Know Your Load

August 23, 2013

How much weight should I carry on my tour? That's one of the most frequently asked questions we get from up and coming bicycle tourists, and it's a difficult question to answer without knowing the person well. Here are a few factors that can play a role in how much you should pack for a tour.


Your bike and panniers and/or trailer can only hold so much. Know the weight limits of your gear (racks, wheels, bike), and that should give you a maximum capacity for weight.

Seasons of Gear

How much gear you carry can really depend on the time of the year. During the heat of the summer, you can shed a lot of weight by leaving the warm weather clothes at home and opting for a lighter sleeping bag. It's amazing how quickly gloves, hats, warm pants, and jackets take up weight and space.

Personal Comfort

Everyone is different in terms of what they need to be comfortable. You have to decide for yourself what style of tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, or even pillow is going to be best for your needs. 


Lightweight gear is expensive, unless of course your gear is so ultralight that it doesn't exist. Just be aware of your budget, and don't go too overboard. After a few days in the saddle, it is what it is.

Postal Service

I like to err on the side of too much. It's a lot easier and cheaper to mail stuff back home, as opposed to finding it on the road and buying it new. 

Photo by Josh Tack

TOURING GEAR & TIPS is written by Joshua Tack of Adventure Cycling's member services department. It appears weekly, highlighting technical aspects of bicycle touring and advice to help better prepare you for the journey ahead. Look for Josh's "Fine Tuned" column in Adventure Cyclist magazine as well.


Murphy Gibson November 18, 2013, 11:12 AM

I use LoopRope to tie gear down as my load grows as I go along.

Gerold Noyes August 25, 2013, 5:56 PM

Know your route. Are you cycling a 3 day ride from anywhere or are going through small towns all the time? If I can buy groceries every night, gear if needed, bus or rental car in an emergency, then travelling light is easy. A credit card and cell phone can solve many problems in the right part of the world.

Louisville Bike Shop August 25, 2013, 3:43 PM

I agree with Louis.

I always bring as little as possible and buy what I need as I need it.

Louis Bravos August 23, 2013, 12:48 PM

I disagree with the idea that it's better to need to send equipment home rather than buy it on the way. One is more likely to be overloaded and the overloaded one is no more likely to have the critical item that needs to be bought.

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