Rather than detail every piece of bike touring clothes in a single, lengthy list that wouldn’t be any more useful to you than it would be fun for us to type, we decided to break this section up just as we are splitting the contents of our rear panniers: on-bike clothing and off-bike clothing. Upon comparing our own packing list with that of countless other cyclists, we’re still unable to determine if we’re packing too much or too little. Lucky for us, the road ahead has both stores and donation bins where we can remedy either situation as necessary. We use two 15L stuff-sacks, one each for off-bike and on-bike clothing, which we’ll split between the rear panniers.
In piecing together my wardrobe for the trip, I had two objectives: to maximize the amount of merino wool I’d be bringing (while I’m gainly employed and can afford it) and secondly, to minimize the amount of traditional look-at-me-I’m-a-cyclist clothing. My at-home wardrobe is chock full of baggy mountain biking attire, so going without cycling tights and garish jerseys was an easy thing to pull off. I did, however, pack a pair of three-quarter running tights that can be worn over cycling liners and under the baggies in a pinch. They pack up far smaller than dedicated cycling tights and can be worn day in, day out over a fresh chamois liner if I need to. Bonus! The decision to embrace our raingear as a guard against the dry cold also helps make this possible.
When it came to picking out campwear, I wanted to get stuff that was comfortable enough to be worn in camp, but nice enough to be worn out to a decent meal in a big city. That’s why you don’t see any convertible pants/shorts. It’s a silly thing to say, but it’s important to both of us to not always look like we just walked out of the woods (this feeling is subject to change). I know I’m perhaps bringing too many pairs of underwear or socks, not to mention too many shirts (arguably), but they pack small and I have a habit of being pretty hard on my clothing which should thin the pack before long.
Lastly, about outerwear, having done plenty of cycling in the winter I firmly believe one can never have too many pairs of gloves. And, to that extent, socks too. I’ve had that pair of Gore-Tex waterproof socks for many years and they make carrying bulky shoe covers unnecessary, especially with warm, fat shoes like the X-Alp. I find that all I need is a short sleeve shirt, arm warmers, and vest under my rain jacket, and I’m comfortable in temps down below freezing, provided my fingers, feet, and ears are warm. Important to know given our April crossing of the Cascades…
What was the most important thing in creating my clothing list? Don’t match Doug. I know this may sound silly, but we don’t want to look like Dr. Evil and Mini-Me; well, he’s not evil and I’m not that short, but you get the point. Doug put a ton of time into researching his clothing list and clothing in general and it would be very easy just to get the female version of everything. Of course, there are many items where that just made sense, but here are a few of my variations and personal preferences.
Both of my cycling shirts are merino wool jerseys with front half zippers. I love the flexibility of being able to unzip to cool down or zip up to a mock turtleneck height that the t-shirt style cycling shirts that Doug prefers don’t offer. Being comfortable, and especially warm enough, is something I’m concerned about, so I’m adding full length cycling tights to my list. The extra coverage, not offered by ¾ pants, seems to really make a difference, especially when layered with a tall pair of warm socks. For off the bike, I’ve replaced one pair of shorts with a skirt for occasions where I don’t want to look like I’ve been cycling and camping for weeks on end or I just want the flowy comfort of a casual skirt. And lastly, I’m bringing a sarong which has so many uses; a dress, skirt, bathing suit cover-up, modesty shield while changing, picnic blanket, and I’m sure many others that I’ll discover.
We each carry a small Eagle Creek “quarter-cube” bag with the following: large pack towel, microfiber washcloth, scrubbing cloth, and a LokSak holding toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant razor, and small bottle of Dr. Bronner’s soap. Mmmm… eucalyptus! Kristin also keeps us well stocked with sunscreen and mosquito repellent.
We also keep a small bottle of ibuprofen and pepto (bismuth) on hand in the handlebar bag. First-aid kit and other drugs are detailed on the Safety & Health page.