The popularity of gravel grinding or all-road riding has boomed as more folks find the pleasure of leaving pavement and high-traffic roads in favor of less-traveled dirt roads, trails and paths. For me these rides range from a day spent mostly on roads and even a mix of pavement and dirt, all the way to singletrack and the occasional full on mountain bike trail. Often times these rides are a combination of all those options.
With so much variety it can be difficult to decide what to bring along. In my experience I have found it best to plan for the worst and make a habit of consistently bringing a similar kit. You would certainly want more than the following for a longer ride, and I often par these things down if I am out for a quick spin, but here are the basics for your gravel bike outing.
Let's start off with where we are going to keep all this stuff. For the last year I have been running my Porcelain Rocket half frame bag. Could I fit these things in a jersey pocket, or a fanny pack? Sure. But with the frame bag I can ride in whatever shirt and keep everything off my back, which is a huge plus. Also if I find myself wanting to stop at a gas station for a major snack restock or a road soda, I have lots of room to shove that all in there. I can also easily unzip the bag and grab things while riding, and there is just enough room for me to carry two bottles on the bike.
Don't be that person on the ride who needs to borrow their friends's tube and pump. Instead be the one who brags about how awesome tubeless is while your buddy pumps up another tube after their third pinch flat.
Joking aside. I always carry a spare tube (sometimes two on super long rides if I am running tubeless), a pump and a multitool - I have been loving my pump and tool from Lezyne. I tend to carry a little bottle of chainlube as well. Water crossings or mud can lead to dry and break-prone chains - the last thing you want when you are way out there on some random gravel road. A patch kit is never a bad idea either, because why not if you have the room.
You're going to get hungry out there, eating is important on big rides so don't forget your snacks, and while you are at it, throw some cash in that bag, it could come in handy for an emergency burrito, or a stop by the brewery at the end of your ride. I don't often go for the "bike specific" nutrition, but I have been enjoying the Skratch Labs fruit drops as of late. Burritos are #1.
How to dress is going to depend on a lot of things, but the one extra layer I recommend everyone carry is a lightweight windbreaker. There are great options available like the Patagonia Houdini, Ringtail Breeze Breaker, or this one from Salomon, which has saved me on several occasions. They pack down super small, weigh practically nothing and can be the difference between mild discomfort and actually putting yourself in danger when the weather turns unexpectedly.
Not everyone wants to take photos of all their rides. I enjoy it, but even so I only drag this thing along on about half of the time. When I do want to GTS (Get the shot) though, my Sony A6000 with a 20mm lens has been awesome. It's compact and good enough quality to have taken many of the photos on this site.
Annnnd that's about it. Let me know what I missed in the comments. Happy Gravel Grinding!