Author Topic: Loading for touring  (Read 8498 times)

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Offline bktourer1

Loading for touring
« on: January 01, 2005, 06:59:58 pm »
I need a better idea on how to load a bike for multi day touring.  I have done many day trips but now find myself starting to camp by bike this year.  How do I successfully load all my gear and get it all balanced out?  Fotos / drawings of a loaded bike appreciated.


Offline Peaks

Loading for touring
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2005, 08:47:18 pm »
Assuming that you are using panniers, I think that ACA has an article about loading a bike in how to section.

Other than that, organize your gear and pack everything in plastic bags.  

Offline pmspirito

Loading for touring
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2005, 01:34:49 am »
We all struggle with this.  It begins with what to take and what to leave behind.  I got a lot of usefull info from Applachian Trail hiker forums.  Those folks know how to travel light.  Its all about finding the line between comfort and cargo.  My number 1 rule is to keep your stuff dry.  I use roll top dry bag type of panniers like those made by Vaude. Packing is trial and error, heavy stuff to the bottom, equally spread out, load it up and go for a ride.

best wishes from the back of the pack,  Peter & Judy Spirito
best wishes from the back of the pack,  Peter & Judy Spirito

Offline dombrosk

Loading for touring
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2005, 07:51:26 pm »
Deciding what to take is very personal.  At the ACA road touring class last summer our guide mentioned that we often pack things to protect us against our fears.  I carry spare tubes and a spare tire against flats and sidewall failures... but I don't carry dog spray.  Somebody else might just carry a tire patch kit, but a giant can of mace.
Last summer was my first summer of touring.  I managed to get in about a thousand miles "loaded" in preparation for doing half of the Northern Tier next summer.  After I do that ride, I'll probably have an entirely new packing list!  :)

I've put together an Excel template file that lets you input your gear weights and provides a graph showing how balanced/unbalanced your load is.  If you'd like a copy of this file, feel free to e-mail me at and I'll be glad to send it along.

Offline alh

Loading for touring
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2005, 11:20:22 pm »
I organize my panniers "functionally", and tend not to worry as much about balance. One front pannier has only food/snacks in it; the other has all my cooking gear. When I arrive in camp, it's easy get at when preparing the meal. It also makes it easy to stow the food etc. from critters; I can hang the front panniers very easily.

In the most accessable rear pannier (my left) I put my rain gear, warm clothes I might want during the day, and the clothes I expect to put on at camp. The other rear pannier has the rest of my clothes, camp shoes, maps I am not using, and generally things I won't need during the day. I line the rear panniers with garbage bags, and also use pannier rain covers. Things *have* to stay dry, like tickets & maps get thier own plastic bag.

I use a handlebar bag for things that must be secure, and things I use during the day; my wallet, camera, first aid kit, sunglasses, mosquito repellant/sun screen, and binoculars.

My tent, sleeping bag, and pad are strapped to the back rack. My tools are in a seat bag.

This load travels pretty well.

This message was edited by alh on 1-9-05 @ 7:21 PM

Offline canalligators

Loading for touring
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2005, 04:50:38 pm »
I think that ACs gear recommendations are generally good, but one statement is misleading.  They say to put 60% of the weight on the front, but I think they mean excluding the tent.  (Following statement is something like "when you add the tent it balances out").

Many bikes will handle funny with all the weight on the rear.  Steering will "shimmy" at some/all speeds.  My Varsity (ca. 1970) was uncontrollable at 15 mi/hr until I put the sleeping bag on the handlebars.  My Vision (SWB) with too little trail (changed fork) would shimmy at 15-20 mi/hr until I put front panniers on and shifted some weight forward.

I guess the lesson is to put some of the weight on the front, and see what works for you.

Offline MikeJuvrud

Loading for touring
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2005, 02:56:28 am »
I guess my system is all the stuff I use while on the road goes up front...and everything else in the rear.

Obscure Tip: If cycling through Holland, you'll want to tie your clogs to your sleeping bag/tent ;) For me it was a great conversation starter and led to many invites for dinner/sleeping arrangements.

Offline JaphyR

Loading for touring
« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2005, 11:49:02 pm »
Riding through British Columbia and the Yukon, I kept everything that had anything to do with food in the front panniers, and everything else on the rear of the bike.  Then at night I hung up the front panniers.  I camped every night in the woods in bear-infested country, and never had a problem.  One night I even camped over bear prints in the dirt.  I felt safer than staying in campgrounds where food has been everywhere.

As for balancing, you can start out with any distribution you want, but the real balance comes from the little adjustments you make each day when you pack up.  You'll notice one side feeling heavier than the other, and it's a pretty simple process to pick out one heavy thing and trade it for something light on the other side.

Check out Alaskan Moonlight:  14,000 Miles Around North America by Bicycle
Check out Alaskan Moonlight:  14,000 Miles Around North America by Bicycle