Clothes – Packing for Cycle Touring

It maybe a list of obvious choices but the clothes you select and how you organise them can make a big difference to your daily routine during your cycle tour.  Again, the rule is ‘get out there’ go with whatever you have and don’t be put off by what you don’t. There’s no better way to know exactly what you need than by actually going. Hopefully this article will help you prepare and make your time on tour easier and more enjoyable.

Packing clothes for a Cycle Tour

Your packing list for a tour of a couple of weeks won’t differ much to one for a year long tour. Clothes for cycle touring should be light and quick drying.  You wash, dry and alternate a few sets of clothes and therefore, carry nothing unnecessary. See this article on layering clothes

which clothes to take on a cycle tour

My packing list for a tour of a few weeks or more in summer through UK/Europe

  • 3 x pairs of quick drying boxer shorts – 240g
  • 3 x pairs of quick drying merino socks – 100g
  • 1 x pair of light weight quick drying knee length shorts – 230g
  • 1 x pair of light weight quick drying walking trousers (converts to shorts) – 360g
  • 2 x light weight quick drying T-shirts – 240g
  • 1 x light weight quick drying merino long sleeve top – 160g
  • 1 x light weight packable down jacket – 340g
  • 1 x light weight packable rain shell – 365g
  • 1 baseball cap – 60g

Total weight 2.1kg

I really recommend using clothes organising cubes, they’re great for separating your clothes from your other kit. When you’re getting changed your wet pannier can remain in the tent porch whilst all your clothes can be brought into the tent dry. The above list fits in one side of a medium clothes organiser, leaving the mesh side free for dirty washing. This size organiser fits nicely into a standard rear Ortlieb classic roller pannier.

travel clothes cube organiser

If you’re cycle touring as a couple or family an Ortlieb rackpack is an ideal dedicated waterproof clothes carrier. A large clothes organiser fits perfectly within the rackpack over any footwear too. This size clothes cube easily holds twice the clothes listed above.

If you’re travelling as a couple and need to carry lots of layers, you may want to consider a large clothes cube each. These will both fit into a 31ltr Ortlieb rack-pack laid flat. When travelling as a couple I manage to fit two fully loaded large clothes organisers, two pairs of walking boots, wet weather gear and toiletries all in a 31ltr rack pack. This works great, the rackpack sits over my rear rack and panniers and is to hand for roadside layer adjustments to suit as the weather changes. Keep your wet weather gear separate so should you need to grab it you won’t need to get your dry clothes wet.

If you’ve no need for lots of bulky clothes, a single large clothes organising cube will  be enough for two people. Simply divide the organiser in half lengthways and fold garments to its full width. If you’re not using a rackpack, fold the clothes cube in half and this will drop in to a standard Ortlieb rear pannier with room to spare.

Some prefer to separate their clean and dirty clothes completely. Using two of the the small clothes cubes, one for clean and one for dirty clothing, these can then be stored in different panniers. I fit three pairs of underwear and socks, a pair of convertible trouser/shorts, two t-shirts and a lightweight fleece in a single small organiser. The small cube organiser fits perfectly into a front Ortlieb classic roller pannier. When your secondary clothes organiser isn’t in use they fold down into its own storage pouch taking up hardly any of your precious pannier space.

It’s really worth getting each element of your kit organised, your tent kit, your cooking kit, bike repair kit and your clothing. Think about how it’s used and the order it’s used in. Emptying your panniers on the side of the road when it’s raining is no fun. If everything is to hand, changes of clothes, pitching your tents and roadside repairs is much smoother and quicker.

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