In many ways it’s the remoteness that makes bikepacking great. Riding rough tracks, alone with nature, miles from anywhere. That same remoteness makes it altogether less great if you have a mechanical that you can’t fix. No mobile coverage to phone for a spousal taxi, no public transport options, no bike shop just down the road that doesn’t exist. So you’ll want to carry a few more tools and spares than on a road ride, but you don’t want to add too much weight or bulk. This is what my experience so far has taught me to take (and why).
Topeak Nano TorqBar (65g)
A torque ratchet the size of a pen. Gives an audible warning at 5nm, and has 3mm, 4mm, 5mm and T25 bits. I find it more useful than a multi-tool, thanks to the greater leverage, and the warning is nice when doing the stem bolts back up after the flight out, if you have carbon steerer.
Topeak Link 11 Compact Chain Tool (89g)
This Topeak is 45g lighter than the Park equivalent but it’s still fairly hefty. However I was glad to have it on Candy B Graveller, after a snapped mech hanger had us doing a trailside single speed conversion, at night, in the rain. You could take a big multi-tool containing an emergency chain tool instead, but with a dedicated tool there’s less doubt that it’ll be up to the job.
Wolftooth Master Link Combo Pliers (37g)
Before 11-speed came along we could all open and close quick links by hand. Like most everyone else I need a tool for 11s though, and this nifty one from Wolftooth is lightweight, compact and works well. There’s space for spare quick links inside the handles. Like the chain tool, it also proved itself on CBG18. It can also be used as a tyre lever and a valve core remover.
FibreFix Emergency Spoke (16g)
Ingenious kevlar cable with cam that can be used in place of a broken spoke. Not had to use mine yet but Cranker Dickie used one at our Tenerife training camp last year to great effect. Cheap, light and small.
Tubeless Plugs (7g)
I’ve started carrying tubeless plugs and their insertion tool, which allow you to attempt to plug from the outside holes that are too big for the sealant to clog. I’d use one of these first to see if I could repair the tyre before taking it off to put in a tube.
Park GP-2 Pre-Glued Patches (4g)
It may seem like I go overboard with puncture repair stuff but I was plagued with flats on Tour Aotearoa after my new tyres wore thin. I went through all my tubes and patches, but I was never stranded. These Park self-adhesive patches are virtually weightless and take up next to no room.
Two Inner Tubes (248g)
Even though I run tubeless but I start a multi-day trip carrying two spare inner tubes. Why two? Because I can puncture both front and rear, and if I only had one tube I wouldn’t be able to repair the second wheel. Should I puncture more than that I’ll be able to keep patching the two tubes for as long as I have patches.
Tyre Lever (13g)
I can get my tyres on without levers but I still need one to get them off.
Park TB-2 Tyre Boots (2g)
I slashed a sidewall on a rough stretch of the 1st Torino-Nice Rally and had to boot. You might find you have something with you can improvise with, but if you have brought something specific then there’d be no doubt about it. Before I picked these Park boots up I used to carry a section I’d out of a toothpaste tube. It doesn’t really matter what it is, as long as it stops the tube poking out of the gash in the tyre.
Crankalicious Gumchained Melody Kwipe (11g)
A tough, impregnated paper towel chain cleaner. Great for getting dust and old grease off your chain when you haven’t access to normal washing facilities, especially useful if rain has meant you’ve had to switch to wet conditions lube.
Spare Valve Core and Removal Tool (3g)
I had a tubeless valve gunk up with sealant and not close fully after being opened to adjust pressure on 2ndTNR. Since then I’ve carry a spare valve and a removal tool. So, when it happened again on TA, it was a simple job to swap in a new core and reinflate.
The correct size to fit your nipples. The FibreFix above comes with a mini spoke key, so if that fits you could forgo one of them to save duplicating. The last time I asked my LBS to true a wheel, just before the 1stTNR, they omitted the crucial task of relieving spoke tension as they went, causing it to go massively out of true over the course of the first day. I’ve since learnt to build and true my own wheels, so that won’t ever happen again, but the weight penalty of carrying a spokey is negligible.
Green Oil On Tour Chain Lube (30g)
It is going to rain on a multi-day trip. Or at least I haven’t ridden one yet when it didn’t. Even if it didn’t there could be rivers to ford. This travel bottle from Green OIl is small and light. Enough to re-apply lube a few times after it’s all been washed away.
Electrical Tape (7g)
Just the end of a roll. Most often used for sticking my handlebar tape down after a spectacular off has ripped it.
Hanger [not pictured] (15g)
Gear hangers can get bent during air travel and crashes, or ripped off completely in thick mud. Spare hangers are small and light, and can save you having to do a trailside single speed conversion. I carry at least one, and two or more if my trip is multi-week rather than multi-day (because they’re specific to my UK-market-only bike, meaning another spare can’t be sourced enroute after I’ve used the spare I’m carrying).
Two sets of Brake Pads (64g)
Even pushing the bike through thick mud can wear away a set of organic brake pads in no time. My bike uses Shimano pads that are reasonable easy to find, so I’ll carry one spare set per wheel and look to source replacements for them if I’ve had to fit them.
Two Spare Cleat Bolts [not pictured] (2g)
Six-bolt disc users will tell you they can just take one of those out to use instead, but for a single gram each I’d carry a couple of spares instead, thank you, even if I wasn’t on Centrelock. Can be carried screwed into rack/mudguard mounting holes on your frame or forks, so you can find them easily should you need them.
Spare Gear Cable [not pictured] (20g)
My brakes are hydraulic and I don’t have a front mech, so the only bowden cable on my bike is for the rear mech. It’s easy to replace but the bar end shifter means it takes an unusually long cable. It’s an awkward shape to stow though, so I don’t carry one on a normal trip of up to a week or so – and would have to use the derailleur limiter to try and set up a single speed that wasn’t the hardest gear, or shorten the chain and bypass the mech entirely – but I did carry one on Tour Aotearoa, when I was doing a year’s worth of riding in a month, to save any down days waiting for an enroute bike shop to source a long enough cable had I limped in needing a replacement.
LifeLine Motion Floor Mount Mini Pump (207g)
I’ve come to accept that I will need to inflate my tyres during a trip, and that roadie style back pocket mini pumps are a bit pathetic. I’ll take the weight hit on this one, but at least strapping it to the seat tube means it takes no bag space.