The Essential Cyclocross Packing List
It’s possible to overpack for cross. There, I said it. I’ve brought to a race a full tool-chest, pumps, two bikes, multiple sets of wheels and shoes, all the kit I own. It’s too much, and it’s likely to get lost. That said, don’t ruin an expensive weekend by forgetting something, especially if you’re in an early race (later races have a margin for error, because stores are open, etc.)
The TBD Cyclocross Essentials Packing List
Your helmet: YOUR HELMET I CAN'T SAY IT ENOUGH DON'T FORGET YOUR HELMET. It has happened and it was very sad.
A layered approach to your kit: you can unzip things that are too warm, but if you’re too cold, you’ll be in trouble. Pack a couple sets of base layers to moderate your temperature, and consider spares/shells for warmup. Extra socks. Gloves. Two skinsuits, or, two bibs and one jersey.
Your (working) bike: Yes, people have forgotten their bikes, and people show up with stuff that needs repair. Do not let this be you – get your bike work done in advance to avoid disaster on race day.
PACK YOUR SHOES: similar to number one, every year someone forgets this very important step. Two pairs of shoes is nice, but not necessary, especially if you bring…
Old towel(s) / garbage bag(s) / newspaper(s): you will be gross and disgusting after the race and it’s nice to be able to get all the dirt/sweat/mud off of you. And a big towel comes in very handy for changing before and after the race. On wet and muddy days a garbage bag is clutch for tossing your disgusting kit in post race while the old newspaper is vital for drying out your shoes overnight on wet days.
Water in a gallon jug: there isn’t always access to free/cheap/clean water. A gallon (or larger) jug of water often comes in handy at warm early season races like Nittany Cross.
Snacks: post race you will be hungry and tired, and vendors aren’t guaranteed. Plus you may also need pre-race nutrition. For either we’re converts to Lenny & Larry’s Complete Cookies. Vegan and full of protein with a couple hundred calories per cookie - they’re perfect for meal replacement in a crunch.
Cash: some races do have food and beer vendors. Food and beer vendors are great.
The barest essential toolkit: at a minimum bring a multitool containing the basic hex keys and a Torx T25 (ideally, a 5nm torque key with a selection of bits); a spare valve core and tool, or valve if you’re running tubeless; a small bottle of sealant; a chain master link; plus your lube of choice. For the bigger races where neutral support is present – use the neutral support and be very very nice about it.
Brake pads: rainy cyclocross conditions can eat brake pads in just a few laps. Bring spare brake pads.
Sunglasses: whatever glasses you like for racing.
This will get you through your cyclocross weekend weekend.
The Nice to Have buT Definitely Not Mandatory Cyclocross Packing List
Of course this being cyclocross there is the ability to purchase nearly infinite levels of ‘optional’ equipment – multiple wheelsets, B bikes, etc etc. With that in mind there are few other items worthy of consideration when packing for a cyclocross race:
Computer/HRM/Powermeter: our team coaching program (covered the The Daily Grind) extends year round but unlike road most of the squad doesn’t bother with powermeters for cyclocross. Instead we’ll go with a computer and heart rate monitor combo to help keep Fetty up to speed on how hard we’re working.
An accurate digital pressure gauge separate from your pump: your buddy’s well used floor pump gauge probably isn’t accurate. A high quality digital pressure gauge solves that problem. We’re partial to the Kappius Components Digital Gauge pictured below, featuring a handy blow-off valve to get that PSI accurate to 0.01 degrees of accuracy.
Toe spikes: on the East Coast you made not need toe spikes for a significant part of the season. But on those super muddy days they are worth their (very small) weight in gold. For toe spikes our go to choice is the Horst Engineering Pro kit that is also available in titanium if you’re extra fancy. Put them in your shoes before going to bed.
Lounging products: we’re tossing this in the optional section, but honestly if you’re going to be spending all weekend at the races you absolutely should bring appropriate lounge equipment. Depending on the venue we’ll go the hammock route with something like the Grand Trunk Ultralight Hammock (just $15) or if tree cover is limited our favorite is the super packable Marchway folding chair.
Portable trainer: lots of races have room available to warm-up but especially as temperatures start to drop later in the season having a portable training isn’t the worst idea. The team owns several Feedback Omnium Trainers that have a great combination of high quality build, performance and portability. Put simply there is a reason we drag these trainers all over the country throughout road and cyclocross season.
Wash kit: lots of races will have at least a hose based bike wash but if you want to go the extra mile on cleaning your bike you will need supplies. We’re partial to The Service Course Wash Kit - so much so that we found room to drag the kit halfway across the country for Intelligentsia Cup. Just buy some cleaning product to go alongside the bucket/brushes from The Service Course and you’re good to go.