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What’s in your bar bag?

What to pack for your next gravel adventure

Tired of trying to stuff everything you need (or want) for a long ride into your jersey pocket? Bar bags are an excellent and easy alternative.

The simple accessory lets you get snacks and ride essentials off your back. Or it lets you carry more for bigger adventures.

Bar bags in action on the West Coast during a Port Renfrew adventure

If you’re considering adding a bar bag to your gravel rides this summer, here’s a few of the best ways to make use of all that extra storage space.

Bar bag essentials (and some options)

Snacks! But, like, real ones!

We’ve all eaten our fair share of science food at this point. It’s functional, in that it fits in a jersey pocket and won’t get gross during the ride (or any more gross). But bar bags free you to bring real food on the ride. Make squares, healthy cookies, potatoes, candies or even a sandwich. All kinds of real, tasty, and functional food will fit in that bar bag. Bonus: less foil packaging to deal with.

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Tools. All the useful tools

A multi-tool, tire levers, tire plugs, spare chain quick links, zip ties. Be the person on the ride with extra tools, not the one left begging your buddies for what you forgot.

Mini first aid kit

Crashes happen. With gravel riding, there’s a good chance you could be farther from home than you expected. A good first aid kit doesn’t take up much space, but it can make getting home safely way easier. Even if you’re not planning anything epic, being prepared never hurt anyone.

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A small camera (or your phone)

Take your Instagram game to the next level. Safely bring a small point-and-shoot or mirrorless camera on rides in your bar bag. Or just hide your phone away somewhere that it won’t get all sweaty, gross, and covered in sport gel residue.

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Canned beverages

Anything in a can will probably fit quite nicely in a bar bag. Perfect for a refreshing mid-ride break.

Cash and cards

You can never carry everything you need on every ride. Having a safe, secure place to store cash or a card for mid-ride coffee stops is less risky than shoving cards in your pockets with other stuff. I try to leave a $5 or $10 in my bag at all times, just for emergencies. It can help with catching a ride home, buying food when bonked or buying a spare tube. If you’re really in a pinch, it’ll work as a tire boot, too.

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Spare gloves

Nothing feels better in the late stages of a cold ride than a fresh pair of dry gloves. Stashing a spare set in your bar bag keeps them dry for when you need them, instead of letting them get damp in a jersey pocket. Plus, and this might just be me, trying to stash gloves in jersey pockets always ends up with one of them going missing.

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A light jacket

There’s nothing worse than getting caught unprepared for unexpected wet weather. Use the extra space in your bar bag to keep a lightweight jacket. Having one handy all the time, without taking up space in your other pockets, is an easy way to stay warm even just standing around or at coffee, too, not just when there’s surprise showers.