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Bikepacking 10 Essentials

Bikepacking 10 Essentials

Bikepacking is gaining popularity with more and more backpackers because a bike can take you farther and faster into backcountry areas that are inaccessible on foot. Bikepacking also lets you use all of your existing backpacking gear and get even more value out of it. Like backpacking, there are 10 essential cycling-specific safety and repair items that all bikepackers should carry on their trips. Safety and self-sufficiency are still paramount, perhaps even more so because you can get so far off the grid, so fast.

  1. Cycling Multi-Tool
  2. Tire Levers
  3. Glueless Patch Kit
  4. Front and Rear Flashing Bike Lights
  5. Tire Boots
  6. Chamois Butter
  7. Zip Ties
  8. Spare Inner Tubes
  9. Chain Links
  10. CO2 Cartridges

Here are some of the tools and products that I use to fit the bill:

1. Park Tool MT-40 Multi-Tool

Park Tool MT-40

The Park Tool MT-40 multi-tool has a built-in chain tool for removing and connecting chain links if you bust your chain on a trip and need a temporary fix to get you back to civilization. The MT-40 also includes a CO2 Cartridge adapter that’s Presta and Schrader valve compatible, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8mm hex, to T25 and T30 compatible drivers and screwdriver that’s compatible with multiple head types. This multi-tool is so handy the I use it in my home shop all the time.

Price $35.00

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2. Pedro’s Tire Levers

Pedro Tire Levers

The tire lever, though seemingly one of the simplest and most basic of cycling tools, is one commonly used by almost every cyclist. Brightly colored, Pedro’s tire levers are hard to misplace if you have to change a flat in the woods or by the side of the road. Unbreakable and made with very hard plastic, Pedro’s tire levers have a unique chisel tip shape that easily inserts beneath the tire bead and a slightly thicker shape that keeps the lever securely in place when changing a flat.

Price: $5

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3. Park Tool Glueless Patch Kit

Park Tool Patch Kit

Flats happen but Park Tools glueless makes them easy to repair without any messy glue or bulky packaging. Lightly roughen your punctured tube with the included sandpaper, clean, apply patch, and you’re ready to go. Each pack includes six patches with sandpaper in a neat little carry along box that’s easy to throw into a frame bag.

Price $4.65

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4. Cygolite Streak 450 Bike Light Combo Set

Cygolite Streak 450 Bike Light Combo Set

Forget reflectors. You need flashing lights on the front and rear of your bike to be seen by cars, trucks, and ATVs bombing down backcountry and gravel roads. USB rechargeable lights are the best. This 450 Lumen headlight lasts up to 100 hours on a single charge, while the 50 Lumen tail light lasts up to 200 hours. Both have a pulsing daylight mode that gets noticed by motorists and can be easily switched between different bikes. 

Price: $52.75

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5. Park Tool Emergency Tire Boots

Park Tool Tire Boots

Park’s Tire Boots are designed to patch cuts, tears, and holes including side walls cuts in any size tire. A waterproof reinforced vinyl membrane and super strong adhesive provide  a quick and easy fix. Each pack contains three emergency tire boots, which will work on road or mountain bikes tires at any pressure level. 

Price: $4.99

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6. Chamois Butter

Chamois Butter

Chafing is a ride killer. Protect and lubricate your skin with Chamois Butter. These small “single serving” 9 ml packets are easy to carry. They’re also greaseless and wash out of your clothing easily with soap and water.  Use them for all of your sports!

Price: $10

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7. Assortment of Zip Ties

Zip Ties

Zip ties have a hundred and one uses on a bike and they weigh virtually nothing. Don’t have a way to attach something to the frame? Something shake loose? Bust a Strap? Sheer a connector? Need to jury rig an attachment. Zip tie it! A pack of 100 costs just 4 bucks.

Price: $4

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8. Spare Inner Tubes

Inner Tube

Sometimes you can’t salvage an inner tube. Depending on the length of your journey, bring an extra or two. Make sure they fit your tire size and have a valve compatible with your pump or tools, Presta or Shrader.

Price: $8

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9. KMC Missing Link Chain Connector

KMC Chain Connectors

If you break your chain on a ride, you can use a KMC Missing Link  to reconnect the ends, although a chain tool (like the one on the Park Tool MT-40, above)  is still necessary to remove any damaged links. These connectors are also handy to install on your chains to make it easy to remove, clean, or replace your chain in the future. Here (video) is a simple way to open a missing link without a special tool. It also works with a shoe lace.

Price: $13.99

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Jenson USA

10. CO2 Cartridges / Pump

Genuine Innovations 20 gramLezyne Guage

CO2 cylinders are a lot less bulky to carry than a bicycle pump if you have to reinflate a tube after changing a flat. These large 20 gram cartridges are large enough to refill larger mountain bike tubes or multiple road tires. You just need a CO2 cartridges adapter, like the one included in the Park MT-40 to use it.

Genuine Innovations Price: $24 for package of 6

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But for long trips, bringing a pump is probably your safest bet. I use a Lezyne Micro Floor Drive HPG Pump w/ Gauge which has a convertible footrest, like a floor pump, but is easy to stow in a frame bag. It’s Presta and Shrader valve compatible and measures pressure in PSI or bars.

Lezyne Pump Price: $65

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See also:

Written 2017.

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  1. Some thoughts:
    -Carrying separate tools is usually lighter and definitely more functional than a big multi-tool. Using a multi-tool can be a pain in hard to reach parts on the bike in the field. You can also customize exactly which tools you need when they are separate – not every bike needs two Torx, a 2.5mm, and an 8mm wrench.
    -Glueless patches can not be trusted long term. They will begin to fall apart after a few days. They are good to get you home on a day ride, but for bikepacking it is better to use real patches and let them dry fully while you rotate in a fresh tube on the wheel.
    -Take a real pump instead of CO2. You never really know how many times you’ll need to pump up your tires. It is not uncommon to run across riders asking if anyone has a pump because they didn’t expect X and ran out of CO2 cartridges. On a multi-day trip this is especially important.

    • I agree especially with the CO2. I would also add “helmet” to help keep brains inside our skulls

    • As an avid road cyclist I couldn’t agree more. I’ve never had luck with patching tubes and CO2’s are great until you run out. One thing I’d recommend is putting Stan’s tubeless solution in your tubes to avoid flats. I used to be really flat prone as I ride a lot of gravel climbs around Boulder, but I haven’t had a flat since putting Stans goo in my tubes. You have to buy the pricier tubes with a removable valve stem (Presta of course), but it’s totally worth it.

    • Call me crazy, but I’ve ridden over 1K miles on a patched tire at or around 80-90PSI, on the road. Those patches are a miracle. Might be a different story at 50PSI on the trail.

      Concur with carrying a pump and a spare tube. I’ve had instances where I had 2 punctures at once – needed to reinflate a couple of times. 2 cases of nipple failure – 1 where it started leaking on the side, I actually fixed it temporarily with a patch + zip tie and another one where wife snapped off the valve stem core on a presta valve (non-replaceable core). This one actually held up for a few days but had it gone in the field, I wouldn’t have been able to fix it and a spare tire would have been the only fix.

  2. This is a good list no matter if you’re going for a bike pack or a ride for the day. I carry all of these things, along with a pair of nitrile gloves for emergencies (Helpful for keeping your hands clean while working on a chain, or as rain gloves in a unexpected downpour) in a peanut butter jar, which fits in the bottle cage, jersey pocket or in a larger saddle bag.

    Dollar bills or cut up tyvek envelops also make very good tire boots and either cost $1 or nothing. Granted I understand that USPS will not pay you for affiliate links on a recycled envelope.

  3. Have used a dollar bill as well as trash. I keep tyvek in my seat bag. Be sure that the boot is not a stretchy material like tape and some packaging

  4. Is that the Thunderfly tarp pictured?

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