Our Guide to What to Pack In Your Saddle Bag

Unless you are a pro cyclist with a whole mechanical team in a car following you on your training rides, you will likely have a saddle bag attached under your bike seat. But what do you pack in your saddle bag? Does it have everything you need in case of a breakdown or emergency? No one likes a visit from the puncture fairy or even a mechanical issue when out riding – and they rarely happen at a convenient time! The best way to deal with them is to be prepared, and this is where the humble saddle bag can save the day, that is – if it has been packed correctly!

This blog post will run through the top items you need to pack into your saddle bag to ensure you are prepared for the most common issues cyclists encounter on rides.

Our Guide to What to Pack In Your Saddle Bag

#1 Spare Inner Tubes

You would be surprised how many cyclists set out for a bike ride without carrying spare tubes. Ideally, you want to have two spare tubes, both of which should be taken out of the box and an elastic band added if one is not on them already. If you only have a small saddle bag, you can utilise a jersey pocket to keep spare inner tubes in!

Pro tip: If you use your jersey pocket to carry spare inner tubes, use the middle one. This leaves the more accessible outer ones for your gels and provisions.

Our Inner Tube Of Choice: LifeLine Road Inner Tube from Wiggle – £2.99 (various available wheel and valve sizes). Tried and tested with the UK Fitness Events team for thousands of miles and rated 5-star! Buy direct from www.wiggle.co.uk.

#2 Tire Levers

No point in packing inner tubes if you do not have anything to take the tyres off with. Tyre leavers or two teaspoons, no matter your preferred tool for taking your tyres off, they should always be in your saddle bag. Now we know some tyres can come off easier than others. You might feel like you are the Incredible Hulk and can do it all by hand – but if you have ever tried to get Continental Gatorskins off a bike rim when its 2 degrees and throwing it down with rain, you will know why we say to pack tyre leavers!

Our tyre leavers of choice: Birzman Wedge Tyre Lever Set – £4.99. These are lightweight yet strong, and being 3 of them comes in handy for those challenging to remove tyres! Buy direct from www.tredz.co.uk.

#3 CO2 Canisters & Adapter

So you packed the tyre leavers and the inner tubes to deal with punctures; now you need a way to reinflate the tyre. Hand pumps can be attached to your seat post or bike frame, but a more convenient method to reinflate the tyres is Co2 pumps. A small adapter and a few canisters will take up hardly any space in even the smallest of saddle bags, and they can inflate your tyre in seconds, as opposed to hand pumping at the side of the road.

A top tip is that Co2 does have its benefits, but if a canister fails, you are stranded. So a handy adapter can also be packed into your saddle bag, enabling you to use any pump – even ones at petrol stations. Even the adapter, canisters and pump adapter still take up less room than a traditional hand pump.

Our Top Picks:

Our Guide to What to Pack In Your Saddle Bag

#4 Multi Tool

Modern bikes have a lot of different size bolts and screws, and even some wheels now require a tool to remove them. So investing in a quality multitool and carrying it in your saddle bag is a must. At the bare minimum, your tool should have a selection of Allen key sizes and a Phillips head screwdriver, as these are the most common items you will need. More advanced ones will have chain and valve core removal tools for extra measure. A multitool won’t help in every situation, but it can help if something comes loose or needs adjustment on route.

Our multitool of choice: Crankbrothers Multi 20 Multi Tool £39.99 from Cycle Store. It has everything you need, including a handy storage compartment for a chain link. Buy direct from Cycle Store.

#5 Emergency Chain Link

Emergency chain links are the smallest item to slide into your saddle bag, but they could be the difference between riding home or walking home. Emergency chain links are pretty simple to fit in a hurry and usually can be fitted without needing a tool, but if you have your multitool above, you should be covered.

We recommend buying the same chain link as your current chain to prevent compatibility issues, but it can be purchased from most cycling retailers for only a few pounds.

#6 Cash

Cash is not just for the coffee and cake at the cafe stop; it could also be needed for getting a train/taxi home if you become stranded. Most of us now carry our mobile phones and have Apple or Google pay. However, it is still advisable to bring cash just in case your battery dies or your phone gets damaged on the ride.

Our Guide to What to Pack In Your Saddle Bag

Other Items to Carry on a Ride

There are some other vital items that you should take with you on a ride that does not always need to go in your saddle bag, such as:

ICE Infomation: ICE = In Case of Emergency. Some recommend setting your home screen to an image of the information needed. However, we would also advise carrying this on a card or piece of paper in case you are in an accident and your phone is unusable or missing. ICE information should contain details of whom to contact in an emergency and any details of your health conditions and medication.

Sustenance: Pre-cut flapjacks, sports gels or fruit, whatever your choice; make sure you carry some, even if only planning a short ride. A short ride could soon turn into a longer one, or you could hit the wall sooner than you thought you might, and that little bit of food will see you home.

Most importantly, you need to pack your motivation and your riding legs! Without those, your ride will not be enjoyable. We know it seems like quite a list above, but if you buy the right tools, they can all fit into even the smallest saddle bags. If you are worried about the extra weight on your Strava segments – think about what walking those segments would look like!

If you are looking for more cycling articles, tips, and advice, check out our other cycling blogs. Can’t find the advice you need? Let us know and we can either get a blog together for you or put you in touch with someone who can help.

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