Monte Pelmo, from the Ciclabile delle Dolomiti in Borca di Cadore

Photo © April Pedersen Santinon


• I prefer aluminum water bottle cages, after having had a couple of the composite (plastic) ones crack, one of them on a touring ride far from home.

When you're going minimalist, you need pretty much the same clothing and gear whether you go away overnight or for a week.

When you arrive at your lodgings, you'll need a way to carry your clothes, toiletries, and other necessities to your room. (It's too much trouble to

remove bikepacking bags, and they don't have carrying handles besides). For this purpose an ultralight backpack that packs down to the size of a

tennis ball is ideal. It can also come in handy if you want to take a short hike in the area where you're spending the night.

Make sure your B&B or hotel has a safe space to stash your bike for the night.

Make sure there's a place to eat within walking distance of where you're thinking of spending the night. A hotel garni is one without a restaurant.

Packable gripper socks like these are handy for after showering and for the time spent in your room.  Lightweight, packable shoes are ideal. You may

even be able to find folding ones, similar to my Timberland Radlers (no longer available, but copies are).

Don't forget the charging cables for each of your devices: cell phone, GPS, GoPro, head and tallights (and watch?). A compact multi-charger will not

only let you leave the bulky charging blocks at home, but also lets you charge several devices at the same time and from one outlet (which sometimes could be all that's available).

B&Bs and agritours, as a rule, cannot accept credit or debit cards. ATMs are abundant.

Even if you have a GPS bike computer, or phone, loaded with maps and routes, it's a good idea to have a backup. The maps.me app on my iPhone has saved me on many a ride, hike, and drive. It works off your phone's GPS and does not require an internet connection. You can download whatever maps you need (I have maps of all 7 provinces in the Veneto Region, and the 2 in the Trentino-Alto Adige). They even show walking trails and lesser known bike paths. I also love paper maps and have a large collection of compact, easy to-carry, Zanetti 1:30,000 maps of various local areas.

If you're thinking of bringing a medium-sized camera along, this bag will protect it without adding weight or bulk. I have used it mostly for hiking, but

also safely carried my rather large Panasonic Lumix mirrorless camera to a Giro stage in my bikepacking seat bag.

If you'll be riding in the mountains, be sure to check the local weather first, and keep in mind that it may change from hour to hour, and even from valley to valley.

Evening comes early to mountain valleys. Not only is there less light, but temperatures drop, and even in summer it's best to have a warm layer or

two for apres-ride activities. I've found myself heading for a trattoria in a midweight wool zip t-neck, a tech flannel hiking shirt, and a lightweight  

puffer jacket...in August! Early mornings can be chilly too, so arm and knee warmers and a lined vest will keep you warm. Always take a jacket.

Other items I've found useful:

nitrile or latex gloves, for dirty jobs like removing your rear wheel

tough paper towels for multiple uses, from bike cleaning to serving as a washcloth. The Italian brand I use is Tutto Pannocarta.

a mini folding blanket for a picnic by a river (or even an extra layer under your jersey). It comes in a larger version as well.

a tiny microfiber pack towel (it too comes in a larger version).

flat toiletry packs for soap/shampoo, sunscreen, and detergent for washing your kit .

a very small LED flashlight

Stasher bags for snacks et al.

DISCLOSURE:  My touring experience is extremely limited, mostly due to circumstances beyond my control (adverse weather, new bike not ready, train lines closed for electrification, coronavirus restrictions, et al). Nevertheless, I've learned a lot of things that I think are worth sharing.

DISCLOSURE #2: The products I show and link to are ones I have purchased for myself, have used, and am satisfied with. I don't claim that they are the best. No company has asked me to recommend them, nor offered any free products.

You don't need to run out and buy a gravel bike right away. Be creative! An older steel road frame that will accept wider tires (28-32mm) will do,

and its side pull rim brakes will assuredly bring you to a stop. A hybrid or trekking bike can be fitted with drop bars, as can an old school mountain

bike, minus the heavy and totally unneccesary suspension fork. You don't need disc brakes! Linear pull brakes ("v-brakes") stop very well, are lighter, more aerodynamic, easier to adjust, hassle-free, and need little maintainence. (Road levers require mini linear pull brakes). If you wreck a wheel, you can borrow a temporary substitute anywhere. Even a wheel from a nonna's bike or a bike in a farmer's barn would do :^) If you damage a disc brake line or rotor, or need new pads, you could find yourself out of luck.

A bell is imperative when riding bike paths, where you will undoubtedly come up on slower cyclists and inattentive pedestrians. Beware of children and inexperienced riders, whose bike handling skills may be lacking. and of riders who are simply clueless or inattentive. Wear your helmet. More than one person has died in an accident on an innocent-looking bike path.

A seat bag should be your first purchase, and a top tube bag is highly  

recommended. (Beware: too-wide top tube bags can rub your knees when you  

stand on the pedals). A handlebar bag is useful, but you can make do with a  

lightweight backpack or drybag if you don't want to invest a lot in equipment.

(You could perhaps even strap the backpack to your handlebars). There are       

bags to fit virtually any open space on a bike. The water bottle cage on the

seat tube can be used to hold a carry-all container.

No matter how capacious your seat bag is, it does have a limit, and you will  

find that just one more thing, no matter how small, cannot be squeezed into it!