A common question that I've seen from time to time is the question of how to effectively pack your gear so that you can find it on tour without needing to take absolutely everything of the bike.
I use a method that is also used by backpackers and canoeists as well as other cyclists.
What works for me is to have function specific saddlebags.
The left front saddlebag is the kitchen with food, meals, vitamins, first aid kit and medicine.
The right front saddlebag is the tool kit with tools, tire repair stuff, spare pedals, stove and cooking pot.
The left rear saddlebag is where my clothing, extra maps and spare tire goes along with some washing up stuff.
The right rear saddlebag carries my camping gear like the hammock, tarp, sleeping bag, rain gear, bug netting etc.
The handlebar bag holds items that I like to have close at hand like the map for the current area that I am cycling through, some snacks, my camera, my pocketmail device, my MP3 player, head lamp etc.
By using this packing strategy it makes it much, much easier to find things. Instead of needing to potentially look through all five bags for something I only need to look through one. One additional thing to notice in the picture of my bike is the special container on the right rear saddlebag. This container holds the therma-rest and if I used a tent then it would also easily hold the tent poles allowing me to keep the top of the rear rack relatively empty.
I should point out that I use the guideline somewhat loosely to help keep the weight balanced between the left and right bags. Towards the end of the tour I move things around a bit expecially the last few days as the amount of food I am carrying drops. Typically this is just a case of balancing things between the left and right front saddlebags.
There are other methods that people use for packing their gear. If you have an effective packing strategy of your own then please contact me and let me know about it so that I can add it to this page.
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