What stuff do we take with us on rides?

We all know the bare essentials that you’re supposed to take on any ride: pump, inner tube, multitool. But what sort of other stuff do experienced riders take out with them each and every ride?

We asked our Benji and Patrick to show us what was in their cycling ‘handbags’ and to give us a brief explanation as to why it’s there.

There’s nothing worse than having a ride ruined by a mechanical, well maybe running out of energy miles from home is a close second. Taking a few spares, minimum tools and some food with you should see you through several hours and keep you on the road should you have the aforementioned mechanicals.

Patrick’s road ride stuff

Here’s what I take on a ride, may seem like a lot but distributed properly it’s no bother and this is for long rides. Short blasts only requires the bare basics in the saddlepack, pump and phone.


In my seat pack

saddlebag LR

Spare tube – I tend to carry a long valve tube whether I need it or not and often end up swapping it on a run with someone who has a short valve for them to swap a long valve one again after the ride.

Tyre levers – Yes I know it’s pro not to use tyre levers but carry two regardless. Chances are you’ll puncture when you’re tired or it’s cold and wet so anything that makes getting the tyre of easier is fine by us.

Multi-tool – I like this compact version from Lezyne. It can be a bit fiddly but all the necessary allen key sizes and screwdriver blades are on it including a chain tool. I never used to carry a chain tool until I broke a chain in Mallorca 10km from the hotel and an hour before the transfer left. I have carried one ever since and happily have never had to use it.

Puncture repair kit – Even though I carry a spare tube or two, I always carry a puncture repair kit for extra back up. Although modern patch kits are tiny I still use the old school larger puncture repair kit as you get a range of patch sizes. I also keep a £10 note in there for emergencies and always forget about it which makes it feel like a bonus when I do need to use the patches in an emergency.

Power links – I carry a 10 speed power link for Shimano compatible chains as they weigh nothing and you just never know when you might need them….

In my jersey pockets

Most jerseys have three rear pockets and I have a system to what items go where so I know what has been used or is missing.

right pocket LR

Right hand pocket – Nutrition goes in this pocket. Standard fare is a banana, gel/blocks, and energy or cereal bar. Depending on the length of the ride it might involve more or less but for a longish ride this is what I would take, you can always take stuff home. Having them all in the same pocket lets you know what’s already been eaten when you’re spannered and can’t remember what happened 5 minutes ago!

middle pocket LR

Middle pocket – Phone for emergencies and pics of anything interesting, or Strava if I can be bothered. I carry my phone in a waterproof case which also has room for the money and bank cards if needed. I put a small note in here with my ICE (In Case of Emergencies) details visible also.

Mini pump, don’t leave home without this. It’s never going to be as good as a track pump but as long as it gets to a reasonable pressure without taking all day that’s fine. This tiny one doesn’t take up any space in the pocket either.

Depending on the weather I’ll carry a rain cape or gilet in the middle pocket, or end up putting it in there. They roll up small and putting them in the middle pocket keeps the bulk in the centre of the jersey, plus it looks more pro that way!

Left hand pocket

left pocket LR

Spare tube if it’s a longer than usual ride, again making sure the valve is long enough for the rims. Two may seem overkill but the minute you use your first one you’ll appreciate it. Coins – got to include the obligatory 20p in case you need to call home from a payphone even though you carry a mobile phone. Keys, unless the jersey has a zipped pocket somewhere else for them.

That means there’s always a bit of room in this pocket for gloves, arm/leg/knee warmers which may be taken off mid ride.

Benji’s mountain bike ride stuff

Most of this stuff has come about through experience. Bitter experience. Bitter experience of being stranded on desolate hillsides with a broken bike and having to trudge back to the car. I try not to pack the kitchen sink or worry too much about being to solve every eventuality.

In my Camelbak


It’s nice to go out knowing that you can deal with 99% of what could go wrong, yet I don’t want to weigh myself down too much either. This list no doubt looks comically huge to a minimalist road cyclist but I reckon it’s a good bunch of stuff borne from experience.


PhoneStrava. Instagram. I also load GPS files into it and use it for locating trails (that I’ve seen on Strava and Instagram). Oh and I suppose I could use it to ring someone in an emergency too. Bonus!

Puncture repair kit – I run tubeless tyres so puncture problems are few and far between these days thank goodness. But occasionally have to bung an inner tube if I tear a sidewall or somehow ‘burp’ all the pressure out of a tyre. When this happens I put my ‘essential’ spare inner tube in. I also carry a puncture repair kit just in case this inner tube gets a puncture (which is very likely as I forget to ride with not-pinch-flatting-a-tube in mind!). A repair kit also useful for helping out if anyone else has a puncture.

Tyre levers – I’m pretty good at getting tyres off with just my hands but levers make it easier. They’re also nice if your tyre’s covered in filth, which it usually is.

Chain tool – I’ve given up using chain tools that come on multi-tools. A dinky but separate chain tool is so much easier to use.

Powerlink – Or any easy-to-use chainlink thingy that works on 10 speed. Again, this is a bit belt-and-braces seeing as I’ve got the chain tool but a Powerlink can save the day. And it’s not exactly heavy to take along is it?

Shimano chain pins – Contained inside the puncture repair box. You shouldn’t re-join Shimano chains by re-using the existing pin. I’m running a Sram chain on my bike at the mo (that’s what it came with) so these aren’t useful on my bike! I’m mainly carrying them out of habit but you never know when someone might need one.

Spare disc brake pads – The only problem with the otherwise excellentness of disc brakes is that you can’t tell how your pads are doing. Well, until it’s too late.

Zip ties – Not pictured (they’re just stuffed in the bottom of the Camelbak). Everyone will experience a ride saved by zip ties.

Mini-pump – I really like mini pumps that have T-handles and the valve attachment on the end of a little hose. Scaled down track pumps that make inflating tyres so much easier. They also stop me damaging/bending my tubeless valves like I used to do with regular style mini pumps.

Shock pump – I don’t use this very often admittedly. Shocks don’t really lose air anymore. But occasionally a shock pump is useful for tweaking settings or adjusting for different terrain or fluctuations in my weight.

Eyewear – I don’t start a lot of rides wearing eyewear but I do end up finishing almost all my rides wearing them. I find it much easier to see what’s going on on descents when I’ve got my eyes protected from the wind and splat.

One disposable contact lens – Somehow I ended up with one spare contact lens from a box so I stashed it in my Camelbak. I’ve never had a contact lens fall out on a ride but, being blind as a bat, I’d be stuffed if it happened.

Energy gel – For emergency use only. (Yes, I have eaten the one in the pic on last night’s ride)

Extra layer – Either a gilet or a lightweight jacket. I live in the UK. There’s always chance of rain or a chilly wind. It’s also useful to have something extra to put on during pub stops.


Multi-tool – Missed out from the photo above because I forgot it was tucked away in the top pocket! A multi-tool with good range of Allen keys and a Philips head screwdriver laid out in a compact but useable way.

What I should take with me but don’t – Insulation tape. A First Aid kit.

What’s in YOUR handbag?

Is there anything that you take out on rides that Patrick or Benji don’t? Leave a comment below.


3 comments to “What stuff do we take with us on rides?”
  1. I have just ordered a new bike (my first CycloCross) and this very topic came to mind. I carry a spare tube, patch kit, multi tool, tire levers, and pump on every ride on my MTB just by virtue of the fact its always attached to the bike (saddle pack). I have been wondering through what else to add in there for the new bike. The chain related items are a great idea.

  2. My stash is commuting based and includes all the usual stuff mentioned plus extra tubes for different sized tyres (I alternate between three bikes, so i’ve got 25mm/38mm/29er tubes) because I tend to use the same bag, so I don’t have to think about which I need and you can always bodge a 25mm tube into a 38mm tyre just to get you home when you’ve just heard that third hissssss! I nearly always carry overshoes, ‘cos I hate trying to dry shoes. I’ve got a selection of shoe laces, zip ties, insulation tape and toe straps, strewn around in case anything needs securing. Vinyl gloves (my daughter is allergic to latex so they’re out), plus a rag or two and my newest addition, water shoes. These are a little bulky, but after getting that third puncture one night last winter, on a windy and very rainy day, having used up both my spare tubes and the patches not sticking, I then had a five mile walk home in SPuDs (I was away from a bus route, but couldn’t have taken my bike on anyway and there was no-one at home that could come and rescue me! Fortunately (or not) the rucksack I use is pretty big , so I now keep a pair of water shoes in the bottom, my reasoning being that I could at least walk home in a bit more comfort than clip clopping my way back. Might be overkill, but I just think of it as extra training when riding (I’m sure I’d fly if I could ever bring myself to ride unloaded). I think the only thing i can’t do whilst out is swap out a bottom bracket, pretty much everything else is covered, tool wise, I just think it’s best to be prepared, and I fear removing anything now because I know I would need it the day after it came out the bag.

  3. As a Trail Leader I tend to carry more than most to cater for other people’s breakdowns. On top of the usual stuff listed above I carry: Power-links to cover 7 to 9 speed chains, a spare rear Gear cable because you can use it for either end and for brakes too if need be, Cable ties are a must and a couple of the little Velcro ones too, a Petzl E+Lite because it’s tiny but powerful in case your front or back light packs up on a night ride or you’re unexpectedly benighted and a Leatherman Wave multitool which will fix almost anything enough to get off the hill. A final must for me as well as my first aid kit is a small can of Elastoplast spray plaster for patching up over zealous novices intent on breaking themselves. I’ve used it a few times to keep minor injuries clean until the end of a ride.

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