This will inevitably be a personal choice and full of trade offs. Whatever you carry, it should be as light weight as possible. This list of essentials is all that’s needed if you want to be spartan.
- Pannier bags front and rear.
- Two large capacity water bottles attached to bicycle. Don’t “wear” the water with a camelback or in a backpack. You’re cycle touring not racing.
- A spare tube, hand pump and repair kit including all the tools needed for basic adjustments. Check out all the various nuts and bolts on your bike. A few Allen wrenches of the right size are all that’s needed. Include a basic Swiss Army knife too, my favourite is the Spartan.
- Helmet. I know there is a lot of debate on this topic. As some sort of head covering to protect against the sun is needed anyway, wear a white helmet or a bright orange one or a combination of the two colours like the POC Omne Air Spin.
- Some sort of head covering beyond a helmet depending on temperature range from a wool beanie to a baseball cap.
- Sunglasses, photo-chromatic if you can afford them or cycling sunglasses with interchangeable lenses, including a clear lens.
- For your arms and torso: Light rain jacket and down jacket – we’re talking about Canada here – a down or fleece vest, two Long sleeve jerseys and two Short sleeve jerseys. Jerseys best if wool or wool blend and in a bright colour.
- For your waist and legs: Cycling trousers full or 3/4 length, two cycling shorts, three pairs of underwear, two pairs of socks calf length and two pairs ankle length. All wool or wool blend.
- Toiletries and basic first aid kit. Keep this to the absolute minimum as liquid and gels add a lot of weight.
- Cash and the ability to get more of it.
- A spork and enough food for at least a day.
- If you’re camping: a tarp or superlight tent, and the lightest sleeping bag and pad you can afford.
Nice to have
- Non cycling specific clothing to change into
- Phone with back up battery
- A sense of humour
- Something to read
- Arm and leg warmers
- Some chain oil – but you will likely visit bicycle stores every few hundred kilometres where you should buy something to support these local bike shops and ask that they check your chain, cassette and brakes for wear. The chain may need replacing every 5000 kilometres and maybe your cassette too. Consider 4 ounce bottle of drip on Boeshield T-9.
- More to come…