When you're heading off for a ride, often you're carrying with you a whole lot of decisions that you may not have stopped to consider. Chief among them is water.
Before High Above, I have been on so many rides carrying a hydration backpack filling which ever bladder came stock with it to the brim. I'd often set off on a two or three hour ride with 100 oz of water. Sometimes I'd put a bottle on my frame "just to be sure". It's not that I was inept, it was simple a lack of consideration compounded with a scarcity mindset keeping me topping off to capacity before I left. Maybe I'll need to fill an aquarium on the trail, who knows?!
Water is heavy as hell. At eight pounds per gallon, it adds up fast in your pack- so I think it's a great first place to start shaving weight. Carry how much you need, and nothing more. When I started making hip packs, I'd pack a bottle on my pack and another on my frame, adding up to something resembling not quite a liter/quart. For the kinds of rides I often set out on, this was PERFECT. I live in the Pacific Northwest, so we rarely have scorcher days. I tend to steer clear of riding when it's super hot anyway. This amount of water started a bigger journey of taking things out of my pack and onto my frame, or simply not taking it. At this point, I carry so little in my hip pack that I'm able to reimagine the things that I should bring, namely a first aid kit- but we'll return to that idea later.
Finally, if you're blessed to live where there is water water everywhere- consider bringing a tiny water filter so you can refill on the trail without getting Ecoli or some other water born malady. The Sawyer MINI is another option that is absolutely tiny, which gives you the added benefit of carrying an extra bit of water in your hip pack in the accompanying water bladder. #smart
Multitools, Pump and Other Related Items.
This one is simple, and I have one recommendation that sorts you out permanently. The One Up Components EDC Tool. We are a dealer of this stuff and the reason why is simple. It's the highest quality and most thoughtful product on the market. Check out this video from our Bellingham neighbors, Lost Co.
I personally use their 70cc Pump with the EDC Tool. Removing the combination of these two items from your pack does two things. One, it takes the weight and volume off of your body and onto the your frame- either under your water bottle cage on the down tube or inside your steerer tube. and Two, it removes hard metal objects from your hip pack that are almost certainly laying across your spine. DO NOT CARRY A PUMP IN YOUR HIP PACK! THAT IS INSANE IF YOU THINK ABOUT IT!
The Odds and Ends of Lightweight Carry.
The next thing that typically weighs a ton and you're stupid to leave behind is a bike innertube. You bay be able to use a tire plug, but I've cut my tire multiple times beyond the powers of a bacon strip. A tube can be the difference between you riding and walking out. Fortunately, we tracked the development of Tubolito Tubes, which are lighter than the sealant you put in your tires. At 45 grams, that is stupidly, insanely light. A typical 29'er rubber tube can weigh 225grams, or nearly half a damn pound. Thats nuts, and there is no real reason to carry it around except for maybe the cost for one of these fancy new tubes, which is literally 10x a standard rubber/butyl one. You knew there was a catch.
So, What lives IN my pack?
That sweet EDC pump from earlier? It has a built-in C02 chuck, so forget about getting one of those tiny ones that you'll certainly lose. I generally keep at least one Co2 cylinder in my pack because I like the big guys that can actually set a bead if you burp or pop it off the rim. With the relative small capacity of trail pumps, it can be vital to have this extra bit of oomph to get the thing back on the rim correctly. On a long adventure day, I'll pack two.
You sort this one out on your own.
In the pack, not the pocket for me.
Fizzy water or a beer for partying. NA beer is my new favorite.
Extra brake pads (maybe), a couple zip ties, a Master link (which fits in the EDC tool), a rain jacket in my ETC Straps on the outside of my pack, if weather is forcast, extra valve core, spare tire lever (the EDC tool has one built in, but I like a second for stubborn tires), car keys, shift cable, small tire patch for tears.
First Aid Kit
High Above helped introduce the idea of an MTB First Aid Trail Kit in 2018, and over the years have and continue to refine it since then. We've been copied a bunch, so we know its a good idea! Since so much extra stuff is out of your pack, you'll now have plenty of room to carry a little pouch for medical emergencies or trailside human-repair.
A little bit can go a long way, and while a bandaid may not save your life, it can keep your shin from bleeding into your sock when you hit it on a pedal being crazy. There are lots of items that we carefully picked to live in our little kit and we're planning on making a video explaining the "why" of every one of them. Stay tuned for that.