What Goes Into Your Race Bag?

What goes in the race bag? By: Brian Ecker

Living and racing bikes in the Northwest means you really need to be prepared for all kinds of conditions. Often times getting everything ready for a race is one big rush and it can be so very frustrating to show up at a race to only find you have forgotten some critical element. It can be just as frustrating trying to remember the long list of things you need for the next day’s race. We all have the items and/or brands we prefer but it won’t do you much good if the thing you need is sitting in the closet at home!

Instead of re-inventing the wheel every time I find myself using the “race bag” method.  Basically, this all starts with a good quality race duffel bag that can hold a lot of stuff, has many great pockets and compartments, and is durable enough (zippers) for a chronic over stuffer like myself. Once the race season gets under way I keep it stocked and then the night before the race I do a quick look through just to make sure I have replenished supplies and have thrown in the stuff that I may have used during the training week. I also try hard to always put the same things in each pocket.  This saves countless time and energy later when, true to my forgetful self, find myself scrounging through my race bag minutes before the race start.

For the past few years I have been using a well-designed bag made by Hincapie. Unfortunately it is turning out to be not that durable so you may want to shop around. The nice part about a bag that is cycling specific is that it usually has all those great cubby holes for your shoes, glasses, gels/bars, etc.  It’s designed with a cyclist and their gear in mind.

So what should you pack?  I like to pack for everything, ie it might be 40F and pouring rain or sunny and 70F.  This of course means I pack a lot of stuff but I’d rather do that then to be without.

Let’s start with the base layers. I pack 4 (FOUR).

  • Light weight muscle shirt
  • Craft middleweight muscle shirt
  • Craft middleweight crew
  • The “oven” – Craft middleweight crew with a thin wind stopper front.  This is a great piece of cold weather gear as it keeps your core nice and toasty and it’s super thin so not at all bulky

What goes on the arms and legs?

  • Arm warmers
  • Knee warmers
  • Full length leg warmers

How about the hands:

  • Short finger gloves
  • Thin full finger gloves (something like a summer weight MTB type)
  • Lightweight flees type full finger gloves
  • Mid to heavy weight full finger gloves (for when it’s really nasty out)

On to the feet:

  • Lightweight race crew sock
  • Middle weight wool crew sock
  • Long (mid-calf) mid/heavy wool sock
  • Solid pair of booties
  • Shoes!!

The basics:

  • Shorts (at least 1 pair)
  • Long sleeve jersey
  • Short sleeve jersey

On the head:

  • Light weight billed cycling cap
  • Thermal hat
  • Helmet!


  • Wind vest
  • Rain coat
  • Clear rain slicker


  • Gels
  • Bars
  • Salt tablets )notice the recycled Nuun container)
  • (I usually pack my bottles and drink mix separately as I don’t want any leakage!!)

Cosmetic bag:

  • Chamois cream
  • Body glide
  • Warm Fx
  • Lip balm
  • Sunblock
  • Vaseline (on warmer but super wet races a good thick layer on the legs works much better than leg/knee warmers)
  • Small towel (for cleaning)

What else?

  • Race numbers
  • Race license
  • Cash
  • HR strap/cycling computer
  • Glasses: clear and tinted
  • Safety pins

How’s it all going to fit?

Piece of cake with the right bag!!


1 Comment

Filed under Brian Ecker, Training Tips

One response to “What Goes Into Your Race Bag?

  1. Ian Gerrish

    Thanks for the great article. I pack most of this stuff but not very organized. You have listed a few extra things (like Vaseline) that I haven’t thought about. Looks like it’s time to organize and re-pack!

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