What’s In My Panniers? The Gear

Pannier packing diagram

A complete list of gear and supplies I’m packing

After laying out all the clothing I’m packing, the second part of this series is everything else that will go in my bags. Again, this is the first time I’ve done a bike tour, so this is the “before” list. I’ll follow up with everything that makes it all the way to the end of the TransAmerican Bicycle Trail and see how much has changed.

Gear list - sleep system

Sleep System

For my camping setup, I’ve gone with a full-on moveable lady lair with lots of protection against the cold.

Gear list cookware


I’m not that into camp cooking. I’ll most likely be doing at least one meal out each day, but I do want to be able to heat up basic breakfasts and dinners. I did a lot of borrowing here:

  • Backpacking burner that takes butane fuel
  • Two small backpacking pots
  • Spork
  • Ultralight food scraper

Gear list - toiletries


Admittedly, there are some vanity items here. I want to be able to groom myself at least a little after a sweaty day on the saddle. Don’t judge.

  • Compact brush and hairbands for my hair
  • Quip toothbrush, toothpaste, and dental floss
  • Package of wet wipes
  • Nail clipper, tweezers, razor
  • Antibacterial ointment
  • Tarte Amazonian face clay foundation with sunscreen
  • Travel bottles filled with shampoo, conditioner, diluted dish soap, sunscreen, antibacterial gel, and Deet

Gear list electronics

Tech and electronics

I’m bringing too much of it. Oh, the things I do to post stuff online. Some of these items are for entertainment during the long hours, some for navigation and tracking.

  • iPad with Logitech Slim Folio keyboard case. Wasn’t sure about bringing this, but will help me keep blogging and journaling on the road.
  • Pixel 1, my trusty phone, for all the usual phone things, photos, videos, etc.
  • Old Samsung phone with no SIM card, used only for navigation with the official GPX maps of the TransAmerica Trail
  • Kindle Paperwhite because this thing follows me everywhere and keeps me sane. Book suggestions welcome!
  • Garmin Forerunner 35, despite its bulkiness and short battery life, because I’ll use it to track distances and sync to my Strava profile
  • Otium Bluetooth headphones, to keep the tunes, podcasts, and audiobooks flowing during the long hours on the bikes and rainy days in the tent.
  • Tripod and selfie stick combo. First time traveling with one of these, hoping to use it mostly for the tripod
  • Power Bank RAVPower 26800 to keep it all powered. This little brick weighs about a pound and takes all night to recharge, but will supply about 5 days of my charging needs. Also pictured: 4 different charging cords needed.

Gear list - bike tools

Bike tools

I’ve picked up a good amount of mechanical knowledge, but this part still overwhelms me. I have an amazing boyfriend/volunteer mechanic to thank for helping me prepare this part

  • Basics for flat tires: two spare tubes, tire levers, and a patch kit
  • Pocket Rocket tire pump, with duct tape wrapped around it for storage
  • Topeak Hexus II Multi-Tool for simpler things like seat adjustment, etc.
  • Advanced repair toolbox containing spares of most things: brake cable, gear cable, chain links, patches, brake pads, a wrench, screws and bolts, chain lube, and med exam gloves so my hands aren’t always covered in chain grease
  • Cable bike lock, 4 feet long, for keeping it all secure at stops and at night

Gear list - first aid kit

First aid

What I did here is find a backpacking first aid kit and modify it for my needs (i.e. replace bulky gauze with a lot of Advil and Chamois Butt’r)

  • HART Health weekend first aid kit that contains way more stuff than I hope I’ll ever need, like an emergency blanket and forceps
  • A LOT of extra Aspirin and ban-aids
  • A few packets of Chamois Butt’r for saddle sores, although I’ve never needed it before

Gear list - miscellaneous


Finally, the assortment of things that don’t fit into any of the other categories

  • Arno straps to strap things to the rack, and extra straps as backup, plus 2 small bungees
  • Bags. Always good to have a few zip lock bags and plastic bags on hand
  • Headlamp, somewhat low-end due to my tendency to lose these.
  • Sewing kit, stuffed with extra safety pins
  • Swiss Army knife. Now I just need to learn how to use the tiny can opener
  • Notebook and pen
  • Lighter

Gear list - clothing


I’ve created an separate post to detail the clothing items I’m packing, but here’s a quick summary of the categories of clothing:

  • Shirts and tops
  • Shorts and pants
  • Outerwear and layering
  • Innerwear and swimwear
  • Accessories
  • Footwear

See the complete clothing list here.


So that just about covers the equipment portion of my packing, at least to start out. It’s bound to change as I shed unneeded items and get ahold of anything that’s missing.

How am I doing so far? I’d love to hear from experienced bike travelers — especially women — about their most essential clothing items while on tour.

Disclosure: I included links wherever the item is still available to buy online because I genuinely want to help readers find the exact things I’ve listed. That said, I also want to break even on this website, so any Amazon links are affiliate (meaning I earn a small percent of any transaction).

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    July 7, 2019 at 10:26 pm

    Hello Cynthia,

    I found your blog link in comments to a Washing Post story on bike travel. Your trip sounds very exciting.

    My wife and I did an east to west cross county from Cape May, NJ to Seaside, OR in 2015. We were self supported and riding a tandem bike. We recognized that we needed to pack light. We had two set of riding outfits (one your were wearing, and the one you will wear tomorrow). We did laundry everyday (carrying a drain stopper helped do hand washing in sinks) . We also had one set of off bike clothes. Of course had a system of layers. At various points we mailed back items we were no longer needing. Likewise we had some items mailed to us via general delivery to post offices along the route.

    What you are carrying looks about right.

    We road about 6 days a week taking a day off the bike to rest, do laundry, and re-provision. On our route we did encounter food deserts. So always carry extra food and water.

    We did a few Warmshowers and had great experiences. We are hosts as well, but are a bit off the trail just east of Washington DC.

    We had a great adventure riding at our own pace. Met lots of nice folks along the way.

    Have a great ride!


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