It’s all in the (pannier) bag

As a mother, I have spent the last 20 years carrying a bag that contained a multitude of items to cover all eventualities at any possible time. Bandaids for cuts and scrapes, lipstick, tissues, and even sticky tape and scissors to mend homework books – I had the lot.  All of this stuff and a lot more became my regular load, compactly packed into my trusty handbag.

When my offspring finally developed the capability to deal with many of these events on their own, I was able to jettison many items, but it was not easy. Old habits die hard!

One small bag to take warm gear for a winter ride

My habit has now transferred itself to my cycling pannier bag and I seem to have an endless list of things that I am convinced I really could/should keep handy for every ride.

However, when I realised that I was looking longingly at those who go out on a ride with a small puncture kit, a miniscule pump and a bottle of water tucked away invisibly on their slimline, lightweight bikes (at least I think they take a puncture kit? :-)), I had a rethink.

I had finally woken up to the fact that I was taking far too much unnecessary gear which I would probably never use.

Fully loaded and weatherproofed on a rainy day while touring in France

My nearest and dearest assure me that I tend to worry too much about what may happen (but then take comfort from the fact that I probably have most things covered so they don’t need to worry!)

In recent months, I have decided to become rather ruthless and to cut the load of ‘might need one day’ gear down to that which is really essential! But I am also an independent sort and get annoyed with myself if I have to use/ borrow other people’s tools or spare tyres.

Riding on the beach in Tasmania – not too much being carried in the bags

So it has not been easy! So, here is my current list for casual rides around my local area (I go back to the full list when touring – that is non negotiable!):

  • Puncture kit
  • Tyre pump
  • Chain to lock the bike (depending on where I am riding)
  • Water (carried all the time regardless of the weather)
  • I have toyed with the idea of having a spare tyre, but so far, have resisted! (But it is easier to fix a puncture with a spare tube, so perhaps… :-))
  • Toolbag (this is where my indecisions really start) containing:
    • multitool screwdriver (fits all the screws and fittings on my bikes)
    • Some cable ties (they are useful for so many things especially if something comes loose or breaks)
    • Small plastic tyre lever
    • Side cutter pliers
  • I used to carry a first aid kit, but this is on the discard pile at the moment. (I seemed to be very prone to coming off my bike and hitting the dirt when I first started riding. This has not happened for a while now, so perhaps my riding skills are improving and the need for bandaids has declined :-))
  • Lightweight rainjacket/windcheater (rolls up into a tiny pack)

Weather considerations

I feel the cold and nothing spoils a ride quicker for me than having frozen body extremities. So winter temperatures and short days are tiresome, with head, arm and leg warmers all finding themselves classified as ‘essential’ items along with a good jacket. I admire riders who go out in the snow and bitter temperatures, but I am convinced that they must just be far more cold tolerant than me!

Riding around Auckland (New Zealand). Good weather, so not much gear on board!

I find this winter kit bulky, but non negotiable for about 4 months of the year, so usually this means having to take an extra pannier bag to lug it along.

Likewise, if rain is threatening, I will take some rain gear – waterproof jacket, gloves and pants. However, rain is less often a problem than the cold. One can ‘avoid riding’ on rainy days but I am not too keen on putting the bikes away for the whole of winter to avoid the cold!

What I would like to know from other readers is whether their kit is similar and whether you have have ‘must takes’ that I have left out?


I would love to hear what you think....

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