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bike touring packing list

We started our ride around the world in June 2017 in Uzbekistan, where we were living, and pedalled east through Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and China before heading into south east Asia. We both have a strong tendency towards over packing and were carrying a lot more gear than the majority of other tourers we met. We definitely carried waayy too much stuff on this section but I don't regret any of it. It was comforting to know that we had absolutely anything we could need in our panniers (including more than a few "luxury" items) and we still managed to get our heavy rigs up the hills. We pared down our packing a bit for the next section through south east Asia (we will write a post for that list at some stage) as accommodation and food were easier to come by. For Central Asia and China, we wanted to be self-sufficient as we cycled through some remote areas. Here is a complete list of everything we packed for this route through Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and China. The list might seem ridiculously detailed but, when researching in the build up to our trip, I loved reading exactly what other tourers packed - right down to the socks and underwear! Each little item seems so important but In reality, lots of things can be (and will be) bought, discarded and replaced along the way.

Everything we brought (aside from bikes - click here for bike details):


8 x Ortlieb Panniers

2 x Front (City Roller) and 2 x Back (Classic) each. Black for Niamh and Red for Matthew. Sturdy and waterproof. Spare clips for attaching to the rack might be useful as we have had a couple fall out over time.

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5 x Karrimor Dry Bags

We brought a range of different sizes of these bags and in different colors which helped to tell what was what without looking inside. The 25l bag was the perfect size for our tent when the bag it came in started to fall apart. I was able to put it on my back rack between the panniers and clip it around the seat post.

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1 x B.O.B Bag

Matthew used to use this bag with a trailer but for this ride it sat on the back rack holding spare tyres and other bulky gear.

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1 x Altura Handlebar Bag

On Niamh's bike. Fits plenty inside. Main part is completely waterproof but front pouch is not.

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1 x Ortlieb Handlebar Bag

On Matthew's bike. Reliable like other Ortlieb products.

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1 x BTR Handlebar Bag

On Matthew's bike. Used as extra storage by strapping to headset under main handlebar bag.

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1 x Seat Post Bag

On Niamh's bike. Couldn't find same type as mine online. Picture is similar size. Attached behind seat post. I carried a spare tube in it for puncture emergencies instead of rooting around in panniers.

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1 x Author Frame Bag

On Matthew's bike. One of the very few items we actually bought in Uzbekistan. Matthew keeps a repair kit, pump and other small items in it where they are close to hand.

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1 x Small Frame Pannier Bag

On Niamh's bike. No idea what brand mine is but this looks similar. Sits in front of me in the frame so I can access small things while I pedal. At the moment, it contains an Irish flag, a lucky charm from a friend in Uzbekistan, some sweets for energy and my phone for podcasts.

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1 x MSR Elixir 3 Tent

msr elixir 3

msr elixir 3

msr elixir 3

msr elixir 3

We opted for a little more weight so we could have lots of room. Really easy to set up. We just used the inner most of the time but the outer sheet kept us dry when needed.

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2 x Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite Mattress

Light and compact. The men's version is slightly bigger than the women's and therefore a few grams heavier. These make a rustling noise when you move so maybe not great for light sleepers.

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2 x Travel Pillow

From Decathlon. I found it comfy but Matthew didn't like it at all. He usually used clothes stuffed in a bag instead.

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2 x Silk/Cotton Sleeping Bag Liner

From Lifeventure. For warm nights or inside bag as an extra layer and to keep it clean.

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2 x Robens Caucasus 600 Sleeping Bag

robens caucasus 600 sleeping bag

For chilly nights at altitude. I carried them by putting one on top of each front pannier and securing with a bungee cord. This meant that I wasn't very aerodynamic but had plenty of space for other stuff in my panniers.

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2 x Camping Chairs

These chairs were a bit of a luxury but we used them quite often. Very light and I carried them in the centre of my front rack under my handle bar bag.

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1 x MSR WhisperLite Universal Stove

Extremely light and compact stove. Easy to use after some practice. Be careful in windy conditions as it is so light.

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1 x MSR Fuel Bottle

We filled ours up with fuel at petrol stations and carried it in an extra bottle cage on Matthew's bike. The opening is small but chopping a plastic bottle in half works as a makeshift funnel.

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1 x Cookware Set (Big pot, small pot and pan)

That fit inside each other

1 x Chopping Knife

Just took a big knife from our kitchen. Had to ditch it during a security check in China and made do with Swiss Army Knife after that.

1 x Chopping Board

2 x Drinking Cups

The compact stackable kind

2 x Sporks

2 x Lunchbox Containers

Eat dinner from them and also use for storage

1 x Small Bottle Cooking Oil

A Few Stock Cubes

Little Bags of Salt, Pepper and Spices

Bike Tools and Accessories

2 x Spare Tyres

Schwalbe Folding Marathon Mondial 26". Heavy but durable.

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1 x Rohloff Oil Change Kit

For Matthew's Rohloff hub.

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1 x Phone Holder

On Matthew's bike for navigating in cities. We bought ours at a market in Uzbekistan but it looked something like this. Cheap and broke after about 10 months but did the job and easily replaceable.

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1 x Wet Lube and 1 x Dry Lube

2 x Front and 2 x Back Lights

4 x Spare Spokes

A Few Zip Ties

2 x Helmet

4 x Spare Brake/Gear Cables

4 x Inner Tubes

2 x Pump

Multiple Patch Kits

1 x Bike Tool Bag

With multitool, 8mm Allen key, 2 adjustable spanners


1 x Go Pro Camera

Given to us by a friend. Can't believe we weren't planning on getting one. We use it all the time. Captured some great memories.

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1 x Mac Book Air

We had an older version. Link is to newer model. Very light.

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1 x Spot Tracker

For emergencies and for letting people know you are safe when off the grid for a while.

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1 x Cat Eye Padrone Bike Computer

I went for the pink one. Simple to use and really big display so you don't have to squint.

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2 x Smartphones

Samsung Galaxy S5 and S6. The camera on S6 was good enough for our needs so we didn't bring any other camera. They will probably have released an S57 by the time this post is published... and we will probably still be using the S6.

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1 x iPod Nano

For listening to music on roads with less traffic.

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1 x JBL Charge 2 Speaker

Play music from ipod or phone via bluetooth. Fits in bottle cage.

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1 x External Hard Drive

1 x Power Bank

Various Charging Cables

Clothes & Shoes

Link here


1 x 10l Water Container

This container was good because we could tie it across the back of a bike and dispense water by opening the tap and squeezing the bag without unstrapping it.

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1 x Udderly Smooth Chamois Cream

Because saddle sores are no fun.

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1 x Cargo Net

We used it to secure our tent to my back rack. Also useful for strapping down extra items like bags of snacks or for drying washing while you ride.

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1 x Tubus Lashing Strap

It came with Matthew's bike and he used it for securing the B.O.B bag on his back rack and for carrying extra items.

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1 x Kryptonite Lock

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1 x Abus Lock

We used this in combination with the other lock above. This allowed us to lock both bikes together and secure them to a fixture of some sort.

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3 x Bungee Cords

Just in case - for holding loads in place.

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1 x Swiss Army Knife

A friend gave me one as a gift when I first left home and I still use the same one on all tours. Mostly use it as a bottle opener to be honest but we used it a lot!

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A Few Ziplock Bags

For snacks and dodgy bottles of liquids that we didn't want to spill in the panniers.

1 x Fan

It doubled as a power bank which we mentioned above.

1 x First Aid Kit

Also went to a doctor and got prescribed a whole range of medicines we might need.

1 x Bike Cover

Both bikes fit under it. Used it in heavy rain or to hide bikes in hotel parking areas.

1 x Sawyer Water Filtration System

Used mainly in Kyrgyzstan when we were drinking water from streams.

A Few Packs Water Treatment Tablets

2 x Towels

4 x Water Bottles

1 x Pack Playing Cards

1 x Lighter

Lots of Sunscreen

Some Stationary

For running workshops at schools we visited

bike touring packing list

As I mentioned above, I know that this is a ridiculously long packing list. Lots of people have done this route with minimal gear but that's just not really our style. We like having lots of stuff and as long as we can still push up the hills then we are happy with it. :)

Click for an interactive map of our route through Central Asia and China.

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matthew's loaded bike

Niamh's loaded bike

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