Track season is right around the corner and if you’re like me, you probably have a thing or five that are keeping you from being completely prepared. If you’ve never been to a trackday you’re probably just wondering where to start! Let me help. It’s time to dump out that pit bag (or tote!) and take inventory!
What’s in your gear bag/tote?
In preparation for writing this article I dumped my bag out today. I’m not sure when the last time I dumped the bag was but it was pretty apparent right away that it had been too long. I had everything from decals and trash to spare parts and dirty undersuits in there. Like a shopping trip to Ross, what I found was an interesting mix of somewhat-important things that would otherwise have no business being there and things that should have been thrown away months ago. The bag was also gross, and I suppose depending on which Ross location you’re visiting that analogy might still apply.
Clearly I needed to purge the ol’ gear bag. If you haven’t physically unzipped your bag and turned it upside down for a while, doing so might surprise and disgust you. Dump the contents, sort them out and wash everything as needed. Now that you’ve effectively hit the reset button, it’s time to reload the bag.
Don’t have a gear bag?
Not a huge deal, but if you haven’t already you’re going to eventually find yourself in a position where you wish you had a container for everything. Having to carry everything across the paddock or loading into a friend’s car is made much easier with a wheeled gear bag, for instance. Loading, transporting and storing your gear is more organized and therefore a lot less stressful. I highly recommend finding something to carry your stuff around. It doesn't have to be a high-dollar bag specifically for racing. An old hockey bag, a plastic tote, or a couple duffel bags will help you keep everything that much more organized and protected. Whatever container you choose, space in the bag and space in your rig are valuable. Here’s a basic list of what you should be filling it up with!
15 things you should restock your bag with:
We actually don’t recommend storing the leathers in a bag or tote. I personally use a Hang Dry hanger to keep the suit dry and safely hanging while wrapped in a (breathable) Bison suit bag. This allows the suit to breathe when not in storage, and it frees up space in the bag for the other items. If I need to transport all my gear - whether across the paddock to hot pit or across the country flying to a venue - I’ll make sure the suit is completely dry then fold it and place it in the bag for ease of transport. The most space-efficient way to fold your leathers is to fold the arms across the chest, bring the hips up to the shoulders and fold the knees up to the shoulders.
Bonus tip: If you own a Bison suit with removable inner liner, zip it out and give it a wash after every weekend or two of use. This will keep salt accumulation down making the leathers easier to care for, help them smell better, and it will allow the leathers to dry more thoroughly while the liner is out. Be sure not to tumble dry the liner. It should dry pretty quickly just hanging.
Not just one pair. Bring backups! Gloves are considered an expendable item simply because they are subject to so much abuse. If you are wearing Bison gauntlets you’ve got some of the toughest on the market - but it still doesn’t hurt to have a second pair on standby! As with your leathers, be sure to store your gloves in a gear bag or tote only once they are completely dry.
Our gloves range from $175 to $299. See all of our options here.
Again, plan ahead on your quantities! Undersuits get soaked and stinky pretty quickly. For your sake and that of those around you, you’re going to want one for each day of riding planned.
You know those smelly undersuits? Don’t just throw them back in your clean bag! Take it from me, the surprise of finding a used undersuit from months ago in the bottom corner of your bag is not a pleasant one. Grab a mesh laundry bag to separate your dirty undersuits and clothes from your clean bag and gear.
I always keep two CO2 canisters handy as well as a tether leash so I can service my air vest trackside. Nothing like deploying your vest and avoiding injury early in the weekend, only to get hurt just hours later because you crashed without the vest. I’ve seen it happen. If you’re wearing one of the electronic vests that is not capable of trackside reset, it wouldn’t hurt to invest in a mechanical backup vest to use in a pinch. Vests like the Duhan Air-Vest can be procured for just a couple hundred bucks and integrate right into your Bison AirHide suit, making for a great backup plan. Check out our 2021 Bison Air Vest Buyer’s Guide if you’re considering air but haven’t made your purchase decision yet!
Some folks carry their helmets in the gear bag or tote, others (like me) use a separate bag for the helmet. It’s your call but either way, don’t forget your lid! Like gloves and undersuits, a backup helmet is a great investment and can make the difference between getting back out there after a tumble or packing up to go home. Lastly, don’t forget to pack some replacement parts such as shields (one tinted and one clear are a good idea) and shield hinges.
Our #1 selling item trackside are knee pucks. They can wear down of course, but pucks also get lost in crashes or when they catch on curbing and detach. Sure you can usually scrounge up some pucks from a buddy or vendor at the event, but do you really want to be “that guy/girl”? Having backup pucks in your possession and ready to go mean one less thing to worry about. Our wood knee pucks are amazing and highly recommended, but if you’re not much of a knee dragger or prefer a soft-compound puck our plastic sliders are super affordable.
Obviously a critical part of your protective ensemble. Store them in a bag or tote only when dry, and clean them in between rounds if possible to keep them looking their best. I keep extra toe sliders in my gear bag as well as a bit of Shoe Goo in case a sole starts to come apart mid-weekend!
Staying on the subject of feet, be sure to bring a nice pair of socks for each day of riding. There are many styles of socks out there and everyone has their own personal preference. Find a sock that you like and buy several pairs. I personally like a thin sock and have found that my Bison polyester socks work great especially since they wick moisture.
I like to carry a small towel, a large towel, and a few microfibers in my gear bag. I use my large towel for showers of course, but it also comes in handy in the event you find yourself at a rainy event. If you foresee rain, it wouldn't hurt to bring an extra large towel or two. The small towels are great for general use like wiping your face or hands, and the microfibers are the best choice for cleaning your visor and paintwork without scratching.
Speaking of rain, all that moisture can make you miserable and really add a lot of weight to your leathers as the event goes on. Investing in a quality rain overlayer will protect your leathers and keep them dry(ish). I keep one on hand at all times.
Slides are my personal track footwear of choice. As soon as I come off track I pull the boots off and jump into slides without removing my socks. My feet start drying and cooling, and I can kick them off and slip back into my boots in a jiff. But the most useful thing about wearing slides at the track is that you can wear them while using the public showers, thereby avoiding direct contact with the sometimes frightening stuff that lies in the grout and corners of those stalls! Keep in mind Nike and similar brand slides with the cushioned loops will absorb water and be pretty uncomfortable after they’re wet. They can also allow grossness to fester which - again I can tell you from personal experience - can cause rashes on the top of your feet which will make your next day miserable. The cheap all-plastic or rubber slides, while not as comfortable, work well enough for the limited use they’ll see trackside and they won’t harbor nasty bacteria. I picked my last pair up at Old Navy.
Seriously. The older you get, the more this one makes sense.
Another frequently-borrowed item which was almost always forgotten by yours truly in years past. Now I wonder how I lived without it.
This can be easy to overlook especially if you are new to track riding. A backpack-style back protector, chest plates or an air vest are a very important addition to your kit. Some people wear armored pants under their suits as well, however if you are outfitted in a bison suit you will have CE rated hip pads built into the suit. Whatever you choose to help protect against impact, make sure you keep it clean and see to it that it goes in your bag prior to every event!
There you have it: the 15 basic items you should keep on hand inside your gear bag or tote. A good rule of thumb is to empty the bag as soon as you get home from the track to launder and dry everything out. It also forces you to reload the bag prior to the next event, thereby reducing the chance that you completely forget that you took one item out between events. Inevitably, you’ll remember that one thing when you’re halfway to the track or worse you’ll find out you forgot it as you’re getting dressed to go out.
Once you get into a routine with your gear you will discover that you’re always prepared for any situation. This is my list, but what do you feel I left off? What’s in your gear bag? Tell us in the comments below!