Cycling, Kit Guide

What to pack for a cycling holiday

28 Dec , 2017  

Comfort will make your cycling holiday all the more enjoyable – and to maintain the best support you’ll need the right clothing and kit. A Macs Adventure cycling holiday has the advantage of daily luggage transfer, so there is no need to worry about panniers or carrying all your equipment as you ride, but you should make sure that you pack all you need for daily bike rides. Remember, too, that your evenings and non-cycling days also require some careful packing considerations. For example, you might plan to do some walking, sightseeing and eating out so pack some casual clothes and one smart-ish outfit for meals out.

Taking your own bike

The question of whether to bring your own bike is a balance of cost and comfort. It will cost extra to transport the bike on a plane but knowing that your bike perfectly fits you offers excellent comfort when you’ll be riding for hours each day. If you choose to hire a bike, this will also be a cost consideration, but it might work out cheaper than packing and transporting your own bike. It is also worth considering the type of cycling holiday that you have booked. A full-on road cycling holiday may better suit your own bike, while bike hire could be a good option for a more leisurely cycle tour. Ask for advice when booking your holiday.

What to wear while cycling on holiday

Padded shorts, either tight-fitting or loose-style, are a must. If you can, pay more for high quality. You will need two pairs each, or one pair that you wash each night. (This will only work if the weather is warm enough to dry the shorts each night.) If you are a little self-conscious about your legs or you are worried that you’ll feel the wind-chill, take a pair of three-quarter length cycling tights with you, too. Choose bibbed shorts or waist shorts depending on your preference but remember that bibbed shorts will require you to strip off your top if you need to use the toilet! Good bike retailers will sell a range of styles and sizes to fit adults of all sizes.

Cycling tops could be short or long-sleeves (or a selection of) t-shirts and jerseys. Again, it’s comfort that you are looking for in your cycling tops. Choose sweat-wicking sports t-shirts or cycling-specific jerseys that are loose enough to allow your arms and shoulders freedom of movement, but not so baggy that the top is annoyingly flappy when cycling. Your cycle top should have a back that is long enough to cover your lower back to avoid windchill and sunburn while cycling.  Many people choose cycling jerseys with useful pockets in the back. Take a couple of tops and wash the one you’re not wearing. You’ll find many designs and styles on sale in all good bike shops.

Arm and leg warmers: These make great sense if you are unsure about the weather, or if you plan to start out early when the temperatures will be lower. The useful items of kit are perfect for any cycling trip that takes you into the mountains. Many people are surprised by how cold the mountain tops and descents can be and a pair of arm or legs warmers popped into your jersey pockets, and then worn when you feel the chill, can make a huge difference to comfort levels.

Cycling jackets: Depending on the expected weather conditions, you should pack a jacket that is waterproof, windproof or shower proof. Lightweight jackets should be small enough to fit into a jersey pocket or a small backpack.

Bike shoes: If you are cycling longer distances a pair of cycling shoes that clip into pedals will make a massive difference to your pedalling power. It is a good idea to practise cycling with cleats and pedals before you head off on holiday. If you are hiring a bike, you could bring your own pedals and bike shoes so that you know that you’ll be comfortable with the set-up.

Bike helmet: Most cycle tour companies insist on customers wearing a bike helmet – and these days, most cyclists know the safety benefits of a helmet. Bring your own for extra comfort or hire a helmet when you hire a bike.

Backpack: If you know that you’ll want to carry extra clothing, snacks, camera etc. it’s worth bringing a small rucksack. Make sure it is one that feels comfortable to ride with. A backpack that has a breakable back system will make sense in countries where you will become hot and sweaty while riding.

Water bottle: Most bikes have a bottle cage, or two, fitted so take advantage and bring a bike water bottle. Adequate hydration is vital on cycling holidays, especially in warmer countries.

Cycling gloves: Sweaty hands and holding on to the handlebars for days of riding mean that your hands will become sore and raw if you do not wear cycling gloves. The gloves also offer vital protection from the hot sun. Take a couple of pairs with you.

Buff: This useful item can be worn to protect your neck or head from sunburn, or for keeping your ears warm when starting out on a chillier morning.

Other essential cycle holiday kit

  • Sunscreen
  • Sun Glasses/Cycling Glasses
  • Waterproof clothing
  • High Visibility Vest
  • Energy gels or snacks
  • Sunglasses
  • Small first aid kit (if you won’t be given one when hiring your bike)
  • Chamois cream (or similar) for avoiding derriere rubs and sores
  • Small bikes spares, such as inner tubes, puncture repair kit and tools
  • Mobile phone
  • Maps

Extra cycling holiday kit

  • A speed and distance gadget
  • Handlebar mount for phone navigation
  • Refreshing shower gel for perking you up in the evening after a day of riding
  • Chamois cream for saddle comfort
  • Camera.
  • A small set of bike lights

For more information on what to take with you on your cycling holiday, or if you want to chat with one of our dedicated specialists about cycling, then don’t hesitate to get in touch at [email protected]

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A journalist, web copywriter blogger and social media chatterbox, Fiona combines her love of the outdoors – especially Scotland – with a diverse freelance work life. If she's not at her desk writing about the outdoors, she'll be outside cycling, running, kayaking, snowboarding and walking Munros. She shares her outdoors passion with partner, the G-Force. Sometimes her teenage daughter Little Miss Outdoors tags along, too.