By properly I mean packing the bike to handle nicely under all riding conditions. For example, my front axiom cartier panniers have a locking mechanism for mounting to the Minoura front rack as the handles cannot be attached together over the rack as is the case with the rear rack. I pack the lighter, bulkier stuff in the Trek rear panniers which due to their shape happen to fit tent poles very nicely when packed vertically. Heavier, more organized items such as camp stove kit, clothing, food are packed in front panniers. As more body weight is applied over the rear wheel this technique of packing has proved to be an excellent method of weight distribution contributing to the bike's riding and handling characteristics.
After much tinkering and experimenting with different packing methods and equipment choices over the years, this is my current go to kit list for a multi day, multi season bike tour. Rather than review every single item, which has been covered in another post (link at end of this post) instead I'm covering the basics with my selection of gear of the more bulky and often times more expensive items that make up a good bike touring kit.
Tent and Stuff Sack: Alps Mountaineering Lynx 1 person tent weighs a bit over three pounds, so I swapped out the tent pegs that came with the tent with my MSR groundhog mini tent stakes providing a lighter tent set with better quality. By packing this tent and rain fly into the Outdoor Research five liter Lightweight Dry Sack I'm able to easily fit the tent into one of the rear Trek Panniers with poles simply placed vertically into the pannier with the packed tent. This is the most affordable solo bike touring tent kit I could find without sacrificing quality or comfort.
Sleeping Bag, Pad, Pillow and Compression Bag: On the topic of comfort is usually where it seems that a compromise is made in losing valuable room for packing or where the extra weight gets cumbersome. It's a bit of a conundrum for folks putting together a quality affordable kit for bike touring so here is how I have handled that issue with success. Having a sleeping bag that is comfy for a wide range of temperatures and that can handle getting a bit damp without loss of warmth is the North Face Furnace Down Twenty Degree F Sleeping Bag. It packs down very small into a Small Sized Sea to Summit eVent Compression Dry Sack with room for a Thermarest Compression Pillow. I have found this to be a very comfortable solution for laying on during warm nights or tucked in with a warm beanie in below freezing temperatures. Last but not least my favorite sleeping pad is the Thermarest Trail Scout Sleeping Pad in the regular size. I have a few Thermarest mattresses now and this one packs down the smallest by far as it is the only pad which is designed to be folded in half length wise and then rolled up to a very small lightweight pack friendly size. It packs so small in fact that I can stuff down to the bottom of my Trek Pannier with enough room for the previously described sleeping packed on top.
First I found the Stanley Adventure Camp Cook Set which holds twenty four ounces and is perfect for making coffee or tea for two people and includes two insulated BPA free plastic cups. We have used an alocs alcohol stove kit which can also be used with esbit or other fuel cubes. Next I added the GSI Outdoors Glacier Bottle Cup Pot which is shorter and wider than the Stanley Pot, holds up to eighteen ounces and the best features are that the lid from the Stanley Pot fits perfectly on the GSI Cup as if it were made for it and the Stanley Pot fits into the GSI Pot for packing. With the two stackable pots slipped into the alocs stove kit bag we have a very nice, efficient kit. Note that the alocs stove will burn forty approximately forty five minutes but with the adjustable snuffer this can be extended depending on cooking needs. Fuel source is usually if not always a bottle of Heet fuel conditioner which is easy to find at many stores and gas stations and is very inexpensive. I might add that both the Stanley and GSI are made of quality stainless steel, both have folding handles for cooking with and as previously mentioned share the same size lid. Miscellaneous items such as fuel cubes, matches, spork or cleaning cloth can be tucked into either one of the pots when used together with the alocs stove or when using just the GSI cup and stove. Another important piece of my kit is a Contigo Auto Seal Travel Mug, it fits snugly into a frame mounted water bottle holder (shown in background of above photo) holds sixteen ounces of hot or cold liquids and is leak and spill proof. I have turned it upside down and not a single drop spilled out. It keeps liquid hot for up to five hours and is excellent for winter or summer. I also use it to mix up a batch of nutritional supplement green powder drink by simply adding water and shaking the container. It's an excellent insulated container that has proven to be very useful for a variety of needs.
This meant foregoing any handlebar bag that required mounting a quick release bracket. This handlebar bag is not only very inexpensive but very well made and includes a clear map pocket under the lid. Click on photo for information or to purchase, you can't beat the price for what you get. It's also very easy to take on and off the bike for walking around with and have found it easy to get the bag very secure with the underside buckle cinch straps with velcro.
Another excellent option afforded by this handlebar bag's design for very lightweight bike packing method.
I've limited comments regarding clothing as personal style and other whimsical considerations are too diverse to garner much attention. However, that having been said there are a few items of clothing gear for bike touring worth mentioning. I have been riding with Pearl Izumi Journey Shorts for several years and they are simply perfect padded shorts for bike touring. Casual comfort, excellent design with practical pockets and very durable I can't say enough about how excellent they are. Club Ride Jerseys have a casual design popular with many bike touring enthusiasts. A cool weather layering consideration that is small, lightweight and pack friendly are wool arm warmers and leg warmers like these from Ibex. Regarding rain gear I have found the Bell Storm Front Jacket and Tenn Waterproof Trousers to be all I need for any wet weather conditions. Both are as waterproof and breathable as they are pack friendly. Excellent rain gear for bike touring.
How does all this stuff look when it's packed onto the bike?