How To Pack a Hip Pack | Mountain Bike Tips for Beginners

What’s in my Bike Bag! explains personal experience of a human being as the moment-to-moment experience and sensory awareness of internal and external events or a sum of experiences forming an empirical unity such as a period of life. While I don’t really know what empirical means without looking it up, know  the rest of that statement works well with lessons in riding mountain bikes! Moment-to-moment, ride-to-ride, we learn a lot about ourselves and what we need.

When you have been riding bikes as long as I have you realize mistakes made on rides like forgetting to check that CO2 canister sitting in back jersey pocket waiting to be pulled out at dusk to inflate that slow leak is empty. Or the time you grabbed a tube that has been strapped to the frame for years to be found with a slow puncture ruining a great afternoon on the trail. If you are a specialist at doing things over and over (like me) before figuring it out years later, or someone that makes a mistake once and learns right away, great! I’m going to show you what I like to carry with me on my rides, be it an hour or a 3-4 hour epic*.

Short Ride Kit

I’m a minimalist at heart and like to keep as little around me as possible, at home and on the trail. That certainly applies to my short ride kit. Personally I don’t like to carry a shoulder pack if I don’t have to. I do have an Osprey Raptor 14 for really long days. If you prefer a shoulder pack, then by all means use it. I don’t discriminate! I just prefer a hip bag 95% of the time. I really like this hip bag by High Above. It holds all the essentials, has a removable, click in place bottle/beer holder, and removable cinch straps to hold a jacket or pads. In all packs I always carry a hand pump. I don’t carry CO2’s anymore. When I raced, years ago, I tended to carry them, but now I just rely on a good old hand pump. I really like this Blackburn pump because the head slides out and has a flexible hose to easily pump a tire without bending the valve stem (guilty more than once). I learned from backcountry skiing to always have duct tape so I wrap some around the pump handle for that time when I’ll need some. I like to carry one of the little bottles of chain lube in case I’m not in my vehicle and my buddy doesn’t have any at the trailhead. A small tool is always to be found, a bacon strip kit for tubeless punctures (I have a Genuine Innovations setup), and your choice of snacks. I’m salty guy and will never turn down anything that comes out of a Haribo factory! I like to carry a hand saw when possible, especially early season. Sunscreen is something we should all have in our packs! A Quicklink for a chain repair is a must. I always have some zip ties. I have used three of them to secure a saddle to the post when I lost a bolt last summer, and yes it worked! Lastly, CASH! Always put a $5 or $10 bill in your pack for that time you end up miles from the trailhead and need a pick me up or a beer at the end of a ride. Don’t be a mooch, be a contributor!

Aside from my hip pack on short rides I always have a Backcountry Research strap on my bike frame with a 29er tube (check inflation every once in a while), a tire lever, and a multi-tool. Yes now I have two tools with me. Sometimes I’ll do a quick ride without a bag and I will only bring along a pump being that I have all the other essentials in my BR strap. I’m also a huge Fidlock bottle fan. The shorty (just over 15oz) is perfect for an hour or two depending on your hydration level. They have larger bottles too. I tend to hydrate after the ride if ya know what I mean!


High Above hip pack 
Blackburn pump wrapped in duct tape
Small bottle of chain lube
- Hand saw
- Patch kit
- Sunscreen
- Quicklink for chain repairs
Genuine Innovations bacon strips
- Zip ties
Sunglass wipe
Backcountry Research strap with 29er tube, tire lever, and another multi-tool

Big Ride Kit

As I stated before I don’t ride with a shoulder pack much so I really like the Osprey Seral 1.5 liter hip bag. It has tons of storage, a good sized bladder, and a secure bungee system on the outside. The 1-hour kit from above is part of this as well with some additions. For a longer rides I’ll throw in a lightweight/waterproof jacket and possibly pads depending on where I’m riding. When you ride in Sedona or Moab sometimes I like to put the pads on somewhere into the ride, not at the start so having the ability to secure pads to the outside with the bungee system is great. 

Overview - in addition to the small kit

Osprey Seral 1.5 liter hydration pack
Lightweight/waterproof jacket
G-form Pro-X knee and elbow pads
Same contents from then 1-hour kit above as well

We are all different and have certain needs. Some people won’t ride without a shoulder pack, others don’t carry anything. This is not an end all, be all of what and how to carry your gear. I’m just giving you my recommendations. Try stuff out and learn what works best for you. The main point is getting your gear dialed so when you grab your pack, whatever one it is, whenever it is, that it’s ready and doesn’t need to be questioned at the truck before going out for that shred!

*this is not the knowledge of a professional but of an amateur that has made millions of mistakes in his life and is in no way saying this is the perfect way to choose your gear!