How to Pack Food in your Panniers on a Bicycle Tour

Over the years, I have come up with a few tips on how to pack food in your panniers on a bicycle tour, and here are a couple which I hope you might find useful on a cycling adventure of your own. Generally speaking, I use one of my front panniers for keeping my pan, stove and food in, as I like to have it all in one place. As I usually have a camp stove such as the MSR, the fuel canister is kept outside the pannier  in one of my bottle cages on the frame of the bike to prevent contamination.

How to Pack Food in your Panniers on a Bicycle Tour

Storing dry food

How to pack food in your panniers

How to pack food in your panniers on a bicycle tour – Storing dry foods.

Cyclists on any sort of self-supported long distance tour will soon have several regular staples of dry food they rely on, such as pasta, rice, and oats. These foods are perfect for the touring cyclist, as they provide a great nutrition to weight ratio, and are also pretty economical. Most of these products start life in a sealed bag which is bought from the shop, and after they are opened, are then placed in further bags to stop food falling into the panniers.

There are a couple of reasons cyclists do this – We are lazy, cheap, and like to cut down on weight! It’s all a bit of a false economy though, so instead, I got into the habit of using spare drinks bottles to store my dry food in. They are already waterproof, don’t weigh too much, and in the event that they are dropped, don’t open up and spill the contents everywhere. Rice and oats are the best things to store in drinks bottles, followed by spaghetti and pasta. Give it a try – You will wonder why you hadn’t done it before!


This might seem blindingly obvious, but as soon as you buy fresh eggs, boil them! I normally buy eggs only when I can take them back to my camp or hostel and boil them straight away, and they last several days like this. In some, but not all countries, you can buy half a dozen eggs in a cardboard container, which is the ideal way to keep the hard-boiled eggs safe when cycling. Failing that, wrap them up in some newspaper, and keep them in your camp stove.

Ziploc Bags

These are a great thing to have when thinking how to pack food in your panniers on a bicycle tour. I keep coffee, sugar, and powdered milk in separate ziploc bags, along with various other items from time to time such as red lentils. I will say though, that you do have to be careful when using them, as it only take a small tear in the side, and you suddenly have coffee all over the inside of the pannier! Standard practice would see me wrap up my ziploc bags in another carrier bag, or put them inside another form of lightweight container such as a powdered milk tub with lid. Whilst you may not be able to buy them in every country in the world, stocking up on ziploc bags before departing on a long distance bicycle tour is a sensible idea, as they weigh virtually nothing and can be kept at the bottom of a pannier until needed.

There are all sorts of tips on how to pack food in your panniers on a bicycle tour out there, but these are the main ones which have served me well. If you have any more, then please leave a comment below!



  1. Nice post! I also use reusable bags that most of the time I get for free when I buy spare parts for my bike or sometimes in the supermarket. I find them useful to have food inside, specially because I have ortlieb panniers which don’t have compartments, so having things inside this kind of bags helps maintain the order inside the pannier, also having the ziplocs inside the reusable bags protects them from any pointy element you may have inside the pannier that may damage the plastic and perfect sealing.

    Cheers man!

  2. paul Fowler says:

    Great suggestions Dave. One great idea I used when crossing Canada was to buy a packet of small Ziplock bags from the dollar store. I then made up a mixture of coffee, powdered milk and sugar for a one cup of coffee. With about 30 of these packets made up I was well set.

    Another crazy idea is it use the plastic bags that milk is sold in here in Canada. They are tough and just the right size for storing bike tools and spares in. Having a dozen spare ones with you is great for subdividing food or keeping toothpaste and brush in.

    Keeping the cost down is a priority for long distance cyclists. Wasting food is a no-no.

    Enjoy your blogs. Keep it up.
    Paul Fowler

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