While I’ve had the chance to try out a whole bunch of stuff this year, my focus has really been on consolidating things into a cohesive and useful package. There’s definitely a focus on utility and versatility here, and rest assured my exacting requirements mean the recommendations haven’t been made lightly…
Outer Shell bar bag
I’m a fan of bar bags and think this might just be the perfect one.
But the standout feature is the brilliant closure, with a separate storm-flap on top to keep things dry on the inside. Plus there’s a novel drawstring that pulls it all together neatly. It’s easy to open and close one-handed.
The Outer Shell bar bag has been through its fair share of adventures and, to prove it, is liberally covered with sweat stains and — after a nasty crash — bloodstains.
Despite the abuse, it’s still going strong and I’m hoping to expand my collection of Outer Shell gear with some additional bikepacking luggage soon.
- From $90
Brynje Super Thermo C-Shirt
I treat it as a comfort layer to keep me dry and my temperature regulated in a wide variety of conditions. I use it in everything from sub-zero to low twenties (obviously with more or fewer layers to suit). It really is that versatile.
The magic is in the mesh, which traps air to create a cosy insulating layer, and in the hydrophobic polypropylene, which draws your sweat away from your body leaving you feeling nice and dry. Layer appropriately and you’ll be comfortable in all conditions.
It may not be a particularly fetching look, but I recommend you try one — it will be a revelation.
Topeak Ratchet Rocket Lite DX
Multi-tools have always annoyed me. They’re either too small to get leverage, don’t have the right bits, have too many bits, come with too low-quality steel, and, and, and… The list goes on.
However, the Topeak Ratchet Rocket Lite is one of the first multi-tools that actually delights me whenever I have to use it.
The only danger is that of potentially losing a bit, but the handy case should help ensure that you don’t.
Lezyne Pressure Drive
It’s surprisingly effective. I’ve tried it on everything from skinny road tyres to mountain-bike tyres and although it takes a while longer with high-volume options, it’s perfectly capable for all your inflation needs.
It looks good to boot and isn’t obscenely priced as it’s often available at a good discount.
Puncture spares kit
I’m extremely good at destroying tyres and after one ride too many with a split sidewall (don’t ride delicate tyres off road), I decided to put together a fully fledged tyre-repair toolkit.
Along with that, there are some tyre plugs (these are actually automotive ones as they can be picked up cheap from car supply shops compared to the cycling-specific ones), a tool to insert them and a razor blade for cutting them down.
Radial patches are perfect for repairing small tyre tears. They’re essentially burly vulcanising patches that get glued onto the tyre (rather than a tube). For extreme tyre damage, there’s a curved needle and some dental floss for sewing sidewalls together.
For less committed repairs there’s also a Park Tool tyre boot for getting me home, and of course, I’ll always carry some spare tubes separately too.
It might seem overkill, but the kit doesn’t weigh much and should cover any tyre mishap I may encounter.
Not something you’d want to take with you on every ride, but if you ever need to strap things to other things, then Voile straps can fulfil your needs.
I’ve used these for everything, from skiing, to climbing, to cycling and even moving house.
The straps are brilliant because they’re strong, easy to fasten, hold securely and are easy to release when they’ve done their duty. In other words, they might not look like much, but they are extremely versatile.
- From £7.99