Bikepacking Clothing…

10 06 2013
Last month in BC...

Last month in BC…

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]
  • ballcap
  • softshell jacket [windproof and water resistant]
  • toque
  • fleece gloves
  • MTB gloves
  • buff neck warmer
  • running tights
  • trail runners
  • puffy jacket [great when it gets cold]
  • sunglasses

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.

Patagonia puffy jacket...

Patagonia puffy jacket…

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.

What a Big Dummy...

What a Big Dummy…

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!

Two approaches to rain gear style...

Two approaches to rain gear style…

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
Staying warm...

Staying warm…

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.

Wear water shoes in the desert?

Wearing water shoes in the desert?

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.



9 responses

10 06 2013
Kenetic Sam

Thanks for this list, very helpful. What knickers do you wear? I’ve had a hard time finding something that I like, any recommendations would be appreciated.

10 06 2013

The knickers aka capris aka manpris I wear most are from Sickle:

You can order direct from them. In Canada sells them.

They are robust, comfortable and not expensive. They wash up well and if you get a colour like gray they don’t get to grubby quickly. The material dries fast when wet.

10 06 2013
Doug Robertson (@upnorthdoug)

I picked up a couple new pair of Knickers at REI this Spring that I really like. It’s their Novara brand called Westbrae Knickers. Stretchy, comfortable with very minimal padding (I loathe the gel padding that feels like you’re wearing diapers). I’ve been wearing myine daily for commuting and all my other riding. I also bought the shorts version of this pant. It has a narrow cut and comes down to the knee…..almost as long as the knicker. I see they just reduced the price here in the States which could mean they are clearing out the remaining inventory until next Spring.


10 06 2013
Doug Robertson (@upnorthdoug)

The Novara shorts are called Roxhill Shorts. They are also on sale with limited sizes left. REI does this kind of seasonal stocking. Once they are sold out, you won’t see these items again until next Spring.

10 06 2013

I hate padded bike clothing. I’m glad climbing clothing works well on the bike and quite a few brands are offering unpadded clothing. It sucks to pay an extra $40 for some padded inner shorts that I just throw away.

10 06 2013
Kenetic Sam

Thanks for the recommendations, I can’t stand padded shorts either. I’ll order the sickle knickers and swing by REI too. Is there a “I Hate Bike Shorts Club” I can join?

12 06 2013

plus one on the plus-fours and no padded shorts or clips

23 06 2013
Dave Wagner

From other posts, I know you’ve considered everything about running a rohloff on your big dummy. Would it work to have a framebuilder replace the big dummy’s dropouts with horizontal dropouts? Would this allow you to lose the chain tensioner?

25 06 2013

@Dave – probably not. The Big Dummy is so long and flexible [compared to a normal bike] that the chain needs to adjust length just from that movement. I can’t say for sure it wouldn’t work, but I suspect it would be expensive and you’d end up with a tensioner anyways.

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