Watch: Adventure Cycling Gear 101

Mappy Hour and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. have teamed up to help you get out of the city this summer… by bike!

Our fourth speaker in our Summer of Bikepacking Series was Annalisa van den Bergh who walked us through not only what to bring but what to definitely leave behind.

Whether you’re heading out for a weekend adventure or a multi-month expedition, we’re sure you’ll enjoy Annalisa’s tips and tricks.

About Annalisa: Annalisa van den Bergh is a Cannes Gold Lion-winning visual storyteller and writer living with type 1 diabetes. She is the founder and cocreator of Miles of Portraits, a magazine and film that documents the people she and her cycling partner Erik Douds meet as they ride their bicycles around the world. Learn more about her at


Transcription Notes from the Talk

  • Bikepacking vs Bike Touring – light vs heavy. “Often times these words are used interchangeably, I like to use the umbrella term ‘adventure cycling.’”
  • Variety of bike does not matter as much

Biking Clothes

  • Bring less and wash more: “Pack fewer clothes and just make it a habit during the trip to wash your clothes and dry it on the back of the bike and just let the wind take care of it.”
  • Sweat wicking synthetics
  • Bike shorts are a good choice. “They are much more comfortable (than regular shorts), especially if you’re going on a longer haul trip.”
  • Clip-in pedals may be better than cage pedals. “You really feel like you’re one with the bike, you feel much more efficient, especially when you’re going uphill and when your foot is on the up-pedal.”
  • Crocs are surprisingly effective. “They’re very functional, very comfortable, they’re not only light, but they don’t take up a lot of room.”

Food and Hydration

  • Chia seeds are a great option. “They’re very nutritional, they’re high in fiber, they’re easy to prepare.”
  • Wraps > sliced bread, peanut butter
  • Tuna and beans are great for protein
  • You can bring produce! “You just have to make sure that they’re stored properly and not in an airtight container...consider getting harder pieces of produce like carrots or cabbage that will hold better.”
  • Elekticity Stove, go minimalistic for cutlery and plates
  • “There’s a brand called Coleman that lets you strap the cutlery together so you don’t lose them.”
  • Zyliss food processor is an essential luxury item
  • Maximize water bottle capacity: “A lot of touring bikes have room for three water bottles on the frame, but I’d encourage you to find all the areas that you can store water bottles (handlebars, seat, etc.)”
  • “Some people like to use Camelbaks, which is a backpack with water in it and a straw.”
  • Try the Sawyer mini water filter

Camping Gear

  • “You can start with anything you have and move up as you want to.”
  • 2-person tent minimum (e.g. Alps Mountaineering Zephyr)
  • “Make sure to look for a tent that has a good design and more than two poles.”
  • “You just want that extra space for all your stuff, and just to stretch out.”
  • Air mattress vs foam mattress – portable but easily damaged vs sturdy but bulky
  • Sea to Summit is a good brand to find sleeping accessories (mattresses, bags, etc.)
  • “Depends on how much money you’re willing to sacrifice to make sure your load is light as possible.”
  • Headlamps > flashlights because both hands are free (Biolite 330)

Maps and Safety

  • Get a pool noodle – acts as a nice shoulder signal for approaching cars
  • “You basically just strap it to your bike, you let the majority of it hang out the left side of it, and cars will see you from a mile away.”
  • Mirrors on the sunglasses become ‘third eye’
  • “You get really used to checking them now and then, and when there is a truck behind you, you can see it coming.”
  • The more reflective you are on the road, the better (check Adventure Cycling)
  • Helmets are (obviously) super important!!!
  • “I personally have had the helmet save my life twice.”
  • Adventure Cycling also has extensive bike-friendly maps
  • “These maps will tell you where the bike shops are, where the campgrounds are, which churches you can sleep at, (…) and they take you on the more scenic roads.”

Putting it all together

  • Arkel’s bags are robust and sturdy (and big)
  • “You can literally throw anything in there and it won’t break, because it’s steel mounted.”
  • Ortlieb’s are waterproof
  • Use multipurpose items 
  • “A sports bra is a bathing suit, a pile of clothes can be a pillow, in Alaska our bear canister was a seat.”


  • Not much body gear (safety vest for reflectiveness, fanny packs)
  • Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires
  • one long sleeve, two short sleeves, layers (vest), leggings, two bike shorts, two pairs of shoes for a three-week trip
  • One towel is enough
  • Currently riding REI Novara (discontinued)
  • Biolite makes solar panels and battery packs