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    What luggage should I use?  
    See also How should I pack?

As for finding your bag, well, you look and look and look and look and wonder why 100 other people have the same distinctive blue bag with red handles.


Luggage is reclaimed on the honor system. Mark your bags distinctively!. Double check that the number on it is your number (CO will give you these at check-in). In our group whoever gets in first gets all 3 bags. If you are getting in separately make sure you have a way to rendezvous - there will be a sea of tents, sometimes in more than one field. Ways to do this - note on bulletin board at Rider Services (note - there are two bulletin board locations, make sure you all use the same one), Team BB site(s) may be smaller and easier to find tents in, use a distinctive flag by your tent, etc...

Rox Heath

My husband and I have done this ride for several years. Keeps getting better! My advice for rectifying the bag search situation - Apply brightly colored duct tape to the ends of your bag, in original patterns. Then, when 2000 bags are stacked and you're walking up and down the aisles, you can easily spot yours. We've never searched for more than a couple minutes for ours. The tape really helps!

Katie Peters

I used duct tape to fasten D-rings to tent poles recently. The poles were in a shady location in an enclosed area where the temperature got up to the upper 90's. There was tension pulling sideways and the D-rings slid 3" leaving very sticky liquid trails.

The moral of the story: When it gets to the upper 90's in the shade the adhesive liquefies causing interesting effects. Who knows what it will do in the sunshine. Be careful marking luggage with it!

Rox Heath

As my wife likes to point out, your bag is one of *thousands* on the ride. Even if you're sure your bag is unique, you can bet you'll find dozens on your truck that look just like it after you've ridden 80 miles in 100 degree heat!

The *best* advice I can give on gear is to mark the narrow ends of your bag with colorful adhesive tape. Tying ribbons or streamers to the handles might seem like a good idea, until you find out that they stack the bags 4 and 5 high in 200 foot rows and ALL black bags look the same....

Ron Scheldrup

Ok. I'll clock in on pads and packing. You are allowed one piece of "luggage". Most bring a duffel bag of some sort. Tent, sleeping bag, clothes for cycling and after, clothes for cold, clothes for heat, supplies, toiletries, etc.. Think compact. Also, either you pay the local kids $1 to lug your bag to and from the trucks, or realize you have to schlep it yourself. Think compact. I still have trouble fitting it all in. I have a therma-rest and recommend it, too. One last (yeah, sure) word-- don't wait til the last night before departure for a trial packing job--it might not all fit in! (done that)

Amy Ream

You're only supposed to bring one bag weighing no more than 65 pounds per person. It doesn't really matter how big the bag is, but you'll have to plan on lugging it between the 5 or 6 big semi trucks and your campsite every morning and the other way every afternoon. There are always local high school kids who will cart your gear for a modest donation, but they're not always around when you need them – especially if you’ve got a really bulky bag – so plan wisely!

Ron Scheldrup

I bought mine out of the LL Bean Catalog 1-800-221-4221 or The capacity is 8,460 cu. in. 17"Hx36"Lx14 1/2 "D. The cost was $89.00 called the "Rolling Adventure Duffle" comes in various colors.

Barb Bergin

Okay this is my question. Am I a total CO dweeb if I bring a large rolling suitcase....instead of a duffle bag???? I don't really need another duffle bag but the ones I have are two small. A much wiser investment for me is one of those expandable huge suitcases on wheels.

Julie Kay

I think you'll regret that. Buy the biggest, cheapest duffel that you can find at an Army Surplus store, and a lot one dollar bills for the bag Sherpas.

Dana C. Ham

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This is good advice. Not only do you save yourself some aggravation at the end and beginning of each day, but the tips help the "Sherpas" purchase things like athletic uniforms and sporting equipment!! Definitely a worthy cause.

Leslie Howard

I have no problem paying the kids to haul my gear. I would do that even if it weren't going to a fundraising cause. I figure it's like tipping a bellhop. But maybe I'm missing something here... Why must it be a duffle bag? What is so very inconvenient about a large rolling rectangular suitcase?

Julie Kay

Large gaping non-rectangular holes. Gravel, sand, mud.

There are times where transport for me has meant balancing the bag on my shoulder and walking, sometimes that’s what the "sherpas" had to do. A large hard sided suitcase doesn't transport well that way. It'll take a machine or several laborers to move it in some situations. This is possible, but you might have to wait till they can provide you the needed resources.

I've seen riders transport the soft bags on their bike seat.

Also, the bag can be compressed down when you have removed bulk items like the tent, sleeping, bag, mattress, pillow, Encyclopedia Brittanica, etc. and not have to occupy half your tent.

Course if your tent is large enough, the suitcase can act as a coffee table. :-)

Don "A little paint, a few throw pillows and you've got something" Bolton

There really isn't anything "wrong" with using a suitcase. As for the "rolling" part, you probably won't get much benefit from that on this trip as the ground is usually too rough to roll anything on. Last year we took along a small folding hand-truck that we strapped to the outside of one of our duffles. I tried using it about three times before I gave up because it would tip over after about 20 ft. I think it would take something with at least 8" wheels to really roll effectively.

The "sherpas" usually use wheel-barrows or ATVs with trailers to haul luggage around. I concur with the popular opinion that using their services is the way to go. Just make sure you follow them to find out which of the half-dozen trucks your bag went into. It makes it much easier to find it in the afternoon. (Each truck usually has a big letter or number taped to the back door for easy identification.) A nice suitcase might get dinged or scratched a little bit in the process of truck loading/unloading and hauling, but probably no worse than what happens at an airport.

I can't remember seeing many (any) suitcases in the luggage piles in past years, but I'm sure there have been a few. You would at least be able to easily spot your luggage amongst all the others. (Of course for us, that isn't usually a problem, because we have this clever technique of arriving near the end of the day when most luggage has already been retrieved. Don't tell anybody our secret, though, or they'll all do it.-)

Whatever you bring, make sure you leave a little extra room in which to bring home souvenirs. We always look forward to picking up tee-shirts at each town we stop in. There is also usually a very nice souvenir sweat-shirt available at at least one of the stops.

Bob Heath

My first CO I used my sea bag (Navy term for duffle bag). It's a "top-loader" - not the best way to go I discovered, but it will work. Second CO I switched to a Zipper-along-the-top-side model about 42 inches long and 18 inches in diameter - had no trouble fitting everything I needed and it was much easier to load/unload. I would skip the wheels because of their small size and the possibilities of mud/soft dirt.


I have an Eagle Creek duffel with 6" wheels. It seems to work fine.

Dana C. Ham

One option that combines both a backpack and a duffel is to buy a duffel made by Flatland Mountainworks. They are extremely tough, come in two sizes (large and huge) and have a waste strap and shoulder straps for carrying like a backpack. You wouldn't want to carry it more than a couple hundred yards, but it's an improvement over the standard duffel. I bought mine at REI a couple of years ago and used it successfully on a ride similar to CO last year.

Tom Spille

Don't buy a cotton GI bag. They may not drop your bag in a puddle, but it might rain and the last thing you want is a cotton GI duffle bag soaking up the rain.

I've used an extra-large nylon duffle from REI for rides. The nylon isn't waterproof, but it is water-resistant, coated on the inside, not the outside. It would take a downpour or a soaking in a puddle for the inside to get too wet. Also, the bag has held up to the beating it gets.

The waterproof river bags are a good choice, but get the largest you can find if you go this way.

Whatever you decide, make sure that when you pack you wrap your clothes and sleeping bags in plastic garbage bags as one final defense against moisture. Also pack extra bags for those unforseen incidents.


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We each have one of those big colossal size duffels from Outdoor Products and they are super handy. Put your tent, sleeping bag, pillow, etc. in the middle. Anything not waterproof put in a garbage bag of the appropriate size. Put clothes, etc. in the appropriate size Ziplocs and into the ends. Bulky clothes put in a small duffel and then into a garbage bag and into the big duffel. You can also just put them straight into a garbage bag, but the small duffel keeps them neater. Throw in a few extra Ziplocs and garbage bags for accidents and purchases. If the day is predicted to be super, super rainy you might want to double bag the garbage bags. Make sure you take the necks of the garbage bags and twist them and then either use twist ties or just fold and pack them securely so they can't untwist. If you squeeze all the air out of the Ziplocs before packing them you can tell if they leak.

The outer bags got damp last year [CO 11], but the clothes stayed dry. So did the souvenir maps, etc. and paperbacks we had brought (Ziploced). BTW, it is not only rain that gets to your stuff, every morning everything is wet with dew, also.

With two of us we put the tent and camping gear in one bag and fill the rest of the room with clothes. The other bag is mostly clothing and a few miscellaneous items. This means that if you only get one bag at a time someone can get started setting up the tent while the second bag is retrieved. I can barely lift one of these bags, but the guys can manage. We generally pay the local people to haul our gear anyway. Why wear yourself out hauling gear when you can wear yourself out cycling, or dancing, or taking in the sights, or... This is a vacation!

It is better to have the bag too big rather than too small!

If you want to buy one of these colossal duffels do so soon - I went back to GI Joes for something last year about July and looked at duffels and they were sold out of the colossal size bags! Get the heavier duty "Carryall" rather than the "Deluxe". Gart Sports also has them. The colossal Outdoor Products bags are also available online at:

They say they have a lifetime guarantee. This could be handy because zippers wear out!

Rox Heath

I have found that these big duffel bags come in two weights of fabric. Make sure you get the heavy-duty stuff (Cordura, I think). Should be somewhat stiff compared to the lighter weight duffel bags. You might want to go to some place like GI Joes and compare the different weights of fabric on theirs to make sure other duffels you are considering are heavy duty. Also, check the zippers and seams wherever you get them.

Rox Heath

I know others have packed and unpacked in anxious preparation for next week. We've done a few week-long rides and we're using a Colossal Outdoor Brand bag for our camping gear. It's huge and holds our two big sleeping bags, tent, two stools, ground cloth and two Thermarests. We found it at GI Joes. It also seems heavy duty; it's not just light weight nylon.

Good Luck. I'm always amazed at how some seem to carry so little and seem well prepared. I'm one who is unable to pack light so the search for big bags always continues!

Ann (and Jim) Morrow

After 4 Cycle Oregons, I'm continually amazed at how few backpacks I see amidst the sea of duffel bags.

I always use my trusty Mountainsmith internal frame pack and - yes, I swear it - I strap my tent, sleeping bag & Thermarest to the outside of the pack. I've never had any problems with punctures, tears, dismemberment, etc...and some may find it hard to believe, but it's expensive backpacking gear that I value & take good care of.

I find it pretty darn convenient to just throw it on my back, hassle-free. OK, maybe a loud grunt lifting it after a particularly hard day...

The only downside is when I arrive in camp with my pals...I find I spend a fair amount of time waiting for them to first find their duffel bags (no matter how many colored tapes, ribbons etc, they use, my pack's just plain easier to find)... then I have to wait for them to recruit some sherpas to haul their duffels.

I'm really not interested in converting the masses to backpacks...I like & am amused by the ratio as it currently stands..., but for those who might want to consider another way, come on down!

Eric Stachon

[Written before CO 12 - ]

After hauling a large and unwieldy duffle bag on 8 Cycle Oregons, I've decided to try something different this year--a good-sized backpack. I've seen other riders doing it and I've always envied them.

I'm always exasperated at the difficulty of finding things in the duffle bag, especially with everything packed in plastic bags. They all look alike in the dark, and I'm always losing the little twisty ties in the tent.

My new backpack has nice neat sections; I only have to remember where I put what. And it will be much easier to carry. It has a place for my sleeping bag, and plenty of straps on the outside to attach tent, groundcloth, and Thermarest.

I travel fairly lightly, so it should work fine. I wouldn't recommend it if you simply have to have lots of stuff.

Susan Christie

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[Written after CO 12 - ]

I just remembered that I said (before Cycle Oregon [12]) that I would report on how well backpacks worked for us this trip.

Matt and I were both very pleased with the arrangement. It was a great relief to have everything in its place in all the pockets and not have to root around in a huge duffel bag searching for things. And carrying the packs to and from the trucks was a snap!

Our packs have compartments for sleeping bags and ours fit just fine in their stuff sacks. We strapped the tent, our Thermarest pads, and the groundcloths on the outside of the packs. We rolled those items in heavy trash compactor bags to protect them from wet, dust, sharp objects on other bags, etc. Everything was tight and secure. We put all our clothes in plastic bags inside the packs, as usual.

The only disadvantage was that we couldn't take as much, so we had to do laundry a couple of times.

I can now fully recommend this style of packing for anyone who is comfortable traveling fairly lightly.

Susan Christie

[For more details see The Minima-List.]

Debi asks, in reference to our use of backpacks on CO XII:

>>What did you strap the tent & sleeping bags on with? Did you send this back on an airplane? I'm just wondering how it would fare with baggage handlers in an airport. I've so far borrowed cavernous duffel bags, and I've been trying to decide what to purchase for my own.<<

The sleeping bag fit in its own zippered compartment. The backpack has very secure and rugged straps intended for attaching things on the outside, so it was easy to strap on the sleeping pads, tent, and groundcloths.

We didn't send it on an airplane, though. We drove to LaGrande from Corvallis, so that part was not an issue. I think our load would have been secure enough for a plane, but that we have yet to try!

Susan Christie

I was told by a multi-timer CO-er that a backpack was a preferable way to go instead of duffel. He said it was much easier to carry from campsites, etc.

Anyone have comments - all I hear is talk of duffel bags.

First time CO-er Barry Wald

This is just my 2 cents - backpacks are smaller than duffel bags, they're also a bit more pricey than your average duffel - not normally a big deal, but the first time you see your REI Hypertanium backpack laying in a cowpie, you'll appreciate the simplicity of a disposable duffle... :o)

I always get the biggest one you can find - they actually work like a backpack - if they're big enough - you just slip the two handles over your shoulders and waddle off to an empty stretch of grass.

Ken Cregger

How much stuff ya got? Will it fit in a backpack? Take it out, open things up, shuffle things, then put it back.. Does it still fit? If so then yes the backpack is easier to carry for sure.

With the duffel however everything stores inside the bag (less possibility the tent accidentally ends up elsewhere) and the cost of the duffel is a considerably lower :-)
I've even seen plastic trash cans lashed on hand trucks used.

Don "the main thing is that you are comfortable" Bolton

Last year I got a 10000 cu. in. one at GI Joes and finally didn't sweat to close the zipper.

Amy-packs heavy-Ream

I agree that a backpack would be easier to carry, but can you find a backpack big enough for all of this stuff??? I know that the last three years, I have had a huge giant duffel crammed full, sleeping bag, tent, Thermarest, plus 7 days of clean clothes for all kinds of weather, usually about 60 pounds of stuff!! I haven't found an affordable back pack that large!

JIM [Louis]

This is the bag that I took last year. It has the Cubic Inches I needed (and you probably will, too!)    [Original link no longer exists - this links to the home page.]

Don't get anything less than 8000 cu in., in my opinion!

Stace Gray

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I purchased an XL duffel bag made of nylon reinforced PVC. It's 15"x18"x48" (approx. 13,000sq. in.) and is sold by Cabelas ($69.99). It even comes with its own patch kit.

Here's the link: The bag is waterproof, however the zipper is not (their disclaimer).

I will be adding a few compression straps to the outside, to keep the handles from getting entangled in everybody else's bags.

I figure that if I cannot get everything into THIS bag, then "maybe" it means I'm taking too much stuff... (naw, I just have to get a bigger bag)

Hope that helps.

I just got one of these (blue). Wow! Thanks for the link. Now I can take it all!

Jon Balgley

Glad the link helped, just make sure you don't grab mine, I also bought the blue one :-)

I had a horrendous time [last year] looking for a PVC bag that was large enough to accommodate "taking it all". I ended up getting a nylon/canvas bag that was only 10,000sq. in. and I had a tough time re-packing & closing it every morning. In fact, I mailed some stuff home while in Bend just so I didn't have to wrestle with it everyday.

No such worries this year, I'm bringing the Jacuzzi!

See you in Prairie City.

Jon and Richard,

There will be at least three blue bags out there. Must be a pretty darn popular color. Hope there aren't much more. I'll make sure and 'tag' mine with a bright strap or something.

Hope to meet you all soon,
Jason Bouwman

Oh, Jason! You don't know the half of it! There will be hundreds of blue bags. Be certain to remember the number of the truck yours goes on – and mark your bag unusually. Happy Hunting!


Thanks for the advice. I've been on CO twice before and seem to have a knack for picking popular colors. I always put something on my bag to make it distinct in the sea of baggage. I generally also remember the truck number however my bag once ended up behind a different truck. Maybe my uncle played a trick on me?!? :)

Jason Bouwman

For the last three years, I've knotted a bright necktie to each end of my bag (a simple Lark's Head will do, four-in-hand or Windsor knots not required). The gaudier and uglier the better, but you don't own any like that, do you?

Anyway, even though my bag is pretty big, it would still end up completely buried at times. I couldn't see any of the fabric of the bag sticking out at all. However, one of those necktie ends would almost always be visible somewhere... I'd just grab it and follow it to its source.

I've had numerous comments on the idea, but so far, nobody's copied it that I've seen.

I thought it would be a no-fail way to get help from others pawing through the bag piles, and it usually is. I'd just say "Holler if you see a necktie" and someone would frequently find it before I did. However, one afternoon there was a sole local kid offering help finding bags and porter service. I asked him to keep an eye open for a bag with neckties hanging off of it. I got a blank stare. "It's a green bag with one blue and one red necktie, both are striped." He looked puzzled again and asked "What's a necktie?" Now, I was stumped, so I repeated myself slowly and politely, just in case I hadn't spoken clearly before. It didn't work. A clean-cut kid in Elsewhere, Oregon (I can't remember where we were) who's never seen a necktie? Never worn one to church? Or a wedding? Or knew anyone who had? Not even a clip-on? Nope. I tried to describe it and failed. When you think about it, ties are pretty goofy things to wear, so I guess it really didn't make much sense to him. I gave up and asked him to call for me if he saw anything that looked like strips of ribbon. I found the bag myself and wanted to show the kid, but he was gone by then.

I wonder if he's seen one yet?

Scott Saulsbury

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I created a stencil of a kitty and sprayed it on my bag in Industrial Orange. Works pretty well...

Oh, if your bag has a zipper, you should definitely consider nylon straps to secure it. It's saved my bag from exploding under the delicate care of Feral Excess baggage handlers for both of the last two years.

Jason Penney

My experience last year at the end of day one is to find my brand new duffel bag with wheels, with one wheel broke off since it must have been thrown from the semi and landed on the wheel.

Now I highly recommend avoiding duffel bags with wheels! Wheels weren’t such a great idea!

Nanette "experience is the best teacher" Hoheisel

I purchased a heavy duty, water proof duffel bag that is equipped with padded back pack straps as well as the normal handles. It is made by North Face, although I saw some other brands that had the back pack straps. I figure I will be using it for years to come. I was hoping the back pack straps would come in handy for transporting each day. Guess we shall see.


Did last year see any increase in the number of roll-around trash cans as luggage?


Yes there were a few more. It interests me as a waterproof container it be. But I remember as a kid hauling out the trash and all the manhandling of the barrels that took (PAIN BAD). I've several wheeled units here for yard debris and am constantly remounting wheels that fall off so I go back to the image of trying to harf a 50 lb can on my shoulder. NAH!

Don "Sticking with soft sided luggage" Bolton

No, I do not think so. I did see what one looked like when it ended up on the very bottom of the truck and then got dropped out. It was not a pretty sight.

Geri Bossen

It may be a little late to get one, but I'll be taking my canoeing Duluth Pack. These are large, single-compartment packs with shoulder straps designed for portaging the pack (and canoe) relatively short distances. Though I've not been on a CO, I'm pretty sure I'll find it perfect.

Inside the pack, I stuff up to three waterproof, cylindrical stuff sacks. One contains my sleeping bag plus assorted additional clothing. Another contains tent plus more clothing. The third contains "leftovers."

There is additional room for more gear. Also, you can get plastic pack liners instead of the stuff sacks. For a trip like this, I'd use a liner (since I don't expect to capsize in a river), except that I already have the stuff sacks.

Michael G.

"Capsize in a river" No. But you bag will get dumped in a field possibly hours before you get to retrieve it. During that time your bag will relocate some as it gets moved so people can get theirs. If its raining IT WILL WICK THROUGH and the stuff inside will be wet.

I pulled into Yachats on X to find the content of my bag all clammy and wet. Fortunately I had a hotel room and fresh clothes there. Had that been mid tour it would have been ugly.

Don "land ho" Bolton

True. But the plastic liners are just fine for rain, puddles, etc. They just aren't proof against complete submersion.

The ultra-paranoid can use Ziplocs(tm) in addition to the liners or use the stuff sacks.

Michael "Cry me a river" G.

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  Page Last Updated: Jan. 20, 2003  
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