Select touring gear wisely and you can also greatly alter the performance of the third “W”: wheels. For decades most bicycle tourists have overlooked careful gear selection and the use of high-performance racks and panniers as a critical step in setting up a touring bike. Consequently, when the combined weight of touring gear, racks and panniers adds up to 40 or 50 or 60 pounds, or even considerably more, cyclists sense a need to increase the weight, strength and durability of their wheels to support the added weight they must carry. I've often looked at such a practice as being entirely backwards and very shortsighted. By selecting touring gear carefully you can greatly reduce its weight and (negative) influence on the riding and handling characteristics of your touring bicycle. In the process, if you can minimize your gear substantially, you will be able to use lightweight, high-performance wheels that are designed to match your body weight and the conditions in which you ride, not to support unnecessary and excessive touring loads which greatly compound the demands and burdens of bicycle travel.
When you ride a bicycle, getting the weight of rims, tires, tubes and spokes in motion and maintaining that motion requires a lot of energy and effort that are likely to not be aware of. Choose your gear wisely, and select wheel components thoughtfully, and you will be able to significantly reduce your effort. You'll be doing yourself a great favor, especially when that effort is measured over long hours, days, weeks and months in long-distance travel.
One of the things that I've seen missing, or greatly diminished, for many over-burdened cyclists on bicycle tours, is the pure pleasure of riding a lightweight bicycle! Unfortunately, most touring cyclists travel in an highly encumbered way simply because they lack an understanding of what makes a touring bicycle perform well. A closer look at the 3 W's and the Advanced Touring Method can help you move toward a much higher level of fun and pleasure in bicycle touring.