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The Ultimate Bike Touring Gear Guide for Women – Bearfoot Theory

If you enjoy traveling or backpacking and also like riding bikes, bike touring might just be a match made in heaven for you. This past summer, Bearfoot Theory’s Director, Linda, traveled the coast of France by bicycle for two weeks with her husband. In this blog post, she shares her tips for prepping for your first bike touring adventure and lessons learned from her trip.

Gearing up for your first bike touring trip can feel a bit overwhelming at first, but this guide will set you off on the right foot. Here is our guide to the clothes and gear you’ll need for bike touring.

What is bike touring?

Bike touring is basically a cycling trip for pleasure and adventure, often for multiple days at a time. In most cases, you are completely self-sufficient, kind of like backpacking except on a bicycle.

Get our bike touring gear checklist for a multi-day bikepacking trip, with info on bikes, seats, panniers, clothing, camping gear & more.

What kind of bicycle do you need for bike touring?

Touring bikes are specifically designed for long distance, weight-bearing riding. They have a longer wheelbase which provides more stability and comfort while carrying a load. They are usually equipped with stronger, 32 spoke rims to be able to handle the extra weight, whereas standard rims can break spokes or even crack when overloaded. Touring bikes also have numerous attachment points for racks, bags, fenders, and multiple water bottle cages.

When looking for a touring bike, think about whether you’ll be riding primarily on paved roads or whether you want the flexibility to be able to ride on dirt, gravel, and other surfaces. Road touring bikes tend to come with narrower tires for faster, smoother riding on pavement. But if you prefer versatility and comfort over speed, a wider tire with more grip is your best bet. The Surly Long Haul Trucker is one of the most popular road touring bikes out there, while the Surly Troll is a versatile option that can fit wider tires for off road touring.

If you don’t want to do a ton of research or piece a bike together on your own, visit your local bike shop and see if they can help you out. A good bike shop will have experienced staff members that can answer questions about bike touring and help you find the right bike touring gear. If you happen to be in San Diego, I highly recommend Adams Avenue Bicycles. We made lots of trips to the shop while prepping for our bike touring trip on the coast of France, and the guys there were always super helpful.

A Guide to Bicycle Parts for Bike Touring

Good quality tires are key for a smooth ride. For bike touring, you want a tire with high durability and puncture resistance to minimize your chances of having issues while you’re on the road.

As a rule of thumb, a wider tire generally makes for a more comfortable ride. A little bit of grip is helpful too so you can handle gravel and other off-road surfaces you might encounter. On the other hand, more volume and more grip mean a slower ride, so you want to find a balance that works for you.

Schwalbe Marathon Mondial tires are arguably the most used, most proven, and best all around touring tire and the ones I used when bike touring in Europe.