The Best Things To Carry On Every Ride in 2021
It’s weird how a year ago feels like a lifetime. In April of 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic, I wrote an article about the pieces I carry on every ride. I called it the Everyday Carry Bike Repair Toolkit but it was really more than that. A more accurate description is “What To Carry On Every Ride.”
It’s not just about flat repair it’s about being self-sufficient. I don’t try to cover every scenario but I do try to be reasonably prepared for a wide range of possible needs. These are the items that help me to be self-sufficient and make it home under my own power. It’s also a discussion of how I organize. A year later it’s time to revisit the discussion.
The items I carry on every ride are never fixed. There is no definitive kit that never changes. Many of the basics are the same but I’ve found ways to be more space efficient and I’ve added items based on changing needs. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the best things to carry on every ride in 2021.
Rapha Rainproof Essentials Case
I don’t like having “luggage” on my road bikes. It’s kind of a silly thing but I just love the lines of a beautiful road bike. Adding a bag to that seems like a shame. I’ve also had bags destroy my bib shorts once or twice because the hook and loop that attaches the bag to the saddle rubs. There are certainly saddle bags that would address both issues but for me I prefer to keep things in my jersey pocket. To make that work I use a Rapha rainproof essentials case.
The case is waterproof but is otherwise a simple design. There are a variety of colors and they rotate from season to season. Keep a close eye on the site and you can often score a great deal as the colors shift for the next seasons offerings.
Inside the colorful outer there is a single large packet flanked by two smaller sections on either side. One side has a small zippered pocket and the other side has a soft divider. The larger size case isn’t huge but there’s enough room for everything I need.
Bontrager Pro Ride Wallet Plus
I don’t store my phone in the Rapha bag. It would fit but given the other items in my bag it wouldn’t be the safest option. Sometimes the phone just sits in my jersey pocket but if there’s rain, or even in the summer heat, it can be good to put your phone into something.
For many people the obvious answer to what to use for phone protection while cycling is a simple zip-top bag. They don’t cost much and you’ve probably got one around. The first time you snag an expensive jersey on the corner you might want to reconsider that suggestion. It won’t happen with every bag and jersey combination but it can happen.
The Bontrager Pro Ride Wallet Plus solves the problem and it’s not an expensive solution. With a price of less than $20 it’s one of those why not purchases. It’ll last forever, there’s space for identification and a credit card, and it’s easy to close. Most importantly though, it works.
Topeak Roadie DA Mini Pump with Gauge
Getting a flat tire isn’t fun. Even less fun is using a mini pump. None of them are all that great after the initial few pumps. Anything over around 35 psi starts to feel like you must be getting close to fully pumped up right? Then you go back and forth squeezing the side of both tires and trying to compare the pressure and figure out if you’ve got enough air in yet. Instead of all that grab the Topeak Roadie DA pump with gauge.
Let me be very clear that you are not going to be super precise with the gauge. It’s tiny and although it seems to be accurate it’s not exactly easy to read. That’s okay though, if you need to be more precise there are other options. What is great about this pump though is that you’ll have an idea of where you are. It might not be perfect but it’s close enough to finish the ride.
The DA part of the name is the other nice thing about this pump. DA stands for dual action. Doesn’t matter which direction you are pumping there is air going into the tire. Even though this is a very small pump it’s as effective as something larger.
Fix It Sticks Ratcheting T Wrench
Mini tools are one of those things I look at constantly. There are so many choices and so many shapes that it’s completely overwhelming. At the same time, it feels like they always include tons of things I’m never going to use. Oh, and they tend to be heavy, expensive, and not so easy to use.
The Fix It Sticks Ratcheting stands out among the crowd for its usability and simplicity. Instead of trying to solve every problem and include every tool Fix It Sticks provides a platform. The platform is space efficient and it focuses on what makes a usable tool. It feels good in your hand and it’s completely solid. Magnetic holders on all three ends accept any standard 1/4″ bit so grab an inexpensive set and bring only what you want to.
Dynaplug Racer Tire Repair Tool
If you haven’t switched to tubeless, it’s time. The switch is not painless however running low pressure and never needing to worry about pinch flats is a big bonus. The other big bonus is getting a flat and never even knowing you had it. That doesn’t always happen though. Tubeless sealant is fickle and there are times when a small cut, that seems like it should be an easy job for the sealant, continues to leak.
In situations like this all is not lost and tubeless can still be awesome. Pull out a Dynaplug Racer kit, pull off the end, and jab it into the tire. The plug stays in the tire and, hopefully, you have a sealed tire. Do it all fast enough and you might not even have to add any air. The Racer, and the new Racer Pro, are the smallest and lightest but if you feel like you want more chances to repair a flat Dynaplug has other options.
Tubolito Lightweight Bike Inner Tube
In the time I’ve ridden tubeless tires I’ve never been in a situation beyond the capabilities of a Dynaplug repair. That’s great but one of the best things about tubeless tires is that they add extra layers of repairability. If you manage to end up in a situation where you can’t get the tire to seal again then you can always swap in a tube. It seems like a shame to carry a large tube around and never use it.
The solution comes in the form of a Tubolito Lightweight Bike Inner Tube. You might check the price and shake your head but this isn’t an everyday tube. When you only need an emergency tube it’s likely you’ll have the same backup for years. In that light the convenience of the Tubolito makes more sense compared to the price. I personally run deep wheels and need an 80mm stem but whatever kind of wheel you have there’s an option available.
Tubolito Patch Kit
Let’s say you are having the worst tire luck ever. You’ve already failed to repair your tubeless tires and had to put a tube in. Now you find yourself with another flat and you’ve still got miles left. Patches are easy to carry, inexpensive, and provide another layer of repair capability.
I’ve never tested if you can repair a Tubolito tube with a standard patch kit but it’s probably not worth trying it. Less than $10 gets you 5 patches in an easy to store bag.
Park Tool TB-2 Emergency Tire Boot
If you’ve had to swap in a tube there’s a good chance it’s because of a sliced tire. A big enough slice might require a tire boot to keep the tube contained. There are all kinds of little tricks you can use for free options but Park Tools makes a highly effective option for not much money. You’ll never anticipate needing it but it’s there if you do.
Affinity Carbon Fiber Tire Levers
I know there’s people who swear you can get tires off without a lever but I’m not one of them. I’ve never been one of them and it’s even harder with tubeless wheels and tires. In the past I’ve mentioned the Schwable tire levers specifically designed for tubeless. They are still a good option if you have a stubborn wheel and tire combo. For those that prefer a super stiff, strong, lever then the Affinity levers are a great option.
The Affinity Carbon Fiber Tire Levers are the stiffest tire levers I’ve ever touched. They are unbelievably strong and yet since they are carbon there’s less need to worry about damaging a carbon rim. They also happen to be totally drool worthy and beautiful.
Dynaderm Second Skin
If you ride enough saddle sores happen. It doesn’t matter how good your bike fit is, or your saddle, or your bib shorts. If you ride for enough time it happens. What I actually find is that I don’t ever have problems with chaffing. Instead, I get pressure sores from sitting in the same position. Either way I carry a simple product as an insurance policy.
My wife is in the medical field and it’s her who first turned me on to Hydrocolloid dressings. The particular brand name isn’t that important. I’m linking to the ones I have found easy to get but I’ve used others at other times. Whatever particular product you end up with the design is for burn patients or bed sores but they work well for cyclists. The adhesive is stong enough, and the dressing thin enough, that they don’t typically come away from the skin. Cut one dressing into quarters and use a single piece over the spot that is an issue for you.
For me it’s always right on my sit bone and I carry two pieces just in case I need them. Getting them in the right spot on the side of the road wouldn’t be great but I think it would be better than riding in pain.
You know the batteries in your heart rate monitor and power meter? Those are probably CR2032 batteries. No matter how many times you got a reminder on your head unit that the battery was low in your device you still managed to forget. It’s not the end of the world to just ride without a heart rate monitor or power meter but also, it’s easy to carry a spare battery.
Outdoor Research Face Mask
Right now, if you are out in the world you should have a face mask. I’m not going to say that you need to wear it every moment of your ride but there are likely parts of your ride that happen near other people. You might also find yourself needing to stop somewhere. The absolute best mask I’ve used is the Outdoor Research mask. Use it with a filter for times when risk is higher. Use it without when you need better breathability but still want protection for you and those around you. It’s comfortable and easy to wear while riding.
The world is in a weird space right now when it comes to personal protective gear. That’s not what the gloves are about though. If you have to deal with putting a tube in a tire with sealant it’s a messy job. The chain is a grimy mess and so is the tire. Instead of trying to wipe your hands on the ground bring a couple of disposable gloves and make life easier.