Ultralight Cycle Touring Guide


Ultralight Cycle Touring Guide
Ultralight Cycle Touring Guide – Now In Paperback! :-)

Ultralight Cycle-Touring Guide is crammed full of useful advice on the lightest equipment and the smartest weight saving techniques and strategies. It’s designed to enable anyone with a bike to simplify and streamline their setup so that they can enjoy the simple act of cycle-touring unburdened. 

There is nothing quite like a light, nimble and responsive bicycle for touring. With this book you’ll be able to go further, faster and cycle with greater ease, all without compromising on comfort. Some of the methods described are very extreme and will push you to your extreme minimum-weight limit!

I won’t be held responsible for any bikes that become airborne on windy days.

Available on Amazon


The pictures from the book are available in colour below.

34 thoughts on “Ultralight Cycle Touring Guide”

  1. Hello James,

    I bought the ebook and I liked it very much.
    May you tell us where have you improved this new printed edition?

    thank you


    1. Hi Dean, I had to unpublish the Kindle version of my book as Amazon had changed the terms of how they pay me so many times that by the end I realised I was only making a few pennies from each ‘sale’ or ‘borrow’, whilst they took a huge cut. I didn’t feel right to continue in that way.

      But the new paper version is much improved over the first edition and though I still don’t earn much from it, at least the money goes into printing and goes towards making a product that can shared, lent, sold on and circulated freely without any digital rights management.

      1. Thanks for reply I did subscribe to news letter but have not received my manual/book could you sort this out for me please thanks dean

  2. Please make sure to let us know when the new version of the book is out. I bought the first version but would like to read about your updated gear.

  3. best website for this on the web so far. My friend and I (both 17) are planning a tour from London to Hannover via Harwich and Rotterdam etc. We both have singlespeed bikes so no paniers etc. The budget has to be minimum and it sounds so much more fun doing ultralight because its a challenge.

    Could you detail what brand etc the compression bag and the big blue bag at the back is on your B-Twin perhaps? also what sleeping mat do you use as the only ones I know are absolutely massive!

    thanks so much really enlightening.

    Jorrit Donner

    1. Hi Jorrit,

      Thanks for your message. The compression sack I use now is a Sea To Summit, but almost any will do – if it’s durable enough, waterproof and the right size. The blue bag at the back is made by Alpkit and it’s very thin, it covers my sleeping bag’s compression sack, also made by Alpkit – it’s just for waterproofing though. You can actually get compression sacks that are waterproof themselves and so don’t need a cover – that would be my recommendation. I use one of those in my new setup. As for the sleeping mat, I have used an Aplkit Airo 120 in the past – they’re good for the price.

      An updated paper version of my book is about to be released on Amazon in the next few weeks, so perhaps for more details on all aspects of my kit and detailed breakdown of the setups (and far better and lighter setups) you’d like to check it out. Good luck with your trip, it’s a nice place to ride!

  4. Hi,
    very nice site! I have subscribed to the newsletter, but have not got the book/ manual on ultralight cycling -would you please send it to me? Thank you!

  5. Thanks for your book, I have taken away a few nice ideas.
    Ive been ultra light backpacking for 40years, sleeping behind hedges in one of those orange plastic bags in my teens as I cycled to the Cotswolds for the weekend, Cycling across NZ with heavy mountaineering gear to cycling round Northern Britain on my tri bike and a single pannier. Most recently across Europe with a BOB copy.
    Now my son has draggged me into the interesting world of bikepacking. Some of the modern tech has really added to the weight of our gear considerably, its harder to get it all in a small bag than ever.
    In particularly a phone, gps and e reader and charging system for when away from civilisation. Gizmos in general are heavy and power hungry.
    ive been thinking about one of the magneto charger systems ( not the old bottle dynamo) that attach to the wheel of the bike and generate power straight to the gadget. Any feedback?. Of course you can leave the bulky camera and use the phone for everything these days.
    It was all much easier when you could just write a post card once a week to say you where still alive and kicking.
    To those of use who have a cut down tooth brush, may the world still be our oyster for many years to come!

    1. Thanks Jane, great to hear you’ve had so many adventures and, by the sounds of it, plenty more to come! I agree that gadgets can be restrictively difficult to carry and maintain charged. The one comment I would have on the dynamo option is that every watt you generate comes from your legs – it will add resistance to your front wheel and slow you down, by how much, I don’t know. At least with solar that energy is coming from the sun, so you don’t have to pay for it with your own efforts. Though that only works with a limited amount of gadgetry and plenty of sunny days.

      On the plus side the dynamo is neatly built into the hub, tidy and secure, a solar charger, on the other hand, will need to be out and lying flat somewhere on the bike. Something that becomes very difficult the less you’re carrying and the less flat surfaces you have on the bike.

      I have to say, I’d be tempted to try a dynamo if those watts for gadgets became essential and if where I was cycling wasn’t expected to be very sunny.

      Happy travels with your son!

  6. This is an excellent book, and has give me some improvement ideas on my kit for an upcoming tour to Portugal from London. I would add that ‘propper’ tents are available lightet than the ones you have quoted. I have a Vuade Lizard GUL, this is a double skin and definately waterproof 3 season tent, weighing in at 670 grams including the bag. I am just trying to work out how to attach it to the underneath or my toptube with no additional baggage. Paul

    1. According to your web site, if I subscribe to the web site I’ll have access to the book or manual or something? Am I missing something? ‘Caaaauuuuse, I’m not finding it anywhere..

    2. Thanks Paul, I’m really pleased you liked it. Yes, tents move on so fast, thanks for the heads up as my partner and I will be in the market for a tent early next year so we’ll give the Vuades a good inspection. There are few treasures like a double skinned tent that can shake off the claws of gravity!

  7. One form of shelter missing here is a proper camping hammock. You already have the tarp component so the addition of the hammock is both light and compact.
    There are many types of hammock but my preference is for a Warbonnet Blackbird. It is way more comfortable than a tent or bivy. You don’t have to crawl around on the damp, uneven floor either.
    Research hammocks and you may never go back to a bivy again :)

    1. Hi Ian,

      Yes you’re right. A section on hammocks may have been a good idea. I have used hammocks in the past – the only reason I didn’t include it here is that they are very dependent on finding trees or other supports to hold them – and calm enough weather that you don’t swing about too much.

      Thanks for your comment.

    1. hello again , any one used the topeak roadie rack looks better than the seat stem rack they do . carrying a light tent though long…. don’t fancy a bivvy ….so tricky to attatch … planning in late June to st malo to nice solo … pre 50 th ! ferry booked , though not sorted the return yet undecided on train or plane ? any tips .. ? ttfn dan.

      1. I haven’t tried that one. Topeak is a good brand, and I have used their racks in the past, but by the looks of it I’d treat it very gently. Looks like it could wobble side to side due to it being an open triangle shape. Good luck on your ride Dan, it sounds great!

    2. Hi Dan, yes that’s right.

      In that paticular setup I take only MTB SPD shoes – you can walk a few miles in them without discomfort but in my book I talk about all the varying combinations and weight. I sometimes take other footwear if I’m going to be visiting cities that I’d like to walk around.

  8. James, great book with lots of interesting details. Having not used a knife as a can opener before, I was wondering if there was a reason you chose the Gerber LST 2.5 over the 2.0. From what I can tell the 2.5 is longer & heavier than the 2.0, but otherwise identical.


    1. Hi, thanks Mark.

      I think when you see the size of a 6cm blade it’s hard to imagine cutting up your vegetables and Chorizo with anything smaller. Though the 2.0 blade would still be an excellent and, as you say, lighter option, I’m not sure the few grams saved would be worth the hassle (in my opionion) of having such a small blade. It really is a very tiny knife.

  9. If you do decide you need a plate or bowl, I can highly recommend OriKaso ‘folding plastic’. I’ve used them loads when backpacking – the fact they fold flat takes up little room and makes cleaning a breeze. Superlight and durable. The folding cup is a winning party trick :)

    Pertex Sheild and Marmot Strata+ membranes are also some great new waterproof fabrics being made into ultralight jackets for alpinists and ultra-runners. My Marmot Essence is 156g! I think it’s incredible, and although less durable than my 420g eVent jacket will hold up well with careful use (especially with no backpack rubbing such as on the bike). Worth consideration for those gearing up minimally.

    ps. love the modified M17 – the best multitool just got even better!

    1. Hey twentyclicks, I took a look at those bowls and they look great – nice recommendation, thanks! and I’m glad you liked the multitool.

      I think I will have to update my book soon if fabric technology keeps racing forwards at this pace. I recently bought a Sportful Hot Pack Ultralight Jacket – 50g!! Great for light rain, dodgy weather and cycling specific too so it has back pouches.

      1. The Hot Pack is insane! My old montane featherlite smock has been one of the greatest pieces of outdoors gear (the old cut is a wind-catcher on the bike, they now have velo models)…although not perfect, a superlight windtop can provide function many times more than the tiny extra weight it adds.

  10. Many of us read kindle books on high resolution or retina display iPads, and such. So, I really wish you would reconsider having the photos IN the book. Thanks!

    Update: My bad! The photos in the kindle book are fine.

  11. Thanks James for your great book on ultralight cycling. It’s good to see many of the ultralight innovations from camping making bicycling easier as well. You mentioned some lightweight camp shoes in your book and I wanted to point you to the Mizuno Universe line. At 2.8 oz per shoe they don’t weigh much as a complement to a cleated cycling shoe. Of course as you point out online a flat combined with a decent sports shoe is even lighter and more workable for touring. Also for a tarp the ZPacks tarp is 105 gr or they’ll sell you a whole setup of bug netting, tarp, stakes, pole, bathtub groundsheet, and bag at 513 gr.

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Ultralight Cycle Touring and Fully Loaded Bicycle Travel