Bicycle Touring Clothes Packing List : Central Asia and China

It has been a full year since we headed out on the Central Asian section of our ride around the world and we still haven't finished our gear list blog posts. Ah, well...better late than never. We ditched a lot of things once we arrived in easy Southeast Asia but were extremely fully loaded when we rode out of Uzbekistan and across China.

Below is a complete list of all the clothes that I (Niamh) packed for this 6 month section. Matthew has no interest in writing a blog post about his clothes but it's my favourite type of gear list. I packed waaayy more clothes than necessary but I liked having plenty of choice and was happy to lug them around. Aside from the dresses and some underwear items, this list could be useful for male tourers too - at least those who enjoy frequent outfit changes. :)

I have added links to the items listed or to similar items that I found online.


Giro Cycling Shoes x 1

These shoes have a recessed cleat so you can pedal either clipped in or not. Also good for walking in. Comfy and cleat doesn't hit the ground when you walk. They are discreet bike shoes and almost look like normal trainers when strolling around. The upper part of the shoe did start to wear after a few months so not the most durable shoe.

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Teva Sandals x 1

For days when I didn't feel like riding in bike shoes, these were grippy enough on the pedals. Also good for swimming in lakes with rocky shores. Lightweight.

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Converse x 1

For casual wear and for colder weather. Good to have a spare pair of warmer shoes for evenings at campsites when bike shoes are wet from earlier in day. No one likes sitting with wet, cold feet. Lightweight.

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Gold Sandals x 1

Lightweight and comfortable sandals for dressing up. To be honest, I wore these a lot whether I needed to dress up or not. I like shiny things and gold goes with everything. I have even worn these when a rest day stroll has turned into a hike.

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Bike Shorts x 4

My favourite pair of bike shorts were a light pair with good padding by gore which fitted comfortably under a pair of running shorts.

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Running Shorts x 2

I like to wear running shorts over my padded shorts for blending-in purposes. People stare at us enough on our loaded bikes so I preferred walking into a shop in rural Asia without too many heads turning.

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Denim Cycling Over-Shorts x 2

Also worn over my padded shorts. Probably designed originally for cool urban cyclists but I liked them for durability and the novelty of wearing denim on long bike rides.

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Hiking Trousers/Shorts x 1

The unattractive-but-useful zip-off at the knee kind. Good for changeable weather and for pulling on in the evening when it gets cool or mozzies come out.

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Casual shorts x 1

For days off the bike and being a tourist. Could also be worn on the bike if needed.

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Jeans x 1

For colder evenings and for dressing up slightly when we were staying in cities. I brought jeggings as they are a bit lighter than normal jeans.

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Yoga Pants x 1

Bought in a bazaar in Kyrgyzstan when I needed something extremely light and breathable to cover my sunburnt legs a few weeks into the trip. Only cost a dollar or two, were pretty ugly but ended up being really useful and weighed practically nothing.

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Cycling tops x 4

Cycling tops were great for keeping my neck from burning and were comfy but I ended up wearing casual t-shirts more often on this trip.

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Merino T-shirt x 1

Comfy and doesn't get as sweaty and smelly as other materials. Merino is usually very expensive but I found a cheap option from Decathlon. I had the short-sleeved version of the one pictured.

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Bamboo T-shirt x 1

Extremely soft and lightweight. I wore this all the time.

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Vest top x 1

For when I felt like getting a nice sunburn. Also a base layer.

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Long sleeve tops x 2

One Icebreaker merino top that I found on sale and another cheaper top. For chillier days and for keeping mosquitos away.

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Shirts x 2

Easy to pull on if starting to get burnt. Also good for layering when chilly.

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Fancy tops x 2

I wore these when we had rest days in cities and felt like dressing up a little. Tiny and didn't really weigh anything.

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Maxi skirt x 1

For rest days when shorts weren't appropriate. Lightweight

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Maxi dress x 1

Conveniently covered both shoulders and knees while still light and cool. Good for more conservative towns. Bought in Uzbekistan.

Cardigan/Shawl x1

To cover shoulders when needed. Didn't use that often. Mostly used white shirt for this purpose.

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Fleece x 1

For chilly nights in mountains of Kyrgyzstan and China. Full zip, lightweight and cheap.

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Down Jacket x 1

Searched for a lightweight, packable warm jacket for a long time and almost bought a really expensive one. Then found this cheaper option from Decathlon. Very light and packs away small. Had a good hood and pockets. Not extremely warm but warm enough for what I needed. We didn't have any temperatures below freezing.

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Rain Jacket x 1

Got a rain jacket designed for running because it was lower at the back which also works for cycling. Extremely lightweight, cheap and the hood even went over my helmet.

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High-Visibility Jacket x1

For being seen by traffic on overcast days.

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Underwear and Socks x Many

I used lots of the little sports socks that barely cover your feet as they don't take up much space in a pannier. And one pair of warm socks for night time. Four sports bras, 2 regular bras and lots of underwear.

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Bike Cap x 1

Worn under helmet to stop head burning. Peak protects face a bit too.

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Baseball Cap x 1

Worn both under helmet and by itself when off the bike.

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Warm Hat x 1

Worn under helmet when riding on cold days or on its own when camping.

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Cycling Gloves x 2

I stopped wearing bike gloves after a few months but good for keeping grip in rain.

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Glove Liners x 1

Mostly worn on their own when it got a little chilly. Once or twice under warm cycling gloves. Very lightweight. Very cheap and have touchscreen fingertips as a bonus.

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Warm Cycling Gloves x 1

Only wore these once during freezing rain on a descent in China. I bought a children's pair because I have tiny hands. Didn't like them as (even in children's size) they were thick and clumsy when trying to change gears or brake. Did prevent my fingers from falling off though so I suppose that's good.

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Buff x 2

To cover neck or head from sun. Sometimes soaked it in cold water and wore on head on extremely hot days.

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Scarf/Shawl x 1

One of my most used items. Multi-purpose as scarf, shawl, towel, sarong, picnic blanket and general cover--up.

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Yes, I even had jewellery. I packed a few pairs of earrings, a couple of necklaces and some bracelets because I enjoy them. A better idea would be to buy an item in each country to wear as you go and to keep as a souvenir at the end.

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I stand by most of the items in this very long list. I love clothes and enjoyed having wardrobe choices even though I was on a tough bike tour. I will admit, however, that I overpacked ever so slightly and some items stayed in the bottom of my panniers untouched a lot of the time. I did slim down the clothes packing for the following 6 months in Southeast Asia. That was made easier by the fact that the climate was so constant there and I really only needed lightweight warm weather clothes. Anyway, even if I did have too much stuff - I made it over the mountains and enjoyed every minute (almost) of the ride!

Click here for our gear list from this section of our ride around the world.

If you complete a purchase through any of the links in this post, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. This helps with the cost of maintaining this website. Thanks. :)

#bicycletouring #biketour #general #preparation #tips

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About Us

Niamh & Matthew - We are teachers working internationally. We met in Togo, West Africa and most recently lived in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. We both love to travel and visit new places - especially by bike.

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