Peek Inside My Bikepacking Tool Kit: 4 Products I Never Ride Without

Bikepackers instinctively know the value of a good repair kit. We rely on our small collection of compact tools to get us out of sticky predicaments, sometimes far from civilization or the possibility of a passing car. In these situations, details matter!

For anyone wondering which tools are up to the bikepacking challenge, I present four essential items from my own bikepacking tool kit and why they work so well for me. I’ve carried these tools for many thousands of miles, from border to border on the Great Divide to the Tian Shan Mountains of Kyrgyzstan, and beyond. They’ve never let me down.

For a detailed rundown of everything you should pack in a complete tools and spares kit, see the big list at Crafting a Balanced Bikepacking Repair Kit.

When you buy through affiliate links in this post, I may earn a small commission. Thanks for your support! I always offer unbiased opinions based on real experience from the road and trail. Learn more.

Bike Multitool

My bikepacking multi-tool of choice is the Park Tool IB-3 I-Beam. It’s quite compact and light, super durable, and I rarely find a job it can’t handle. I’ve yet to notice the nuts on the ends loosening as eventually happens with so many multitools, even good quality ones.

Close up of Park Tool IB-3 in hand

I like that the chain breaker on this tool actually works, thanks to the detachable “tire lever” (not the best to be honest, I carry other tire levers). The clever design offers plenty of leverage to crank down the chain breaker.

The downside is that the detachable lever is easy to misplace. I now keep both the tool and lever in a mesh bag with my other tools, usually not attached to each other. It’s also fairly easy to misplace the 8mm end cap on the 6mm allen. Fortunately Park Tool sells replacements for both on their website… Don’t ask me how I know.

My only real complaint about this multitool: the 5mm hex — a frequently used size — is a little short. I’ve had trouble reaching a few out-of-the-way bolts with it. Partly for this reason, and partly because it’s just easier to use, I often carry a standalone 5mm allen key.

Otherwise, I can truly say this little tool is a beast. It was the first “nice” multi-tool I bought (after my cheap plastic one exploded all over the middle of the road) and it’s still going strong after 10,000+ miles.

Close up of hands about to split bicycle chain using multitool chain breaker
Using the detachable lever with the chain breaker on the IB-3.

Leatherman Multitool

“Leatherman” is sometimes used as a generic term, but I specifically love the Leatherman Style PS as a complement to my bike tools. While normal survival-style multitools tend to have a lot of gadgets I don’t need, this tool is packed with exactly the items I use on a bike trip.

Close up of Leatherman PS in hand

These are the tools in the Leatherman PS I value most:

  • pliers: useful for many bike repairs including tightening a cable, sewing a tire, pulling thorns out of a tire
  • mini scissors and nail file: this is how I trim my nails on longer trips
  • flathead screwdriver: useful for a few things on my bike including limit screws
  • bottle opener: for beer

It’s also quite small and light for this style of tool, and I’ve found it to be nearly indestructible. It’s definitely on the expensive side, but the quality is high.

This particular Leatherman does not have a blade, which makes it technically TSA compliant. Sometimes inspectors want a closer look at it, but so far they’ve always let it through. This comes in handy when you need a tool to open your bike box, inside which all your other tools and sharp things are packed, while unpacking your boxed bike after a flight.

Related: How to Fly With Your Bike as Checked Luggage

Hands holding multitool and pliers while tightening shift cable on a bicycle
Using the pliers on my Leatherman PS (and the IB-3 Multitool mentioned above) to tighten my shift cable at the pinch bolt.

Mini Pump

A portable pump is often the most-used part of a bikepacking tool kit. So you might be surprised to hear that I swear by this relatively inexpensive model from Pro Bike Tool. I’ve compared it to fancier pumps like the OneUp Components EDC and I still like mine better.

close up of hand holding small Pro Bike Tool mini pump

What I like about it: It’s very compact and light, only 4oz to the EDC’s 6.4oz. The flexible hose makes it easy to reach around bags and racks to pump tires at odd angles. It has both a Schrader and Presta fitting, which is nice if something goes wrong with your Presta valve or fitting and you happen to be carrying a Presta – Schrader adapter (and I highly recommend that you do).

Another benefit of the flexible hose is that the motion of pumping doesn’t wiggle my tubeless valve stems loose. I’ve had issues with press-on pumps accidentally breaking the seal and causing a stubborn tubeless leak. Though some people say the twist-on attachment style can accidentally unscrew the valve stem, I haven’t had that problem (easy to avoid if you pay attention while unscrewing).

Tubeless tire users, it’s worth noting that my trusty Pro Bike Tool pump isn’t particularly high volume. I’m sure it would not seat a tubeless bead, while the 100cc OneUp EDC supposedly can in some cases. But with the 29er MTB tires I run, I often can’t seat the bead even with a floor pump, so I certainly don’t expect it from my mini pump.

Mini pump with flexible hose attached to a bicycle wheel
I like that the flexible hose on my pump takes strain off the valve stem and makes it easy to pump from all angles.

Quick Link Pliers

This last one used to seem like a luxury to me, but since adding the Wolf Tooth Masterlink Pliers to my repair kit I’ve carried them on every bikepacking trip. Their primary job is to open (and close – don’t underestimate this one) a quick link so you can repair or replace your chain.

Close up of Wolf Tooth quick link pliers in hand

Before getting these pliers I tried the needle nose variety and the trick with old cable, but both can be a struggle when the link is really tight or gummed up. The Masterlink Pliers do the job easily every single time, which is worth it in my book. They also have a nice spot to store a couple quick links, and a few extra functions including a Presta valve core remover (can never have too many of those).

Close up of hand using Wolf Tooth quick link pliers to open a quick link on a bicycle chain

More Repair Kit Resources

If you’re building out your bikepacking repair kit, allow me to shamelessly plug the Exploring Wild Adventure Kits in my online store. I’ve crafted these collections based on extensive experience to help riders feel more confident and get themselves out of sticky situations.

Tubeless Tire Repair Kit: A comprehensive collection of lightweight supplies needed to plug, suture, boot, and troubleshoot common and not-so-common tubeless tire problems.

Bikepacker’s Fix It Kit: The “everything else” supplies to round out a bikepacking-worthy repair kit: tapes, ties, bolts, threadlocker, adapters, emergency backups, and more.

In addition to keeping you rolling when things go sideways, your purchase supports this small business and helps me help more people discover the joys of bikepacking. Many thanks!

More Bikepacking Resources

If you liked this article, you might also like these:

Or visit the bikepacking section for lots more!

About the Author

Hi there, I’m Alissa, founder of Exploring Wild. I’ve traveled over 20,000 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.

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