What’s In My Saddle Bag When Cycling

How do you carry those essentials for cycling?  Do you put them in your jersey pockets?  Do you have a tool holder that looks like a bottle and sits in one of your bottle cages?  Or do you use a saddle bag?

My choice is a saddle bag.  I do have a tool holder but for longer rides I would prefer to use the bottle cages to carry two bottles and I would rather not have everything stuffed in my jersey pockets though so admit to putting food in my pockets because well snacks!

So my bike set up for a normal ride would/could include the following depending on distance:

  • 1 or 2 bottles in the cages
  • saddle bag
  • top tube bag for longer rides for easy access to nutrition for fuelling

I used to use an Ortlieb saddle bag but have since moved that to my winter/commute bike and my summer bike now has a Lezyne saddle bag as below:

  • Ortleib Micro – fastens with a roll top end and stretchy cords, waterproof and not too big but definitely not the smallest either, can fit a spare inner tube, levers, tool, canister and adaptor and more (can find this bag for £23.99 here)
  • Lezyne M – fastens with a zip, waterproof and pouch on the outside to fit the Lezyne multi tool, very compact though fits a spare inner tube, levers, tool, canister and adaptor, this bag also has a small reflective strip on the bag too (can find this bag for £19.49 here)

Both of the above bags fit by a mounting system that attaches to the saddle rails with an attachment on the bag to slide and secure on the fitting as below:

So what do I put in my saddle bag?  Knowing many cyclists I see the different things people take with them on rides – sometimes not enough and sometimes way more than necessary (in my opinion).  Here is what I carry in mine:

  • Spare inner tube – if I can fit it in the bag in the box I do, so that if I am unlucky and have an issue with my tyre (especially the side wall as I have seen this happen to others before) I can use some of the cardboard to line the tyre to get me to the end of my ride, some people take a small piece from an old tyre.  Also remember if you have different bikes to ensure you have the correct inner tube as they come in different sizes with different valve lengths, for example I have a winter bike with normal rims and a summer bike with deep rims and so I couldn’t use the same inner tubes for both.  I ended up having separate saddle bags for each bike for ease and not having to swap items out or try and remember to do so, which is too easy to forget.
  • CO2 gas canister – not a must for everyone as some people carry a small hand pump but I don’t, and for ease always opt for the gas, just be careful when you use it or keep your gloves on as they get super cold!  Again if you have different bikes (more road versus MTB then make sure you pack the right ones – I use 16 gram for my road bike).  Just remember if you do use a gas canister that when you get home to deflate your tyre and pump up again with a track pump as the gas will lose pretty quickly with at least half the inflated PSI overnight!
  • CO2 gas canister adaptor/inflator – I have a small adaptor that screws on to the top of the canister. I know others that have a CO2 inflator and the benefit of this is not getting frozen fingers and also being able to release as much or as little has you want/need.
  • Tyre levers – I have always opted for plastic rather than metal so I don’t damage my wheels.
  • Multi tool – just in case as you never know when you might need it.  Some people carry more like a chain breaker though I admit I don’t.
  • Depending on the length of the ride I may also add a spare individual sachet of chamois cream .
  • Disposable gloves – I often forget to replace these but if I remember I have a pair also just in case so I am not covered in lube/grease/wax if I have a mechanical or chain slip.
  • Pre-glued patches – I don’t personally carry these in my saddle bag but do know others that do and you can use these if you puncture more than once and for minor tyre repairs too.

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I have not yet tried my hand at bike packing so the bags and use I reference are based on the sort of road riding I do and there are a whole other range of bags for other types of riding!

Happy cycling!

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