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Pedal Through, by first-time film director and new mountain biker Analise. Follow her journey of self-healing and growth during a week-long bikepacking adventure through the Oregon backcountry.

Packing Proper: Saddle Bag Vs. Jersey Pockets


Maybe you love the look of your integrated seatmast. Maybe you're new to the game and, like me, haven't purchased one yet. Possibly, you're making the transition from commuting to road riding, and you've ditched your backpack but haven't found a reasonable solution for your necessities yet. Either way, you can consider this your personal invitation to join the rule-breaking, tie-stuff-to-your-frame club. Some purists will scoff at the idea of mucking up a nice clean setup with a tacky bag hanging off the back, but we here at MFF are die-hard saddle bag converts. Chalk it up to our love affair with cycling accessories, with being prepared for any disaster, or maybe we just like to ruffle Fred Feathers. 

You never want to be the person without the necessary tools on a long ride; it’s an easy way to lose riding buddies. Plus, you always WANT to be the one with extra snacks; it’ll make you friends. So it's a win/win really, unless you prefer riding alone, in which case you definitely need to be prepared... you get where I'm going with this.

Investing in a decent saddle bag is an easy way to solve all of these issues. It was a purchase I put off for a long time in lieu of more pressing needs, but once I made the switch I was hooked. I don't know how I went around shoving tubes in my pockets before!

Saddle bags are great. Mostly (OK... 100%) because if your jersey pockets are free of tools and tubes, they can be filled with more important things, like carbs. All kinds of snacks are welcome in my pockets. Peanut butter and Nutella rolled up in a tortilla? Sure. Homemade rice bars? Definitely. A crusty French roll with Prosciutto and Gruyere? Get on up in there!

Jersey pockets are great for snacks. Also small meals. A mid-ride nibble. Can you eat it with your hands? Wrap it up and take with you, rules be damned.


Most saddle bags are of similar shape and size, designed to attach to the rails of your saddle, keeping it up and out the way. (Please, leave anything larger than a small camera case to the bike tourers). Most bag manufacturers describe the capacities of their bags as sized to hold a tube, CO2 charger, patch kit, 2 tire levers, and a multi-tool. While this is a perfectly acceptable way to use these bad boys, I like to swap out a few things for my most proper pack job. 

The Absolute Necessities:
  • Tube. You just can't get around this one.
  • Tire Lever. 2 is overkill, but 1 is a necessity to save your nails.
  • Patch Kit. Doesn't take up too much room, and could save your life.
  • Multitool. 
Scrap 'Em:
  • CO2. This is a judgment call, I prefer a hand pump in the pocket.
MFF Suggested Additions:
  • Travel Toiletries!

Sure, call me out on being a girl here, but carrying these little containers has saved me on more than one occasion. Just go to your local drugstore and pick up some airplane sized squeeze bottles. I fill one with Chamois Cream and one with sunscreen. Chamois cream will make you fall back in love with cycling if you are having saddle issues, but sometimes it becomes less effective after a few hours on the bike. If you’re really uncomfortable, having some extra in your bag can turn a disaster of a day back to one for the books. Extra SPF will help if you forget in the morning, or if you feel your cheeks burning midday. A tiny tube of Aquaphor or Vaseline can help chapped lips and knuckles. 

The great thing about a saddle bag is that you can pack it and forget it. No need to transfer all the same items from jersey to jersey every day, inevitably leaving something out. 

FYI: If the snacks tun out to be too much for your tiny pockets, there are always grocery bags...