My Bike Bag Preflight Checklist

I tend to ride my e-bike places these days — especially in nice weather and, even though I label myself as a fair-weather biker, increasingly in inclement weather. But I have three bike bags, and that’s a problem.

They are, respectively:

  • An older Chrome backpack that they apparently don’t make anymore. This thing is huge and heavy-duty. It’s so waterproof that you can fill it with water and soap and wash dishes in there.
  • The Chrome Tensile Ruckpack, which is a basic lightweight backpack. I got it because it’s lightweight and feels like an artifact from Star Wars.
  • A yoga-mat backpack whose entire purpose is to safely secure a yoga mat in ways that I couldn’t get the other two to satisfy.

I only have a few things that are absolute necessities when biking. Stuff like: the keyring with keys to the battery compartment and my orange Foldylock, the aforementioned lock, a cable to secure the quick-disconnect front tire when locking things up, a water-bottle-sized capsule of tools, and so on. They’re easy enough to migrate between backpacks.


I am apparently braindead and can’t remember everything that absolutely must be in any given bike backpack. For example, today I biked ten minutes to a boutique in a part of town that isn’t exactly sketchy but also isn’t exactly a place where I want to leave a half-locked bike. I had totally forgotten to transfer the cable that secures my front wheel — that front wheel that has quick-connect levers and can be removed in about ten seconds. So I biked home, retrieved it, then biked back again.

I like lists. I like checklists, todo lists, any sort of lists. I figured it was about time to make one for bike gear to help me remember to transfer everything I need between bags (and to grab seasonal things that are not always in a bag). And I like the Hipster PDA form factor (yeah, yeah, I know), so have gone with that. [UPDATE: I grabbed the wrong template and this is actually a basic 4-up quarter-letter sheet rather than a 4-index-card sheet.] This list is mine. Yours is likely different, but there is a possibility that this might be a good starting point for your own list:

(For reference, the typefaces are DDC Hardware and an earlier beta of ISO Mono.)

The items are:

  • Keys. I have a sort of 80s spiral jelly keychain that’s about 10cm dormant and can stretch to about 50cm. A keyring is on one end. A G-Carabiner is on the other.
  • The Foldylock I mentioned earlier.
  • A cable for the front wheel.
  • A capsule bike bag that fits in the water bottle cage. I’ve collected up a set of tools over the years, including large versions of the common hex wrench sizes I need, a little “pocketknife” style thing with all the hex sizes that’s awkward to use but has every hex size, tire levers, tire patch kit, tiny air pump, wetwipes, and such.
  • My helmet. I don’t know how I’d forget that.
  • My bone-conduction headphones, which let me hear the world around me while rocking out to music or catching up on podcasts.
  • Sunglasses during the day. Transparent sunglasses at night or if it’s raining — to keep the wind or rain out of my eyeballs.
  • A USB-rechargeable headlamp (with blinkly red tail) that claps onto my helmet. This gives me a headlight that I can aim by moving my head.
  • If I’m going to work I need the keycard and fob that let me into the bike room and the office.

In the rain, which I’m starting to get used to, the list also includes:

  • A stuff-sack with ShowersPass waterproof pants.
  • A basic little rain-shell jacket that folds inside-out within its pocket. I got this from REI years ago.
  • ShowersPass Shoe Covers, which are weird and awkward. Or my Vivobarefoot Bloom, which are sort of a cross between river-shoes (like the Vibram five-fingers) and Crocs. They’re also awkward. Awkwardness all around!

Anyway, as I said: this is my list. Yours is probably different, but this one works for me.

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Brian Enigma

Brian Enigma is a Portlander, manipulator of atoms & bits, minor-league blogger, and all-around great guy. He typically writes about the interesting “maker” projects he's working on, but sometimes veers off into puzzles, software, games, local news, and current events.

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