The important thing is to do something similar to what DITR did here, and take some time after the fact to think about what worked and what didn’t. Obviously, you don’t have to record, edit, and put a video on YouTube about it (unless you want to), but allowing yourself the time to analyze it all can help you create a situation you’ll be happier with for next time.
It’s important to know your particular limits, too. If you know that you aren’t comfortable sitting on the ground, then you might need to bring a super-compact camp chair. Someone else might feel differently, and that’s OK—but it also means that your packing list and their packing list might not necessarily be the same.
Likewise, you also know if you sleep hot or cold—and what kind of temperatures you prefer to sleep in at night. That knowledge and a good weather app can help you decide what kind of layers (or not) you need to bring to stay comfortable when the sun goes down.
What are your must-haves and biggest mistakes when touring? What do you take on trips that you absolutely couldn’t live without? Let us know in the comments!