Saddle packs usually attach to the saddle railing, and have a quick release button, and a zipper to open it up.
I carry mine on ALL rides, but it’s absolutely essential for rides over ~50km. You’d be very far from home, if you have a puncture. I’ll include a brief description of each item (/ a better alternative), how much it cost me, and why I think it’s important to carry it.
I’ll also include a list of things I haven’t included, that I think you should carry, AND other ways to carry the same items, if you don’t have a saddle pack.
- ELECTROLYTES – absolutely essential for rides longer than an hour, or if you aren’t sure that you’re well-hydrated. Some people (myself included) sweat out almost a litre an hour. You wouldn’t feel it on a bike sometimes because it evaporates before it starts dripping. Sri Lanka also has an average relative humidity of 80%. In lower humidity, sweat loss would be lesser because of quick evaporation, but close to noon, roads here are like steam saunas. SO, you will sweat a lot. AND, if you sweat a lot, you lose body salts with it. Keep in mind that this isn’t just sodium chloride (table salt)! Your body needs other salts for correct, efficient muscle contraction, and a drop in levels means PAINFUL CRAMPING and slowing down. I’ve been a victim of it plenty, and I keep one bottle out of two, always full with a 1-litre packet of oral rehydration salts (ORS). Doesn’t get better than a packet of ‘Jeevani’ or ‘Peditral’, as sold here. Keep consumption to a litre per hour, at most. You will know when you need it, because you’ll crave salty food. An easier alternative will be to keep a bottle of electrolyte tablets. Some make tablets with electrolytes and caffeine. I used ten tablets on the first day of Race The Pearl, and it wasn’t enough, for 16 hours of riding. Linked here is more on how to tell if you need electrolytes. Jeevani is cheapest, at Rs.25 per packet (makes a litre), and the ORS formula is regulated by the WHO.
- INNER TUBE – Make sure the size, width and valve stem length are right, if you use deep-dish rims. Word of caution: an awful puncture could mean a tubeless tyre which cannot seal itself with the fluid, so a tube is always handy. I use a DSI tube which I bought for Rs. 900. Your local bike shop should have these.
- ALLEN KEYS/MULTITOOL – I keep 3 full-size Allen keys (sizes 4, 5 and 6mm are the usual but check your bike!) because my bag can fit them, and the added length is leverage. However, a multitool does the job for emergencies and may actually have more useful tools. You’ll need it if a crash throws the handlebar out of alignment with the wheel, or for almost anything else on the bike. The three Allen keys pictured cost Rs. 700, from a common hardware store.
- PATCH KIT –
Rubber glue – apply for full coverage of the patch piece, and apply onto the tube as well. (local bike shop)
Sandpaper – To prep the tube surface for adherence. (hardware store)
Rubber patch pieces – Keep at least 4, mistakes happen! (local bike shop)
The whole patch kit cost Rs. 300.
- PRESTA-TO-SCHRADER VALVE ADAPTER – If you find a shop nearby which works on car tyres, I almost always opt to get my tyres pumped on the machine. Saves time, and if you’re nice to them, (and if you have an adapter,) they do the patch work for you. Roadside businessmen are usually helpful to cyclists. (picked one up from Henne (Colombo), who supplied my bike, equipment and training clothes.)
Not included in the picture, but I take these too.
- CASH – To get home if it’s the worst, and to buy food/water or basic first-aid items.
- SPARE BATTERIES FOR LIGHTS – (For long rides,) I usually keep some spare batteries for my lights as well, because they’re the little cell batteries. I take them out of the packaging, wrap it in little plastic bags individually (keep new ones separate), and keep them in the bag.
- IDENTIFICATION – critical information in an emergency.
- If I ride out without a jersey, I squeeze my phone into it too.
Why a saddle pack?
- Does not interfere with aerodynamics.
- Does not obstruct movement.
- Does not allow view of the saddle-pack – less to distract.
Instead of a saddle pack…
I sometimes use my jersey to keep my phone and earphones. Jersey stores the energy bars though, super useful for long rides. If not, everything goes in the saddle pack.
I use this bag when I’m not training. Very spacious. Picked up at Decathlon for Rs. ~2000
Leave a comment if I’ve missed something important! Let me know your thoughts.