Whatcha Packin' - Cam McRae's on Ride Carry

Photos Cam McRae
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One of the best mechanics I know rides with nothing at all to prepare for a breakdown. Not a tube, not a muti-tool, not a pump. I rode with him recently and he did bring a water bottle. Others ride with several different derailleur hangers, multiple tubes, spoke wrenches, a first aid kit, spare brake hose and a bleed kit, emergency blankets, and a bento box and chop sticks for a mid ride sushi snack. I used to be the guy who carried just about everything, back in the days when things broke much more often. A taco'ed wheel or broken hanger or derailleur used to be a weekly occurrence on group rides, but I can't remember the last time I witnessed any of those mishaps. Even flats are becoming more rare with tubeless, inserts, sealant and improved tire casings.

I used to carry a large pack of some description, usually with a 3 litre bladder, and nothing on my bike, not even a water bottle. These days I strap a tube on my personal bike, and put everything else in a fanny pack, which means efficiency is key.


I wear a Camelbak Repack bum bag with the bladder removed, now that I'm on a bike that will hold a full size bottle almost all the time.

We've had a bunch of different bum bags roll through but I haven't had one come close to the comfort and utility of the Camelbak Repack LR 4. Every pack maker should have a look, because the sleeve on the right hand side and the zippered pocket on the right are like free space, and they can both be accessed without pack removal. the retention system has secondary cinches so you can get it to the perfect tension every time, and it rarely needs to be readjusted. You can check my full review of the Repack here.


The Camelbak Repack LR 4 has a sleeve on the right hip that is easily accessible with gloves on and without removing the bag. I keep my multi tool in there and I can have it out in seconds. I also sometimes slide my wallet in there.


My phone isn't a phablet, but if I get a larger one it will still fit in the zippered pocket on the left. Again I can access it with gloves on without pack removal.

I've laid out all the things I might take on a given ride, but there are always tradeoffs. If I'm on a group ride and I'm packing a beer and a shock pump, I'll make sure one of my buddies has a tire pump and leave that behind. I don't need a tube on my personal bike because I have one strapped on with a Mutherload Frame Strap from Backcountry research. I could strap my tool and a cartridge on there as well, but I switch bikes too often for that.


Everything to the right of the tube is optional/sometimes gear. The flask comes quite regularly though.

Riding in the age of COVID-19, I've been wanting to extend my time in the forest, so I've been doing a little trail building and bringing along a saw on occasion, and often stopping for a beer once the climbing is done. A tallboy makes sense if you're going to that effort. I use a custom four koozie system for maximum insulation. You can't put on on and then the other so you need to stuff one inside the other first and then slide them on either side of the can. I offset the slits at the bottom so there is no exposed can, and even after a 90 minute climb to the trailhead I've got a cold beer. When I'm in the process of setting up a bike I often bring a shock pump, but it's not an every day carry for me.


My optional gear. During shoulder season, if it's a little cool and rain seems likely, I'll toss in a light jacket like the Gore Windstopper Rescue which is light but very protective when the weather turns.

This was a good exercise in re-evaluating my prep. There weren't many surprises, but I had three valve stems left over from previous flats, and a bundle of zip ties that were redundant because of a couple of new things I'm trying.


What I was carrying, including two tubes, or three including the one on my personal bike, 3 valve stems, two patch kits, and some zip ties I no longer need.


My slimmed down daily paraphernalia, minus a multi tool which didn't make it into this photo.

Matador Reties are reusable loop closures that are cinched with a spring toggle. They will go as small as 1" or as large as 12", or double that if you combine a pair. I have also just started carrying five feet of 3/4" width double sided velcro strap, which I think will be very useful despite being the size of two Oreo cookies and weighing only a few grams. I cut a section long enough to be used as a sling, it could strap just about anything to you or your bike, make a solid tourniquet, and maybe even hold a broken frame together.


I've ditched the zip ties for a pair of Matador Re-Ties and 5" of double sided velcro.


The tool I'm most pleased to be adding is a Leatherman Squirt PS4. It has an aluminum handle and weighs just 56 grams but adds several useful tools. Leatherman says these are needle nose and regular pliers. All I care about is that they seem able to remove a quick link easily. There's also a wire cutter closer to the pivot.


The scissors are a little small to be useful, but the knife is a decent size, and the file may come in handy as well.


It closes up very small but packs a punch. Pliers are great for removing stuck tubeless valves, pulling out thorns, or anything that requires a firm grip.

Multi tools are very hit and miss for me, but I've been very pleased with the Crankbrothers F15 LE. It has everything I need, including an 8mm for pedals and a chain breaker, the magnetic case can be used as a handle for extra leverage, and the quality is excellent. I've had this one in my pack for most of the winter and there are no signs of rust or corrosion. Of course if you are going to pick one of these up, you should probably get the Stevie Smith Memorial Edition.


I have successfully used the chain breaker on the Crankbrothers F15 LE (seen right facing down with spoke key slots exposed) and materials and construction are top notch. As seen above, it's had nasty winter of use, and there is not a hint of corrosion to be seen. It weighs 156 grams.

If I know I'm going to need to swap some components are make a lot of adjustments, I throw in the Topeak Ratchet Rocket Lite DX tool. The bits swap quickly and easily and the ratcheting mechanism makes quick work for bar or saddle swaps or cockpit adjustments. It also includes a set of tire levers, which I haven't yet tried.


All the bits you need (10 in all) and lots of versatility.


The case is compact and weighs 164 grams. The new version adds a T15 Torx bit.

I carry a cartridge for emergencies, but I don't really like using them. First off, if you screw up or if your tire doesn't seat well you've got nothing, and secondly you've got to toss them when you are done to the best of my knowledge. The best mini pump I've ever used is the OneUp EDC pump. At just 156 grams, it pushes great volume, seals against the elements, and the pump head doubles as CO2 inflator. You can also stash an EDC tool inside along with a small cartridge.


A tube folded into a longer burrito instead of a donut fits better in a bum bag and can provide a little protection against your back. Double sided velcro keeps it together.


OneUp's EDC pump with the C02 inflator for a pump head. Gorilla tape wrapped around the shaft works for extra grip and when needed in to fix something busted.

I have decided to give Tubolito another try. I was carrying the small, 45 gram version, the S-Tubo, last fall and I flatted. When I stuck the tube in it began to leak right away and was soon flat. I found a couple of pinholes in the tube which may have been the result of something still sticking through the tire, but I never checked. Now you can get adhesive patches so I'm giving them another try and ditching the heavy conventional tube. Even regular tubes can weigh as much as 300 grams. Even the heavier Tubolito weighs just 85 grams in 29.


TheS-Tubo is tiny and very, very light. There are also adhesive patches available now. Considering a single tube is €32.90, you'd think a patch or two would be included, but five patches with alcohol wipes (which would come in handy about now) will cost you €3.90.

Rather than bacon strips or anchovies, I've been carrying the Stan's Dart tool. I've witnessed it being used successfully, but the one time I tried it, there was no love. In fact I stuck in two of the little refill spiders, that are each worth more than a cheap tube, at 20 USD for five, but they failed to seal my puncture.


TwoSilca Premio tire levers, which have an aluminum spine for strength, and one ENVE tool in case things get nasty and need more leverage.


Wee bits include a valve core remover (there is another on the Crankbrothers multi tool but I prefer to have one of these) a quick link, two presta lockings (I'm not sure why) and one tubeless valve.

I don't wear my eye glasses riding, but if I have to do some finicky repairs, I need some corrective lenses for sure so I've got a cheap pair of readers in there. I also have a cartridge and an inflator, because I sometimes leave the pump at home. And that's pretty much everything. I always learn something about what's missing or redundant when I write on this topic, so feel free to enlighten me below.

Cam's Every Ride Carry List - where to buy

Camelbak Repack LR 4 Hip Pack - $80 USD
GORE C3 Windstopper Classic (the Rescue Windstopper is discontinued) - $149 USD
OneUp EDC Pump - $55-59 USD
Topeak Ratchet Rocket Lite DX Tool - $34.95 (currently on sale for $26) // Topeak Smart Gauge D2 - $34.95 US (also on sale for $26)
Crankbrothers F15 multi-tool - $56 USD
Matador Re-Ties - $8.25 (4-pack)
Tubolito S-Tubo 29" MTB tube - $37.90
Leatherman Squirt PS4 Multi-tool - $39.95 US
Stan's DART tool - $25 US

*Buying something from one of the links above (or something else from one of these shops) will benefit NSMB without additional cost to you. We won't link to it if we don't recommend it.

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+4 Merwinn Cam McRae Pete Roggeman Dan

I have a Dakine Hot Laps 2L with a packable jacket in the external bottle sleeve. 

For a make shift tourniquet (and general hold all) I carry a bungy cord from my bike rack in my bum bag but I'll never relinquish my bundle of zip ties. 

Otherwise my set up's pretty much the same as yours apart from  a couple of lycra-y buffs (for just in case of sudden temperature drops), an emergency blanket and a snack ferda bonks.


+4 Cr4w Cam McRae Pete Roggeman Dan

Best first aid imo: quick clot and coband/gauze. Coband is small and super light. Quick clot is light and pretty small. Deep gases seem the most likely really dangerous injury so these are my first aid priority


+3 Cam McRae Agleck7 Pete Roggeman

I have a big pack and small pack option. Both get a triangle bandage which addresses most of the likely flesh wound options. In the big pack I add a SAM reusable splint and tensor bandage, which are both surprisingly light and together provide a huge range of injury coverage. Those triangle bandages are super versatile. Big enough to wrap a nasty cut or long enough to serve as a sling. Buy them at MEC

+2 Pete Roggeman Dan

I should really get some of that stuff since I am a trained first aider (long lapsed now though) and served in that capacity at three different jobs. That was about what I used to carry for first aid stuff. SAM splints have multiple uses, as do triangle bandages as you said. Diapers make great highly absorbent gauze/abdominal pads in a pinch.


+1 Pete Roggeman

Abdominal pads are my secret sauce. I've had to take too many of my friends to the hospital and it seems that the main thing I've ever needed in addition to what I'm wearing is an abdominal pad. I also like to carry a little bottle of idoine to clean my water bottle and water to flush wounds.

In a pinch:
-T shirt and jersey makes good triangle bandage

- Pump makes a good splint

- Loose allen keys also make good finger splints, it's one of the reasons I prefer to carry an L set over a multitool

-Gorrilla tape and innertubes can be used to tie things (there are consequences to this)

-Valve extenders have gotten me out of a number of flat/pump related too. I keep those handy

-Emergency blanket, lighter, knife, some bonus snacks, and a light is a good idea (I've spent a few unplanned nights on the mountain due to mechanicals or surprise weather conditions in somewhat remote places... )

Doing a lot of hiking these past years has been weird, I've had to start carrying things like sam splints because I don't have the bike tools I'm used to having around.

And, in case your wondering, yes I have splinted things with pumps and allen keys.... one of the reasons I usually alone is so I don't have to do as much first aid.


+1 Sanesh Iyer

The one OTC med to add is a few Benadryl(or similar).  It's the one pill I carry to help stop some allergic reaction to a bee sting or something similar.  I don't mess with any anti-inflammatory or pain meds...I might throw those in a 1st Aid kit if I were going deep into the woods for a night or two.


+4 Cr4w Cam McRae Pete Roggeman Dan

I have 2 packs that I rotate between depending on time of year and type of ride.    An USWE 15L and a EVOC hip pack.   Contents vary but in the spring I always try and ride with a saw for trail clearing.   For you Cam, I would recommend one of the Silky folders... I have the BigBoy2000 for pack days and PocketBoy for hip pack ones.    Best saws on the market...



Good recommendation with the Silkys. I have found there is a significant price difference if you purchase from a home improvement store vs REI here in the US. (Yeah, yeah, Lowe's isn't a co-op. Just sharing what I know.)

Personally I use a Fiskars 10" folding saw that I found in the bush years ago on a backcountry trip. I lash it to my frame with a mutherload-like strap.


+3 Cam McRae Pete Roggeman Dan

I have been using that Velcro tape a ton for all sorts of bike stuff - mostly for carrying items. Like if you take your jacket off for a climb, just bundle it up on the bars and secure with some velcro. Weighs next to nothing and easily stores wrapped around the handlebar.

I'm also pleasantly surprised every time I buy a product like that at a hardware store - it might have been $15 for a fairly large roll and it reminds me the premium we pay for something once it's branded as a bike product. If Velcro just stuck a picture of a guy on a bike on the package and called it "DIY Enduro Straps" or something, it would be $65 at least.


+2 Cr4w Dan

Hey Cam - those Matador Re-Ties look like a great alternative to zip ties - do you know if they're available at any shops in in the lower mainland?

+1 Dan

Hi Tomer, Matador isn't available locally as far as I know, but you can find them for sale (and they're currently on sale) here. They make all kinds of other lightweight travel/portability stuff.


+2 Cam McRae Pete Roggeman

Thanks Pete, sounds like a group buy is in order!


+1 Pete Roggeman

You should get NSMB-branded ones and sell them In your store!


To be clear, I haven't used the Matador ties yet, but they do look to be very effective and useful. And they aren't garbage if your first attempt is unsuccessful. As far as branding goes, I needed my phone's magnify function with the light on to find out who makes them, so perhaps not the best marketing! Those Silky saws look very nice. The Pocketboy looks like a great replacement for my saw (which works very well) if I ever need a replacement . MEC used to sell a version of  Meyerco saw and it had 11 reviews and one star out of five. It has served e well however and it was a gift so no complaints.





Agreed, those look really trick. I'd love to move away from single-use plastic zip ties, especially given that I tend to use them for short-term repairs just to get out of the woods. I'm seeing them at $8.24 for 4 as a US customer. I'll order them in the morning. 

Something I just heard is that bits of Orange sealant can be (re)used as a tire plug. An Ontario wheelbuilder shared that with me - said that he saves what he pulls out of tires when it's time for fresh sealant, and uses it for trailside repairs later on. Haven't tried it yet myself as I have been using Stan's (which as we all know just generates weird goblins) but next sealant purchase will be Orange to try this out.


+2 Cam McRae Pete Roggeman

I have 2 packs, my regular ride and my family ride.  The family ride allows me to take everything but the kitchen sink just in case things so wrong.  That pack also serves as enduro course worker bag so I can haul tons of stuff into the woods.

2 things I have adapted over time.  A manual chain saw packs very small and can clear larger stuff pretty fast.  Crankbrothers Gem pump is amazing, the high volume / high pressure setting make getting the right amount of air in a tire very easy: For the record this is the only Crankbrothers item I have ever bought that I didn't instantly hate the first time I used it, I can't stand them but this product is just plain awesome.

+1 Dan

I used to be more on that side with Crankbrothers, and I actually had a very similar looking pump that failed years ago, but my recent experiences have been very good. I am a big fan of their flat pedals, the carbon wheels, and the mulit-tool above is one of the best I have used by several measures. I haven't spent much time on their dropper posts yet, but the very-discerning Andrew Major gives them high marks indeed. Since Selle Italia purchased the company quality and durability have become as important as pretty boxes and sleek designs. The last few years particularly have seen their products and approach hit the next level.


+2 Pete Roggeman Cam McRae

Specialized swat frame storage screws up the switching between bikes thing. I ended up with a second set of on bike tools/gear for my other bikes.


+2 Pete Roggeman Dan

FYI - not sure about the lower mainland but in the Victoria area on the island, Co2 cartridges are recyclable as scrap metal.  So I just save them up (geeze, not many these days **knocks on wood**), and bring them with my me on my dump runs.  Conveniently "the dump" as it's affectionately known (aka - Hartland), also happens to be my usual weekly riding area, so sometimes I'll just pop over before or after a ride.


+2 Pete Roggeman Cam McRae

That Gore Tex jacket looks like it packs into a very small package. I put my light jacket in a zip lock bag and squeeze out all the air but that Gore Tex jacket could just stay in my pack indefinitely. The jacket in a bag makes a nice bum pad while sipping my cold bevvy . English Ales are just as tasty when they are less than cold. 

I can't think of any tools or parts I would add to your list. 

I do carry a very small lite that stays in the pack with the batteries in a waterproof bag. And I carry a small flasher as well. The lights will get me off the trail at a snail's pace . They are more for the safe commute home .

If your mini pump fails it's possible adding some grease to the Piston will get it working again.


+1 Pete Roggeman

I have now gone to a three pack system, with each pack containing everything that is needed for a ride without the need to shift items from one pack to another.  In other words I have three pumps (plus the pumps at home)

Pack 1 - Dakine Stealth for shuttles and bike park.  Pump (OneUp), tube, multi tool, bacon, links, valve, patch, zip ties, levers.  Perfect to fit under a jersey when water is not needed.  don't notice at all.

Pack 2 - Backcountry  Same stuff as the first pack but also carry's water and maybe a extra pair of gloves and food.  

Pack 3 - Camelbak Skyline 10 - for when I need more water (up to 3 litres) as well as when extra clothing is needed.  This is the go to pack for wet winter or hot summer.  same stuff as bag 2 for tools. 

Key is that water, tubes etc. never go on the bike.  Everything is in a bag or in the case of a phone in my pocket.



I'm running only one bike, and I've lashed most everything to my frame: EDC pump under my bottle cage, and a Dakine Hot Laps wrap behind the head tube with a tube, 2 Pedros levers, and a SOG folding knife (just 'cause). I have an 11sp chain link taped to my bars and a Fiskars saw sometimes lashed under the TT. The vast majority of my rides are really close to home so I'll run my minimalist Bontrager Rapid Pack to securely stash my keys, a pack of yet-unused bacons, Crank Bros F15 (Canada edition!), and maybe a snack. When I'm gonna be out for 2 or more hours, or riding the bike park, I have a High Above pack with ample space for a lot more food, my GoPro, spare links, a flashlight, brake pads, and a small jacket, etc. While I take issue with the design of the High Above - it un-cinches itself nearly every time I take it on/off, unlike the Bonti pack - it's good enough that I haven't used my Dakine Nomad in several years. 

No matter the ride length/distance, I use a Sealine mobile phone pouch for my iPhone SE. Like Cam, I favor smaller phones. This case accommodates it and keeps it dry.


+1 Dan

My pack has a very similar load out (I even pack the velcro!) but one thing I add is a long'ish ski strap.  It's my tourniquet-in-a-pinch and can hold clunkier things together.



What no toilet paper/butt wipe?



Put your tube in the coozie. Keeps the tube from getting abraded....and coozie!


Got a tube sock, but that's not a bad idea. Holes at both ends though...


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