I recently had the fortune of going to Switzerland to visit with my friend in and around Bern. Using my friend’s place as a home base, we did several bike loops out of Bern, including a few train assisted sections and an overnight trip. There was also several miles of hiking and one day of kayaking down the river Aare. The weather was near perfect (end of May, beginning of June) and my friend was able to double as my translator and the itinerary was light on the touristy sightseeing. On my way back home through Chicago, my wife and kids picked me up and we spent a night downtown near the loop where we introduced the kids to the city before heading home.

In terms of packing, this was a bit of an oddity for me. Normally, I do a bike trip or an international trip, not both. Trying to pack light enough to carry-on internationally while being prepared for some serious biking made things a bit challenging. Thankfully, I would be renting a bike and borrowing a helmet, but there were still a couple things I needed to be happy and safe on the bike.

My Switzerland pack list items laid out for display

Though I packed a seat bag for my bike, when I arrived, I found out that my rental came with a handlebar bag. I ended up using this for every ride except for the overnight trip when I lended it to my friend for their bike and used my seat bag instead. I was impressed with the handlebar bag. If I had my own, it would pack a lot better for the trip while still providing the same amount of storage. Both are a pain to get snacks or a phone out while riding, but pair one with a top-tube “gas tank” bag or a fanny pack and it would do nicely for an overnight “credit-card tour.”

Originally I was going to bring my own saddle as well, but left it out at the last minute thinking that I would be able to ride whatever was provided. I ended up regretting that decision after the first day of riding. The stock saddle with the rental just didn’t align with my sit bones. Next time, I plan to get the measurements ahead of time and decide from there.

The co-MVPs of the trip were the “dance pants” I bought to work as wind pants and my bike mirror. In the evenings after the outdoor activities and when the temperature started to drop, these were my go-to lounge pants. They were also great to wear during laundry loads. The bike mirror just gave me more confidence biking on busy foreign roadways. I’ve had the mirror since 2012 and has been part of every bike trip since.

The letdown of the trip were my Inijini wool toe socks. I got them this past winter as a gift and I already have holes in both the big toes. Bummer. Thankfully, I didn’t have to rely on them too much.

There were still things I didn’t end up using. The third pair of underwear was probably overkill since I was mostly wearing running shorts and cycling bibs. The weather didn’t turn foul enough to make use of the insulated puff jacket or rain jacket. I ended up using my buff for all things bandana and I didn’t fill the collapsible water bottle the entire trip.

Usually I am pretty concerned about water availability which is why I brought the collapsible water bottle, however, there wasn’t a good way to carry it and most town centers I biked through had water troughs with a separated faucet dispensing a continuous flow of water. I borrowed a spare bike bottle from my friend and between that and my insulated mug had plenty of water throughout the trip. I didn’t have to buy bottled water the entire trip.

For future trips, I think I want to look into a new backpack, perhaps add a handlebar bag to my collection, better headphones, tougher socks and a coin purse for foreign currency.


  • The North Face Recon backpack
  • The North Face puff jacket
  • Xero Sandals
  • Outdoor Research Foray Jacket
  • Kleen Kanteen Insulated mug
  • Darn Tough wool hiking socks
  • Inijini wool socks (replaces Smartwool run socks (pictured))
  • Tolietries (allergy meds, toothpaste, tooth brush, soap, vitamins, pain meds, Nuun, Amazing Grass, beard comb, chapstick, floss, deodorant, hand sanitizer, toenail clippers)
  • Sawyer 32 oz with sport cap
  • hacky sack
  • Eagle Creek specter packing cube (medium)
  • Smartwool baselayer long sleeve
  • Smartwool baselayer tee
  • Columbia silver ridge shirt
  • Prana zion slim straight pant
  • plug to usb-a adapter
  • usb-a to lightning cord
  • headphone to lightning adapter
  • headphones (no mic)
  • usb-a to micro-usb
  • usb-a to usb-c
  • battery bank
  • blue ripstop bag
  • Topeak backloader 10L
  • kn95 masks
  • sink stop
  • sunglasses
  • padded bibs
  • padded bibs
  • running shorts
  • board shorts
  • passport
  • Apple iPhone SE 2022
  • wallet
  • Goorin Brothers hat
  • synthetic tee (sleep shirt)
  • synthetic underwear
  • synthetic underwear
  • synthetic underwear
  • sun sleeves
  • Keen cycling sandals with SPD cleats
  • Shimano MTB SPD pedals
  • Giro cycling gloves
  • Buff merino wool
  • bandana (swapped after photo)
  • Smartwool baselayer tee
  • mask
  • earplug pairs x 2
  • flashlight
  • bike light
  • bike mirror
  • Altra lone peak 4.5
  • dress shirt
  • Patagonia r1 hoodie zip
  • Ripstop dance pants (cheap wind pants)

Not pictured

  • scratch paper
  • pen
  • snacks
  • camp pillow (inflatable)
  • paper copies of docs