My bike touring wardrobe has evolved over the last decade to the point where I wear/pack pretty much the same items on every tour with some minor variations for weather.
- microfibre capris [warm when it's cool and cool when it's warm]
- wool socks [longer in the winter and shorter in the summer] x 2pr
- synthetic boxer briefs [quick dry - I never wear padded bike shorts]
- synthetic running t-shirt [quick dry great when it's hot]
- wool zip neck LS top [adds warmth and can be vented well to adjust temperatures]
- softshell jacket [windproof and water resistant]
- fleece gloves
- MTB gloves
- buff neck warmer
- running tights
- trail runners
- puffy jacket [great when it gets cold]
This gives me a wide range of comfortable temperatures on tour without having to pack too much. The next to skin items can be washed and dried reasonably easily on the ride if needed. Everything layers well if needed on cold day.
My puffy jacket is one of the Patagonia synthetic models. I don’t recall which one exactly. It packs small and adds a lot of warmth. I wear it to bed if my sleeping bag is under gunned. It’s fantastic to wear on chilly mountain mornings while eating and packing. If the day starts with a significant downhill I’ll leave this on to ward off a chill until the day warms up or I start to climb.
You’ll notice most of my clothes are high visibility black or charcoal for safety. I bucked that trend here with a red puffer. ;)
There are lots of variations on the puffy jacket theme. I’d highly recommend you try one.
I’m wearing a MEC Ferrata soft shell jacket in the pic above. I love it. Very durable, windproof and used to resist rain a bit before I trashed the DWR coating. Comfortable to wear next to skin and looks reasonable off the bike if you are in a city. I’ve really thrashed this jacket and it is holding up fine. It should last 20yrs no problem.
Pretty much every outdoor clothing company now offers several soft shell options. Check ‘em out they are worth a look.
I’m also wearing a runner’s baseball cap. They fold up pretty small for packing and have a flexible brim that resists permanently getting tweaked thus looking goofy.
I went with high visibility black for safety of course!
I hate rain on tour so I usually plan trips for windows of good weather and/or locations that seldom get rain. However, sometimes you gotta hit the road when it’s likely to get wet. In those cases I’ll change what I pack a bit:
- delete soft shell and replace with light rain jacket
- delete trail runners and replace with waterproof footwear + mini gaiters to keep socks dry
- or keep trail runners and add goretex socks to keep feet dry
- add rain legs chaps
- add in waterproof over gloves
- probably add in an additional spare set of socks and gloves
- swap sunglasses for ones with interchangeable clear lenses
When it’s hot I ride in a running t-shirt and capris. Ideally with some short/lightweight socks on. Often the evening turns chilly – especially in camp. So I add some running tights and long wool socks to my capris. I put on the soft shell jacket – possibly with the LS wool top underneath. I also slip on the toque.
If it gets really cold I add the puffy jacket, neck warmer and fleece gloves.
Of course a fire always helps morale when it’s cold as well!
I try to skip tour is horribly buggy areas, but if that’s unavoidable I’ll make the following changes to the packing list:
- add in bug hat
- add in mesh bug jacket
- delete capris and add in full length pants [possibly with zip off legs if it will be hot]
I hate bug spray so I pack mesh clothing and use that to keep the critters at bay.
I’ve posted separately about touring footwear, but I’ll recap here:
- trail runners [light, comfy and easy to walk in]
- 5.10 MTB shoes [heavy, rugged, comfortable, excellent pedal grip, great to walk in, but very slow to dry]
- water shoes [fast drying, breathable, comfortable, but limited support]
- light hikers [heavy, waterproof, comfortable, great for hike-a-bike, but can get hot]
I never use clip-in bike shoes for tours. Their off the bike performance sucks and I like being able to jump off the bike without a second thought and run an errand or clamber up a hill to get a photo.