Minimalist Touring

I was thinking about what to pack for touring up to Seattle this summer, and perhaps what to pack for S240s (Sub 24 Hour Overnight) when along came this post from from the VeloORANGE blog.

I will post back what I am going to take when I get myself organized.

With the new Grand Cru handlebar bags in stock, I thought it might be fun to repeat this post from 2009:

The short summer "credit card tour" is the basis of cyclo-touring. You can take this sort of trip most any nice weekend. Stay at a nice B&B or small country hotel and take your breakfast and dinner at the local cafes or casual restaurants. Lunch is best a picnic of locally-bought treats.
The key is traveling light. I find that the more I travel the less stuff I need to take, and not just on bike trips. Even on a six-week trip to Europe, I require only a single bag that stows easily in the plane’s overhead bin. The trick is to cut out anything that’s not essential and to take light clothes that you can wash yourself. So here is what I take on a one or two-night summer bike trip
In the saddle bag:
A small saddle bag, like the VO Croissant, is perfect for everyday riding as well as overnight trips. It almost always stays on the bike and usually contains the following:

  • multi-tool
  • mini-pump
  • two tubes
  • tube patch kit
  • rain jacket or windproof vest
  • optional: tire irons, keys, power bar

Remember that you only need one pump and one set of tools for a small group.
In the handlebar bag:

The following stuff fits in a VO Campagne bar bag with room left over.
In the rear pockets:

  • cell phone (that only gets turned on once or twice a day)
  • small camera

Tip: it’s usually lighter to take an extra battery rather than a battery charger.
In the main compartment:

  • light travel pants (Patagonia Gi 2 are my favorite)
  • Cool Max t-shirt 
  • shirt with collar (quick dry)
  • under shorts (Ex Officio quick dry)
  • cycling socks
  • book
  • knife with corkscrew (for cutting fruit, cheese, hard sausage, and opening wine)
  • snacks (nuts, fruit, hard cheese)
  • optional: film camera, down vest or ultralight sweater, collapsible walking shoes (if you ride with cleats), small cable lock

I try to take some reasonably nice looking clothes. Looking grubby gives all cyclo-tourists a bad image. There is no need for fancy duds, but I do take a short sleeve shirt with a collar as my evening wear and try to keep it and my pants clean. All these clothes can be washed in a hotel sink with regular bar soap in just a few minutes. And they will dry overnight if hung someplace where there’s a bit of air circulation.
In the front pocket :

  • toilet kit with toothbrush and travel size deodorant and toothpaste (not shown)
  • a few aspirin tablets
  • bandanna

Side pockets:

  • wallet
  • more snacks

Of course your packing list won’t be exactly the same as mine, but the point I’m trying to make is that you don’t need to take much.
BTW, below is a size comparison of the Campagne and Grand Cru bags. The GC bag is also deeper.

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