Packing Up to Ride: Stuff to bring on bike rides

It’s been a productive week for me!  Among many other chores, I finally got around to re-stocking my bike for the warm weather riding season.  So, I figured that I might as well be extra productive and write a post about the items that I find useful to have along while I’m out for a ride. I’m not a gear head – my goal is to keep this as simple and affordable as possible, while making sure that I have the stuff that I’m likely to need while out for a ride.

Bike Seat Bag

Bike seat bag packed up with all of the items mentioned in this post.


Seat Bag

My mainstay is a simple seat bag. I’m not looking to earn style points – I really just want something that will hold my stuff.  I’m not racing anyone, so I’m not at all concerned with weight of the bag.  However, since I often lock up my bike and leave it unattended when I meet up with friends for lunch and other social outings,  I really like having a quick-release,detachable bike bag, so that I can easily take the bag (and more importantly, the contents of the bag) with me.

Case in point, several years ago I went riding with an outdoor club group, and stopped for lunch in a trendy urban area.  We all locked up our bikes – however, when we came back from lunch, we found out that someone had rifled through the contents of all of the seat bags and stolen everything that might be any value whatsoever.  Urgh!

Stuff in the bag

  • Spare tube and tire irons:  Everyone should know how to change a bike tire! It’s really not that difficult, once you give it a try. If you ride enough, you’re eventually going to have a flat, so you might as well learn how to fix it. There are tons of videos on the web (such as this one) showing how to change a tire. Note: some people carry a patch kit – I don’t.  I prefer to just spend the $8 and replace the tube rather than fussing with patches, which probably won’t last as long as a new tube anyways.
  • Monster tool kit:  Ok, this is a little bit gear-head-like. But it has screwdriver and wrench attachments, which I’ve occasionally used for minor on-the-trail adjustments. Also, lots of accessories that I’ve never used, to be honest.
  • A bit of duct tape:  I wrap a little bit of duct tape around one of my tire irons. It’s good for short-term fixes such as smoothing over a sharp edge on the inside of a wheel rim or patching up holes in bike shorts.
  • Snack bar: Preferably something that isn’t too prone to melting.
  • Money:  I like to keep about $10 in my bike bag – an assortment of small bills and coins – just in case I get stuck somewhere and desperately need a snack or metro fare.  This amount fluctuates throughout the summer, since I tend to raid my bike bag when I’m short on cash and just haven’t made it over to an ATM.
  • Quart sized ziplock bag:  I don’t usually plan on riding in the rain; however, I’ve been caught in unexpected downpours enough times to really appreciate the extra layer of protection for the phone.  There are also all sorts of phone dry-bags out on the market, but ziplock bags have served me well enough.
  • Travel sized sunscreen
  • A couple of bandaids and neosporin:  Just in case.
  • Reflection:  If I know that I’m going to be out riding at night, I will pack a reflective vest to wear. As I wrote earlier, I’m definitely not going for style points!  But even for everyday riding, I like to bring along a reflective wrap thingie, just in case I end up out on the bike after dark. I also have lights on my bike.
  • Eye drops and extra contacts: Occasionally dust gets into my eyes during a ride.  Since I’m blind as a bat without my contacts, I like having backup lenses available.
  • Hand cleanser: Maybe a bit overly-fastidious on my part, but oftentimes the only options on the trail are grungy port-o-potties (or stepping off into the woods).  Enough said.


Bike supplies

Seat bag and standard supplies, unpacked.

This sounds like a lot, but all of these items fit into my seat bag, with a bit of room to spare for cell phone, house keys, and one or two more small items.  However, I definitely have to pare down the list for my road bike, which has a much smaller seat bag.

I also carry a bike pump, water bottles, and bring along bike locks there’s any chance that I’m going to stop somewhere and want to lock up the bike.  Am I missing anything?  What items are standard on your bike rides?

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