Bike touring, or bike camping as it’s also known combines two healthy and fun activities. Cycling, and the enjoying the outdoors.
Ranging from day trips, to overnight stop outs, or if you’re the adventurous type an expedition with no fixed end date or plans.
Whatever the duration, the trial you’re following, or the reason why you’re doing a bike camping, the basics are always the same.
You load up your bike with some essentials and head off to take on scenic trails, ride cross country, or just see where the roads take you and go for an adventure.
The advantage over hiking by foot is that you can travel further in less time and your bike takes your load.
Sure, you can’t get a bike deep into a forest and across rough terrains. But there aren’t many places you can’t go, and there are few feelings that match feeling the breeze of clean country air hit you as your ride on the open road.
Tips and Questions for Bike Touring Newbies
If you’re new to bike touring I’m sure you have a few questions. I’ve done my best to answer most of the most popular questions below, along with giving you some gear checklists, beginner tips, and helpful information.
Do I Need to Be in Great Shape?
No. You can take bike touring at your own pace. It’s not a race, you don’t need to be in awesome shape.
As you know, riding a bike is much quicker and easier than hiking to cover a large distance. So in some ways, it’s better if you aren’t up for hiking long distance
Do I Need to Be a Bike Mechanic?
Not a bike mechanic, no. But you need to be able to carry out some maintenance and should some basic repairs be needed it’s beneficial to know what you’re doing.
The worst you should be faced with is the need to change an inner tube or a tire, replace a chain, and tighten up the brakes.
How Expensive Is It?
It’s not expensive at all. The biggest expense is going to be a touring bike if you don’t have one.
There are plenty of companies hiring out bikes so that’s always an option if you’re not going to be touring often. You can expect to pay around $50 a day for a good bike.
If you’re buying a bike then the prices range from a few hundred bucks and up depending on how much you’re willing to spend.
Then you need to budget for campsite fees if you’re staying over. As well as a daily budget for food and drink.
Are There Set Touring Routes I Can Follow?
There are plenty of resources such as this guide to bike vacations across the US if you’re stuck for ideas where to go cycling.
The US Bicycle Route System is also a great resources if you’re new to cycling. There is a huge community out there and online if you do some searching.
Bike Touring Gear Checklist
Outside of the obvious items like you, your bike, and a helmet, here are is a gear checklist to help you avoid forgetting anything when you’re packing:
- Lights (front and back)
- Water bottle holder
- Straps and cages to hold gear
- Secure lock
- Spare inner tubes and patching kit
- Pump and pressure kit
- Tools to change a wheel or tire
Camping Gear and Accessories
I can’t list every possible item, but here are some essentials to consider:
- Sleeping pad
- Sleeping bag
- Clothing and footwear
- Cooking utensils and stove
Personal Items and Accessories
- Fresh water and snacks
- GPS device
- Cell phone
- First aid kit
- Insect repellant
- Cleaning wipes
- Guidebook/trail maps
- Cash/Credit cards
What to Do Next?
It’s time to turn the thinking and planning into doing. Rent or buy a bike first of all, then find a route you want to ride, friends that will come along, and plan when and where you’re going.
If you are experienced with bike touring, looking forward to your first journey, or have any questions, drop a note below and I’d be happy to hear what you have to say and help in any way I can.