In the context of long rides*, how often is chamois cream meant to stay useful (whether measured in hours,km or whatever)? I typically don't carry it on the road, but wonder if a top-up might make the end of a ride more comfortable.

*To give a example of what I mean by "long": my longest single day ride so far was just under 20 hours/just over 400 km)

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    I was surprised we hadn't alredya seen this, so asked it myself. – Chris H May 23 '19 at 14:16

It massively depends on the brand/consistency of the cream, how much you use, and the weather conditions.

For me, a small amount of Assos cream will last 4-6hrs in normal conditions, but if its particularly hot (and hence sweating a lot) or if its rainy it lasts much less.

There are some products that are much more durable (morgans blue solid for example), but are also not easy to wash out of shorts again afterwards.

I never carry any with me on a normal ride, but it is always in my day bag if i'm doing a supported tour. If I was doing something properly long like PBP or LEL i'd definitely take some.

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    This weekend's plan is 600 km in 2 days, stopping at home for a few hours. I think I'll carry the end of the old tube for the first (370 km) day and top up, as I want to start the 2nd day in the best possible condition – Chris H May 23 '19 at 15:48
  • Sounds like you're randonneuring. My randonneur friends (back when they were training for PBP) used to take spare shorts and change them after about 12h in the saddle. (In addition to chamois cream, of course.) – DavidW May 24 '19 at 3:14
  • @DavidW I am. I expect to (shower, sleep and) change after 370km in this case, so well over 12h but not the whole thing either – Chris H May 24 '19 at 10:56

For very long days in the saddle, I use a wax-based chamois cream (I use QM4 and I believe Squirt does one too or you can just use regular Vaseline) that forms a layer on top of the skin, rather than being absorbed the way that Assos or Muc-Off are. Sweat seems to have little effect on it. When showering after a 10 hour ride, I'm still be able to feel it on my skin and need to use a soap to get it off as it isn't water-soluble.

Before I started using a wax-based cream for long rides, I would pack a tiny zip-lok bag with a single serve of chamois cream to re-apply after ~200 km.

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As others have mentioned, chamois cream has a service duration depending on many things including perspiration and the degree to which you are depending on it.

To look at how it is sold, you have two inconvenient options: a giant tube (or for some brands, tub), or expensive little foil packets.

I just went and bought a 1 oz (28 ml) sample size tube of hand lotion, squeezed it out and washed out the tube. It's a little tricky to do, but at home I squeeze the large tube into the small one, and use whatever leaks in that process for my initial application when setting out. That little tube is perfect for a saddle bag.

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  • Carrying it if needed isn't a big issue, for me at least, as I use a big saddlebag. Yesterday's ride was cut short but I just carried the end of the old tube, starting a new one early – Chris H May 26 '19 at 6:19
  • The key point is that having extra with you means the freedom to re-apply for whatever benefit that brings, physical and probably psychological as well. I did the "near empty" once but that's only occasional possible, and almost all of my rides are long enough that I want to bring some. Personally there are things I'd rather use the space for than a fullsize tube, but others might not agree with those packing choices either. What matters is having some, even if it's a foil packet. – Chris Stratton May 26 '19 at 14:58

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