Bikepacking Repair Kit & Tools: Essential and Auxiliary
When bikepacking in the backcountry, a mechanical mishap can easily turn a nice ride through the woods in to a miserable hike-a-bike escape. A well thought out repair kit can help you avoid that fate …
Assembling a repair kit can be a bit of a disconcerting task. It’s somewhat of a balancing act between necessity, fear, and space constraints. There are a lot of potential mechanical issues that may arise, and being ready for all of them would require lugging around an 11 pound toolbox. However, a basic assortment of tools and spare parts can get you out of many sticky situations, and keep you rolling through the backcountry instead of pushing out of it.
Here is a detailed repair kit constructed on account of real-world mechanical issues. It’s separated in two main sections, The Essentials, and a secondary list that may come in to play for a longer trip. It’s worth noting that your needs may vary depending your bike, accessories, length of ride, and location.
The following list is what we’d consider bare bones. However, it may still be a bit much for a risky gram counter. Some may pack more, while others will pack less and put their inner MacGyver to the test.
This group of tools makes up the bulk of the kit and can be carried in a tool roll, dedicated bag, or spread throughout your pack luggage. Items marked with an asterisk are necessary only for certain applications.
Multi-tool (with chain breaker)
The heart of the kit. Make sure yours has the correct sizes of allen and torx keys to fit the parts of your bike that might need adjustment or repair. The Crank Brothers M19 is shown here, which happens to be missing a torx T20 needed for Rohloff twist shifters (more of a long-term issue, but worth noting). Missing allen keys and torx drivers can be packed as extras when needed. We also like the Lezyne Blox 23. Also, with most of these tools, you can take them apart and mix and match similar sized keys.
Leatherman with pliers
There have been several occasions while out riding when pliers were needed. One more common use for a tubeless system is to remove a tire valve stem core to replenish sealant in the event of a stubborn leak (although, as Gabe pointed out in the comments below, the M19 has a built-in valve core tool on the spoke wrench). Also, there are many other useful tools included in the small and simple Squirt model, such as a knife and can opener. The one shown above has been around since 2002.
A reliable pump
The pump shown is the Lezyne Micro Floor Drive. Slightly big, but reliable, even for voluminous plus tires. We’ve even set up tires tubeless with it. One I like a little more these days is the OneUp EDC Pump (100cc).
A 15mm wrench is necessary for Rohloff drivetrains as well as old school bolt on hubs. The Portland Design Works 3wrencho is shown below; it is a solid option and doubles as a tire lever.
A good repair kit is always heavily weighted toward tire repair. Flats are inevitable, even when set up tubeless. Having the means to repair a tire is key.
Even when running a tubeless setup, spares are an annoying necessity. I usually carry one on shorter outings and two on longer trips (between two of us) which accounts for blowing both tubeless seals on one bike. From there, faith would be placed on patches, sewing, and plugs. Check out the Tubolito for a next generation option.
After having 6 flats in one day, I never leave without double checking my patch kit. Make sure the cement isn’t dried out and the sandpaper is in good shape.
Some folks carry two. Nylon levers are better than metal ones, but they can break.
Park Tool Tire Boots
Fortunately I’ve only had to use a boot once… a sidewall gash in the Arizona desert. Gorilla tape can work in a pinch.
For a shorter trip, one or two ounces should do. The Stan’s two ounce bottles are minimal in size and weight. Also, the Nalgene HDPE bottles come in 1-4oz sizes and seem to be bombproof and leakproof.
Curved Needle and Heavy Guage Nylon Thread
Whether it’s for first-aid or repairing a torn sidewall, a needle and thread is an indispensable part of a repair kit.
Tire plugs are key for those puncture 3/16″ tears that stubbornly won’t reseal. Check out the Dynaplug Micro Pro.
Super Glue is another staple for small punctures or even capping off a plug to ensure it’s longevity.
Accessories and Parts
A few other items for maintenance and emergency situations.
Dry chain lube
Keep your drivetrain performing well by cleaning and lubing the chain every couple of days. Dry lube (try Rock N’ Roll Absolute Dry) is optimal for dusty conditions while wet lube can cause a collection of grit and residue to build up on the chain and cassette. However, it’s hard to beat Rock ‘n Roll Gold for wet or mixed conditions.
Carry more that you could possibly need. Zip ties weigh nothing and can fix almost anything.
Gorilla Tape + Lighter
Gorilla Tape is heavy duty duct tape can repair almost anything, from a bag, to a pair of shoes, to a tire. A great way to store 10 or 20 winds is on a lighter. Another option is to have a few wraps around the shaft of your tire pump.
Quick Chain Links / Powerlinks
SRAM Powerlinks are a good option. Get 2 or 3 pair for whatever size chain you have, as well as a small spare length of chain.
Spare Cleat and Bolts*
If you ride clipless, I would recommend packing an extra bolt and cleat. I’ve lost a cleat bolt mid-ride.
Spare Parts & Tools: The Extended Cut
The following list is based on needs for a longer trip. Some may include a few, if not all, of these items in a standard carry kit.
Every bike is different and requires unique parts, bolts, etc. Some of the items in this list may be applicable to your kit while others may not.
It is worth carrying a spare pair of pads or two for longer trips. Some brakes, such as mechanical discs, are easier to replace than others. Make sure you have the right tool(s) for the job.
Carry a few spokes in your seatpost by stuffing them through a piece of semi-rigid foam to hold them in place. Also carry matching nipples and make sure there is a spoke wrench in your multi-tool (the Crank Bros M19 has it built into the chain break lever).
Some bolts worth considering are rack bolts, chainring bolts, rotor bolts, and cleat bolts.
Spare cables can be stashed in your handlebars. Think about carrying an extra derailleur cable, brake cable or Rohloff cable.
Another piece on a bike that is prone to breaking. I’ve bent several and seen them break, too. This is a must for longer (and even shorter) trips, especially on rough terrain.
A few other tools to consider.
One of these may come in handy for a broken seal on a tubeless set up.
Pipe Clamps (of various sizes)
One step above a zip tie. Pipe clamps can do anything from replacing a broken seat clamp to holding a damaged bottle cage.
Carrying a load on a full suspension rig requires some care and adjustment. Some may choose to tune their shocks before departing and leave the shock pump at home.
A few tools of which you may find yourself in need: bottom bracket tool or socket, Torx drivers of various metrics, crank plug bit, crank extractor (for you old-schoolers), etc.
A small rag or cleaning cloth, while not absolutely necessary, is is good to have around to clean the chain.
Always a handy addition. We like Voilé Straps.
Keep in mind that your bike and situation is unique and so should your repair kit and tools. If there is anything you feel we left out of this list, leave a comment below.