How to pack your gear

Currently bicycle set up, sleeping bag and tent strapped to front rack.

Getting all your gear packed and stored in a convenient place can take time. For me it took months! I fiddled around where to store my tent and sleeping bag as well as where to keep my non essential gear. I also experimented with handling and how to distribute the gear by weight. Once you determine where you will store everything it is important to stick to it and return your gear to the same place. That way you can quickly find what you are looking for and if its lost know right away! I carry lots of thick, plastic bags that I use to keep gear dry as well as separated inside the larger compartments of my panniers. Jackets and anything that I might need urgently (like a headlamp or lighter) I pack last, on the top. The bottom 1/2 to 1/3 of each pannier will always contain my heavier items, like dried foods and extra shoes. All of my non essential gear is packed away in one pannier so that I don’t have to unpack and repack things I don’t need. When I camp I remove the panniers I will be needing, and leave the non essential rear pannier on the rack. This saves time the next morning, and gives the bike a little weight support for attaching my tent fly. I am sure many of you have different methods and would love to hear your feedback!


Picture of gear set up taken early in the tour. It wasn’t until I got to Norway that I started putting the sleeping bag and tent on the front rack.


Wintering in Korea, rear rack is packed with an extra bag of clothes in preparation for the snow.

Front rack

Top of rack: I strap both my sleeping bag and tent to the top of my front rack. My sleeping bag is packed inside of a dry bag along with my inflatable therma-rest. My tent, poles and fly are rolled up and packed into a small plastic bag. Both of these items are then packed into a larger plastic bag, and strapped to the rack. The larger plastic bag keep the two items together and protects the dry bag from UV rays (which cause the bag to deteriorate), the bag also protects the dry bag from the rubbing of the bungee cords. These are both on the front rack to reduce weight on the rear wheel and tire. (Which both wear a lot faster than the front)

Drive side pannier (side not pictured): This pannier holds my mess kit, my stove, fuel canister, two pans, spices, cooking oil, and other dry foods such as rice, beans, or noodles. If I am going to be in the remote for a while I will also put vegetables like onions, eggplant and potatoes in there as well.

Non-Drive side pannier: This pannier holds my valuables. I put them on this side because I always prop my bicycle up on the drive side making it convenient for me to remove the pannier when I leave it unattended. This pannier holds my computer, external hard drive, chargers/USB cords, book(s), copies of passport/ID and headlamp.

Leather handle bar pouch: I keep my Gopro camera inside the pouch along with a hand written map of my route. It is easily accessible while pedaling but on rough roads the camera tends to fall out so it is moved to the top pocket of my rear panniers.


Rear rack carries excess water, probably close to 2o liters. Kazakhstan

Rear rack:

Top of rear rack: This is kind of a misc area, where last minute items like extra water, and my jacket are strapped on. However the tarp that I use under my tent is always stored here.

Drive side pannier: This pannier is harder to access because I always prop by bike up on this side. It holds most of my extra “non everyday” materials such as; warm clothes, jacket, shoes, foldable spare tire, pump, some non essential tools, and medicine. The top of the pannier has a zipper pocket where I keep my tire levers and patch kit.

Non-Drive side pannier: My essentials are kept here; vegetables, fruit, snacks, cutting board, eating utensils, pocket knife, allen/wrench tools, sunscreen, soap, and sometimes water. The top pocket of the pannier will usually hold my Gopro camera on rough roads, as well as my i-pod inside a plastic bag when it rains.


The Arkel GT-54 panniers have a tent bag that straps on to the rear drive side pannier. I store my spare tire, pump and tri-pod inside