Whether you’re headed out for a quick spin in the woods or a day-long ride, these are a few of the items that we never leave home without when we’re mountain biking.
Let’s start off with a no-brainer. If you’re on your bike, your helmet’s on your head. It’s your most important asset, so you better protect it. Make sure your helmet fits properly, doesn’t have any major dents and isn’t more than a couple years old. You don’t necessarily need a mountain bike-specific helmet, though they’re designed to offer more protection around the back of the head and ears. So, if you’re mountain biking regularly, we’d encourage it.
Wearing mountain biking gloves is a massive advantage when it comes to grip and protection. You’re going to get sweaty, and bare hands get slippery faster than you think. If you take a tumble, you’ll be glad when gloves prevent your hands from getting cut up. There are tons of different mountain bike glove options. Choose a pair based on your riding style and climate.
We love mountain biking because it takes you to some of the most beautiful places nature has to offer. When you’re out there you’ll want to take it all in– not squint to avoid the dirt, bugs, and branches that are part of riding singletrack trails. Glasses—whether sunglasses of clear frames—make life a whole lot easier out on the trails and protect your eyes. Whether you invest in a pair of cycling-specific glasses or use a pair you already have, you’ll be much better off than riding without eye protection.
You need to stay hydrated to ride and feel your best. Water gets the job done, or you can look to supplement it with endurance powders for a little extra boost. Consider weather conditions and how long you’ll be riding when you’re deciding on how much hydration to bring. Between bottles and hydration packs, there are plenty of carrying options. Experiment a bit and find the setup that works best for you.
Beat the bonk! Riding burns serious calories and having the right snacks will keep you going strong. Gels and gummies from brands like GU and Clif will give you a quick energy boost when you’re starting to lag. Slower burning, protein-rich foods will keep you powered up for longer durations. Find the right balance for your ride, and make sure to sample ahead of time to figure out what works well with your body.
6. Flat Repair Kit: Spare Tube, Tire Lever, Plug, Boot, Air
Flat tires are a bummer, but they’re part of riding. By carrying a few flat-fixing essentials, you can ride with confidence knowing you’ll be ready in case you lose pressure. Whether you’re riding a tubeless setup or with tubes, a spare tube is the difference between a quick fix and a long walk. Pack a tire lever to make easy work of removing your tire from the rim. If you’re riding tubeless, a tire plug is invaluable for repairing minor punctures that aren’t filled by sealant. If you flat and need a tube to get rolling again, using a boot to cover the puncture before re-inflating adds an extra line of defense for the rest of your ride. You’ll of course also need air: Take your pick between a small hand pump or the quick-filling power of a CO2 cartridge and CO2 head. This might all sound like a lot to carry, but thankfully these items are small and fit easily into a pack or can be strapped to your bike frame. If you’re nervous about fixing a flat, practice at home and you’ll be ready if you flat while riding.
7. Multi-tool + Spare Chain Link
A multi-tool might just be the best bike-related money you’ll ever spend. For $20 or less, you’ve got a pocketable tool that lasts for years and can fix nearly every minor mechanical issue on your bike. Seat height adjustment? Check. Loose brake lever? No problem. Random rattling? Not anymore. If you don’t have a multitool, your local bike shop is sure to stock a spread of options. Find one you like and never leave home on two wheels without it.
*Bonus: To cover all your bases, invest in a multi-tool with an incorporated chain tool. Broken chains aren’t terribly common, but they do happen. A chain tool can quickly repair a broken chain, and a small (but powerful!) master link allows you to use your full range of gears if there’s only a single broken link. Check out one of our favorites!
Phones are great for snapping quick photos from scenic vistas on your ride or recording your ride with apps like Strava. Most importantly, they’re a great safety item. In the event that something goes awry on your ride, and you need help or just a ride home, you’ll be glad you can make a quick call, if you have cell service. Want to disconnect when you’re riding? We’re all for that! Turn your phone off and bring it along just in case you need it.
9. First Aid Kit
A First Aid Kit might sound like a hassle, but you won’t regret a streamlined setup with aspirin, Benadryl, band-aids, and any meds you might need.
Different mountain biking adventures call for different essential items. Our goal with this list is to start you off with a solid foundation that will make any ride as smooth as possible. Let us know what else you never leave home without in the comment section below. Happy riding!