What to carry in your fanny pack
When it comes to needing a tool on the trail, all of us have wished we had packed our Craftsman Tool Box. Since doing that would make us even slower than we are, we resort to packing the minimum items deemed necessary to occupy the dark crevices inside our lowly fanny pack. Then there are those guys that pack them full of every conceivable tool that they could shoe horn into the bulging bag. Those are the guys you want to follow, as their pack zippers usually break and the trail becomes littered with toolish gems. Over the years, I've seen many a fanny pack spread out on the seat of a broken bike and had a chance to see what contents various riders deem necessary. The trick is to have one tool that does everything! That hasn't been invented as of yet, so the following is what seems to be the bare essentials.
The racing fanny pack must be small, so as not to get in the racer's way whilst staying ahead of the competition. It should also have tools that operate quickly, are reliable, and easy to find in a hurry.
What's the number one rule everyone should live by?
When working on your bike at home, ONLY use the tools in your fanny pack. This will ensure you always have the right tools on the trail. No joke here. Refresh your tool supply as needed. Also, go through your fanny pack every few months and toss all the old wrappers, broken parts and useless, outdated furry creatures.
Try switching your pack around 180° to where the actual pack resides in front of you rather in back. It feels weird at first, but often times carries better and doesn't bounce on your seat over the whoops.
When you wash your pack down, don't forget to unzip everything to allow it to dry properly. It doesn't hurt to spray your tools down with WD-40 once in awhile to keep the rust at bay. Rust never sleeps.
The following is just a suggested list:
- Fredette 3-in-1 Wrench: this gem is a wonderful invention. One wrench fits both axles, plus one end doubles as a spark plug wrench.
- Small First Aid Kit
- Open-End and Box-End Wrenches: if you have a jap bike, have an 8mm, 10mm, 12mm, and 14mm. If you have an Enduro bike, replace the 12mm with a 13mm. Also, add to this a small 15mm and 17mm, for your shock pivot bolts and other larger hex units. Don't skimp - be sure they are quality tools.
- Tow Rope or Strap: make sure it's at least 20' long.
- Spark Plug: DUH! Plus be sure that it's stored in a dry, clean container like an Acerbis plug holder. If nothing else, keep it in the box it came in and wrap it with duct tape.
- Duct Tape: Also known as 100 mph tape! This is one of the worlds greatest inventions. How did we EVER survive before it was created? Make sure you replace the unused portion every year. Take a roll that has 25% left and stomp it flat. Now it fits.
- Chain Breaker, Master Link and Clips: Be SURE the master link actually fits the chain on your bike, and that you have a couple of master link clips (they jump out of your hands somehow!) Finally, make sure your chain breaker actually will break a chain when needed. Also make sure your pliers will fit between the links to squeeze the master link side plate on. This is an aggravating chore, but make sure your pliers will actually work.
- Quick Epoxy: Malcom Smith makes a tube of this gook that is about the right size. All you do is cut off a piece of the end and mush it around like a warm Tootsie Roll®. Then stick it on the spot to repair like bubble gum, wait a few minutes and you're good to go.
- Safety Wire: Get this at your loca hardware store and make sure it's galvanized, so it won't rust.
- Wire Cutters: Hey, you gotta cut the wire with something, right? Plus when you find that barbed wire hiding in the dirt, you'll be happy you have a wire cutters!
- Small Vice Grips: They can be used for many things, but one of the best uses is to double as a spare shift lever. No, you won't shift very fast, but you'll get home!
- Spare Fuel Line: So you ran out of gas and the sweep crew finally shows up? You cleverly packed a three (3) foot piece of fuel line, so all you have to do is remove the tubing from each bike's petcock and connect the two petcock's with this line and turn on both petcock's. Voila - the fuel will drain from theirs to yours in no time.
- Small Swiss Army Knife: A million uses, not the least to have a cutting blade.
- Reversible Screwdriver: Two blades in one (Phillips and flathead), and if you find the right one, the hex opening (after removing the blade) can double as an 8mm socket.
- X-Large Zip Ties: When you get that eventual flat and you're close to the finish, squeeze about six of these bad boys around the wheel and rim and cinch 'em up tight. That'll keep your wheel from spinning on the rim, plus will help keep it 'on' the rim.
- Allen Wrenches: Your bike probably has a couple of these lurking in the shadows, like on your bark busters. A 5mm and 6mm should do the trick.
- Pliers: Not much to say here, except get the kind that also have the cutters built in, then you can remove the wire cutters from the pack.
- Power Bar: Yep, it's nice to have something to chew on at checkpoints or if you're stranded any length of time.
- Spare Jets: Usually we're talking only a couple of main jets here. Just remember that about every 2,000 feet of altitude change equals one main jet size. They are brass, and therefore soft, so store them in a protective enclosure.
- Main Jet Tool: This nifty little item is basically a knurled, long socket that allows you to easily change your main jet.
- Small Terrycloth: This is for wiping all the mud and drool off your goggles at the checkpoints.
- ID, Insurance Card & Emergency Contact Information: If you lose your pack, there's a small chance some honest soul may return it. Or, if you crash and are knocked unconscious, the sweep crew will know who to bill the ambulance ride to.
- Money: A ten-spot should be enough to bribe Farmer Joe for some spare gas after you paid no attention to the big "W" course marker and kept going until you ran out of gas.
- Sockets: Go minimum here. Sockets take up space and need a ratchet.
- Four-inch Crescent Wrench: This little wonder does everything from spokes up to about 12mm bolts.
- Small Straight Blade Screwdriver: Nice to have this for sudden carburetor or suspension adjustments.
- 21-inch Tube: I fold this puppy over about four times and wrap duct tape over the end, so it makes a perfect slot at the top to slide the pack belt through. This tube can be used in both the front and the rear in an emergency.
- Small Tire Pump: I got this baby from the bicycle department, it pumps air both on the in and the out stroke. Takes up less room than a can of Jizm and CO² cartridges, and you won't run out.
- Tire Repair Kit: You gotta have one of these! Quality patches, rubber cement and a scraping device. Be aware that the tube of rubber cement will dry on its own, so inspect it often.
- Tire Irons: Two quality smaller ones will do the job.
- Nuts & Bolts: A film canister of a few spares might get you to the finish, if one falls off. 5mm, 6mm and 8mm nuts and bolts combination will come in handy.