Short ride long ride, you always need to take some gear with you.
Depending on how long I’m riding and where, I will tend to pack differently, usually risking a smaller carry for shorter rides. However, my hydration pack always has a set amount of gear in it. This has been refined and honed down over the years to what I deem to be “the bare essentials“.
This gear is always there so that I can just grab the pack and ride, knowing that everything I need to get back home in the case of a mechanical or emergency, is there. That being said, sometimes, even with the more comprehensive pack you can still get caught out (more on that later).
Recently more and more people (myself included) are trying to ride packless, not just because of #fullenduro but because it feels better. Your body feels less restricted, your cooler without the pack against you and you generally feel, freer.
But I still want to take gear with me when I ride packless, I try to make as few compromises as possible in terms of leaving gear at home. So I use a Race Face Rip Strip as a “hip belt” style carry, its basically a bumbag for the millennial generation of riders but it works and goes neatly under my riding jersey
I can only go packless if I take a water bottle, my hydration pack usually has about 2L of water in it. A bottle can’t carry that, but it is pretty easy to refill a bottle on longer rides. Riding snacks are easy to carry in a pack, when I’m using the Rip Strip I can usually jam a few gels in there and some bars and jelly babies in my pockets.
As for unexpected weather, I can fit a packa jac (a tiny packable rain jacket) into the bottom of my pack. Plenty of big names make them but the one I ride with most at the moment came from Aldi, the discount supermarket. When riding packless, I literally stuff this in my shorts pocket, it is so small that it disappears.
The spares I carry in both bags are a small selection that includes;
- Spare master link
- Spare Shimano joining pin
- Short length of chain
- Jockey wheel
- Mech Hanger
- Gear Cable
- 5M Bolt and Chain Ring bolt
Between these and the cable ties I’ve managed to get home from a lot of mechanicals, every spare in that bag is because of a past mechanical that I struggled to fix.
Why both the pump and the CO2 Inflator in my big carry and not the smaller lighter CO2 inflator in my small carry? I love CO2 carts, they are great when you are in a time sensitive situation, like a race. But they are wasteful and I don’t trust them. Once when riding down Clachnaben I got a rear puncture, no worries I have a tube and CO2, the cart was a dud. that was a long walk home, I have never trusted them as my only option since.
Not enough riders carry one of these with them, in mine I usually have;
- Fabric Plasters
- Fabric Tape
- Gauze Squares
- Disinfectant Wipes
Nothing major, just enough to stop some pedal strike and cut knees from bleeding too badly along with some vitamin I.
I have also taped and strapped additional spares like more tubes and CO2 carts to my saddle and frame. I find this fine for short term stowage and the odd ride, but that tubes don’t weather well when left taped to frames indefinitely with the riding conditions enjoyed here in Scotland. I have taken tubes left taped to saddles only to discover that they have developed small holes and need patching before I can fit them.
So here we have my big and little carries, what I bring, and how I carry those essentials that I just cannot ride without. I’m sure I have missed something and will no doubt find out soon enough.