Packing for Bike Touring in Korea

Some have asked how to pack for bike touring in Korea.  It’s based off my tour divide packing list and will work on any route in the world where resupply is not a huge issue — you need to be able to get food from restaurants.

  • The first axiom of packing for any tour — the less you bring the more comfortable you will be on your bike.
  • The second axiom of packing for any tour — the less you bring, the more awesome your bike can be.

I tour on a bike that weighs 26 pounds, fully loaded with my two person tent and bag.  It is a Felt Cyclocross bike so I can throw on nubby tires if I want to grind gravel and singletrack, or I can throw on some slicks and destroy mountain passes.  Compare this to a Koga touring bike that starts at 40 lbs— I live light.

  • UNU Ultrapak Tour 10000mAH Portable Charger — This is more expensive than other batteries out there – but it charges much faster, nearly 100% in an hour.  This means you can top off this battery during lunch and dinner and recharge your cellphone/gps/etc at a more leisurely rate.  It also supports passthrough charging, so you can charge this and two devices at the same time.
  • Tires — I recommend starting with a good quality set of tires.  I like the Continental Grand Prix 4000 S II as a balance between flat protection and still being a zippy, fun to ride tire.  For the ultimate in flat protection the Continental GatorSkin DuraSkin Tireworks well.  For those on Mountain bikes, going for the SCHWALBE Marathon Plus is a good options for various sizes.  In any case — carry at least one spare.
  • Tubes — bring two tubes at a minimum.  If you use rims that require longer valves — bring an extra valve extender or two.  They will allow you to pick up tubes along the way from shops or other cyclists.
  • Patch kit — I like a small, glueless kit to patch tubes that have minor damage.  The Lezyne Patch Kit is a great option as it will give a set of tire levers in a small package — otherwise their Lezyne Essential Patch Kit will just give the necessary materials for patching.
  • Repair tool — the key is that your multi-tool needs to have the tools needed to repair your bike.  I use the Lezyne V10 because it works for everything I need it to, the chain tool is compatible with my 11 speed chains, and it is tiny.
  • Pump — This is the hardest thing to find of quality in Korea — I’ve been using a Lezyne Road Drive (size medium) and it works well enough, but for longer tours I am willing to pay the weight penalty for the Lezyne Floor Drive HP (for road bikes) or for those with MTB: the high volume version.
  • Change of Clothes — additional set of cycling shorts and jersey.  I also bring a set of clothes to change into for sleep or doing laundry in.  I like wool arm and leg warmers rather than adding extra “warm” clothes for transitional seasons.  I also prefer to wear wool in the rain rather than a rain jacket — as usually the rain jacket will make me just as wet from sweat.
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect Repellent
  • Sun Sleeves
  • I bring two packets per day of hydration mix — Skratch Labs to be specific.  I will supplement with gatorade or whatever I find, but this is the stuff that really gets me through the rough parts without upsetting my stomach.
  • Finally, I like to put on aero bars, it gives a nice advantage in speed when there is wind, a way to get off your hands and bum, and I find it much easier to open food down in the aero bars.  Just note — never use aero bars when riding near/with/drafting someone.  No brakes on the bars means your reaction time is delayed.

My sleep system (if I am camping) consists of the following:

  • Thermarest Neoair Xlite — the best purchase I have ever made.  It packs to the size of a coke can and makes everything comfortable to sleep on, from cold to hot and rocks to pavers.  I would have considered this a waste when endurance racing, but it makes sleep so much better and is so small, it is impossible to pass up.
  • Zpacks Sleeping Bag — super light and small and very warm
  • Big Agnes Copper Spur line of tents — choose a size — freestanding (so you can pitch it in a gazebo if you want), light, with oodles of room
  • Zpacks Bivvy Sack — This is great for keeping the bugs off and splashes off when either under one of the many gazebos or under the tarp below.
  • Zpacks Tarp — use it to keep the big rain off, for shade, etc..

As far as carrying things:

  • Porcelain Rocket MCA on the handlebars for sleep system, electronics, and snacks.  Waterproof and light!
  • Porcelain Rocket Saddle Bag for all my clothes/etc…  Waterproof and Light, doesn’t create excess drag.

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