Bike Touring Essentials

What is the best bicycle, tent and pannier set-up for a long-distance bicycle tour?

Of course, that depends on your personal touring style.  If you've got the money, it's certainly a good idea to purchase the best touring bicycle, tent, and panniers possible.

Our gear has gotten more sophisticated over time, in part thanks to sponsors. Great gear is good to have, but if it's a choice between setting off on a second-hand bike and sleeping in an old tent or staying at home--hit the road!

We've toured with an old backpack strapped on the rack and a set of beat-up panniers filled with low-tech clothes and had just as much fun as we do now with all our comforts.

This page deals with bikes, panniers, and tents for bicycle touring. Check out the links at the bottom for more gear, clothing and electronics information.

The Bikes

As amazing as it sounds, I'm still riding my original Koga.  Since 2006, my Koga World Traveller has taken me almost 120,000 miles around the world.

After the theft of Eric's bike in Bolivia, he replaced his original World Traveller with a Koga Signature touring bike. This is cycle design personalized: you build your bike online to your own specific requirements.

We can't say enough good things about our sturdy Kogas. As long as you replace the components after normal wear and tear, they just keep on trucking.

koga miyata bicycle

Ortlieb Panniers

Bikepackers we are not! We're old school and like to lug everything we might possibly need on the back of the bike. Our current set-up consists of Ortlieb's largest capacity roll-top panniers front and back, Ortlieb bar bags plus a large dry sack on the back of each bike. 

The large capacity Pro model panniers have a 70-liter capacity compared with just 40 liters for the standard backrollers. 

The back panniers are each equipped with an extra outer pocket.  This is handy for storing sunscreen, extra water and all those little things you need to get to fast.

We use PS 490 dry bags on the back of the bike to store the tent, sleeping mats and sleeping bags.

We've got the 59 liter size to store all the extra stuff we've accumulated after 10+ years on the road.

Yeah, we know we've got too much stuff, be we like our little comforts.

ortlieb panniers
the world's most travelled American female cyclist

Marmot Limelight 3P Tent

Being on a multi-year tour, we are very content to have a spacious 3-person tent. Double entry is an absolute necessity in tropical climates. You'll severely suffer if there's no way to let in a cross breeze.

Wanting to cut down on weight, we initially opted for a  two-person tent when we began our tour in 2006.   

We quickly realized a two-person tent is far too small for us and all our gear.  A 3-person tent weighs just a bit more but the extra space makes a big difference during a long haul tour. The Limelight 3 has mesh fly vents so our little home-on-the-go stays cool even when we're touring in equatorial climates. Huge doors open wide so it's easy to get our gear in and out and the vestibules provide more than enough space for all our extra stuff. Marmot is known for excellent customer service and their tents are good value for money.

limelight 3 tent inner only

Gear We Love

Bike Touring Clothing


4 thoughts on “Bicycle Touring Essentials: Bike, Panniers + Tent

  • July 10, 2011 at 6:51 PM

    Wow! Your list is a long one and I was wondering what would be appropriate for a “one-person” ride. I’m planning a ride from Amsterdam to Istanbul and am not sure that I need all of what is on your list. Any suggestions???



    • August 17, 2011 at 3:02 AM

      Tamara, if you need any help on what to take on your trip look further on the Web, there is heaps of sites re: bicycle touring or if you want I can email you a list of what I take when I go touring in Australia and you can add or delete from there to suit what you might need

      you can contact me at



  • March 16, 2012 at 2:03 AM

    I’m interested in what wheelset you’re using and whether you’ve had to replace wheels. I am currently riding through SE Asia again, and my Mavic Open Pro’s which had about 18,000 miles on them, had to be replaced when the rear wheel had cracks around the rim and spoke nuts were pulling through rim spoke nut holes.

    • April 8, 2012 at 7:26 AM

      We’ve never had to replace the wheels. We’ve got Shimano XT hubs and sapin spokes. We started with Mavic rims but have had to replace them with Alex rims due to availability issues. Repalcing front rims every 50,000 kilometers and back rim every 30,000 kilometers, never replaced the hubs, have had to change a few spokes.


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