Trail Essentials - Kit to take on a mountain bike ride from the bare minimum to safety essentials
There's no feeling like the disappointment you get when your bike has fallen apart 15km away from the car and you've just realised that you've forgotten to pack an innertube or a pump... or a chain tool. We've all been there, so let's stop that from happening and read on to find out what you should take with you when you go mountain biking.
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It's definitely worth taking a bit of time to consider what you actually need for the ride you're about to set out on before you walk out your door. You might just be popping out for a post-work blast for an hour or you're off for a big day epic but you don't want to be bringing everything and the kitchen sink. We've broken things down to show you what you should bring on all lengths of ride to keep it fun but to keep you prepared should the worst happen.
Everything you need to take on a mountain bike ride
Do keep in mind that a lot of these collections can be blurred to suit your riding needs. So feel free to pick and choose, hit the links below to jump straight to a section.
Don't forget the car
It's easy to overlook but your car can be a personal mechanics station. In my car, there's always a track pump and a first aid kit but it's also a great idea to stow a spare pair of riding shoes (or simply some old ones) just in case you forget your primary pair. There's nothing worse than driving an hour and having to ride in your loafers... It's always worth packing a bottle of chain lube and a bunch of zip ties too.
It's also great to carry a comprehensive tool kit, especially if you're heading to a race weekend with an overnight stay.
It might go without saying but always carry a phone in case of emergencies. Even get a burly case if you're worried about smashing it. A phone is an absolute must-have for any ride even if you're just rolling to the shop, just do it.
The bare minimum
Let's start off with the bare minimum. If I'm only out for an hour or so I'll be thinking about what I can carry strapped to my bike or carried in pockets. So that'll be a water bottle in a cage and a small multitool (one with a tubeless repair kit like the Topeak Tubi 18 is ideal), an inner tube, a tyre lever or two, and a Co2 inflator or a really small mini pump that can be easily pocketed.
If I'm strapping everything to my bike, something like the Effetto Mariposa Espresso Strap Lungo is a cheap and effective way of going about it.
Don't forget that there are plenty of products out there that allows you to stash a pretty comprehensive bike repair kit inside the nooks and crannies of your frame so you don't even have to think about packing it before you head out. The Granite Designs Stash RCX is a great steerer stowed multitool and the WolfTooth EnCase System comes with a tubeless repair kit that hides in your bar end.
You can also tape a quick link to a gear cable for even more repair power. These are great if you're planning on racing and want to keep kit off of your body.
Half day rides
When rides get longer than an hour and a half you can use what you pack for a short ride as a base and build upon it. I like to pack with the mindset that if something were to go wrong, I could 'limp mode' my bike so I can still get back to the car without having to hoof it.
- See our 7 trailside fixes every cyclist should know to find out the best ways to get your bike into limp mode.
This is where hydration packs find their place. It goes without saying but you'll need more water as you're out for a longer time and with the extra kit, you'll carry they become extra handy. I quite like a bum bag for these kinds of rides as they store exactly what I need and they keep weight off of my upper body and minimize a sweaty back. The Dakine Hot Laps 5L is a belter.
It's also a great idea to carry more spares like a quick link that's compatible with your chain, a tubeless repair kit, and a more comprehensive multitool that has a chain tool built into it. My favourite is the Topeak Mini PT30 as it has a chain tool and the best part of a tubeless repair kit.
This route below is a great half day ride over in Wales, you'll need all the gear mentioned but you are also within easy reach of a bike shop if you forget something.
If you've got a day long ride planned, the last thing you want to do is ride for half of the day with a bodged together bike or even worse, have to walk back to the car.
To avoid this, it's good to build upon your half-day packing with a bigger bag and more spares. An extra tube is a good start, a mech hanger will keep your gears running should you mangle your installed one and a spare gear cable never hurt anyone.
It's likely that with bigger rides you'll be traveling further so to play things safe, something of a first aid kit is a bit of a safety blanket if things were to go really wrong. A survival blanket is useful too.
On the subject of bigger distances, spare brake pads can not only save you from injury (let's face it, we don't always check our pads) but they can save you from having to fork out for new rotors.
This one is more dependant on the forecast, but a light jacket will keep you comfortable if the heavens open. Granted, as conditions aren't so changeable in the height of summer so this isn't completely necessary for every ride but you'll be thanking yourself when you do whip it out.
Finally, of course, lunch! Hitting the dreaded bonk isn't the best way to round off that epic ride. Don't forget about energy gels and sweets too. They stave off tiredness that little bit and they help you to keep your focus during that last descent.
Keep fed, hydrated, and prepared, and you'll be well sorted to enjoy any ride.