We can’t wait for you to join us on this adventure of a lifetime. But first, you need to prep for your cycling holiday! That’s why we put together this comprehensive packing list of essentials for your upcoming trip, as well as a few tips to keep in mind as you get ready to experience the real Japan.
KeepINg in Mind as you Pack
TRAVEL LIGHT, TRAVEL FAR
Most travelers pack more than they will ever need. As a general guideline, the amount you bring on tour should fit into a carry-on suitcase + small backpack, and should weigh no more than 30 pounds (13 kg). If you plan to continue traveling after your cycling tour, and need additional clothing or accessories, most hotels and ryokans are happy to hold on to your luggage for a week or more while you are on the bike. We highly recommend sticking to the packing list below, making minor adjustments based on your own sensitivity to warm or cool weather. Laundry will be available every 2-3 days (depending on your tour) so 3 sets of athletic clothes will be sufficient for all guided group trips.
When cycling, the best way to make sure you’re ready for any weather is to bring layers that can be put on and taken off during the day as temperatures change. Clothing made from lightweight wool, cotton blend, nylon, TENCEL, etc, are great for comfort and moisture-wicking. A windbreaker or light shell is also useful for brisk mornings. We highly recommend padded cycling shorts, which make your days on the bike a lot more comfortable.
HELMET: Helmets are required for all riders, no exceptions. Since this is a piece of equipment that will be strapped to your head for hours at a time, and for consecutive days, we highly recommend guests bring their own helmets to maximize comfort. If you do not plan to bring a helmet with you to Japan, please let us know, and we’ll have one ready for you.
CLIP-IN CYCLING SHOES: Cycling shoes with cleats and clip-in pedals can be excellent for both comfort and performance. For riders who want to clip-in, we ask that you bring your pedals from home. Cycling shoes are not necessary, and our bikes will come with flat pedals for riders who do not want to clip in. For comfort, please make sure that your bike shoes have a stiff (and preferably, flat) sole.
GLOVES: Gloves provide much-needed padding for your hands and will prevent them from getting sore and tired as you ride. We highly recommend purchasing padded cycling gloves, either from your local bike shop, or once you arrive in Japan.
SADDLE: While most of our guests are happy with our bike set-up, including bike saddle, we know that some riders have particular needs when it comes to saddle fit. For these riders, we highly recommend bringing your trusty saddle from home. A happy pelvis makes a happy cyclist!
If you’ve been on cycling holidays in Europe or the Americas, you were probably asked to bring “smart-casual clothing” for dinner. Dinner attire is unique in Japan: all of our premium and luxury ryokans provide traditional yukata attire for men and women, which are typically worn by guests to dinner, breakfast, and the onsen baths. Unless you prefer to wear your own clothes, you do not need to bring any special attire for meals. This is why you won’t see it on our packing list below! In towns where there are many ryokans, you’ll often see locals wearing traditional yukata robes relaxing outside, or socializing with friends on an evening stroll. We highly recommend diving into Japanese culture, and doing just as the locals do!
Weather is extremely important to consider while packing for your cycling vacation. We want you to have the right gear when you need it most. At the same time, we understand that our guests come from all over the world, and are familiar with various climates. Our guests visiting from Los Angeles or Hong Kong will, no doubt, have a different idea of “chilly” than our guests coming from London or Toronto. Therefore, please check the weather of the region you’ll be visiting, and ask yourself how warm/cool or wet/dry this climate feels FOR YOU. Then, make personal adjustments to the packing list below, based on your own comfort and sensitivity.
Our team will passionately plead with the weather gods for tailwinds and favorable elements, but planning for inclement weather is key to making sure we can enjoy each moment cycling in Japan!
BASE PACKING LIST (APR-NOV TOURS)
- 3 pairs of cycling bibs or active shorts/pants
- 2 cycling jerseys or breathable shirts
- 3 pairs of athletic socks
- Bike helmet
- Bike gloves
- Windbreaker or rain jacket for on the bike
- Athletic/Walking shoes for off-bike adventures
- 1 lightweight shirt (short- or long-sleeve)
- 1 pair of walking shorts and/or pants
- 2 pairs of undergarments
- Toiletries & Medications
- Travel booking info for air, rail, etc
- Sun protection: hat, sunglasses
- Passport and photocopy
- Debit card and Yen
- Health/Travel Insurance info photocopy
- Electronic devices, chargers, and power adapter. Japan’s 2 prong plug will accept US electronics with 2 prongs.
COLD WEATHER ADD-ONS (NOV-APR TOURS)
- Insulating long-sleeve shirt for off the bike
- Synthetic or down jacket for off the bike
- Insulating hat or ear-cover/headband
- Long-fingered gloves
- booties or shoe covers for cycling shoes
- Arm warmers and leg warmers
- Consider full tights for pants if your legs tend to get cold
- Consider under layers and thicker cycling jackets if you tend to feel cold when riding
- Cycling clip-in shoes
- Cycling pedals
- Bike saddle
- Bike booties
- Small bag/backpack to use as a day pack
- GPS device and charger
- Portable battery for devices
Still haven’t confirmed your ticket to ride with Bike Tour Japan?