What to bring on your cycling holiday

What you stow in your overnight bag is entirely up to you, but what should you keep close to hand on your cycling holiday or mountain biking adventure?

It's important to remember that the British weather can be extremely variable, so you must ensure you are properly prepared for every conceivable type of weather. Listed below are all the important things you should carry. A copy of this checklist is included in your Holiday Pack.

Cycling holiday kit list

Items to keep accessible

  • Holiday Pack
  • Tool kit
  • GPS and spare batteries
  • Waterproof day pack liner
  • Compass
  • Whistle and torch
  • Water bottle or hydration pack
  • Mobile phone
  • First aid kit and essential medication
  • Money in cash as well as card

Essential clothing

  • Waterproof jacket
  • Padded cycle shorts
  • Gloves
  • Sweat-wicking base layer
  • Warm mid layer
  • Warm hat
  • Helmet
  • Sunglasses

Optional extras

  • Phone card
  • Sandwich box
  • Sunscreen
  • Camera
  • Insect repellent
  • Bike lock

Additional clothing

  • Spare dry top for layering
  • Cycling shoes

Be sure to top up your water supplies at every opportunity, and keep snacks on hand to keep your energy levels high.

Choosing the right bicycle for your holiday: a picture of a bicycle equipped with panniers and a Contours Holidays map.

Choosing a bicycle

Contours Holidays do not provide bicycles for any of our cycling tours, so you’ll need to bring along your own. Your bike should be in good condition, and you should be familiar with how to service it along the way. Otherwise, we have a few pointers for bringing along the right type of bicycle for your holiday.

Road cycling tours

The majority of our road cycling routes can be undertaken on whatever bike you’d like, whether it’s the folding bicycle you originally bought to take on the train or the carbon race bike you’ve custom-built around a beautiful frame.

For our harder itineraries with long-mileage days, we recommend a full-size bicycle that’s comfortable enough for multiple consecutive hours of riding.

We advise against sticky off-road tyres on all of our road-focused cycling holidays.

Mountain bike holidays

A dedicated mountain bike is a necessity for our off-road cycling holidays. All our tours are cross-country styled, without major drops to contend with, so it’s up to you whether you want to invest in full suspension or a hardtail setup — you’re unlikely to test the limits of your suspension, unless of course you detour to Dyfi Bike Park near the end of the Trans Cambrian Way!

Carrying luggage

If you’ve opted to carry your own luggage, make sure your bicycle can support a set of panniers or a frame bag. These bike-mounted bags are still a great choice if Contours are carrying the bulk of your luggage. Even a light day pack will put unnecessary weight on your shoulders and might throw you off balance as you ride.

Tools for your cycling holiday: A hand tightens a bolt with a spanner

Your tool kit

On a long-distance cycling ride, you should expect your bicycle to need some minor repair work. Punctures are the most common problem you’ll face. We highly recommend practising changing an inner tube prior to your holiday.

Daily maintenance is also important for your safety and enjoyment. Take the time to give your bike a full service, plus a post-service test ride.

A basic repair kit is a necessity for your holiday, and you should add to it based on the length and remoteness of your route.


For the most likely and most fixable issues you might encounter on your holiday.

  • Tyre levers
  • Inner tube patching kit
  • Spare inner tubes
  • Pump, matching the valve type of your inner tube*
  • Chain breaker tool
  • Spare chain
  • Chain lube
  • Cable repair kit
  • Zip ties
  • Allen keys and torx keys
  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Adjustable spanner


For longer tours and more remote routes where a bike shop isn't readily accessible.

  • Tyre boot
  • Brake pads
  • Spare derailleur
  • For tubeless tyres, tubeless patch kit and spare valve
  • Spoke key
  • Spare spokes
  • Pedal spanner
  • Crank extractor
  • Cassette lockring tool

Your valves: Presta or Schrader?

There are two types of valve commonly seen on bicycle inner tubes: the stubbier Schrader valve you’ll also see on the tyres of your car, or the longer Presta valve.

Which is best is really down to personal preference, but make sure you know which type you’re using. Some bicycle pumps work only for one or the other, and garage forecourt air pumps require an adapter to work with Presta valves.

Presta and Schrader valves are not easily interchangeable without modifying your rims.