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What Do I Carry When Riding My Bicycle?

Last updated on January 6, 2012

I’ve occasionally had people ask me what I carry when riding my bicycle. They are usually wondering what sort of tools to get, what emergency supplies to bring, and things like that. Tonight I finally got around to documenting what I keep in my bag. This is not an exhaustive list of everything I ever carry, nor do I think it’s applicable to everyone else, but I hope it helps some people out with figuring out what they want to carry.

The contents listed here are what I normally carry in my bag, a Deuter Race Air Lite hydration pack, which I first saw my friend Erik using and found to be really nice when I checked them out at Trail’s Edge. In the ~1 year that I’ve been using this pack I’ve been quite happy with it, although I’m still tempted to replace the bite valve with a CamelBak Hydrolock and Big Bite Valve. It’s much nicer than the CamelBak M.U.L.E. that I had previously, most specifically because of the extra ventilation on the back. The bag, packed and ready to ride with, can be seen here: photo.

I’ve also got a Fox 40 Micro Safety pealess whistle attached to my shoulder strap (photo). After hearing this story about a local guy, Joe Foy (hodaddy), who got stuck in the woods while riding in the winter alone I realized that I should have an auxiliary way to call for help, and the whistle it is. After all, one can blow a whistle for a lot longer than they can yell.

So, what’s in the bag? While the foodstuffs vary as they get eaten all of this is pretty typical:

· Cable Ties (Thin/short and wide/long, 4 or so of each.)
· 2x Nitrile Gloves (Stuffed into a small plastic zip-top bag.)
· Crank Brothers multi-17 Tool
· Sawyer Maxi-Deet 100% DEET Insect Repellant (Only carried in the summer, applied only when I need to stop in bug-infested areas.)
· Crank Brothers power pump ultra High/Low Pressure Pump
· Clif Kid Zbar (Half normal Clif Bar size and much tastier.)
· Trader Joe’s Dried Fruit Bar (Like a gel, but almost better.)
· Replacement Derailleur Hanger (from / Wheels Manufacturing)
· Tire Patch Kit w/ Sandpaper Abrasive
· $20 Cash
· Spare SRAM PC-1 Links, 8 and 9-speed Quick Links
· Presta to Schrader Valve Adapter
· ProGold Pro Link Chain Lube
· 1x Pedro’s Tire Lever
· 1x Tube (Typically Kenda Super Lite 29 x 1.9/2.3.)
· 2x Clean, Old Cotton Socks (Tube packed in one, multi-tool and tire lever in another. Also useful as rags.)
· Olympus Stylus 850 SW Ruggedized Camera (Usually in a jersey pocket, but almost always with me.)
· Car Keys
· Wallet
· Gels (Clif Shot Gels are good, and the Litter Leash works. I’m also fond of Hammer Gel.)
· Cell Phone in Pelican 1015 Case (More Photos)

Except for the camera, phone, and wallet, all of this packs down into a space a bit larger than two fists. It all fits nicely into the bag and leaves me plenty of room to carry extra stuff. If I’m going on a longer ride I’ll also throw in some extra food, such as granola† or maybe a sandwich. Sometimes I’ll also toss a folding saw or jacket in the bag. If it’s night time it’ll also house the battery for my light and a hand-held flashlight, and if it’s winter I’ll also add some chemical warmers and a heavy pair of gloves.

There are a few changes that I should probably make:

· Replace the $20 bill with some change. Maybe 5x $1, 1x $5, and 1x $10, just to make things easier when stopping in an emergency.
· For winter riding add a mylar emergency blanket, candle, and matches.
· Get some alcohol prep pads. Useful for cleaning hands and other things.
· Get some gaffer tape and wrap a few turns around the pump handle.
· Get a Surly Toob, a 3.x” 26″ tube, or something appropriate for the Mukluk. Especially when doing longer, solo winter rides.
· Get a small amount of toilet paper and store it in a waterproof pouch. Perhaps one or two of the packs that come with MREs.

Trader Joe’s Oh My! Omega Trek Mix is my personal favorite. It’s all nuts, seeds, and berries and doesn’t result in my blood sugar crashing the way I do after a bunch of other more candy-like trail mixes. It also tastes really good when hot or cold.

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