How to Build A Bikepacking Repair Kit, From Ultralight to Expedition

By Alissa Bell: pedal-powered freedom seeker, 20k+ miles of bikepacking and touring on 6 continents


Compiling a repair kit for bikepacking or touring is generally not the fun part. It’s like buying insurance: you hope you won’t need it, but skipping it is an invitation for bad luck. Bicycle tools and spares can be heavy, our need for them is uncertain, and just having them isn’t enough – you need to know what to do with them. All of this can be stressful!

Many new bike travelers gloss over this important part of their gear list, only to end up sad and stressed by the side of the road, covered in bike grease and wishing they’d put just a little more thought into their tools and spares.

So let’s get your bikepacking repair kit dialed in! After riding nearly 20,000 miles in 16 countries and making a bunch of my own mistakes, I’m here to share my latest recommendations on bikepacking tool kits and repair kits. I know this part of the packing process can be stressful, since it requires us to think through all the things that can go wrong in excruciating detail. And yet, getting it right is the closest you can come to ensuring a trouble-free trip.

Whether you’re out for a weekend or a cross-continent journey, whether you’re bikepacking or touring, and whether you’re a total beginner or have already some miles beneath your wheels, read on for advice about how to compile the bikepacking repair kit that will save your butt when you need it most.

Related: Mechanical Disasters From My Bike Trips (and Lessons Learned)

When things go wrong with your bike in the middle of nowhere, you’ll wish you’d paid more attention to your bikepacking repair kit! (installing a spare derailleur hanger in the Moroccan desert)

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Finding the Balance

Deciding what to pack in your repair kit, like most things in bikepacking, is an exercise in calculated tradeoffs. To name a few factors that might influence your choices:

  • length of your trip
  • how light you’re trying to pack
  • availability of parts where you’ll be riding, and whether local parts are likely to be compatible with your bike
  • remoteness of your route and how stuck you’d be if you can’t repair an issue
  • how well-suited your bike is to the trip you’ll be doing (eg. burly touring bike built for a heavy load, or an old road bike that might be pushing its limits)
  • current state of your bike parts and whether they’re likely to need maintenance on the road
  • how tight your schedule is
  • personal tolerance for risk
  • your knowledge of bike repair and maintenance

In the following bikepacking repair kit lists, I try to balance the weight and space of items with the likelihood that they’ll be needed. This is always a calculated risk and it’s impossible to cover every scenario, so please don’t send me angry emails if you have really bad mechanical luck on your next tour. (Feel free to send a non-angry email though, and I will commiserate with you.) I believe in these recommendations based on my own experience and research, but you should filter them through the lens of your own judgment and risk tolerance.

One other important tip: knowledge and experience are lightweight and extremely valuable. Learn some basic bike repair at home first and then ask yourself, when packing supplies, “Could I make this repair on my own without an internet connection?” If not, think twice about bringing the supplies for it (or better yet, learn how to do it!).

While bicycles are found everywhere in the world, different standards are common in different regions. Here in Laos, for example, you’ll find plenty of bikes and parts but maybe not the ones you need for your bike.

Types of Trips

The crux of the issue is really this: of all the tools and spare parts I might need out there, which ones am I most likely to need on this specific bikepacking trip or tour? To help answer this I find it helpful to categorize bike trips into three types: simple / ultralight, standard, and expedition.

What the heck do those mean, you ask? Well, I made them up, but they are similar to the definitions I use when talking about bikepacking gear lists in general. Of course there are always exceptions and trips that don’t quite fit any single category, so don’t take them too literally. Here’s what they mean to me:

Short, simple, or ultralight: A tour or bikepacking trip of less than a couple weeks. Mostly on smooth ground through relatively populated areas in relatively developed countries where you will pass a bike shop every couple days or could easily hitchhike to one within a day. Examples:

  • Riding the ACA Pacific Coast Route down California’s populated west coast
  • Riding the GAP and C&O Canal trails on the east coast
  • An ultralight trip or race where you are prepared to take risks in order to pack as light as possible

Standard: A tour or bikepacking trip of several weeks to months, mostly through relatively populated areas in relatively developed countries. Or, a shorter tour through rugged and remote areas or places with minimal infrastructure.

  • 4 months touring in Europe
  • 2 months touring in Southeast Asia
  • 1 week extremely remote bikepacking in the Oregon and Nevada desert

Expedition: Several months or longer, mostly in remote, rugged, and/or low-infrastructure areas. Examples:

  • Touring Cairo to Cape Town in Africa
  • Bikepacking across Mongolia

Also consider your personal tolerance for spending time and/or money to solve bike problems. Parts can be shipped from another continent, you can hitchhike for days to the nearest city, or you can ask around the village until you find a creative mechanic. But all of these will take time, money, or both. If this kind of problem solving sounds exciting, consider going lighter with your bikepacking repair kit. If it sounds like a trip-ending disaster, err on the side of being more prepared.

Transport can be rough on bikes. If your trip includes some of this…
Touring bicycle in slow boat in Laos
… or some of this, you’ll likely be making some repairs and adjustments as you go.

Bikepacking Repair Kit Table

Here it is, the big list of repair kit supplies for bikepacking and touring. This table shows the repair kit items down the left column and the type of trip (see above definitions) across the top row. An “x” means I recommend bringing the item for trips of that type. A number in ( ) after the x shows the quantity I recommend. A ? means it really depends or I’m not totally sure what to recommend.

Disclaimer: Other cyclists may have different opinions! This table is based on nearly 20,000 miles of my own personal experience and a whole lot of research and conversations with other tourers and bikepackers. I think it’s a fairly conservative approach that leans toward having a bit more than you might need, but not everything.

If this table seems overwhelming, don’t worry. In the next section I’ll break it down by category (tires, chain, etc), explain why you need each item, and recommend some personal favorite products from my own bikepacking repair kit.

(This table scrolls left and right on small screens.)

Portable pumpxxx
Multitool with chain breakerxxx
Spare tubesx (1)x (2)x (3+)
Tire leversx (2)x (2)x (3)
Tube patchesxx (2 packs)x (several packs)
Tire repair plugs (if tubeless)xxx
Extra sealant (if tubeless)x (enough for 1 tire)x (enough for 2-3 tires)x (enough for 3+ tires and plan to restock)
Valve core remover for Presta valves (if tubeless)xxx
Quick link / master linkxx (2)x (3+)
Quick link pliers, or piece of old cable as a hackxxx
Leatherman multi-function tool with pliersxxx
Wolftooth Valais or hose clamp (if running dropper seatpost)xxx
Gear Aid repair tapexxx
Chain lube and small rag or pack of disposable wet wipesx (2+ oz bottle)x (4 oz bottle or plan to restock)x (multiple 4 oz bottle or plan to restock)
Nitrile glovesoptionaloptionaloptional
CO2 cartridgesoptionaloptionaloptional
Pedal wrenchif neededif neededif needed
Extra valve stem (if tubeless)xx
Small tube of Super Glue (if tubeless)xx
Curved needle and dental floss (if tubeless)xx
Spare cleat and bolts (if clipless)xx
A few zip tiesxx
Extra frame tape (esp. for carbon frames)xx
Blue threadlockerxx
Presta – Schrader valve adapterxx
Spare brake and shifter cablesxx (consider spare housing too)
Spare brake padsxx
Sandpaper (disc brakes)xx
Spare section of chain (~10 links)xx
Spare boltsxx
Tire bootsxx
Electrical tape (small amount wrapped around something)xx
Standalone allen keys in most common sizesxx
Spare derailleur hanger, if your derailleur uses onexx
Small adjustable wrenchxx
Spoke wrenchxx
Shock pump (if running suspension fork)?x
Hydraulic brake supplies? (if relevant)? (if relevant)
Spare folding tire or twox
Entire spare chainx
Spare spokes and nipples, or possibly a FiberFix spokex (1-2)
An unusually well-stocked bicycle shop in Vientiane, Laos. It’s one of just two or three in the whole region, so I made sure to pick up a new chain before riding on to Cambodia.

Tires and Tubes

If there’s one thing every cyclist really needs, it’s to keep the rubber inflated and rolling. Most of us use our tire-related supplies more than almost any other part of our repair kit. I consider these supplies non-negotiable for every trip, though I do vary the details slightly.

The repair supplies for traditional (tubes) and tubeless setups are different, but they have a lot in common. I’ve toured and bikepacked with both types of setups, and though I prefer tubeless overall for the puncture-resistance, each does have its pros and cons.

Here are two mini-tables showing just the tube- and tire-related supplies from the big list above, plus my reasoning and some helpful tips.

Repair Kit for Tires with Tubes

Portable pumpxxx
Spare tubesx (1-2)x (2-3)x (3+)
Tire leversx (2)x (2)x (3)
Tube patchesxx (more)x (lots more)
Presta to Schrader valve adapter (only if running Presta valves)xx
Tire bootsxx
Spare folding tire(s)x (1-2)
Bikepacking or touring repair kit for traditional tubes

Portable pump: Ideally a durable one that fits both Presta and Schrader valves, giving you more flexibility. This one is small and has worked great for me over several years.

Presta – Schrader valve adapter: This tiny gizmo is cheap, small, and super useful if your Presta pump breaks and you need to use more common Schrader valve pumps found along your route.

Spare tubes: You should plan on patching your tubes, but often it’s easier to do this at camp or in the comfort of a hotel room. Thus you want at least one spare tube to swap in by the roadside, if possible. More is better for longer trips, since they can sometimes fail in ways that can’t be patched (near the valve stem for example) or you can get unlucky and have multiple punctures in one day.

Make sure your spare tubes are the correct diameter and width for your tire, and the correct valve type for your rim. Presta valves are smaller and will fit through Schrader valve holes, but not the other way around (without drilling out a bigger hole in the rim, which has been done). Consider that common bicycle wheel sizes differ across the world. For example, 29×2.6″ mountain bike tubes might be hard to find in Asia or Africa, while a more standard 26″ or 27.5″ x 2″ tube will be easier.

Store spare tubes away from water and direct sunlight, and protect them from other objects in your bags. Some people put them in a ziplock with some baby powder to keep them dry and slippery.

Tire levers: Some multitools claim to include tire levers, but I’ve never found one that works as well as the standalone kind. I like these Park Tool tire levers because they’re easy to use and difficult to break. For long trips, consider bringing an extra as they can sometimes snap while wrestling with a stubborn tire.

Tube patches: There’s a reason every bike repair kit has patches! Sooner or later, probably sooner, you’re going to need them. The Park Tool pre-glued patches have always worked well for me — very easy to use and no worries about the tube of glue drying out — but some people say they’re not as durable. Patches are small and light so bring plenty, especially if your tires aren’t as burly or your trip includes rough and rocky ground, lots of urban riding, or desert areas with thorns (better yet, go tubeless for this last one).

Pro tip: If using a vulcanizing patch kit with the little tube of glue, check to make sure it hasn’t dried out before each trip!

Emergency tire boot: This set of 3 tire boots is lightweight and small, so I usually carry it with a tube setup in case of a bad tear in my tire. It can also be used to cover a rough spot in your tire that’s causing repeated punctures in the same spot. You can substitute a folded food wrapper or dollar bill in a pinch, so it’s not a necessity, but it’s nice to have for longer or more involved routes.

Spare tire: If touring extensively in a place where the tires you need will be hard to find, consider carrying a spare. This is sometimes done by Cairo to Cape Town riders, for example, though lightweight folks generally skip it. Get the kind with a folding bead, not wire, so it’s easier to carry.

Miraculously this did NOT puncture my tube, thanks to those beefy touring tires, but I was ready with my patch kit if it did.

Repair Kit for Tubeless Tires

I’m a big fan of tubeless tires for their puncture resistance and pressure adjustability. With a tubeless setup you can expect to spend a bit more time on setup before the trip and less time (hopefully) fixing punctures along the way. If you do get a bad puncture, however, it can be harder to deal with and requires a few extra supplies.

For a tubeless setup, your repair kit needs to include all the traditional tube repair supplies, PLUS tubeless-specific supplies. Why? Because if you end up with a large tear in your tubeless tire, your backup plan is to put a tube in. Thus you still need the spare tube, and you might as well have patches for it and tire boots to protect it. The difference is that your spare tube(s) and patches are part of plan B, not plan A, so you might choose to carry fewer than you would when running tubes.

Everything in the tube repair kit table in the section above, though you can get away with fewer tubes and patchesxxx
Extra sealant and injectorx (enough for 1 tire)x (enough for 2-3 tires)x (enough for 3+ tires and plan to restock)
Valve core removerxxx
Tire plug kitxxx (plus extra plugs)
Small tube of Super Gluexxx
Curved needle and dental floss?xx
Small pliers or tweezers?xx
Spare valve stem, or at least a spare corexx
CO2 cartridgesoptionaloptionaloptional
Bikepacking repair kit supplies for tubeless tires

Extra sealant and injector: Sealant is the magic that makes tubeless tires work, and it doesn’t last forever. Small amounts are lost as punctures self-seal, large amounts can be lost from major tire failures, and over months it gradually dries out. The amount you should carry varies by tire size and the tire hazards of your route, but I consider a single tire’s worth to be a bare minimum. On remote and rugged trips I carry enough to refill two tires, and on very long trips you’ll likely need a way to replenish.

Consider also how you’ll add sealant to the tire without unseating the bead. The 2 oz Stan’s bottles and 4 oz Orange injector bottles both allow you to add sealant through a valve stem after removing the core.

Getting ready to top up sealant after loosing too much in the thorny Arizona desert
Adding sealant through the valve stem

Valve core remover: This tiny tool eases the process of removing your valve core to add sealant, or tightening if it comes loose. Technically the job can be done with pliers, but this tool prevents damage to the threads.

Tire plug kit: If you get a hole in your tubeless tire that’s too big to self-seal, you’ll need a plug kit consisting of “bacon strips” and a plug tool.

Super Glue, curved needle, dental floss: These supplies, along with the right sacrifice to the bikepacking gods, can help with the dark magic of repairing large tears in a tubeless tire without having to unseat the bead. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t, which is why you’re also carrying a tube. The decision to carry these on a short and lightweight trip comes down to how remote your route is and personal risk tolerance. FYI Super Glue comes in some very tiny containers.

Tweezers or pliers: If you do end up needing to put a tube in because of a tubeless tire failure, there’s a good chance your tires are full of sharp pokey things that will immediately puncture the tube. Your best bet is to try and remove them all with tweezers or pliers. I use the pliers on my Leatherman multitool — more on this below.

Spare valve stem: I carry this often and have never needed it, but an entire spare valve stem could come in handy. More likely, the removable core will be useful if yours becomes clogged with sealant or otherwise damaged. The core alone is smaller and you might reasonably choose to carry it without the rest of the stem for shorter trips.

CO2 cartridge: I’ve never used one and don’t carry them, but some people swear by CO2 cartridges to re-seat a tubeless tire bead.

Note on pumps for tubeless setups: I use my same little mini-pump for tubeless and for tubes. Some people, including the folks at, report being able to seat a tubeless bead with high-volume mini pumps like the 100cc OneUp EDC and Lezyne Micro-Floor Drive HV. This is far from guaranteed, however, so for now I continue carrying my lighter pump and assuming I will need to find an air compressor or put in a tube if I break a bead.


After rubber-related supplies, a solid bikepacking tool kit is the next-most important focus. This is how you make adjustments to your bike fit, tighten loose bolts, pack your bike for air travel, and more. Exactly what tools are needed depend on your bike and its bits, but here is a good general-purpose kit.

Multitool with chain breakerxxx
Leatherman multitool with pliers?xx
Standalone allen keys in most helpful sizesxx
Small adjustable wrenchx (if needed)x (if needed)
Pedal wrenchdependsdependsdepends
Layout of bikepacking tool kit

Multitool with chain breaker: I’ve been using the IB-3 from Park Tool for many years and really like it. It’s been durable and has everything I need, including a chain breaker that actually works (some cheaper ones struggle). The CrankBrothers line of multitools is also well-regarded.

Leatherman PS Multitool with Pliers: I find this tool handy enough that I carry it always, though I use it most on longer trips. It fills all the gaps that my bike-specific multitool doesn’t include: pliers, mini-scissors, file, bottle opener… It’s TSA approved since it doesn’t have a knife blade, so technically you can carry it on a plane (though the inspector might look twice at it).

Standalone allen keys in helpful sizes: Sometimes a multitool is awkward or simply doesn’t fit into certain nooks and crannies on your bike. For a long or less weight-sensitive trip you may want to bring individual allen keys in 4mm, 5mm, and 6mm sizes, plus possibly 8mm if your pedals require it instead of a pedal wrench (sometimes a multitool doesn’t provide enough leverage for tight pedals).

Small wrench, ideally adjustable: This is probably overkill for most trips, but if your setup has a few nuts and bolts a small adjustable wrench is handy. On my bike it’s helpful for adjusting my rear rack and dynamo light mount. It’s an easy tool to find in garages and workshops anywhere in the world, so I’d only consider it worth the weight if your ride is very remote and you need to be completely self-sufficient.

Pedal wrench: If you plan to fly with your bike you’ll likely need to remove the pedals, and many (not all) require a pedal wrench. Some models can be installed and removed with an 8mm allen key, so check yours before lugging this heavy tool around. If there are bike shops in your start and finish location, one strategy is to stop by and ask to borrow theirs.


Chain lube and small ragxxx
Quick links / master linksx (1-2)x (2-3)x (3+)
Quick link pliers or piece of old cablexxx
Spare shift cablexx
Spare derailleur hangerx (if needed)x (if needed)
Spare chain section (5-10 links)xx
Entire spare chainx
Spare shift housing?
Layout of drivetrain-related tools and spares in bikepacking repair kit

Chain lube and small rag or pack of disposable wet wipes. Keeping your chain clean and lubed is your first defense against drivetrain issues. Chain lube is found in bicycle shops worldwide, but it may not be your favorite specialty type. It’s possible to go through lube quite slowly in good conditions, or surprisingly fast in rain or dust. Err on the side of bringing more if you’re not sure what to expect.

Quick link, also called master link: These removable links are handy for repairing a broken chain, or if you need to remove your chain from the bike for any reason. With two you can splice in a spare section of chain to repair a larger damaged section, repairing your chain without shortening it. Make sure you get the right kind of quick link to match the “speed” of your chain (8 speed, 10-speed, etc). Alternatively some cyclists use connecting rivets/pins to splice chains, but they’re not reusable and I’ve never tried them.

Quick link pliers: Quick links can be fiddly to open and close. These pliers make life so much easier, but you can also make do with a section of old cable and this this neat trick in a pinch.

Spare chain links: If several of your chain links get damaged, you can remove them and rejoin your chain but it will be too short for all your gears. To prevent this problem I carry a short section (5-10 links) of chain on longer trips, especially to areas where I don’t think my type of chain is easy to find (eg. 12 speed in Central Asia). With this, a chain breaker, and two quick links I can repair a damaged section of chain and still have all my gears.

Entire spare chain: If touring for 2000+ miles in a place where you’re not sure you can buy a new chain of the right type, consider carrying an entire spare chain. They’re heavy, so you might prefer to mail one to yourself at a designated resupply location instead. Note that more specialized chains, like 10, 11, and 12 speed, can be harder to find in developing countries than lower-speed versions.

Spare derailleur hanger: Some derailleurs attach to a hanger, a “sacrificial” part designed to bend under impact so your derailleur doesn’t break. On my Fargo the hanger is quite soft and I’ve bent several during crashes and transport. The spare is one of the largest items in my bikepacking repair kit, but I’ve used it enough times that it’s totally worth it.

Spare shift cable: You’re unlikely to need this, but when you do, you really need it. Choose the right type for your bike (different for drop bar versus flat bar controls) and cut it to length at home first. Wrap it up with your spare brake cable (see next section) and stash them in your handlebars, seat tube, or other out-of-the-way place. Also know how to install them, otherwise they won’t do any good when you need them most. On really long trips without access to parts you might consider bringing extra housing, but most cyclists would be content to take the risk and find this en route if needed.


Spare brake pads?xx (more)
Sandpaper (for disc brakes)xx
Spare brake cable (for mechanical brakes)xx
Hydraulic brake supplies??
Spare brake housing?
Layout of brake-related supplies in bikepacking repair kit

Spare brake pads: It’s fairly common to run through brake pads on a bike trip, even a short one, especially if they’re already worn or you’re riding in gritty conditions. You won’t always find your specific type of pad along the way, so bring at least one spare set if there’s any chance of needing them (and make sure you’ve practiced installing them). For longer trips I bring two sets for a full replacement, and on a super-long trip with limited bike shops I would bring three or four sets.

Sandpaper: Disc brake rotors and pads can be contaminated by oils, and pads can become glazed from too much heat. The resulting squealing noise can drive you mad. You can often improve the situation by wiping the rotor and pads with rubbing alcohol (available along the way or on first aid alcohol prep pads) and a light sanding with medium-grit sand paper. You can buy sandpaper around the world, but after some extreme brake squealing on a remote trip I now carry a few small strips in my repair kit.

Spare brake cable (for mechanical brakes): Unlikely to be needed, but very helpful when it is. Choose the right type for your bike (different for drop bar versus flat bar controls) and cut it to length at home first. Wrap it up with your spare shift cable (see previous section) and stash them in your handlebars, seat tube, or other out-of-the-way place. Also know how to install them, otherwise they won’t do any good when you need them most. On really long trips without access to parts you might consider bringing extra housing, but most cyclists would be content to take the risk and find this en route if needed.

Hydraulic brake supplies: I recently upgraded to a bike with hydraulic brakes, and after a few thousand miles of bikepacking I’m a convert. But I have to admit, the added complexity of field repairs does make me think twice about taking this bike on long and rugged trips abroad. So far I’ve been lucky, but in some cases I would consider carrying supplies for emergency bleeding and repair. The Emergency Bleed Kit from Neutron Components is the most obvious addition to a bikepacking repair kit, but it won’t fix major problems. Does anyone take spare hose and a full bleed kit on expedition-style trips? Let me know in the comments — I’m still learning.

Regardless of whether you decide to bring bleed supplies, I recommend all hydraulic brake users carry a brake pad separator (like this, but for your specific model of brakes) to keep the pistons from sticking together while transporting the bike with a wheel removed.

Other Spare Parts and Tools

Spare bolts?xx
Spare cleat and bolts?xx
Wolftooth Valais or hose clamp (if running dropper seatpost)xxx
Threadlocker (blue)xx
Shock pump (if running suspension fork)?x
Spare spokes and nipples?x
Spoke wrench??

Spare bolts: Depending on your bike and what you have attached to it, it’s not a bad idea to carry a few spare bolts for your racks, bottle cages, etc.

Blue Threadlocker (243): Some bolts have a tendency to vibrate loose over time, especially if you ride gravel and dirt. A dab of this stuff keeps them in place while still being easily removable with tools. I keep a small tube in my bikepacking repair kit and have used it on bolts for bottle cages, racks, cleats, pedal traction pins, and various other bike parts when reassembling after air travel. Pro tip: use only blue threadlocker, which is removable, never the permanent red type.

Spare cleat and bolts: If you use clipless pedals, consider bringing a spare cleat and bolt or two for your cycling shoes. They’ve been known to wear out, break, or get lost. This is less critical if you have MTB-style shoes with recessed cleats and hybrid or dual-sided pedals which would allow you to pedal comfortably without clipping in.

Related: Best Pedals for Bikepacking – How to Choose

Wolftooth Valais or hose clamp: If you’re bikepacking with a dropper seatpost, you might want a way to clamp the post in place in case of failure. It’s not a common problem, but if you’re using a seat bag you may already have a Wolftooth Valais clamp (note there are two sizes, here’s the other one) that can be used to keep a broken post extended. A hose clamp is another option, but this would likely damage the stanchion.

Shock pump: If bikepacking with a suspension fork, especially over a long time period, you might find yourself needing to adjust the air pressure. Depending on your fork and your pump, you might be able to do this with your tire pump (I have), but it’s best not to count on it. A mini shock pump is the best solution.

Spare spokes and nipples: These are small and easy to carry, but make sure you know what to do with them if needed. I’ve never had a spoke fail on me, but I’m a light person who rides sturdy bikes. If you run wheels with fewer spokes or load up very heavily, you might need spares. recommends storing them in your seat post with a bit of rigid foam, which sounds like a great idea to me. Another option is the FiberFix Spoke Replacement, which is easier to install but only a short-term fix.

Spoke wrench in correct size: I have this listed in the expedition category because I have never needed one, and in an emergency you can use an adjustable wrench or the pliers on your Leatherman. But, they’re small and some touring cyclists swear by bringing them. Many multitools include them, so check before buying a standalone.

Misc. Repair Supplies

Here are all the other random bits in my bikepacking and touring repair kit, mostly used for fastening things to other things.

Zip ties in assorted sizesxxx
Gorilla tapexxx
Electrical tapexxx
Gear repair tapexxx
Frame tapexx
Nitrile glovesoptionaloptionaloptional

Zip ties / cable ties: Small, light, and handy for creative repairs to racks, panniers, and pretty much anything. Bring a few different sizes.

Gorilla tape or duct tape: Wrap a few turns around your pump or lighter. Useful for touching up rim tape and making repairs to panniers, camping gear, and even tires.

Electrical tape: Again, wrap a few turns around something else in your kit. Electrical tape is durable and sticks well to bicycle frames, but is also easy to remove and doesn’t leave sticky residue. I’ve used it as emergency rim tape, to attach bottle cages without bolts, repair torn handlebar tape, protect my frame and handlebars from mounting hardware, and probably many other things.

Gear repair tape: I always carry a strip of clear Gear Aid repair tape. I’ve used it to repair rain gear, a tent, and an inflatable sleeping pad.

Frame protection tape: Bikepacking bags can easily do damage to bike frames over time as the straps rub. You should apply frame tape at home before loading up, and for a long trip it’s worth bringing extra to reapply. This is especially essential for carbon frames and forks, which are easily abraded and become dangerous in a hurry. I’m still looking for the perfect frame tape – easy to apply and also slow to wear through – so let me know in the comments if you have a recommendation.

Nitrile gloves: Totally optional, but if you don’t like getting your hands dirty a pair of gloves can make bike repairs more pleasant. I always thought this was silly until I rode behind a herd of cows for a few miles and then needed to fix a flat… 😉 They also make good emergency rain gloves.

Packing Your Repair Kit

Now that you have your bikepacking repair kit supplies, where and how do you carry them?

You don’t necessarily need to get fancy here. In the past I’ve used an old water bottle in a bottle cage or just a mesh bag in my pannier. I’m currently using the Blackburn Tool Wrap on my down tube to save space in my bags; it carries all my less commonly used tools and spares. I keep my pump and a small mesh baggie of essentials (multitool, Leatherman, flat repair kit) in my frame bag.

Other tips and ideas for carrying a repair kit on your bike:

  • Put things you’re likely to need more often – multitool, Leatherman, flat repair kit – in a place where you don’t need to empty out all your gear to get to them. Frame bags and top tube bags are good for this, as are small pockets in panniers.
  • Put heavy things – spare chain, larger tools – lower on your bike and closer to the center. This could be the bottom of your frame bag or the bottom of panniers.
  • Get creative with things you don’t need often, like spare cables or brake pads. These can be stored inside handlebars, seat tubes, etc.
  • Spare tubes should be protected from dirt, rain, and direct sunlight. Some people put them in a plastic ziplock bag with a little baby or talcum powder to prevent rubbing and catching on the plastic.
  • Repair supplies and tools don’t necessarily need to be in fully waterproof storage. But if your gear has gotten soggy lately, check on your tools to make sure they’ve dried out and aren’t rusting.
Picture of bikepacking setup with labeled repair kit in water bottle on down tube
Picture of bikepacking setup with labeled repair kit in tool wrap on down tube

Should You Share A Repair Kit?

Sharing gear as a couple or group might seem like a great way to pack lighter, but think carefully when deciding to split a repair kit among multiple riders. Consider whether there is any chance of riding separately, even for a few hours, and what that means if one of you has a mechanical issue while the other is riding ahead.

Personally I think every rider should carry at least their own basics like a pump and flat repair kit and be able to use them alone. That way you can also serve as each others’ backup if something goes wrong, like a pump breaking in the middle of nowhere.

For tools or supplies that are unlikely to be needed often, especially for a couple who are very likely to stay together for the whole trip, I think it’s fine to split up rarely used items like adjustable wrenches, standalone allen keys, and spare cables to lighten everyone’s load a little.

Solo bikepackers may want to be a bit more conservative in their repair kit decisions and a bit more confident in their repair skills, especially if riding in remote places.

Finding Repair Help Around the World

You can have the best bike touring repair kit in the world, but if you ride long enough you will eventually need help while on the road. Here are some strategies for that:

  • Motorbike repair shops are far more common than bicycle shops in some parts of the world. Local mechanics often have a good selection of tools and solid mechanical aptitude. They’re a good first stop if you need something you don’t have while on tour.
  • Hardware stores sometimes stock basic bicycle parts in small towns that don’t have a dedicated bike shop.
  • This may be specific to the fact that I’m female, but I’ve found that men all over the world will enthusiastically jump in to “help” fix my bicycle even if they don’t know how. Sometimes they’re actually helpful, but other times they’re not familiar with the specifics of my bike and can end up making it worse. Accept help graciously, but cautiously.
  • Talk to people. I once managed to source a replacement pedal in a tiny Nebraska town by simply making small talk with a curious couple at McDonalds. The employee clearing my table overheard the conversation, called his brother who happened to have a box full of bike pedals, and I was back on the road by morning. It’s not always so easy, but you might get lucky.
  • If the part you need might be found on locals’ bicycles, you may be able to buy a used part from someone you meet. Obviously you should offer them a generously fair price and make sure you’re not depriving someone of their only means of transportation. But if they’ll be able to source a replacement or simply have some unused parts sitting around, consider making a deal.
  • In the US, Competitive Cyclist offers free 2-day shipping on orders over $50. I’ve seen people use this to get repair supplies shipped ahead on their route in a timely fashion. And of course, there’s always You’ll need an address to ship to; ideas include general stores, RV parks, hotels, small-town diners, and Warmshowers hosts along your route. See Resupplying While Bikepacking for more info on mail drops.

Bikepacker’s Companion eBook

If you’re still feeling a little uncertain about your bike repair knowledge, I’ll shamelessly plug my eBook: the Bikepacker’s Companion. It’s a 140-page PDF download you can save on your phone and refer to if/when things go sideways in the middle of nowhere, even if you don’t have an internet connection. It includes an entire chapter on bike repair and troubleshooting, plus advice for every other aspect of your pedal-powered trip.

Learn more here: Bikepacker’s Companion eBook.

Other Bicycle Travel Resources

About the Author

Hi there, I’m Alissa, founder of Exploring Wild. I’ve traveled over 19,000 miles by bike and still can’t stop planning my next ride (and helping you plan yours). Pavement and panniers or singletrack and seat bag, I love it all. On my bike I feel free. Learn more about me here.

Shop Bikepacking Resources

digital help with planning, riding, and problem solving

Excited to try bikepacking but need help getting started? The Bikepacking Trip Planner Workbook can help you take the next step.

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Town Day Checklist!

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    You’ll also receive occasional emails with other bikepacking and touring resources. I think you’ll like them, but you can unsubscribe at any time.

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    About the Author

    Hi there, I’m Alissa, founder of Exploring Wild. I’ve traveled over 19,000 miles by bike and still can’t stop planning my next ride (and helping you plan yours). Pavement and panniers or singletrack and seat bag, I love it all. On my bike I feel free. Learn more about me here.

    Shop Bikepacking Resources

    digital help with planning, riding, and problem solving

    Excited to try bikepacking but need help getting started? The Bikepacking Trip Planner Workbook can help you take the next step.

    Bike resources in your inbox?

    There’s more where this came from! Sign up here for occasional emails full of inspiration and information about bikepacking and bicycle touring.

    Town Day Checklist!

    Sign up to receive the free downloadable bikepacking town day checklist to help with your resupply stops:

      You’ll also receive occasional emails with other bikepacking and touring resources. I think you’ll like them, but you can unsubscribe at any time.

      Share the Adventure

      If you found this article helpful, please consider sharing so more people can benefit from it:

      5 thoughts on “How to Build A Bikepacking Repair Kit, From Ultralight to Expedition”

      1. Crank extractor if needed to box/bag bicycle or service non-sealed bottom bracket. Test multitool by disassembling bike for packing or servicing only the tool. Too-tight and inaccessible nuts and bolts quickly become apparent.

      2. Your writing (in this and other articles) is very clear and organized. I’m glad I came across your and I’m enjoying your articles. Keep up the good work.

      3. Glue. Patch kits of any brand contain a small tube of glue. It always dries out, even if never opened. And even the Park glueless patches dry out pretty quickly and should be replaced annually if you go that route. I think a more reliable setup might be a selection of standard patches and a 1 oz tube of quality rubber cement such as Slime brand. Just keep in mind that once opened it should probably be replaced at some point. Better yet get a small airtight 0.5-1 oz (such as Nalgene polyethylene) container and refill from a large can of Slime which will last forever.


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