Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Travels With Tools

I'm one of those guys who travels with tools. I basically have tools with me all the time, on my person and on my bike and since I actually do get asked about the stuff I lug around, I figured I'd detail it here. This is by no means an optimal kit, it's got quite a bit of belt plus suspenders redundancy. I also can't say it's complete. Tomorrow I may find some gadget that triggers my "ooh that would be handy!" reflex and I'll add it. Or I might go the other way and say "man, I'm lugging too much!" and purge something out. But as of right now, here's the kit.

First up, the stuff that I carry on my person pretty much all the time.

The little carabiner clips to my belt loop and holds my Swiss Army Knife and the two little Topeak wrenches. The wrenches came from a Topeak Survival Gear Box. Many of my tools have been picked from various kits over the years and my big tool box at home has many of the bits that I'm not currently using. Also, I tend to give away bits of kit I'm not using, which makes me feel OK with getting even more tools. And the cycle continues to this day. The knife is a Victorinox Deluxe Tinker and I probably use it at least twenty time a day. The thing on the right is a Topeak Hexus Bicycle Tool and even though I have a shop full of tools at work, a big toolbox at home and a bunch of tools in a bag on my bike, this is the thing that gets used at least as much as the Swiss Army Knife. When it's not in my hand, it's in my pocket. For me, the Hexus hits the sweet spot in terms of weight, function and ease of use.

Moving on to what I have on the bike, as I've mentioned previously, I use and like Topeak Morph pumps. The pump that I keep strapped on my Monocog Flight is the exact same pump I carried with my on my 2005 Great Divide Ride and it's still going strong.

The rest of my tool kit is contained in this bag which fits in the main triangle of the bike along with one water bottle.

Inside this bag, is this stuff.

That's two spare inner tubes, two plastic tire levers, a small bottle of chain lube, a patch kit and a little nylon bag with more tools and stuff inside. Yes, my kit has kind of a Russian nested doll quality. And yes, the Hexus contains tire levers so the levers in the on-bike kit are redundant. One might say that having spare tubes plus a patch kit plus True Goo tubes in my tires is redundant, but you have to remember that I GET FLAT TIRES ALL THE TIME. Remember that you read it here. When I do flat, WHICH HAPPENS ALL THE TIME, I typically swap in a new tube on the road side and patch the holey tube later under more favorable conditions with a handy, tasty beverage close at hand.

My patch kit contains lots of patches as well as sandpaper, glue and a spare battery for my cycle computer.

Inside the black nylon bag is this stuff.

A bunch of the little bits go inside a plastic film canister that has a layer of duct tape wrapped around it. In this picture you can see spare batteries for my lights, the film canister, a bit of chain and a SRAM PowerLink, some weird my multi-wrench that I freed from some random tool kit years ago. The neat thing about it is that the opening on the end is 15 millimeters, so it works for removing or tightening pedals or bolt-on wheels. The Park MT-1 Wrench, perhaps the most elegant multi-tool every made, can fit into one of the hex-shaped holes in the other wrench to form a handle for more leverage. Next to the Park wrench are 4, 5, and 6 mm Allen keys on a keyring (these can fit in some places the Park tool can't and can work in opposition to another tool in cases where that is needed). Below the Allen keys are some handy nylon zip-ties, a Topeak Chain Tool Head (yeah, it's redundant since the Hexus but I like being covered in case I lose the Hexus somewhere), a FiberFix Spoke, miscellaneous bolts, a spare Torx adapter, two sets of brake pads with brake springs and a brake cable.

Wow, that seems like a lot of stuff. And it is. But the whole kit is pretty compact and it's gotten me home every time I've needed it. If I know I'm going to be riding support on some event, I may add some Good Samaritan items like a derailleur cable and some different size tubes to the kit. Kits on my other bikes but often smaller, since they don't have quite the level of paranoia that I reserve for my Great Divide Kit. It's one thing when you break down a few miles from home in the city, it's a different matter when you may be hundreds of miles from the nearest bike shop.

By the time I go on the Tour Divide next year, I'll have posted a complete list of my stuff. I detailed the camp gear here and details of food, clothes, maps and electronics will be described in future posts.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA
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