Well, I definitely don’t want a Rube Goldberg approach to bike touring. I prefer the K.I.S.S approach. Small, light, simple and multi purpose are useful metrics for equipment choices. Like the survivalists say: the more you know the less you need.
Of course for the items which need to be readily accessible when on the bike I also like many external pockets on my bike luggage. But that is a subject for a different post. Some things, such as a tire pump and a spare tube, are obvious for taking on a bike tour, but I want to take a moment to discuss a couple things that might not seem quite so obvious.
Zip ties are rivaled only by duct tape and baling wire for versatility but they are much easier to carry than either of those. Throw a handful of assorted sizes into the bottom of a bag and forget about them until you need them. Use them to replace a broken pannier clip, hold an errant brake cable in place against the frame, replace the zipper pull on your sleeping bag, keep a fender in place, strap extra spokes to the chain stay, and in countless other situations.
Say you forgot the tent stakes, or lost them. With a good, sharp knife and a small branch the day (or night) is saved.
Then you can use it to cut up the veggies for pasta primavera. And, even though I have never needed a knife for self defense, there is a certain sense of security in thinking that I could. I can even whittle a willow whistle. I’m continually surprised by how much I use this tool and I’d feel a little helpless without it. There are some features which I appreciate in a folding knife but I don’t really know that much about various steel alloys used for knife blades. Most makers will use different alloys for knives with different intended uses. For bike touring I think a trade off of durability with ease of field sharpening makes sense.
For the last few years I have been using the “EDGIE” a folding knife from Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT). According to their website this model has been discontinued. With diamond coated spring sharpeners built into the folder frame the blade edge is honed each time it is closed. At just over 4 inches in length when closed and with a blade of almost 3 inches I have found this to be an ideal size. This knife has a straight blade edge which has been fine for my use.
If I were buying a new knife today I would probably look for some other features, such as, a blade which locks open, a blade with a different point shape, and a knife that is made in the USA. Buck Knives is located in Post Falls, Idaho USA and most of their knives are made there.
I love the old school look of the Ranger knife I can almost smell the old canvas of our Boy Scout tents. It looks to be a perfect size and it comes with a leather sheath, which is pretty sexy. A small stone for sharpening the blade intermittently doesn’t take up much room and one can relax in camp at day’s end reflecting on the just completed ride and reviewing the upcoming route while sharpening one’s blade. Way better than Boy Scouts because you don’t have to work on stupid merit badges.