One Question, Five Voices: What’s in your tool kit?
In this installment of One Question, Five Voices, we get a group of intrepid bikepackers to unroll their tool kits and show us what’s inside. Find out what tools and accessories they’ve deemed essential for everything from daily commuting to multi-country adventures…
We’ve delved deep into the subject of bikepacking repair kits and tools on this site. And for good reason, it’s one of the most important parts of any bikepacking kit, and something that should be carefully considered before setting out on a multi-day trip, be it to the backcountry or beyond the boundaries of your home country. In our second edition of One Question, Five Voices, we asked our panel to give us a peek at their tool and repair kits and tell us a little bit about their choices.
What’s in your bikepacking tool kit?
Santa Fe, NM
These are my tools and spares for an extended trip overseas, like riding in South America or along the Baja Divide, where spares aren’t easy to come by and you can’t just limp to the next bike shop. Given how remote and rocky these routes can be, I err towards an especially thorough tubeless repair kit; recently, I even replaced my usual ‘bacon strips’ with a Dynaplug capsule. I always carry a complete spare valve and an additional core, as well at least one heavy duty plus-sized inner tube (if I carry a second, it’s a lighter one). The mini channel locks have proved invaluable on a number of occasions. They’re particularly effective at pulling out dings from a rim; with some care, I’ve managed to repair a couple that otherwise stopped my tubeless tire from seating. Lezyne’s Micro Floor Drive HV pumps are great (though don’t bother with the psi gauge) and there are rebuild kits available. With the right tire and rim combo, it can seat a tubeless setup.
I run a Rohloff Speedhub rather than derailleurs, so I don’t tend to bring spare gear cables. If I do, I try to remember to snip them to length, as it’s a PITA to do so in the field without decent cable cutters. I carry grease in a repurposed Nivea tub, Orange Seal sealant in a bottle cut to fit the valve opening, some spare chain (especially important for Rohloff users) and a couple of quick links. In addition to a tricky-to-find TX20 for the Rohloff, I also like to carry two separate Allen keys and a little wrench to make fitting, removing, and tightening water bottle cages and racks quick and easy. It’s especially useful when you travel with your bike and have to dismember everything. Not shown here are two spokes of each size, zip ties, a couple of sets of Avid BB7 brake pads, and a separate, longer TX25 for adjusting them, as my multi-tool doesn’t quite reach through the spokes. Depending on the length of the ride, I sometimes also carry a set of BB cups and use a locally sourced pipe wrench to install them if needed, as well as a set of replacement bearings for my pedals, if there’s any hint of play before the trip. Everything is wrapped up in a Bedrock tool roll – rolls are a great way of laying stuff out without fear of losing anything – and the overflow is contained in a Surly Tool Bag.
Cass’ Tool Kit:
– Rema Tip top tubeless tire patch kit
– Park Tool Tire Boot
– Tubeless valve and spare core
– Valve core extractor tool (not necessary given the pliers, but I like it!)
– Pedro’s tire lever (the only tire lever I haven’t managed to break)
– Inner tubes (1-2, depending on trip)
– Spare length of chain (for Rohloff)
– Wolftooth Master Link Combo Pliers (includes 2 x SRAM Powerlinks)
– Heavy duty chain lube
– Rag (my favourite old T-shirts live on as rags)
– Electrical tape
– Lezyne Micro Floor Drive HV (wrapped with Gorilla tape)
– Assorted zip ties
– Small tub of grease
– Bag of assorted spare bolts (at least one of each size found on bike)
– Plastic tool for preloading Shimano crank arms
– Small wrench for tightening rack bolts
– 2 x spare spokes of each length
– Small Lezyne multi-tool
– Mini channel lock
– 2 x Avid BB7 brake pads
– 5mm and 6mm Allen keys
– TX20 (Rohloff) and long TX25 (brake pistons)
– Orange Seal sealant
– Brake cable
– Short length of paracord
– Voile strap
I try to avoid mechanicals altogether by having my bike professionally serviced multiple times a year. This goes a long way, since I’m not the most mechanically inclined person. My biggest focus for my tool kit is to carry tools and parts that I am comfortable with using to fix or replace my equipment in the field, leaving the tough fixes for a trained mechanic. Regardless, shit happens when you least expect it, which is why I carry the things I do.
My most recent tool kit is a culmination of a month-and-a-half trip in Central America, pared down slightly for some shorter (four- and seven-day) trips in southern Arizona. Since I’ve primarily been traveling in desert environments as of late, my tool kit is heavily focused on fixing leaks and holes in my tires, sleeping pad, and spare tube caused by thorns and rocks. Additionally, I carry a spare derailleur hanger for the bike I’m riding. The most common problem I encounter is when my derailleur hanger gets bent from varying methods of transport and random bike tip-overs. A derailleur hanger replacement can turn a shifting catastrophe into a good-as-new fix in just a few moments.
I generally pack my tools, chain lube, and electrical tape in an easily accessible pocket of my Specialized Top Tube Pack and put the remaining items in either a Bedrock Honaker BOT bag strapped to the downtube of my Specialized Sequoia or in the SWAT storage compartment inside the downtube of my S-Works Fuse.
Sarah’s Tool Kit:
– Leatherman Squirt PS4
– Small bottle of wax chain lube
– FiberFix Emergency Spoke Replacement Kit
– Blackburn Wayside multi-tool
– More electrical tape
– 2oz Stans Notubes tire sealant
– An assortment of patches and glue
– A traditional patch kit for tubes
– Tire plugs
– Needle and thread
– Zip ties
– Extra bag strap
– Spare inner tube
– Spare derailleur hanger
– Spare valve stem
– Chain links
– Brake pads
– Extra cleat
– Presta valve adapter
– Valve core tool
– Bungee end
– Various sizes of bolts (4-6mm)
Ronaldo Romance, Esquire
My tool kit is an ever rotating assortment of high-end accoutrements and low-end trinkets. I say “rotating” cuz most everything I come into possession of gets lost or dropped, likely “rotating” down the road or trail. I dealt with this in my teenage-20s by just never bringing tools. It was lighter and always easier to forget your tool kit, rather than trying to remember it. I’ve ridden my bike 30 miles home on the rims before. The tires and rims were toast, but at least I didn’t have all that extra weight of a spare tube for all of those rides before the flats happened!
Am I recommending this? No. Not at all. But, it was just a thing… my riding buddies and I, growing up in Connecticut, never brought tools with us. If it couldn’t be fixed with a rock or leaves, then we’d just walk home. Of course, that changes in the backcountry. Well, the distance of the walk changes, at least. So, I just wanna preface my list of tools with this: I’m not a tool guy. I’m a bang it with a rock guy. Like, the opposite of a German.
Ronaldo’s Tool Kit:
– Two shots of stans
– Crankbrothers multi-tool (I lose about two/year)
– 10-15 ft of Gorilla Tape
– Spare derailleur hanger (I’m proud of this one)
– Frame pump
– Leatherman Squirt (I’ve lost 3 of these)
– Spare valve core
– Tire levers
Now that I type it all out, it really isn’t that sparse of a toolkit. I don’t think I would really add anything, other than some of those tubeless tire plugs. Those are neat.
I carry this kit whenever I ride my bike, whether I’m commuting, on an overnighter, or an extended tour. Because I’m always switching between bikes and different rides, I keep it in one of my beloved silly bum bags (or fanny packs, as they’re known in the States!). I also find that keeping the tools in my bum bag means I don’t have to go digging in the rain or when my hands are cold. I know exactly where everything is and can get to it instantly.
My favourite pieces in my tool kit are my tiny 15mm Lezyne wrenches, the perfect tool for taking pedals on and off when packing or building my bike for touring. I’ve searched forever for a super lightweight pedal wrench to take touring and these ones even feature a fancy bottle opener. I have a pretty basic multi-tool stashed away with some patches, and I also take a spare tube of the appropriate size depending on which bike I’m on. Finally, I always bring a handful of cable ties and spare bolts and washers just in case things get rowdy! So that’s my tool kit, hope I nailed it. I know I probably forgot something important and I’ll be screwed on my next tour. Actually, I’ll probably be fine because working in Australian bike shops for so long has made me a koalified mechanic!
Pepper’s Tool Kit:
– 2x Lezyne Sabre Wrenches
– Spare brake pads
– Spoke key
– 2x tyre levers
– Spare tubeless valve
– Anti-theft skewer tool
– 10mm wrench
– Chain oil
– Quick link
– Spare nuts/bolts/washers
Recently, I’ve been bikepacking in the Southwest, where the majority of plants and rocks tend to be sharp and unforgiving. As such, my current toolkit includes several items that focus on keeping my tires inflated and rolling. Spare tire sealant, curved needle and thread, a few tire boots, and CO2 to help reseat a tire are a few of the items as well as a spare tube and patch kit. Aside from my tire repair items, I tend to pack the basics, including single allen keys since I find they are easier to use than most multitools. I always make sure I have all the necessary sizes for whatever bike I’m riding. I carry a multitool, but it’s not bike specific. It’s a standard Gerber brand and includes a knife and pliers, both of which I find useful for bike repairs (and cooking).
I pack the majority of my tools in my Revelate Designs Jerrycan. They’re out of the way, but accessible when needed. The remaining items less likely to be needed get put in a gray velcro pouch I sewed myself out of X-Pac fabric. It’s not the most glamourous of bikepacking accessory bags, but it does the trick.
Ryan’s Tool Kit:
– T25 wrench
– Chain tool and quick link
– Multi-tool with pliers
– Spare tube
– Tire lever
– Patch kit
– Tire boot
– Tire sealant
– Spare valve stem
– CO2 and inflator
– Curved needle and thread
– Spare derailleur cable
– Derailleur hanger
– Duct tape
– Spare brake pads
– Chain lube
What tools do you never leave home without? Let us know in the comments below!