When I started riding, I had a monster saddlebag on each of my bikes, filled with every imaginable possible tool, tube, patch kit, spare parts, etc., and a pump mounted somewhere on the bike, as well. At the core, I’m the type of person who hates to be unprepared. I really, really don’t like not having the right tool for a given job, and I really, really don’t like being prepared for the unexpected. Part of that comes from my personality, and part of it comes from years of working as a Volunteer Firefighter/EMT–I came to see how a little bit of preparation could ready you for a wide array of problems.
When I first became a FF/EMT, I saw more experienced guys with a couple tools in their pocket. Maybe a wire cutter and a centerpunch. Maybe some spare gloves, or an extra light. I dove in, as I do with all things. I would sport a centerpunch, wire cutters, multi-tool, spare gloves, medical gloves, spare flashlight, batteries, gut-strap, and more. I was prepared for anything–or so I thought.
After the first real fire I responded to, I realized that I didn’t use 95% of what I had with me. The vast majority of what I was carrying was stuff that was used infrequently…and on the infrequent occasions when I did need it, I was usually close enough to a truck that I could grab it. I ended up paring down my gear selection greatly…to just a couple multipurpose items that were the things you’d need in an emergency, when you couldn’t get to a truck to grab them. My pockets were lighter, and yet I was more versatile, more prepared, and more maneuverable. Experience had showed me that I could be prepared, without being overburdened.
I’m now starting to apply that to biking. With the Ridley, I ran a seat bag.
In that bag, I had a myriad of spare items. Usually 2 tubes, a bike multitool, a ‘standard’ multitool, a patch kit, a handful of CO2 cartridges and an inflator, a quick link, and who-knows-what-else.
When the Madone rolled into my life, I couldn’t bring myself to besmirch it with a seatbag.
That prompted me to rethink my preparedness.
Similarly, on the Vaya, I’ve always run a seatbag.
But I’ve now found that it too looks much cleaner without.
And thus began my quest for an alternative to seatbags.
In paring down what I carry, I still want to be prepared. My list of must-haves includes the following:
- A spare tube
- 2 CO2 cartridges
- A CO2 inflator
- A 10 speed quicklink
- A bike multitool
That’s it. I also carry a cellphone and whatever hydration and/or snack I need, but those aren’t tool-related items.
I looked at a lot of packs of varying sizes, considered many bags, and ended up settling on the Sticky Pod.
One side has the frog, and the other side has these rubber dots that are intended to keep the pod in your jersey pocket.
This is the small sticky pod. It’s made of spandex, so it stretches to accommodate your gear.
These pics are just with the items listed above.
This is a 700×23-25c tube, fwiw.
I’m carrying a Crank Brothers multitool, in its little case, because that’s what Santa brought me for Christmas. It would be less bulky without the case, but I’ve had other multitools rust when not enclosed.
The zipper is nice and heavy duty, and the small is relatively unobtrusive. It pretty much fills a jersey pocket, as I use it.
- Very functional. Works well.
- Great zipper.
- Stretchy material accommodates a variety of swag, and contains it well.
- Thick material keeps you from getting poked in the back by your multitool, CO2, etc.
- Plenty of room for a svelte kit.
- The aesthetics of the giant frog leave something to be desired, although it is memorable.
- There may not be a perfect size for all purposes, but this seems like a pretty good compromise.
Is this the end-all, be-all solution? No, it isn’t perfect. But it’s pretty darn good, and good enough for now. What would I love to find?
Bontrager makes the Airpack (photo from their website), that has room for 2 CO2s, 2 tire levers, a CO2 head, and a flat kit.
It’s nicely designed, with little tabs to hold each part in place.
What I would LOVE to find would be an Airpack, designed to hold 2 CO2 cartridges, a CO2 head, a flat kit, a 700c tube and a multitool…and with nifty elastic straps to hold everything in its place…and a tiny pocket to slip a quick link into. Make it proprietary for your multi-tool brand…that’s totally fine.
I’d prefer for it to be a very wear-resistant ballistic nylon that is water resistant, with a nice, heavy (albeit water resistant) zipper. I can live with spandex like the Sticky Pod, but if it’s designed to hold everything securely in place, it shouldn’t need to stretch.
Don’t try to accommodate cell phones. They’re too big, and vary too much in size. Besides, my cellphone has a case. But it would be nice if you made a slot on the outside, to slip a credit card, a $20 and a driver’s license into.
Compartmentalize and secure everything in it so it comes out nice and rectangular, and unobtrusive.
Throw some rubber on the outside so it stays in the jersey when I wipe out on ice. (And yes, Madam Vaya, I am still very, very sorry that this happened).
The Sticky Pod works good as a “stuff things into a pouch” container that I can keep handy and throw in my pocket when I ride. It’s a quality piece, and I am happy to use it. I can see how it could be improved, though.
Say what you want about putting the weight on the bike with a seatbag. With the Sticky Pod, I don’t really notice a couple of ounces in my pocket…and I can have one setup with quality parts that I use with all of my skinny tire bikes. For that matter, if I’m riding the Mariachi, I’ll usually just grab this and a 29er tube, and go.
Sticky Pod gets an A- for what it is, and a B- for what I’d like it to be.