How to Pack for the Michigander

Whether it’s your first time or fifth time, it’s always good to know how to pack for the Michigander. The weather in the middle of July is generally hot, with temperatures anywhere from mid-seventies to low nineties, but with the unpredictability of Michigan, sometimes you don’t know what to expect. One of our long-time Michigander volunteers has put together a a helpful video about what he packs to prepare for the Michigander as well as how to pack light and successfully keeping your bag under forty pounds, (the recommended weight limit for the trip).   Note that it is also perfectly acceptable to pack, two-medium sized bags to keep your pack light and easy to transport.

The number one priority is to keep everything dry. This includes the clothes you change into after a long day of biking, your towels and washcloths, as well as your dirty clothes. This prevents them from starting to smell or even growing mildew or mold from the hot, humid Michigan summer. If you’re dry, you’re comfortable, and comfort means a happy Michigander rider. In order to do this, our fellow Michigander recommends purchasing a water proof bag. He shows an example of one in the video. These can be purchased anywhere from $25 to $35 dollars at Moosejaw, REI, or a similar hiking/outdoor shop. He recommends packing an extra waterproof bag that you can roll up and place in the bottom of your first bag; this is for your dirty clothes as the week progresses, so you can separate them from your clean clothes. This will keep them fresh and clean and dry as it’s very nice to have clean clothes after a long day of riding.

Getting a good night’s sleep is another aspect of comfort on the Michigander. We recommend a light, inflatable sleeping pad. This is a great way to be comfortable and they’re easy to transport along with being lightweight. In terms of toiletries, the small travel sized amenities help save space.  Sunblock and bug spray is a must.

When it comes to a washcloth and towel, try not to pack your giant, fluffy beach towel. Bring a smaller, lighter sized towel for less hassle. After a week, your towel might start to smell and you don’t want that mixing in with your clean clothes. Our Michigander expert recommends buying a shammy towel. This is a great way to dry off quickly as well as wring out the water from wet clothes. Bring a clothesline and clothes pins to hang up your wet clothes at your campsite.

Additional items to pack are more plastic bags to separate dirty clothes from clean ones, dry wicking shirts, which help keep you dry and cool in the hot summer weather, and any former bike tour memorabilia or t-shirts. Not only is the Michigander a week long riding event, but it’s a social event, as well; fellow Michigander riders bond over shared experiences from previous tours and rides. If you can, pack a small tool kit in case you break down on the road; that way you don’t have to wait for someone to come along and help fix your bike. Sunglasses, earplugs (occasionally, you may unwittingly find yourself next to a heavy snorer) and cleaning wipes in case you get bike grease on your hands or simply for general spills. *Tip: good old fashioned SPF 30 or 40 also helps remove grease!

Your everyday riding pack should be light as well. Our Michigander expert likes Camelbak backpack as it’s light and allows storage for everything he needs during the day so there’s nothing extra hanging off his bike. He recommends packing water bottles (of course), a portable, lightweight pump for flat tires, your bike toolkit, gloves (potentially more than one pair in case they get wet or dirty throughout the day), bike headlights/taillights as it’s Michigan law to have lights on your bike while riding at night (in case you don’t make it to camp before sun sets). Be sure to pack a whistle or a bell or some kind of signaling device so other riders and cars know where you are if you plan on passing them. If you have specific riding shoes, pack a pair of sandals/shower shoes or another pair of shoes to wear off the bike.

Other tips to remember while preparing for the Michigander:

  • July is the busiest time for bike shops in Michigan. If you need a tune up on your bike, get there early, like May or June. Your bike might not be ready in time if you go a few days or even a week before you leave.
  • You MUST wear a helmet at ALL TIMES during the Michigander! Make sure you have one and one that fits comfortably on your head. If you are caught not wearing one, you could potentially be asked to leave for the rest of the duration of the trip.
  • Remember: YOU must carry your bag. There will be trucks bringing packs to each campsite each night and the first riders at camp unload, but you don’t want to be lugging a ninety pound bag back and forth between the truck and your campsite each night. Pack light.
  •  Stay well hydrated throughout the day and plan accordingly to the number of miles we ride. There will be designated rest stops approximately every 10 miles, but make sure you know your body’s needs as everyone is different. Always have enough water and food appropriate to what you think is right.

Check out the video for more tips and ideas of what and how to pack for the Michigander. There will also be a seminar given by Barry Culham, our Event Coordinator at the Michigander Expo taking place on Sunday, May 19 from 10 PM to 3 PM at Maybury State Park. Register now. Admission is FREE! A schedule of other seminars that will be available will be posted shortly.

Along with the Michigander Expo, we are offering two warm up rides this year. The first one is the Kal-Haven Trail Blazer and is coming up on Saturday, May 11th. If you attend both warm-up rides, you can get a free Michigander t-shirt when you sign up for Michigander bicycle tour! Register today!

We hope this helps you get a better grasp on what to pack for the Michigander and gets you excited for a fun-filled week of bike riding!


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