What’s in your hydration pack?

Lately I’ve been interested in decreasing the weight of my pack for mountain biking. I want to climb better and it seems like having less weight to carry will help. The other day I weighed my pack, an older Camelbak; without water the pack weighed 3 lbs, 2 oz.

So when I got ready to go for a short ride on Wranger’s Loop out at the Kokopelli Trails I measured 1 liter of water and added it to my pack. A liter of water weighs just over 2 lbs, so on a short ride (an hour or so) I can get by with about 5 lbs of weight. On longer rides I have to add an extra liter and a few more snacks, which pushes the weight to somewhere around 8 lbs.

Here’s what was in my pack when I weighed it:

From left to right: The green bag contains my repair kit, above that is a spare tube (I run tubeless, but you never know…), then there’s a pump, container of ibuprofen and allergy medicine, sunscreen, Chapstick, 2 waffles, various bandages, a bandana, and my Sombrio windbreaker.

The repair kit bag contains:

Bike tools, duct tape, patches, and an old camera film bottle with random bolts and screws. Trust me, walking my bike out from a ride is a last resort!

I feel like the majority of these items are ones I should always have with me. Even if I’m going out on a short ride on a familiar trail, I always want to be prepared. You never know when you might run into someone else who needs help, or when you might have a freak accident and need those bandages or that ibuprofen. Even on hour-long rides, I’m not really willing to take the chance of leaving much of that gear behind.

On a recent ride with my friend Andy, I weighed his pack. With about 2 liters of water in it, his Osprey pack weighed about 10 lbs. He was kind enough to empty it out (after the ride) and we found:

The plastic container is a first aid kit. Andy agreed he could have left the chain lube behind. Along with that he had snacks, an asthma inhaler, sunscreen, a pump, patch kit and ibuprofen. He has a small repair kit that he carries on his bike.

We both also had smartphones and keys in our packs during the ride.

What do you carry in your pack? How light are you willing to go? What items will you give up on short rides that you might carry with you on longer rides? I will say that the geometry of my current bike doesn’t allow me to have a water bottle holder on the bike itself. If it did, I’d just use a water bottle for short rides.

Andy on Troy Built.