Every Ride Carry: John’s Riding Tool Kit for MTB and Gravel


Every Ride Carry: John’s Riding Tool Kit for MTB and Gravel

A faint kiss of cool air blows across the Southern Rockies here in Santa Fe. That means summer is almost over. This season shift has led me to reflect upon my ERC, or Every Ride Carry, that I’ve been using all summer here on MTB and gravel rides in the foothills and deep into our Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Let’s check it out below…

Vessel: Realm Crossbody Pack

While there are smaller hip bags in normal circulation over here, I keep coming back to Realm’s Crossbody Pack time and time again. Even though it’s a pretty large bag, intended to be run as a messenger-style bag or hip bag, it fits all I need for a backcountry ride and still has plenty of room for snacks. Yet what makes me like it so much is the proportions.

It’s wide, tall, and shallow in depth, meaning it hugs your back comfortably without moving around. Other hip bags I’ve used tend to be deeper and often move around when you’re descending singletrack. The Crossbody Pack hugs your lower back and stays put no matter how stuffed or lean it is on any given ride.

What I love about this pack is when you start off on a ride and it’s stuffed with food, you can loosen the side wing compression straps, but as you’re riding home with a lighter pack, you can cinch it down to keep it even more secure. The Fidlock closure mechanism is solid, sturdy, and doesn’t cause discomfort on my stomach.

The hand-dyed ECOPACK material is unique, as well as the little snail embroidery on the bottom, reminding me to be slow and steady on my bigger rides.

The brightly-colored interior makes finding items that have fallen to the bottom easy to see.

Multiple interior zippered and pouched compartments make it easy to store the tools you don’t use all that often away–like an inner tube–while avoiding unnecessary rubbing or wear and tear.

There’s also a cargo strap on the bottom, allowing for you to roll up a rain jacket, and a zippered pocket on the outside for house keys and cell phone.


  • 400d packcloth liner fabric
  • Water-resistant zippers with silent 550 paracord zipper pulls (made in the USA)
  • Lightweight Fidlock magnetic buckle on the waist strap
  • 1.5″ wide main strap, adjustable up to 56″ waist/chest
  • Zippered outer pocket, inner pocket, and 3-slot inner slip pocket
  • Air mesh back panel, with additional closed cell foam padding (made in the USA) for structure and comfort
  • Cinch straps on the bottom
  • Embroidered art on the bottom
  • 12″ wide // 7″ tall // 4.5″deep

Jacket: Rapha MTB Gore-Tex Rain Jacket

When monsoon season comes, I always bring a jacket when riding up at higher elevations. It’s not so much that I’m afraid of getting wet as I’m afraid of getting cold after I get wet. If you’re riding in the high country when a monsoon hits, you’re going to get soaked no matter what, but a rain jacket keeps your core warm as you descend to the lower (safer) elevations. Having an ultralight, Gore-Tex jacket also keeps you warm on cool mornings and packs down to nothing. Rapha just happened to make a jacket that matches my Starling Murmur too… For those extra matchy-matchy moments.

Tool Bag: Farewell Zipper Pouch

I love pouches. Especially camo ones made by one of our local bag makers, Farewell. These zippered tool pouches are the perfect size to stash your ride essentials in a jersey pocket, handlebar bag, frame bag, or hip bag, which is how I use it primarily. Farewell makes these to order, and they cost $25.

Overall, my tool selection is slim, relying on the Crankbrothers M17 multi-tool for my chain breaker and other hex and torx head tools. I carry a set of the Wolf Tooth Pack Pliers, with an extra 12-speed SRAM Eagle master link, which has come in handy more than a few times. The real day-saver is the Dynaplug Megapill Plug Kit, which holds a large plug for 1/8-3/16″ holes and several smaller plugs, for your standard tire tread or sidewall hole. I’ve had the CO2 cartridge for a few years, and, truthfully, I never need it, but I like having one just in case a tire goes flat, and I need to re-seat the bead.

The backpacker in me always has a lighter, and my Lezyne pump is wrapped with a few rounds of Gorilla tape in case I need to make a makeshift tire boot, fix tubeless tape, or make a splint for an injury. I always have a knife for various reasons, but usually to slice apples or cured meat sticks.


Photo by Eric Arce


Lip Trip Chap Stick
Supergoop! Glo Stick SPF 50

The Glo Stick has been the best sunblock for my face, neck, and ears. It lasts about three hours and doesn’t seem to be affected by excessive sweat. As a precaution on high UV days, or on rides with a lot of sun exposure, I usually wear my Ibex sun hoodie (read my review if you haven’t) and apply this every hour just to be safe. On lower UV days, I’ll wear a riding shirt and just cover my entire head with Glo Stick. It doesn’t irritate my eyes or cause any skin irritation.

Filter: Katadyn .6L Water Filter

The Katadyn is a must-have when riding our backcountry trails. Most of our MTB trails and our nice gravel ride follow a drainage system, supplying water year-round for rides. Due to cattle grazing in the National Forest and Wilderness areas, these delicate riparian zones are contaminated by their feces. As such, a good, lightweight filter is necessary. Our water isn’t too silty here, so it works really well in our rivers and creeks. I have found it to get clogged easily in silty water though. What I like the most about this filer is how small it folds up.

First Aid: Ultralight First Aid Kit by Adventure Medical Kits

All you need for everything from road to rock rash, including mild anti-inflammatory drugs and pain relievers, the Adventure Medical Kits are super light, compact, and come in a waterproof zip pack. Having had a few trail diggers get infected over the years, I try to clean my wounds as soon as they happen while on a ride.

Total weight 3lbs 8oz

Full disclosure: I bought everything in this post–most of which from my local shop, Sincere Cycles–except the Rapha jacket, which was sent in as part of the brand’s media seeding with no expectation for a review or any money exchanged. 



Well, let us know what you think. Is John missing a crucial piece of kit for this Every Ride Carry list? What’s your go-to setup look like? Please drop us a note in the comments!