Most of us regular mountain bikers have very similar items in our packs.  Whether the items are scattered on the bike (i.e. seat pack, or the new Specialize SWAT stuff), or like most of us, in our Camelbaks.  So what do most of us carry and why?  Well, the why typically comes from the experience of not having something we need, but just happened a good samaritan riding by had what we needed, and paid it forward.  So to the stuff that’s in my bag:

  1. Water – Duh?  The amount depends on a number of things, length of ride, how hot it is, and how your body processes the stuff.  My pack usually has gatorade in for instance. I’ve found that my body needs the salt and the calories when riding.  Some like plain water, others like low calorie electrolytes, like Nun packs…This is an entire blog by it’s self. My new Lobo came with a 3L bladder which I use on long rides.  For shorter rides, or where I know there are water stops, I usually only carry a 2L bladder. (Bladder not shown in pic).
  2. A good bike specific multi tool – A decent bike tool has all of the allen wrenches, star wrenches, a chain break tool, and most any other tool needed to tighten items on your bike.  Make sure you carry one for all of the different sized bolts for your bike.  Mine, for instance, didn’t have the large allen key I need for my cranks.  That is why there is one separate allen wrench in the picture.
  3. A spare chain speed link – Chains break and twist. Derailleurs break.  Make sure you have the proper one with you for the number of speeds your system is designed for (i.e. 9, 10, 11 speed).  Typically shortening a chain a few links will allow you to get out of the woods, but you may lose some of your bigger gears with a shorter chain.  Also, if you lose a derailleur, you can snap the chain and single speed out.  Maybe my next blog will be about hacks to get out of the woods?
  4. Spare tube / patch kit – I prefer a tube over a patch kit, especially since I run tubeless.  The tube is the easiest / fastest fix when you get a flat.  Patch kits are okay if you have tubes, but these can take some additional time while sitting on the edge of the trail.  As a FYI, they do make patch kits for tubeless setups now too, which apparently work pretty well, but I’ll stick with my tube.
  5. Spare Cleat bolt – My latest addition, after I lost one on the trail.  I was able to get out of the woods without it, but this is so small, why not carry it?
  6. Mini air pump – I prefer the old school hand pump over CO2.  This way I never run out of air.  If you carry CO2, you have to carry additional cartridges with you just in case…
  7. Gorrilla Tape – You know the saying:  If you can’t fix it, duct it.  Seriously useful stuff whether a temp fix, or a band aid.  I take about 4’ and wrap it around my pump handle.  See future hacks blog.  LOL
  8. Zip Ties – Yup the plastic electrical ties.  I’ve used these numerous times.  Hanging a derailer from a seat to get it out of the way after it broke, or to tie a cable back to the bike where the original wire hangers have broke.  I’ve seen people use them to hold a tire together after a sidewall split…Like Gorrilla tape, tons of uses.
  9. Old school multi tool – Not everyone carries this, but I’ve used one enough that I keep it in my bag.  I carry a leatherman supertool.  Between this and the bike tool, I can usually fix / break something more while on the side of the trail. 
  10. Park Tool Sidewall repair – This is basically a piece of plastic designed to stick to the inside of your tire’s sidewall to hold it together / patch the hole / rip to keep the tube inside.  If you have a creditcard, or dollar bill these can work in a pinch too, or even the gorrilla tape would work temporarily.  These are just more suited for this issue.
  11. Toilet Paper – It only takes one close call. (Currently not shown) LOL
  12. Tire Irons – To help get your tire off your rim.
  13. Food – See water.  You body needs fuel.  See my go to Cliff Shot Blocks in the pic.
  14. Chamois butter – Yup, a little dab will do it for you when you need it.  If you don’t know what this is, ask any rider who goes long distances…
  15. Money – Because you might run out of food and water and need to buy some during your ride, or you break down and need a cab.  Or you make a mid ride stop for beer and french fries.
  16. Salt / electrolyte pills – When I feel a cramp coming on these pills can help keep from cramping.  They also help you recover once you do.
  17. Soft cloth – I mainly use this as a dry wipe for my riding glasses when they fog up, but in an emergency it can be used for first aid as a bandage, a sling , etc.  
  18. Shock pump – Not an item you usually need but is a nice to have if it is ever needed.
  19. First aid kit – Something small is all that is needed.  A few bandages, some gauze, a couple of band aids.  See cloth and duct tape above (i.e. sling and tape).
  20. Mobile phone – always good for emergencies and can also be used to pin point your location with its built in gps.  Having that info is imperative to getting medical attention to you as fast as possible. (Not in pic, because it took the pic)

So these are the items I carry / should carry, from my lessons learned.  What did I miss?  Comment below.

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5 Responses to What’s in your Camel Back?

  • Kem

    Derailleur hanger!

    • While that is easier, you can create a single speed with what I have shown. Break the chain and zip tie derailer to seat…plus replacing a hanger on the trail usually requires tuning too…

  • USB battery charger. Some rides can take you deep in the woods.

  • Space blanket. They’re so light and can help warm and treat shock. Yep, used one for my buddy when he broke his leg.
    You can make fun of me for this one, whistle with compass and string, bought for the whistle.
    Extra small Allen wrench for brakes.
    Sunscreen, bug spay.
    Ones I agree with and carry: valve stem, zip ties, duct tape, TP; from experience, cleat bolts: hanger-for the right bike.
    Ones I’m working on remembering: tweezers to remove tic, money.
    What do we think of little light.

  • I would suggest you bring identification. Doesn’t matter whether it’s driver’s license, work is or medical card bracelet/necklace! Bring it for identification purposes.

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