Must-Carry Bicycle Gear

Fletcher alum Charles Scott—a professional adventurer—shares his favorites for bike touring
Charles Scott and his daughter pose beside their bikes
Charles Scott and his daughter pause in their travels. Photo: Courtesy of Charles Scott
May 31, 2019

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Professional adventurer Charles Scott, F94, has cycled more than 7,000 miles with his two children across Japan, Iceland, Europe, and the United States, starting when his son was just eight. He also guides blind athletes in endurance events, writes books about his family expeditions, and leads inspirational workshops for executives.

We asked Scott to share his must-pack items for this summer’s excursion: a one-month bike tour through the Canadian Rockies with his twelve-year-old daughter.

  • Portable Bluetooth speaker. Music combats boredom on long rides and brings back memories—the soundtrack for the movie Spirit transports Scott to the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, while songs from Billy Elliot remind him of cycling in Japan.
  • Cleverhood rain capes. “If you stopped every time it rained, you’d get nowhere,” Scott said. These garments are designed to “keep most of the water off of you”—and the hood is big enough to cover a bike helmet.
  • Arkel panniers. Scott carries about seventy-five pounds of gear in two front panniers, two rear panniers, and a handlebar bag. Although they generally keep out water, he packs everything in Ziploc bags and layers rain covers over the panniers for good measure.
  • Journals and pens. Scott jots down funny things his kids say or epiphanies he has on the road in a notebook. Then at night or first thing in the morning, he writes longer observations. “This is part of the practice,” he said, “carving out space to reflect and distill the lessons learned.”
  • SteriPEN. “You can only carry so much water,” so this device comes in handy when Scott needs to sterilize stream water.
  • 24-ounce water bottles. Scott prefers stainless steel bottles over plastic, because they last longer and keep water cooler in the sun. He will carry three, his daughter two.
  • iPhone. Although Scott always brings paper maps, he usually checks his route via phone, which he also uses to take photos and videos.
  • Repair supplies. A patch kit, pump, spare tubes, spare spokes, oil, tools, and a rag are all worth their weight for quick fixes on the go. “Assume you’ll have flats,” he said, “and if you don’t, enjoy your good luck.”  

Heather Stephenson can be reached at heather.stephenson@tufts.edu.