So Kitted: A Measured but Meticulous Approach to Every-Ride Essentials


So Kitted: A Measured but Meticulous Approach to Every-Ride Essentials

We pay a lot of attention to our multi-day-ride packing lists. But what about just, like, a Sunday-ride packing list? Travis Engel has been building his kit over several years, adding and subtracting as necessity and technology shift. This is what we think is a pretty thorough setup, but let us know if we missed anything. What’s in your kit that you never leave home without?.

There’s this weird phrase I’ve heard my mountaineering friends use: “Self-rescue.” As in, you are in peril and, instead of needing to call or wait for rescue, you’re able to “rescue yourself.” I think the phrase hits different as a cyclist. Sure, if something happens when I’m on foot that is so severe that I can’t simply walk home, then yeah. What I need is definitely rescue. But when I’m on a bike ten miles from the road, the sun is setting in an hour, and I get a flat or snap a chain or break a crucial bolt, would fixing it be considered self-rescue?

What I’m getting at here is that the need to save our bikes and the need to save ourselves are often intertwined. That’s why I try to take a holistic approach to what I carry. Although I’m not in the Alaskan outback, I primarily ride far outside of cellular range, on trails that may go days without seeing any use, and are often steep, rocky, and exposed. So, following a phrase I learned from my motorcycling friends, I bring ATGATT, or All The Gear All The Time. Here’s what that means to me:


Everyone knows these first bits, so there is no need to go into detail. Pump because CO2s are expensive, Katadyn BeFree because it’s the best, Garmin InReach because I’d rather ride in a helicopter than die of exposure.


Everything I’ll cover below fits in these two roll bags, and each has a specific purpose. Camelbak includes them with some of their packs. On the left is the current version, and has one zippered pouch, two elastic pouches, and two CO2 sleeves. It’s where I keep my flat-repair essentials, but it has limited versatility beyond that. On the right is the old style, which carries first aid and miscellaneous essentials. It’s simply three zippered pouches. I kinda prefer this style if you can find it. There are a bunch of similar bags in the “tactical gear” world, but if you go a-Googling, I suggest turning on Incognito mode unless you want your Instagram feed clogged with ads for laser sights and bump stocks. And on the topic of bags, small heavy-duty ziplock bags are hard to come by. The ones I use are all repurposed product packaging. Hardware, electronics, and dank buds often come sold in burly little plastic pouches, so save ’em.

Tire Repair

I carry both a standard and a plus-sized Tubolito tube. Though my tires max out at 2.5”, I like that the plus-sized tube does’t have to stretch as far. I carry the second one because I know my likelihood of getting a flat skyrockets as soon as I’m no longer tubeless. When you’re shopping for these, pay attention to valve length. Many default to 42mm, which can be a little short, especially on some harder-hitting gravel rims. I also carry a stack of Tubolito’s glueless patches. I’ve only had to use them once, and there still was a leak, but a very slow one.

This Genuine Innovations Tubeless Tackle Kit is simple but smart. The insertion tool is thinner than most, so I snipped the tines off the “forked” end so that it could insert oversized plugs, and never pulls them out accidentally. Getting at this thing is a slow process, so if I think I can catch a puncture early, I’ve got a pre-loaded plug in all my handlebars. The Genuine Innovations canister holds plenty of spares and a replacement valve core. There’s a valve core tool at the base, a must given my choice of a thread-on-style pump. Though I reach for my pump first, a CO2 blast may be needed to save precious seconds of daylight on a descent. Or to seat a tire, if I’m feeling optimistic.

If a puncture gets really bad, I’ve got a needle and thread. Though I’ve only sewn up a tire off the rim and in my house, these curved needles may make it easier to leave the tire seated throughout the process. I wound some burly upholstery thread on a bobbin and taped it up to keep it contained.


I carry my folding tool in my steerer tube for quick jobs, along with a chain tool, but there’s a 3, 4, 5 and 6mm in my bag in case I need to hunker down. That 8mm bit is in there because I don’t trust my folding tool in high-torque situations. And I can’t afford Knipex pliers, so I’ve got this cute little slip-joint number.

There’s also a drip bottle of oil, spare master links, assorted bolts, and a healthy amount of washers in case I need to augment the effective length of one of them. A couple of those little metal pieces are part-specific, like a brake-pad cotter pin, SPD cleat and bolts, shifter- and dropper-mounting hardware for SRAM and Shimano, and a proprietary nut for my seatpost’s saddle clamp, which I’ve seen break or strip more than once.

First Aid

At the risk of dispensing unqualified medical advice, I think this is a pretty thorough kit given how small it is. Much of it is aimed at keeping a wound clean. I’ve seen a friend’s deep puncture from a Yucca spine turn into a serious infection after a few days in the field. Alcohol wipes, a sterile gauze pad, and fresh rubber gloves can go a long way. I also keep my toilet paper stashed here, since I know it’ll stay dry. Another bag holds some little tubes of antibiotic ointment and some incredible 3M Nexcare bandages. I’m not gonna go putting on a bandaid every time I get a pedal bite, but if something is minor but deep, I’ll feel way better about continuing my ride if I take care of it. I repurposed a contact lens case to carry some pills. I’ve also got some painkillers, including one last oxycodone *chef’s kiss* left over from my knee surgery. My water purification tablets live in here as well. There’s a sterile suture kit cocooned in with alcohol pads and antibiotic ointment so it stays sterile. I hope I have the nerve to use it if the day ever comes. If not, there’s always that tube of superglue.

Odds and ends

This part can be fun to put together. I keep a cheap, compact pocket knife here, alongside the requisite collection of zip ties, including a couple of heavy-duty ones with robust metal “teeth.” There are also safety pins, paper clips, super glue, a packet of Chamois Butt’r, and wide and narrow rolls of duct tape. There’s also a mini Sharpie and a small stack of paper in a waterproof baggie because I’ve sometimes wanted to leave a note too complicated to scratch in the dirt. And I now carry an emergency blanket and a windproof lighter, which seemed crazy until someone asked me what I’d do if I got injured late some January evening, and nobody found me until daylight. I didn’t like my answer.

What I don’t carry (not pictured)

There are a few things absent from this list that I’ve addressed in other ways. There’s no derailleur hanger on this list because, at the moment, every one of my bikes uses a different one, so I have a stash solution on each to carry its own spare. Two are pinned inside frame bags; two are bolted to fender mounts. I also don’t carry cash anymore because I have long been in the habit of making sure there’s at least $20 in my “satellite wallet,” (I.D., debit, credit, and insurance cards), and that always comes with me. And for a while, I carried a spare car key in this kit, but I’ve recently moved on to a hide-a-key. I also don’t carry spare spokes because, since disc brakes were invented, I’ve never needed to replace one on a ride. And I don’t carry a cable because in thirty years, I’ve never broken one … I probably shouldn’t have said that.

So, this is kind of a lot of stuff. And it’s not exactly light, at 955 grams, not counting the pump, filter or GPS units. That’s why I think every bike deserves a frame bag. I have room for all this stuff on all of my bikes, but they don’t take up much space in a hip bag if need be. It’s probably overkill, but that’s kinda the point. To varying extents, we’re all just rolling the dice whenever we enter the woods. Like any game of chance, the more time you spend doing it, the more likely you are to be surprised. And who knows, maybe someday my kit will help me self-rescue someone else.