Someone asked me if I usually carry bandages in my Camelbak, and I had to admit that I don’t, which surprised me—especially since I’m known to be especially prone to accidents.
At one time I carried a suture kit, but never replaced it after it was no longer sterile. I realized that it’s pretty useless without at least a beer and a few Percocets. Then again, you never know what you’re capable of when the only other choice is emotionally suffering through a visit to the ER.
I think the Camelbak is a lot like a purse for some people. Like it’s real personal. I just asked a really good friend of mine what he carries—because it’s always so big—when…well yeah, maybe it sounded a little bad. But he’s a guide, and it would be good to know what the guide is carrying. Maybe Scooby Snax for keeping up with the group? A spare tent? Beer?
I’ve got the basics:
Tubes, pump and tire levers: Always remember to replace the tubes you had to use on the trail that day. Stop by the bike shop on the way home. It sucks when you wait until the next time you’re getting ready to ride and you have to steal them out of your boyfriend’s stash. He gets so unreasonable when he’s the one stranded on the trail without a tube and has to walk the downhill.
Benadryl: Bee stings. Especially in the fall. I’m a big fan of immediate antihistamines—especially if you’ve gotten a lot of bee stings in the past. The more you get, the less ability your body has to fight it off. This is especially important for the guy who rides sweep and is left cruising through the trail after the nest has been stirred.
Food: I find a gel necessary for a couple hours of riding, and beyond that I bring chewable calories. I’ve always got the hookup for some sort of nutrition bar, but Caroline will bring beef stew if it’s what she had the night before. It’ll be wrapped up in a large ball of aluminum foil, which can be fashioned into a funnel. She is also a big fan of Hostess cupcakes and Cheez-Its.
Knife: I don’t think I’ve ever really used the knife, but it’s really sharp and looks cool.
Compass: I rarely ride trails that I don’t know, but when I do, I prefer a map of the area. If I can’t figure it out by map, and I feel like I need a compass, I’m certain that I’m going to be too pissed off to use it.
Pen: I don’t ever remember to bring anything to write on, but when I’m by myself I do come up with a lot of great things to write about. I use the pen to jot notes onto my hand, to leave love notes on other people’s trucks in the parking lot, and to wrap duct tape around. Duct tape can temporarily seal a tube, hold together a frame/derailleur, or fashion a flagpole in the event that a surrender flag is needed.
Lip lube: Although Carmex is perfect for the immediate gratification of suffering lips, my favorite is a peppermint blend by local company Essential Journeys, who also makes a yummy glycerin soap.
Brake pads: I’ve never used them, but there was this one time that I needed them really badly. I like to say I’ve learned to take better care of my bike before rides.
Derailleur hangar: I used to ride a Marin Wolf Ridge and the hangar would tear off if I got off of the bike too quickly. Well, ok, a large stick or tree would often be involved as well. I like to say I’ve learned to ride better since then.
Whistle: You’re supposed to carry this in case you need help, but I can whistle just as loud without it. I figure I’ll keep it in there in case there’s a time when I’m too weak from blood loss.
Rain shell: I don’t have one, but will have one now that the trail guide said he keeps two.