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What Do You Carry in Your Saddle Bag?

By Laurel-Lea Shannon

saddle-bagI’m one of those people who tend to think of worst-case scenarios. Before heading out on a bike ride I think of all the things that could go wrong. I’ve been trying to change that habit because it tends to make me a bit nervous. The only benefit I gain from it is that, like a girl guide, I’m always prepared. When I go for a day-hike I’m the one lugging the largest backpack and the heaviest weight, carrying all the survival gear and extra food I might need, “just in case we get lost” and have to spend a night out in the bush.

But when it comes to the bike, I have to cram my survival gear into a very small saddle bag. Here’s what I carry:

1) A spare tube: I should probably carry two.

2) two C02 cartridges and valve. I’d also like to carry a pump, just in case, but there isn’t room.

3) Two tire levers. Three would be better—in case one breaks.

4) Written instructions on how to use the C02 cartridge in case I forget between flats. The only problem is I wear contact lenses when I cycle and can’t read the tiny print on the document. (I should also carry a pair of reading glasses but no room.)

5) One road bike multi-tool

6) A tiny billfold with ID, health insurance card and money. The card in case of accident, the money in case I have to make an emergency stop for espresso, or food.

7) A couple of hand wipes. To clean up after changing the flat.

8) A small vial of arsenica, a homeopathic remedy useful for injuries and shock. Hmmm…maybe I should take this before I leave home.

9) An extra energy bar. You can never carry too much food!

10) A tiny container of sunscreen (Sport SPF 45!).

11) A cell phone, in case everything else fails.

What do you carry in your saddle bag? Please leave a comment below.

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21 comments to What Do You Carry in Your Saddle Bag?

  • Kim

    I am obviously not carrying enough. Mostly I ride with my husband who has a little bag on his handlebars. I have no ID or health info (but work at the local hosp. so am hoping someone in Emerg would recognize me!) I have only a spare and the two tools in my undersaddle bag. My husband and I share the bike shirt with pockets so I usually have two tissues (my nose runs) and my cell phone stuffed down the front of my sports bra (it rang yesterday in a convenience store and scared the heck out of me….and had the three men at the cashier staring at my chest). Clearly, I was a bad bad Girl Guide. If I can’t be a good example–like other posters–I can be a horrible warning.

  • JennieM

    Also wear Road ID. Don’t leave home on the bike without it. I also have my pump on a holder attached under the bottle holder. Always take two inner tubes. I stow mine in a flat top container that fits in the second bottle cage. Another tip is Tampax compact (for those times ‘of the month’). As they have a plastic wrapper and applicator they stay dry in your jersey pocket.

  • Toni

    In the seat bag I carry a tube, 2-co2 cartridges & pump, patch kit, tire tools & multi tool, chain repair link & tool, hand wipes & a rear light attached to the bag.

    In a bento box on the top tube I carry, spare tube, $’s, ID, insurance info, cell phone, hand wipes, a gel bottle, route maps if riding in an event in unfamiliar areas, bandaids, antibiotic envelopes & aleve.

    Extra muchies & banana in the jersey pockets. Last but not least, I wear my RoadID~always!

  • Lynn

    I don’t carry much and after reading all these comments, I realized I need to carry a bit more! I always have my charged phone and ID in case I get hit, with a number and contact to reach if I’m out of it. I carry Gel Cubes in case of a bonk. I need to get an under-saddle bag for extra tires and tools. I’m always hopeful my partner will be home if I’m out on a ride and will come get me if I’m stranded!

  • Kathi

    I have a tool bag under the seat with 1 co2 cartridge & dispenser, 1 tube, 2 levers, multi tool & cable ties.
    Then in top tube bag is mobile phone, tissues, lip moisture, sunscreen, 1 tube, 2 co2 cannisters, energy bar, small bag nuts & raisins, debit card & cash, drivers licence, alcohol wipes & plasters, car key/remote lock thingie & a tiny teddy bear :)

  • Andy A.

    Rear Rack Bag: Spare Tube, 3 Tire Levers, Patch Kit, Front and Rear Lights, Small First Aid Kit, AA & AAA Batteries, Travel Bottle of Sun Screen, Reflective Velcro Straps, Small Knife, Wallet, Cell, Camera, Wet-Ones Wipes, “pump is attached to bike”, 2 small bunji cords, para cord & power snacks !!

  • Dragon

    Arsenica? What do you use arsenica for and why?

    I have and use in my little saddle bag:
    – variety of zip ties
    – rubber bands
    – sharpy pen
    – electrical tape wrapped around pen or pump
    – latex glove
    – shifter cable
    – and more . . .

  • Elizabeth

    I, too, carry almost everything other than a microwave and a kitchen sink. In my saddle bag I have a spare tube, 3 tyre leves, a CO2 cartridge (have difficulty with the small print too on the instruction leaflet), a small tube of sunscreen, a small tube of hand cleaner for removing grease, a pair of disposal latex gloves, a small packet of tissue paper. A pump is attached to the bike frame. I wear an ID bracelet, with emergency contact. I also have a small feed bag attached to the handlebar where I keep a gel, a muesli bar, some dried fruit, and whatever I can stuff into the bag. In my jersey pockets I carry my driver’s license, credit card, some money, a spare pair of contact lenses (I wear contact lenses when I ride), a small container of lubricant eye gel, house keys, car key (if I have to drive to the starting point), more tissue papers or a handkerchief. Depending on the weather, I may also carry a light weight rain resistant jacket. And a banana. I am also one of those who would like to be prepared … just in case.

    • LS

      I feel I’m in good company here. Being prepared makes me the odd-one-out with the folks I ride with. But I see I’m not alone.

      I’ve sometimes wondered what would happen if I lost a contact lens while riding. I’m very nearsighted so it would make the ride home, well . . . eventful. Maybe I’ll add contact lenses to my saddle bag “just in case”. Thanks for the tip Elizabeth!

  • Rhonda

    I was a girl guide, and “be prepared” is more than a motto to me! I carry all of the above on my bike, (including the dental floss), plus nail clippers which have come in handy on more than one occasion!

  • Nicola

    My saddle bag has very similar contents to yours Laurel-Lea but also have a pair of fold up reading glasses. They are quit compact and have a small case. I’ve only used them once in two years but they are definitely worth it. I also have a credit card to cover any emergencies.

  • Bonnie

    In my saddle bag I have one tube, all nicely tied up in elastic straight out of the box. I have 2 tire levers and some patches. And that’s all I’ve got in there. I have a pump attached to my bike, and I’ve experimented with it: it can blow up a tire sufficiently so that I don’t need C02 cartridges which I wouldn’t know how to use anyways.

    As for my back pockets: everything but the kitchen sink. A small wallet with credit cards, Health card, driver’s license, at least $20 plus a toonie, and my club membership card. And my charged cell phone. In another pocket I’ve got gels, lots of gels because I deplete easily. In the third pocket – how shall I say this – lipstick in a mirrored case. Yes I need the mirror, not because I’m vain but because I’ve had the experience of riding with bugs hitting my face and landing there to stay a while. During stops I do a quick face-bug check. Sounds stupid maybe but I can’t stand the idea of riding around with bugs on my face. Unless you sweat a lot, and I sweat a lot, you may never have to check your face for bugs – lucky you!

    • LS

      I haven’t experienced the bugs-sticking-to-face phenomenon but it sounds yucky. I have a small mirror attached to the left handlebar and use that when I stop to apply sunscreen. That way I don’t end up with white patches all over my face …

  • Jeanette

    Extra Butt’er…don’t leave home without it :) You can buy them in travel size! Nothing stops you short than that burn in your cycling shorts?!

  • Holly

    One tube is enough, but a patch kit is helpful for that unlikely second flat. I carry a CO2 cartridge as well, and a small took kit too for repairs. I am thinking about adding a chain breaker tool after breaking a chain recently on a road far from home. Fortunately a friend had one, that time. I also carry a pump, strapped to the frame. In my bag I carry a tiny first aid kit, which has been used more than once. I have a large bag, so I can stuff it with food for those long rides. In my jersey pockets I carry my cell phone and pepper spray, and maybe more food! ID and money goes in a little plastic box that goes in the bag.

    A tip if you wear contacts and need reading glasses like me: if you have a clean finger, you can slide a contact to one side to use that eye to read with, assuming you’re nearsighted. Or carry a tiny magnifying glass!

    • LS

      A chain breaker tool is a good idea. I’ve never done that with a contact lens but great to know about in an emergency. (The problem is having a finger that’s clean enough to stick in your eye.)

  • Christin

    in addition to what you mentioned (that tiny print just really bites-I struggle with that too)I carry dental floss. A teeny sample size. Everyone laughs……….but everyone borrows some. I have a lot of dental work, and every snack gets lodged somewhere………which drives me crazy while riding. I wear a Road ID, and recommend everyone on the planet does the same. ID, Insurance, meds, contact info…all in one tiny place. I wear one around my ankle, but there are so many other options) An extra contact lens. I am completely helpless should one get damaged by a bug while speeding downhill. (they can actually land BEHIND your sunglasses, did you know that?!) Clear lenses for my sunglasses, if there is any chance the ride will run long and I’m out after dark. (I like Optic Nerves, they fit me perfectly)

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