Small Items to Remember

Jan 1, 2019

When packing up for a tour, I tend to put a big focus on the essentials (tools, tent, sleeping bag, cookware, clothes, etc). Here are four items that may or may not be necessities, so they can be easy to neglect. But all of them are beneficial to have along.


The obvious risk you run by forgetting your sunscreen is the burn. This leads to discomfort over the next few days, can lead to skin problems way down the road, and plays havoc with your cycling tan lines. Sunscreen can also aid in hydration by preventing your skin from drying out, which helps keep your body moisture from evaporating as quickly. Sport-specific formulas are nice since they don't wash off as easily from sweat.

Bungee Cords

Whether you are using panniers or a trailer, a couple of bungee cords are really nice to have along. They can secure items to the top of your rack and/or panniers; or, if you're towing a trailer, they can help hold your gear firmly in place. You can sometimes find these lying on the shoulder of the road, but they're quite inexpensive to pick up prior to taking off on your tour.

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Plastic Baggies 

It never hurts to have a few small plastic baggies on hand to help keep things dry or separated. Perhaps you'll find you want to split up food amongst the riding party, or keep your camera and phone quickly accessible in your back pocket.

Toilet Paper 

After your morning coffee, and a breakfast of high-fiber cereal, realizing you forgot T.P. 45 minutes into your ride can be a big 'uh-oh' moment. If this occurs halfway between Lander and Rawlins, WY, on the TransAmerica Trail, you have my deepest sympathy. Even if all of your service stops are fully stocked, it's good to have your own stash along, and it certainly won't weigh you down.

These are just a few items I find myself snagging at the last minute. Everyone's list is different, so if you have something you don't see as an obvious choice for a packing list, but comes in handy at crucial times, please share.

This story has been updated and was originally published on July 3, 2010.


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David_E January 31, 2019, 5:44 PM

Small GI style can opener.

Michael January 17, 2019, 6:30 AM

I carry a small medicine bottle of various length 5mm bolts and other misc hardware items. I've had some come out along the road.

SteveM January 14, 2019, 2:25 PM

Zip ties - We rode the Great Divide this summer. We needed to make repairs several times when bolts went missing or sheared, and zip ties came to the rescue every time.

Phil Schaefer January 11, 2019, 12:12 PM

I second this! Great for keeping your saddle region clean and preventing saddle sores. Or even just wiping the road grit off my face when water is scarce.

Tom Iarossi October 8, 2017, 11:45 PM

I find nitrite gloves to be invaluable. I've had to handle my chain more than I care to, and without these tough gloves my hands ended up a greasy mess. I carry 5 or 6 in my handlebar bag and they weigh next to nothing.

Ptab May 23, 2017, 5:29 PM

Anti Monkey Butt powder for chafe prevention...this can be found at any Tractor Supply in the US.

Joe Campbell February 1, 2016, 1:55 PM

I may forget some important items but, I always have at least two pairs of replacement brake pads for my touring bikes disc brakes. Maybe I ride in bad places, but I have lost pads twice in the past three years to someone who felt they needed them more. They don't just fall out. On the plus side you can always sell them at a premium when on the road and in need of cash. The only time I did that I sold them to a small bike shop, in a area with mountain bike trails. He couldn't stock enough of them.

Renyk de'Vandre May 26, 2015, 4:38 PM

on a long tour I put some of those dryer sheets in my panniers the ones that put scent into your clothes. It keeps my clothes smelling fresh, I also leave a few in the tent.

it also means after a week or so people aren't avoiding or fainting when i get close by :-)

Steve Hauke April 9, 2015, 5:40 PM

Light weight disposable plastic drop cloth. I can't tell you how many times we have hidden under one during a sudden down pour out in the middle of no where.

Maggie Ardito April 9, 2015, 4:56 AM

A small heavy-duty storage bag makes a great sink for clothes washing.and has other uses in between. In Europe they have small tubes of laundry detergent. Clothes pins.

Antibiotic cream (put in a plastic straw and seal the ends if you don't want to carry the whole tube), bandaids..

In addition to bungie cords, a bungie net for wet laundry, lunch and light groceries,


Neck cozy (whatever you call those tube scarf things)

Alan April 9, 2015, 3:59 AM

I carry a one inch cube shaped container of "Bag Balm." Your choice of a lubricant will help keep saddle contact points healthy. Most come in plastic tubes, or an old pill bottle will work.

Kate April 9, 2015, 10:48 AM

+1 for Bag Balm!

Robbie April 8, 2015, 10:24 PM

i rode x-country summer of 2013. Posted a blog along the way. This link is a pretty good list of gear...

Dang good journey.

Barney March 26, 2015, 2:32 PM

I am riding my bike (solo) across the TBT this summer for Strokes and Brain Injuries. I had a stroke myself last year. I am riding a Trek 520 and hauling a trailer.

Is the a comprehensive list of equipment that I'll need anywhere out there.

I'll be by myself, and things aren't as easy to do as they once were. I'd like to have whatever I need.

Kate April 9, 2015, 10:43 AM

This website has lots of great articles:

Here's the one on gear/packing list:

Robbie April 8, 2015, 10:25 PM

I meant to reply to you...but look at post below.

T. Whitbeck April 19, 2014, 11:23 AM

I'd bring a tube of JBWeld SteelStik steel-reinforced epoxy putty, or something similar, for emergency repairs when I'm in between No and Where. It will cling to most metals and plastics. I used it to repair my toe clips on a return trip from Howe, Indiana to my place in Waukegan, Illinois.

donald walter February 23, 2017, 7:04 AM

I used the same stuff to fix a snapped front rack, held for the rest of the trip (10 days).

Bob Silfies December 14, 2013, 12:58 PM

Whenever you have access to a shower (campground, motel, etc.), take your dirty clothes into the shower with you, put them near the drain and pretend you are stomping grapes at the harvest. When you are all done, they too, should be well washed and rinsed, just like you. Wring them out, hang them up to dry, and they should be ready for the next day.

Charles April 11, 2015, 11:01 PM

grear idea! You are all paranoid. People are cleaning themselves usually In a shower. Therefore usually they are pretty clean. Calm down America. A few germs never hurt anyone.

Brenda Hebert April 8, 2015, 10:36 PM

I would usually wear my bicycling clothes in the shower and soap them and myself down at the same time, take them off and rinse & wring them.

BikerMerv December 14, 2014, 7:41 AM

Well this comment is well intended but have a serious think about what you are recommending folks do with they're riding clothes ! You have to know that showers are the filthiest places ever, especially camp grounds. Never ever put your clothing on the floor of a shower, tube or what ever you are showering in, Holy commoly the filth that lingers there !!!!!!!!

Kate April 8, 2015, 10:13 PM

LOL! I was just thinking the same thing!

Louis Melini May 8, 2013, 10:03 PM

A thin plastic picnic table "table cloth" either one you boy or just carry a thin plastic sheet. It's about the size of a large fist. Some picnic tables can be pretty disgusting. clean the table, put the plastic down, and you can have a "civilized" meal.

Chuck July 20, 2010, 12:56 AM

Good list, two additional items that I would add are bug spray and diaper rash cream which can heal the occasional saddle sore in a hurry.

llewellyn July 4, 2010, 3:31 AM

I use moist towelettes in lieu of toilet paper.They come in resealable packs , at a pinch places like kentucky fry and Mc Donalds used to give them out.The ones made for cleaning up the baby are easy to pack and cheap.

Phil Schaefer January 11, 2019, 12:11 PM

I second this! Great for keeping your saddle region clean and preventing saddle sores. Or even just wiping the road grit off my face when water is scarce.

Anonymous July 3, 2010, 4:15 PM

Bring a sink plug for washing clothes in bathroom sinks that don't have plugs. Bring a little baggy of detergent. Don't waste time in laundromats.

Mike July 3, 2010, 12:03 PM

I couldn't have said it better. All are on my list too.

jimmyC July 3, 2010, 11:54 AM

im writing this down! ;-)

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