Us mountain bikers have a bit of a problem when it comes to preparing for a good trail bashing. We need a lot of kit, but don’t have much space and can easily becoming overloaded. So with essential mountain biking gear in mind, here are 11 things to always take riding.
Essential mountain biking gear
When we are out hitting the trails there is a lot we could take with us. But the more we carry the more effort every hill is and the less balanced we become. There is no point in saving a few grams on expensive lightweight components, if we then take the ‘kitchen sink’ on every ride.
Having enough liquid is essential but very heavy. We should be prepared for things going wrong with our bike, for the weather to change, or for an accident to happen. The conundrum is how to carry the essential mountain biking gear without overloading.
11 things to always take riding
With that in mind we have but together this list of 11 things to always take riding. In our opinion every time you venture out on your bike – whether it’s a 5 mile jaunt or a 50 mile slog – you should carry this essential mountain biking gear with you.
Self-explanatory really, and it’s pretty unusual for anyone to be without theirs for more than five minutes these days anyway. Worth remembering to keep it charged up though. Also try and keep it in a dry pocket where it’s less likely to get damaged in the event of a tumble.
Another no-brainer. You don’t need to bring your full wallet and cheque book. But either a card and/or some cash – notes not coins they rattle – in a jiffy bag can get you out of all sorts of trouble.
Mary’s homemade flapjack
A good bit of scram to get you through those last tough miles is an often overlooked necessity. By far the best source of energy (whilst remaining darn tasty to-boot) is Mary’s homemade flapjack. If you don’t know Mary, or don’t have a Mary making your flapjacks worry not.
Just be sure to take a high energy snack with you. Oat, fruit or nut based is ideal, but a chocolate bar will often do. Energy gel sachets are very good at delivering instant energy, although some taste worse than a faceful of cowpat.
Now I don’t mean to be patronising…. but you may be surprised by how many people come into the shop “half-way into a long ride”, needing a replacement tube. Roadies are the worst for this, but us mountain bikers are pretty bad for it too.
With 26 inch, 27.5 and 29ers all sharing the trail, you can’t rely on your mates having a spare you can borrow. If you do get a puncture don’t forget to fix it before the next ride – even better take some patches with you as might get another puncture later.
Also a spare tube will make a nifty sling in case the worst happens.
Stating the obvious? Yes. Still worth stating? Absolutely. If you haven’t got yourself a small pump yet, shop around and get one with a solid fixture to securely attach it to your bike as it’s easy to lose on the trail.
As with any bit of essential mountain biking gear, a pump that doesn’t work is as useful as bike with no wheels. So make sure yours works! Also double check that it will work with both schraeder and presta valves, or at the very least the valves you are riding.
OK, I don’t go around teaching grannies how to suck eggs, (although I’m rather good at it) and I know that most of us are already on top of this one. Times have changed though, so your old hex key set may not quite be up to the job anymore.
Look out for something that is as complete as possible; containing hex keys, spanners, torx keys, chain splitter, tyre levers and screw drivers if possible. Of the things to always take riding a multi-tool is most likely to get you out of a tight fix
Spare Chain Link
Chances are that you know the pain of a twisted or snapped chain link as well as I do. Unless you are lucky enough to be very close to your home, vehicle or local bike shop when it happens, it will be a ride-ender.
So save yourself some pain and bring a spare link. Even better, save a small length of chain when replacing an old one/shortening a new one and pack that. Guaranteed to get you riding again in next to no time.
You’ll be amazed at the jams a few well used zip ties can get you out of. From bust derailleurs to chain guides, brake and gear levers, flapping hoses to broken camera mounts, all can be temporarily ‘fixed’ with these nifty chaps. They’re always handy for your number board on race day too!
Yes people, the tool that every man can (and will) use for almost any application, comes to the rescue again. Great for patching up slashed tyres, reattaching wobbly bits or torn clothing. You don’t need a whole role, just take a few strips which are easy to make yourself.
Duct tape is also not so bad at patching you up too – everything from cuts to puncture wounds. It’s best not to apply it directly to the wound, but has saved lives. You can also use it as strapping for broken fingers/toes/sprained ankles etc.
Getting wet and muddy is all part of the fun. But there will come a time when you will be extremely grateful for that small waterproof jacket that you never seem to wear. Generally inexpensive and lightweight, it doesn’t really matter if it gets ruined and you’ll hardly notice carrying it around.
Use it as a ground sheet in an emergency, by putting a layer between you and the floor it will help keep you warm. Stretch it between some branches to create a little shelter. Or use it as a seat cover in your significant other’s car. You could even wear it as a jacket should the weather change…
More obvious advice, but possibly the most important of the 11 things to always take riding. The final bit of essential mountain biking gear is to take enough water or some other liquid (but not beer) with you. I have met people on the trail who do not have any water, let alone enough.
Only you know how much water you’ll drink, but getting dehydrated is serious. The weather, type of riding, your physiology and how hard you are pushing will dictate how much you need. But tests show that riding as hard as you can uses 500-1000 ml per hour, you should be replacing at least 75% of this.
And having remembered all this essential mountain biking gear, please don’t forget your bike….
We hope you found this guide to 11 things to always take riding useful. If you want help deciding what essential mountain biking gear to buy then check out out MTB gear section.