String (or nothing)

← Back to Forums

Mr. Destructicity

After repacking my trunk bag today I was struck by the ludicrous amount of crap I lug around with me everywhere. To wit:

* two spare tubes and a set of tire levers

* bottle of chain lube

* ridiculously overcomplicated multitool (seriously, if I ever need to use half of these tools during a roadside emergency I am totally screwed)

* first-aid kit

* u-lock

* emergency snack

* gum

* two containers of Burger king zesty onion ring sauce (not something I usually carry with me except I keep forgetting to take the damn things out of the bag)

* Pittsburgh bike map

* bandanna/rag

* sunblock

* book of bus tickets

* $5 (including $1 of quarters)

* teeny-tiny 5-color LED flashlight

And then I was curious what the rest of you were habitually lugging around in your panniers/seat packs/trunk bags.


*tire levers

*16g carbon dioxide cartridge + adapter

*patch kit (contains ~4 patches, tiny grater, sandpaper, and vulcanizing fluid)

*2 US quarters (kept in the patch kit; good for applying even pressure to a patch or making phone calls from a pay phone (assuming you can find one))

*Gerber style multi-tool

*pocket sized adjustable crescent wrench



I usually don’t consider the U-lock as part of the bike bag, but I guess it counts because it’s on the “never leave home without it” list.


Nothing. No bag at all. Which cost me over $20 this morning in getting a flat fixed, sitting in a coffee shop waiting to get a flat fixed, and then losing my lunch bag in the process. If I’d had at least a flat kit with me, I would have saved a lot of trouble and $20.


Tool kit

-tire levers

-patch kit

-spare tube


-stubby screwdriver

-chain quick link

-presta to Schrader adapter

-tire boot

-small crescent wrench

-small folding knife

-8 ft of thin para cord

-4 or 5 zip ties

-a few safety pins

-a few bandaids & alcohol wipes

-pair of nitral gloves

– $2.50 for bus or pop machine

small tire pump

Ulock & cable lock

Two bungee cords & thin nylon laundry bag (for unexpected odd shaped purchases)

Clear plastic rain coat

Seasonally extra clothing

Most of this stuff is never used by me, but has come in handy for others on group rides, etc. (the crescent wrench fits nothing on my bike that the multitool doesn’t cover for instance)


Things that are always in the bag:

*tire pump

*shop rag

*chain lube

*spare tube

*patch kit

*tire levers

*set of allen keys

*spoke wrench

*spare change


*flat head screwdriver


*extra lights

Things that are in the bag sometimes:

*clothes for work

*shock pump

*U-lock and/or cable lock


*beer (I find it amazing how long a Camelbak bladder filled with ice can keep beers cold for me and a buddy. I’ve gone for 2 hours in August and our beers were still cold enough to sweat when I took them out. end of tangent)


Underseat bag – rear three way blinky, band-aides, and sunscreen.

Panniers – multi headed screw driver, cresent wrench, air pressure guage, spare tube, pump, master lock and cable, and a standard cheap platic master lock number cable.


The Burger king zesty onion ring sauce might come in handy for distracting a bear, should you encounter one. I’d keep it. Just make sure you don’t get any on you in use, lest it become Burger King Zesty Cyclist Bear Sauce.


In my pannier



*patch kit

*tire levers

*rain pants

*tank T-shirt.


*extra tail light

I also usually have my backpack in a pannier which has a bunch of stuff.

*prescription sunglasses


*toothbrush and floss

*extra headlight

*key of A harmonica

*warm shirt


*dry socks

In a semirelated issue – is there any pannier/backpack combination that is really good as a backpack? (“good” meaning ergonomic straps/waistband/chest strap setup.)

All this together makes for a load. I’m always shocked at how light my bike is to carry up my stairs when I dont’ ahve the pannier on.


In a ziplock bag:

spare tube

patch kit

several paper towels

CO2 inflator

package of vinyl gloves

powdered “fitness” drink mix

small plastic pack of bandaids

multitool (8 tools)

2 plastic tire levers

small trash bag

shower cap

survival kit (emergency blanket, fire starters, whistle, compass, duct tape, various bandages and medicines)

On bike:




In backpack (sometimes attached to rack with cargo net):


puzzle magazine


dozen bus schedules

small metal flashlight

cell phone


umbrella (sometimes)


plastic bags

several pocket tissue packs


(sometimes) fancier headlight (cheap one stays attached to the bike)

Plus on longer trips, a pannier with:

assortment of Clif bars

rain cape and baseball cap (depending on forecast)

bandanna (depending on forecast)

helmet-mounted video camera, waterproof case, detachable screen in pouch

Good suggestions here for additional stuff I need (though I’ll no longer be able to lift my bike at all — oh well).


On my commuter I have a tube which I have never needed, a patch kit, multi tool, tire levers and mini pump. On my mountain bike I have the same stuff but a better multi tool. I have also never needed the tube. On my road bike I have all of that plus a CO2 deal so I can pump up the tire to about 40 psi or so and CO2 the rest. I have needed the tube on this bike. :)


for some reason i carry around a cassette lock ring tool around with me. just the small one that a wrench fits on. unfortunately, the crescent wrench that i’ve been carrying around doesn’t open wide enough to fit it. huh.

today, i have an in-package optical mouse in my bag. and a cycle computer. and a usb cable. these will come in very handy on the way home, i have no doubt.


Totally OT but Quick question – my browser has this as the name of the post: /whats-in-your-bike-bag But I see on the page it’s called “String (or nothing)”…

Is this a personal failure to recognize the difference until now, or a feature?

Since I stopped even trying to commute part of the way, I’ve taken a lot off the bike. multi-tool, patch kit, pump, map, U lock are pretty much all I carry with me, and I’ve never really used any of it but the lock. (Needed, yes. Used, no.)


@hv: isnt the lockring tool only half useful without a chain whip (even with a properly sized wrench)?

i also keep a usb cable in my cycling backpack, but thats because i almost always have my laptop in there too, and ive used those together more than a few times to charge my ever-dying cellphone


@melange: you might think so, but i don’t even own a chain whip, and i have in the past, with a bit of creativity, used the chain attached to the bike to prevent the cassette from spinning.


Bare minimum: tire levers, patch kit, co2.


Only for work do I carry in my messenger bag a tube, tire levers, pump, single speed multitool, and a regular multitool. I don’t know why I continue to do this. Let’s face it – if I get a flat, I am getting a bus, walking, or calling cburch for help/a ride. I have gotten one pinch flat on my commute in the past year. I have stopped carrying anything on a group ride.

buffalo buffalo

Underseat bag: spare tube, tire levers, mini multitool, patch kit (which is now so old, I don’t think any of the pieces actually stick to anything–which is in part the reason for the whole extra tube).

No panniers, but i’ve got a backpack: ulock, office clothes, plus your usual backpack stuff: glasses, lunch, wallet, phone, umbrella sometimes, etc.

(Couldn’t figure out why my backpack felt so light this morning until I finally realized what was missing: the 400-page hardback I finished and took back to the library yesterday.)


browser has this as the name of the post: /whats-in-your-bike-bag But I see on the page it’s called “String (or nothing)”…

Maybe Mr. Destructicity edited the title after posting. The board wouldn’t modify the URL once it had generated it from the original title. Guess there’s a lesson in this about always adding your Hobbit references before you hit Post.


Wow I’m lucky if I remember my wallet and phone and inhaler. And sometimes a lock.

Mr. Destructicity

@Steven: That’s exactly what happened.

I had been feeling bad about all the extra crap I’ve been carrying with me but after seeing what everyone else carries I feel a bit better. Well, about everything but the zesty onion ring sauce.


-hex wrenches

-tape and thumbtacks






-little absorbent towel from REI that i call my ‘foot shammy’ for when i end up chilling my feet in a fountain

-notebook and pen

-allergy meds

-phone and wallet

-water bottle

-sharkies and nuun tablets and almonds

-comic books

my panniers are always prepared for me to get lost adventurizing. i highly recommend the rei foot shammy.


I didn’t even know you could edit the thread titles, good to know – thanks Steven & Mr. D!


Underseat bag:

2 16g Co2’s and adapter


Tire levers

Patch kit


Gerber mini tool

a couple $


In the introduction to Bike Rides Out of Pittsburgh, Oscar Swan devoted six pages to things to carry on the bike. You should read it.


Underseat bag:


small patch kit


2 16g CO2 cartridges and a very small inflater

Small multi-tool.

The small multi-tool has just one philips and three hex sizes and folds flat. Cool tool, bought it at Performance.

Ken Kaminski

Curious as to why people carry chain lube with them.


I carry everything that I don’t need and I’m not really sure why.

Off the top of my head, I’ve got a multi-tool, patch kit or two, full-size screwdrivers, a pedal wrench, and adjustable wrench, tire levers, chain lube, two different kinds of u-locks, water, travel mug, notepads, pen, organizer, a book to read, and city papers that I grab on the way home and end up not reading. I oughta clean house.

EDIT: also, a length of thin-ish rope, about 10 feet long, because I sometimes have to transport boxes from place to place.

Mr. Destructicity

@Ken Kaminski: I don’t have covered parking at work, so I carry it so I can re-lube my chain in case it rains during the day.

Chris Mayhew

Eric Lundgren


2 tubes (one for my commuter one for my road bike)

saddle bag(contains co2 inflator, multi tool, tire levers, patch kit, and some emergency money)

Arm warmers


Old rain jacket



Cable for front wheel(rarely used, keep in case I need to lock up my road bike)


So I bought a new bag today, a really little, cheap one, and downsized accordingly. Now:




ibuprofen/chap-stick/migraine medicine/Tiger balm/essential oils/Damiana

winter gloves

Electrical tape



tire levers

patch kit


one of my u-locks (have to find a solution for the bigger one – I don’t have the mechanism to mount it to the frame)


here’s a list of everything that was in my bag when it was stolen from my car a few weeks ago: sunglasses, my wallet, bandana, toolkit including, multi tool, tire levers, screwdriver, crescent wrench, and patch kit. rain jacket and pants, hand pump, sharpie, pen, pocket notebook, date book, and a shit ton of loose change. i think that’s it but i may have forgotten one or two things.

anyways, like i said, i am no longer in posession of any of these things and don’t expect to ever see any of them again as the police have absolutely no interest in following up on my report. even though i personally tracked down the atm that the jagoff used to empty my account, called the bank to aquire the footage from said atm (but can’t because the police are the only ones allowed to get said footage and won’t!).

however if anyone sees my bag out there i would be very interested in talking to the person who has it. the bag is a chrome messenger bag, orange and black with a lefty strap that has metal studs on it and a dead kennedys patch on the flap.


That bag sounds easy to spot. I will keep an eye out for it. Sorry to hear about that.

mr marvelous

-First aid kit


-Tire levers

-Multi tool

-2 U-locks

-Cable lock

-5 Text books

-Work uniform




-Extra shoes

-Gym clothes


-Baby wipes

-Cell phone


-Work id

-School id

-Hello Kitty doll




-Leg warmers


-My lunch


Underseat bag:

– tube

– tire levers

– 2 wet wipes

– Crank Bros. multi tool w/chain tool / spoke wrench (goes into the baby steeler sock to prevent rubbing against the tube)

– 16 and 12g co2 cartridges

– tiny Bontrager co2 presta regulator

Some of these lists remind me of the Survival Kit Checklist scene from Dr. Strangelove.


“Some of these lists remind me of the Survival Kit Checklist scene from Dr. Strangelove.”


Shoot, a fella could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff.


From puzzle books to cigars to Hello Kitty dolls, I guess I won’t feel so bad putting a couple extra I-might-need-this-for-somethings in my bag, when I pack it. :-)

← Back to Forums

You must be logged in to reply to this topic. Click here to login.

Supported by