What’s in Your Pack?

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Everybody  calls it a Camelbak, even though it should be called a hydration pack.  Camelbak is a brand name.  It’s like calling a tissue “kleenex” or an adhesive bandage a “bandaid”.  But we do it anyway.  So what’s in your Camelbak?

I would really prefer not to carry a pack. It’s heavy, and hot in the summer.  But there is a lot of stuff you need to carry when you mountain bike (and I need even more because of the epi-pens).  And I would rather not hang a bunch of little bags from my bike, and then wear a jersey with pockets full of more stuff.  So I have resigned myself to carrying a Camelbak.

Start with the bag itself.  My pack has a lumbar reservoir.  That means the water bladder is low, so the weight is over your hips instead of between your shoulders – much more comfortable.  First thing that goes inside is epi-pens, because they might mean the difference between getting home and not.  Then my phone.  I don’t usually make calls in the woods, but Strava is pretty entertaining.  The phone goes into a waterproof bag, not because I worry about rain, but because falling in the river is always a possibility.

Tools, pump, and tube might make the difference between riding all afternoon and pushing my bike home (never fun).  The little purple thing on my keys is a tick key.  It’s a neat and easy way to remove ticks.  I rarely get bitten (I probably taste as bad as the rutabaga I had for dinner), but it’s tiny and might be useful.

Next come first aid supplies.  You need to find a balance between fixing every boo-boo, and portability. I could easily carry a huge kit with gauze pads, roller gauze, ace bandages (there’s the brand name thing again), and many sizes of splints. But for the sake of weight, I’ve settled on a basic kit, with band-aids (not really the brand name ones), gloves, gauze, a bandana which can be used for all sorts of bandaging, and a clotting sponge, in case I or somebody else gets impaled on something sharp.  Little hurts can be bandaged and then you can walk or ride home.  Big hurts or broken bones can’t be walked out, and we may as well let the EMTs carry the stuff to treat those things.

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This neat little tool roll came with my pack.  It’s full of stuff that you might need in the woods.  Bandaids are obvious and duct tape fixes everything.  Zip ties can hold your bike and it’s cables together.  Allen wrenches and a knife can fix your bike, cut your duct tape, or trim zip ties so they don’t get caught on stuff.  The little orange doohickey is to save your disc brakes from ruin, and my tire levers are pink because Anna got them for me (and they’re pink!).

The newest addition to my tool roll is the white rectangle marked TB-2.  It’s called a tire boot.  It’s easy enough to carry a spare tube in case you get a flat.  (The patch kit is in case of a second flat which would really be a bummer).  But it’s not really practical to carry an extra tire, and sometimes this happens:

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You can’t carry everything you might ever need, but the trick is to figure out what you are most likely to need in the woods in case of flat tire, breakdown, or injury, and carry things that give you the most use for small size.   So what’s in YOUR pack?

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