• 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 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 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 . 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 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.
• If you're thinking of bringing a medium-sized camera along, this 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 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 , 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 .
• 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 for a picnic by a river (or even an extra layer under your jersey). It comes in a larger version as well.
a tiny . (It too comes in a larger version).
for soap/shampoo, sunscreen, and detergent for washing your kit .
a very small
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 remuneration or free products.
• You don't need to run out and buy a gravel bike right away. 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 ). 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 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 .
• 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!