Loading a Touring Bike

Loading a Touring Bike

Loading a Touring Bike – during my travels I have met lots of people, comments or questions I hear repeatedly is “How do you fit all that stuff on your bike?” or “You have everything you need in those bags?”.

The wonderful thing about touring on a bicycle for an extended period of time is that you carry everything you need to live and survive. Believe it or not, I carry a lot compared to a lot of cyclists, on my bike is everything I need to live and to carry on seeing the places I cycle through. Anything I don’t have could be picked up on the way. Most of the things I have picked up along the way were not even essential, such as swimming trunks and flip flops, they just make it nicer when I visit a beach!

When loading a touring bike some thought needs to go into where you place items, some items you wont need for weeks if ever, others you need daily or throughout the day so it makes sense to place items in more accessible places the more often you are likely to need access to them.

So yes, I have everything I need in those bags yes it all fits on my bike. Below shows where all my items are packed. Loading a bike is a personal thing, my loading technique won’t suit everyone, but it works for me.

  1. Bar Bag
  2. Front Left (Nearside) Pannier
  3. Front Right (Offside)Pannier
  4. Rear Left (Nearside) Pannier
  5. Rear Right (Offside)Pannier
  6. Trunk Bag (Across Rear Panniers)
  7. Top Tube – Top Bag
  8. Top Tube – Under-slung Bag
  9. Saddle Pack
  10. Other Items (Bottles etc.)
Loading a Touring Bike

Loading a Touring Bike


  1. Bar Bag

This is the bag on you put a lot of the items you may need at hand quickly. In mine I carry things like:

  • Passport
  • Wallet
  • Personal stereo
  • Phone
  • Keys
  • Biscuits and other close at hand snacks
  • Long Bike Ride Leaflets
  • Pain killers (Paracetamol and Ibuprofen)
  • Book to read
  • Diary and pen/pencil
  • Backup Battery for phone and charging plugs/leads
  • Sunglasses
  • Ear Plugs (For sleeping at night, close at hand)
  • Savlon
  • Penknife
  • Head Torch


  1. Front Left (Nearside) Pannier – The Bedroom

Most of the things I need to sleep.

  • Sleeping Bag & Silk Liner
  • Thermarest Sleeping Mat
  • Mosquito Net (for when I stay in guest houses or backpaer dorms with none or broken nets)
  • Waterproof Jacket
  • Mosquito and Insect Repellent
  • Couple of tins of Tuna – helps balance out the weight.


  1. Front Right (Offside) Pannier – The Kitchen

Most of the things I need to Cook

  • Stove & Shield
  • Spork
  • Cooking Pot & Pot Holder
  • Kettle
  • Tin Opener
  • Spices & stock cubes
  • Rice and Pasta
  • Tea, Coffee, Milk Powder and Sugar


  1. Rear Left (Nearside) Pannier – The Wardrobe
  • 2 dry bags worth of clothes
  • 1 dry bag with electronics cables and memory cards/sticks
  • 1 dry bag with a battered barely working netbook
  • Document Wallet (photocopies of passport, driving licence etc.)
  • Tent Patches
  • First Aid Kit


  1. Rear Right (Offside) Pannier – The Workshop
  • Spare Folding Tyres
  • Spare Chain
  • Tools, Multi Tools and Hollowtech Bottom Bracket Tool, Chain Gauge, spoke spanner
  • Chain Oil & Grease
  • Spare Tubes
  • Small Bottle of Famous Grouse Whiskey (for drinking on a good day)
  • Spares Box (Hex Screws, pannier bolts, chain links, electrical connectors & wire)
  • Spare Spokes
  • Rags for maintenance
  • Cable Ties
  • Medication Box (Antibiotics, anti histamines, Imodium, anti Malarials etc.)


  1. Trunk Bag (Across Rear Panniers)
    • Tent
    • Groundsheet
    • Shoes
    • Pillow
    • Wash Kit
    • Sodium Hypochlorite (Water Sanitiser)
    • Books
    • Food (Sugar, Oats etc.)


  1. Top Tube – Top Bag
    • Camera – close at hand to take photos while riding
    • Spare water bottle caps and shower water bottle cap (sprite cap with 3 holes in it)


  1. Top Tube – Under-slung Bag
    • Sun Block and Lip Sun Block
    • Camera Tripod
    • Puncture repair Kit
    • Spare Strap (used to hold extra kit on)


  1. Saddle Bag
    • Spare Tube
    • Hex Key for unlocking wheels
    • Tyre Levers
    • More Cable Ties


  1. Other Items (Water Bottles etc.)
    • 1 x 750ml water bottle
    • 1 x 1,500 ml water bottle
    • 4 x 2l water bottles (not all used unless very hot, one used as a shower with modified sprite cap)
    • Stove Fuel Bottle
    • Bike Lock – wrapped around seat post
    • Tyre pump
    • Spare spokes (in rear rack)

Everything you need to survive, your home, food and water. To see a full kit list please see my Kit List here.

3 thoughts on “Loading a Touring Bike

  1. I need a few more bags. I bought a top tube top bag for the iPhone backup battery but I see I need a top tube bottom bag to!. I don’t have a trunk bag but my Carradice Carradura saddle bag is larger than yours.

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