What to carry on a ride depends on your priorities, your ride length, the amount of ride support you’ll have and your own comfort level.  Whether you ride minimalist or with everything but the kitchen sink, there’s no shame in taking a page from the Boy Scouts and “be prepared”! Of course, it’s also helpful to know how to use the tools you’re carrying, but even if you don’t, that’s no reason not to have them, as someone else on the road might have the knowledge—if you have the gear.

Level I: Weight Weenie

You want the smallest, lightest, most compact bag possible.


  • A tire lever (or two)
  • Tube—out of box and tightly wrapped in saran wrap for ultimate shrinkage
  • Patch, glue and emery cloth—(essentially a patch kit without the box)
  • Cash (for food, bus fare or as an emergency tire boot)
  • CO2 & Inflator
  • I.D./Insurance card/debit card (Note: Debit card does not work as replacement for cash in a tire boot.)


Level II: Easy Rider

You ride solo a lot and are weary of getting stranded.


  • Duct tape (1 ft wrapped around a small piece of cardboard)
  • Tire boot
  • 1-2 more tire levers
  • Small multi tool
  • Presta-to-Schrader valve adapter
  • Pump (may be carried on bike or in pocket)


Level III: Not counting grams

You’d rather be safe than sorry.


  • Extra tube
  • Emergency energy gel or bar
  • A master link or replacement pin for chain repair
  • Tire Boot
  • Upgrade
  • Go to a bigger multi tool w/all the works


Level IV: Going the Distance

You’re in it for the long haul.

You’re randonneuring, have a really long commute or are doing a small solo tour. You’re not afraid of the weight, but weary of the cold dark rain. Your small seat pack has morphed into a carrier clamped to the seatpost. You are just short of actually having a rack installed on your bike.


  • Zip ties
  • Lights
  • Lightweight jacket/extra clothes
  • Emergency spoke replacement
  • Tire Boot
  • More extra food
  • Spare batteries
  • 4” crescent wrench
  • Anything else you don’t think you can live without


By Tori Bortman – Gracie’s Wrench, Portland, OR