Hotel room with cycle gear strewn throughout.

Lightweight Packing List for Bicycle Touring Couples

Before we left on our 2,500 miles ride along the Southern Tier I knew that I wanted to pack as light as possible. Thanks to the recent ultralight craze in backpacking there is a ton of gear available now for the tourist looking to lower the weight on their bicycle. We managed to get to 40lbs total for the two of us.

I consider it a huge victory that for two people going on a self supported tour we were able to get our weight down so far, and the 40lbs includes the weight of the panniers! When divided up my wife carried roughly 17 pounds of gear and I carried the remaining 23 pounds. We also were able to tour with only rear panniers, which allowed for removing my front rack saving another 3 pounds.

If you are looking to see the bare minimum that you need to get you and a partner along the Southern Tier with temperatures ranging from 15-102F in the late fall months this is the list. The only item that I know we could save more weight on is Pam’s sleeping bag, if we trade her bag for a bag similar to mine we will be at about 38 pounds of gear. Not sure how much more ultra-light you can go before losing your self sufficiency.

I hoped this helped you get some ideas for going lightweight on your next tour. Do you see anywhere we can improve, cut a few more grams from? Feel free to comment below!

Published by

Matt Emerson

Matt has ridden over 5,000 miles bicycle touring around the United States, and countless of miles training and riding around town. When not riding he enjoys computers and working around house. Getting the most out of his time alive is one his major priorities.

2 thoughts on “Lightweight Packing List for Bicycle Touring Couples”

  1. You referenced having no front panniers. Does the weight difference (having rear panniers) affect steering handling and turning capabilities?

    Appreciate all your great advice.

    Craig Probst
    Davidson, NC

    1. Craig,
      The front panniers and rack being removed shaved 6 pounds of weight from the bike, which I consider a huge benefit. I definitely noticed a difference in the handling, steering was much more responsive and required less force to initiate changes. At first I was a little concerned about this, however after just a day or two I got used to the new feel of the steering and had no problems. It actually makes the bike feel much more like an unloaded bike, snappier, and a little more fun (in my opinion).

      We did 2,500 miles on the Southern Tier with just rear panniers packed per this list and the only other point worth mentioning was that there was significantly more wear on my rear tire than the front. Hindsight says I probably should have rotated them about half way through the tour. Our tour down the Pacific Coast which was 1,900 miles produced more wear on both tires and was more even between front and back, but I shudder to think about how much weight I was carrying in my panniers then.


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