Cross Country Ride: My ‘Every Ride Carry’
Saddle bag or hydration pack? Hydration pack or saddle bag?For a long time, I've tossed up the pros and cons of riding with these luggage options on a mountain bike. There are significant benefits and disadvantages of both, but at the moment I've pared back my riding kit a bit, and I'm opting for the freedom of a saddle bag and jersey pockets.
This is my XC Every Ride Carry (ERC)…
The Saddle Bag: Scicon Hippo 550 Saddle BagThe Hippo 550 is one of Scicon's biggest saddle bags. Yet, it is still compact enough that it doesn't swing about under your saddle and create irritating thigh rub. It uses Scicon's patented and highly effective Roller 2.1 system to fix it to the saddle rails, which makes it super secure (even off-road) and also easily removable when you come to cleaning your bike post-ride. As a bit of extra security, I put a re-usable zip-tie around the bag and saddle rails too. Just in case.
This compact pack is my choice for carrying ride essentials. It offers a neat, simple and highly effective design.
Inside the saddlebag:
- Tyre Levers – These are actually contained within the Hippo 550 bag, which helps to save weight and space. The two integrated Scicon tyre levers are wide and flat, and ideal for levering off tight fitting off-road tubeless tyres.
- Tube – I run my mountain bikes tubeless, on Hope Technology XC wheels. At some point though, you will puncture, and a spare tube will get you back riding (after you've emptied out all the gunk and debris from the tyre). A 29er inner tube will fit in the Scicon Hippo 550 without a problem.
Opting to ride without a hydration pack, means that the rest of my ride essentials need to fit in my jersey pockets. Here's how I pack them...
Central Pocket: Lezyne Phone WalletIn my central jersey pocket, goes my phone, cash, cards, a few zip-ties, a tyre boot, a Sportique Lip Balm, a few instant patches and a quick link. All this is safely housed in a Lezyne Phone Wallet.
The wallet keeps everything together, and protected from the mud and water that feature in abundance on UK trails. Keeping all the weight together, also reduces the chance of your phone flying out as you land that drop-off.
Zip ties, instant patches and a tyre boot are well worth taking. They can help to secure things when bolts fall out, and they're great for patching up a tube if you are unfortunate enough to suffer from multiple punctures on the trail.
Side Pockets: Pump, Multi-tool and NutritionIn my side pockets, go my multi-tool, pump and nutrition products. Ideally you have a small zipped pocket on your jersey, where you can put your multi-tool; if not, then just pack it down to the bottom of the pocket with your bars and gels, to reduce the chance of it flying out.
- Multitool – Lezyne SV10: The Lezyne SV10 continues to be my favourite multi-tool. It features pretty much everything you're likely to need to get you out of trouble. It is also very well made, so it can deal with the mud and water of off-road riding. My top tip: put your multi-tool inside a waterproof pouch, or better still wrap it up in a pair of Black Mamba Workshop Gloves. It will keep your multi-tool dry, and the gloves are great for messy repair jobs or as emergency liner gloves when you get caught out in the cold.
- Pump – Lezyne Tech Drive HV Pump: The Lezyne Tech Drive HV Pump is a compact mini-pump, which will easily fit in a jersey pocket. I actually normally fit this in my central pocket, next to the Lezyne Phone Wallet, but it depends on pocket size. The Lezyne pump is small, well-made and the stowaway hose means there is less chance of mud and water infiltrating key moving parts. Whilst pretty secure wedged in alongside your phone wallet, if you want an extra bit of security, wrap the two together with a large elastic band or re-usable zip-tie; it will help to keep the weight together and more stable.
- Nutrition - Gels and Bars: Gels in one pocket, bars in the other. At the moment, I'm using High5 Energy Bars and Honey Stinger Waffles.
On the bike: Water Bottles and Cages
- Water Bottles: LifeLine Corsa Water Bottles are great bidons, and let you get a firm hold on them as you pull them out of the cage. They are easy to clean and very good value, so if you are unlucky enough to lose one on the trails it's not too much drama.
- Bottle Cages: Elite Ciussi Gel Bottle Cages are famed for their popularity in the cobbled Spring Classics, but they are also great for cross country bikes. The little gel tabs firmly hold the bottle, and because the grip doesn't wrap round the whole circumference of the bottle, it doesn't get hard to put it back in the cage when it is covered in grit and mud.
- Drink Mix: My preferred drink mix at the moment, comes from OSMO Nutrition.
Optional ExtrasDepending on the season and the length of the ride, I also tend to take a few extras if things are going to be a bit 'Epic':
- Second Inner Tube: Strapped to the seatpost with insulation tape, because sometimes the puncture fairy is cruel.
- Lights: Autumn, winter and spring make up a lot of the year, and in those seasons, light can be at a premium for riding. Make sure you can extend your route home, by taking a few safety lights that will help you to be seen in dusky conditions.
- Packable Gilet: If the skies are looking ominous, then a small wind-resistant gilet stuffed into a jersey pocket, can be a welcome shield in a sudden downpour.
- Riding Glasses: For me, these are more a necessity than an optional extra. A good pair of riding glasses is well worth investing in; they will keep the wind, spray and mud out of your eyes. I use Oakley's RadarLock Trail Prizm Sunglasses.
What do you take with you on your weekend cross country adventures? Comments below...