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What to pack to cycle the Badger Divide – and other tips

The route is rough in places so an off-road bike is vital.

The Badger Divide is a mostly off-road cycling route that links Inverness to Glasgow. It’s a beautiful cycle that is challenging in places and we suggest you take around five days to complete the 327km.

It’s important that you prepare well with adequate training, as well as packing the right kit.

The best way to enjoy cycling the Badger Divide in Scotland is to book a luggage transfer company and accommodation. By doing this, you only need carry a day pack for cycling each daily section. Highland Transfers can help you with a Badger Divide cycling package to suit your fitness level and aspirations.

We have compiled a list of items that you will need to carry daily, as well as a list of items for your overnight luggage.

Please do talk to us about supported cycling trips on the Badger Divide. We will meet you at regular intervals with a van so that you need to carry only the basic kit with you while cycling.

What will I need?: Day kit for cycling the Badger Divide

A mountain bike or a gravel bike make a good choice for the Badger's Divide.

What type of bicycle?

The Badger Divide is a mostly off-road route and the best bike will be a mountain bike (hard tail) or gravel bike. A full suspension mountain bike is also an option.

While there are some tarmac section, much of the route is gravel or rough tracks so the tyres need to offer good grip.

The weight of the bike will be another consideration. A lightweight bike will be easier to ride up the hills, although comfort is also important so you should plan to ride a bike that you are familiar with and one that is adjusted to fit yo.

You’ll want a good range of gears, especially easier gears for the hills. The aim will be to keep your pedal cadence high while cycling uphill.

Make sure your bike has been serviced before you start the Badger Divide route. Stopping to make adjustments to the mechanics of your bicycle will reduce the enjoyment of the adventure.

Wear comfortable cycling clothes, as well as a helmet.

Other essential Badger Divide bicycle gear

Helmet: Although not a legal requirement in the UK, most people wear a cycling helmet for protection in case they fall off their bike. It’s even more vital when riding on trails.

Puncture repair kit: This will depend on the type of tyres you have but most cyclists carry tyre levers, spare inner tubes, repair patches and glue, pump etc. If you are riding tubeless tyres, you’ll want repair slugs and a pump. As well as taking repair kit with you, you should know how to use it.

Bike multi-tool: This will be useful if need to tighten or adjust bolts and screws etc, or fix a bike chain. The tool should ideally have a chain breaker, too.

Bike chain repair link: Carrying a spare link can save you a lot of hassle – and walking – if your chain breaks.

Bike lock: This could be useful if you need to stop anywhere, such as to go into a shop or cafe.

What to wear while cycling the Badger Divide

What you choose to wear will be personal but make sure you have tested all your clothing before setting off for the trip. New clothing items may be uncomfortable, such as causing skin rubs, if you have not tested them first.

Baselayer: Many riders wear a thin short-sleeved baselayer that is good at allowing sweat to wick away, while still keeping them warm. Natural wools, such as merino, are a good choice.

Cycling jersey: A short-sleeved cycling jersey is practical and useful. Most are highly breathable and have useful rear pockets.

Softshell jersey or gilet: Scotland’s weather is changeable so it’s worth carrying an extra layer for keeping the wind off your torso. Also, when cycling uphill, you will quickly warm up but when riding downhill you’ll need an extra layer of warmth.

Waterproof cycling jacket: Pack, or wear, a lightweight and breathable waterproof jacket.

Arm sleeves: Another useful item to pack or stuff into a pocket are arm sleeves. Add them when you feel chilly or remove them when you warm up.

Headwear: A thin layer, such as a cycling beanie or buff, is very useful under a helmet, especially if you start early in the day when temperatures are low, or when it is windy. This will help to keep the wind out of your ears. A cycle cap under a helmet is useful for sunny days.

Cycling gloves: Wearing gloves will protect your hands when holding the handlebars for hours at a time – and they also protect skins and fingers from the cold or sunshine. Choose fingered gloves or fingerless cycling mitts, depending on the forecast conditions.

Cycle shorts or tights: Again, it will depend on the season and how cold you get. Choose between cycling shorts our tights, or wear cycle shorts and take leg warmers with you. Off-road riders tend to wear looser-fit cycling shorts compared to road cyclists but it’s up to you. The most important factor is padding to protect your butt from many hours in the saddle.

Cycling shoes: Many people will choose to have clip-in shoes and pedals, such as SPDs, for the Badger Divide. It’s a hilly route and wearing cleats shoes attached to the pedals will be an aid when riding the long or steep ascents. However, it’s personal preference and other riders will prefer to have flat pedals without being clipped in.

Socks: Some people wear cycling-specific socks, while others wear straightforward sports socks. You could also choose wear waterproof socks if you are worried about wet weather.

Bike shoe covers: If it’s going to be cold, wet or windy on the Badger Divide, it’s a good ides to protect your feet from the cold with over-shoes, for example, made of neoprene.

Make sure you have a means of navigation.

Other essential day cycling items

Map and compass: It’s really useful to have the day’s route loaded on to a GPS device, whether a bike gadget or a sports watch. Most watches and shoes also have a compass. Additionally, because you’ll be on trails and sometimes remote from roads, it’s a good idea to carry an actual map and compass.

Mobile phone: For making contact if needed and taking photos.

Small first aid kit: Including pain killers, blister plasters and antiseptic wipes.

Midge repellent: Smidge is a good choice. When cycling, Scotland's midges are unlikely to bother you, but they can sometimes be a menace when you stop for a breather or a bite to eat.

Other items: Sun cream, sunglasses, snacks/energy gels, water, cash/bank card, bike lights (if you plan to cycle long days), emergency foil blanket or bivvy bag.

How to carry your Badger Divide cycling kit

Many cyclists use a bike-packing bag fitted to the bike to carry all their kit and supplies for the day, although you could also carry a small rucksack.

It’s a good idea to pack your items in dry bags inside a bike-packing bag or rucksack, unless they are already waterproof.

Take a puncture repair kit – and know how to use it!

What else to pack for the Badger Divide: Overnight bag

The maximum weight for luggage transfers with Highland Transfers is 25kg. This should be more than enough for all your clothes and kit.

  • Spare cycling clothes, such as a couple of fresh baselayers or cycling jerseys

  • Spare cycling shorts

  • Several spare pairs of socks (although you might not need a change daily)

  • Underwear

  • Clothes and footwear for evenings (you won’t need many changes of clothing because you won’t be wearing these clothes for long each day!)

  • Toiletries

  • Nightwear

  • A book or Kindle

  • Chamois cream

  • Basic bike cleaning/maintenance items, such as chain lube

  • Spare bike items: Some cyclists pack a spare brake and derailleur cable, spoke wrench and spare spokes. This is a belt-and-braces approach in case you can't easily reach a bike shop.

Book your supported Badger Divide adventure

If you want to discuss a Badger Divide cycling holiday, please do give Highland Transfers a call. We can help with luggage transfer between your overnight accommodations, suggest the right accommodation and stops, and offer a wealth of tips about cycling the route.

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