Are you bringing the essential tools, parts and gadgets with you when you go head first into unknown territory? Or maybe you stay on the safe side and ride what you already know, but just like Gyro Gearloose, you love fixing sh*t and come up with solutions on the spot and never lets a derailed chain or dead spark plug ruin the day. Read on and I’ll share with you what I think your backpack should contain when you go riding.
People have very different outlooks on what’s necessary or relevant to bring when they head out for a ride. Some people carry no tools at all and just fill up their camelbag with (shitty) sugar drinks, while others carry a complete tool kit, spareparts, rope, machete and food for days. I think I’ve met them all. I personally tend to pack a heavier and more complete backpack than the average “group-rider” would do, and if I had 1 $ for all the people I’ve helped out (because they didn’t show up prepared) I’d probably have 27$. And I’d owe 8$.
A lot of people go riding on well-known trails week after week and while that’s all good, I’m just not one of them. I love to ride on my own, explore and get lost and that’s the reason why I bring more tools, safety equipment etc than the majority of the people I meet. Also my years working as a Track Manager in the wilderness of Romania, in the dense jungles of Brazil or the dry and unforgiving deserts of Peru has definitely taught me never to go riding expecting somebody else to save my sorry ass if I get in trouble.
So I posted a video the other day showing what I carry in my backpack at the moment as well as asking what people bring in theirs. Amongst the feedback, only one reply was truly new to me, which came from one of my spanish friends living on the Dominican Republic. He’s an experienced rider, has raced a bit of it all and at Dakar he learned that a folded up milk carton (Tetra Pak) is made of a very resilient material and serves very well for pouring liquids from one bike to another. So thanks for that tip Felipe Beltran! Everybody else (the few who actually replied to my request for inspiration) didn’t really surprise me much, all very logical and common.
So let’s jump into it. If you want what you’re about to read in a downloadable PDF with JUST the list, all I’m asking is that you subscribe to my newsletter (you can cancel anytime!) and you’ll automatically receive the PDF by email. It’s all set up and ready to go. It’s a really cool PDF and gives you a quick and easy overlook of my checklist from the local weekend group rider to the professional Track Managers like myself.
ORDER: FROM MOST IMPORTANT TO LESS IMPORTANT
Bringing a charged phone has got to be priority numero uno. Think about it; you’re (maybe) riding into unknown territory, far away from civilisation and anything can happen in any moment. Being able to call for help is key.
2. Basic tools
Try to be prepared to take care of yourself. If you have the basic tool kit that came with the bike, you should be able to fix 90% of all bike-issues on the spot. And if you add these items, you’re ready for the last 10% of issues you’ll encounter while riding/crashing:
- 14mm spanner
- Medium sized plier that can open up more than the one that comes with a “new bike tool kit”.
- An interchangeable screwdriver (Stanley has a good one)
- Pocket knife
- A multi tool. I used to have this one but unfortunately no idea where it is. It was awesome and I’ll get it again.
2-3 liters and preferably without sugar; those high’s and low’s will essentially do you no good. If the taste of fresh water bores you, then add some quality supplements (don’t drink energy drinks) or how about making your own energy-drink mix? Here’s a recipe that I will try next time I go riding and the internet has a million more. Oh and while zipping ice-cold water can be tempting at first, try to drink fridge-cold water at the coldest. Your body uses energy reheating the water; energy you could have spent pulling sweet wheelies. Apart from that, there’s plenty of other reasons to why you shouldn’t fall into the ice-cold water trap, check this article out.
You’re not going camping (or are you?) but you also don’t always know when you’ll be back. So try to bring a little slow-carb sandwich, some nuts and a couple pieces of fruit. Don’t stuff your face with gummibears and Snickers when you’re doing extreme sports. Ask yourself if you fill the best petrol on your bike or the worst, and you know where I’m going.
Very often, you’re not fixing your bike or saving the day by replacing a broken part. You’re saving the day because you’re creative, able to do a quick fix and make that bike roll again. So make sure you have: Zip/cable ties (don’t be cheap, get the good ones), a meter of plain wire, duct tape, electric tape, metal epoxy putty, fuses matching the ones on your bike and some electric cable to rewire or reenforce a loose connection. Also ALWAYS bring a rope or one part of a tie down. I’d recommend a tie down as the material is really strong and there’s already a hook, useful for many different situations, check out the end of this video to see why a Ratchet Tie Down is better than a rope.
One tip-over and your on the ground potentially with a broken part, so try to always bring a brake lever, clutch lever, brake pedal and gear shifter. Some bikes have good space under the seat or inside the airfilter box and some riders put their stuff in here. You CAN do that IF you tighten your parts or pouch so they don’t jump around or grind on top of wires or against any given element and cause quick wear. I personally carry everything in my backpack and only for a race would I relocate my parts and stuff them where-ever I can on the bike. Oh and if you’re riding a 2-stroke, don’t forget to bring an extra spark plug and try to keep in safe with a box like this one. Last but not least, depending on how far you’re away from your garage or how rocky the terrain is, but if you’re still riding with normal fragile tubes, then you should off course bring a 21″ with you as well as pump and 2 tire spoons. As a sidenote, I’m currently using the 7mm Lucioli Tubes, more about them another day.
You’re the Gyro Gearloose of Enduro and you like to fix shit on the spot and be independent. So bring with you a chain breaker but only if you’re also bringing an extra 2-4 masterlinks as well as a chain piece of 2-4 links. Make sure you’re bringing the ones that actually fit your specific chain (many fit the same, so don’t panic), otherwise, it might not fit and all the energy spend snapping the chain and getting ready to put the new masterlink or joint on will be wasted. Furthermore, do consider bringing the other part of the ratchet tie down. Why? Well, have you ever smashed your chain into a rock and the chain piles up by the front sprocket? If yes, then you know getting that sucker out again is a real mission. Check this video out to see why bringing a rope OR a ratchet tie down can save the day.
8. The explorer kit
If you’re like me and like to explore the world and ride where nobody else has been, then you have to bring a GPS, extra batteries, a lighter or matches and a Garmin inReach. InReach is a device that allows you to communicate with anyone anytime anywhere, no matter how deep the valley or high the mountain. It works of satellites, just like your GPS, so it’s a very useful tool (as long as it’s charged and you’ve paid your monthly subscription). Ohh and don’t forget your machete and handsaw, the folded up milk carton and if you have a special allergy or just don’t want medics to waste time finding out your blood type, you could carry one of these medical info bracelets with you. Last buy not least, find a quality water proof backpack with room for all the above-mentioned items as well an extra set of gloves, a dry inner-shirt and a light weight rain/wind jacket.
Last but not least, which is something I’ve never tried…But they say that you can fix a leaking radiator with black pepper.
That’s it guys! Let me know if I forgot something. I hope you learned a bit and if you sign up for my newsletter, you’ll automatically receive a welcome email with a compact PDF version of this post.
Thanks for reading!!
/ Peter Weiss /