Ten things you should carry on every mountain bike ride

Everything you need to get home

Gear How To
Mountain Biking Essential Carry

We try to keep our riding bag as light as possible, while still carrying all the essentials.

One of the great joys of mountain biking is the element of exploration. Whether that takes place in your backyard or the backcountry is upto you. Regardless of how far you go, it’s important to be prepared. Below is a list of the top ten essential items we carry on every ride, because walking home sucks.

Mountain Biking Essential Carry

A full set of hex keys, a T25, chain breaker, spoke tools and a little knowledge is usually enough to get you home.

Multi tool

The number one thing we carry on every ride is a multi tool. Short of a catastrophic failure, it’s all you need to make most repairs or adjustments.

Mountain Biking Essential Carry

There are a number of plug kits on the market, but my favorite is from Dynaplug.

Plug kit

The plug is a recent addition to our essential carry list. If you rip a hole that’s too large for sealant, a plug can usually fix it. This saves time, an expensive tire, and the indignity of limping a tube home.

Cedric Gracia Bike Check

Many riders keep a tube and CO2 canister taped or velcroed to their frames.

Tube

While tubes don’t offer the same ride quality as a proper tubeless setup, they’ll get you home. If you have limited room in your pack, you can strap a spare to your frame with some velcro or duct tape. We tend to carry a 27.5” tube because in a pinch, you can make it work for just about any wheel size (including 26”).

Mountain Biking Essential Carry

Patch kits are available in either glue or glueless versions. The glueless versions don’t work quite as well.

Patch Kit

We hate walking home, so just to be safe, we always carry a patch kit. These ultra cheap kits have saved us multiple times in places like Downieville and Moab. They’re also great to give away to stranded riders.

Mountain Biking Essential Carry

Sometimes you need a tire lever….

Tire Lever

Anyone who’s worked in a shop prides themselves on the ability to install and remove tires by hand, but some stubborn combinations require a tire lever. Keeping one or two handy is a no brainer.

One UP EDC Pump

A C02 can will get you home once. A good pump will last forever.

Inflation Device

If you run into an issue with your tire, you’ll need to reinflate it. We like to err on the side of caution, which means carrying C02 and a hand pump. C02 is faster, but our inner hippie prefers a pump. There’s a number of great options out there, but we’ve been stoked on the One Up EDC Pump. It combines a high volume mini pump and a C02 (plus tools). You can read Saris’s review here.

Mountain Biking Essential Carry

We cobbled together this first aid kit from stuff in our kitchen, but it’s enough for most minor emergencies.

Small first aid kit

In the event of a medical emergency, carrying a few basic essentials can make a huge difference. You can buy a premade kit for a few bucks, or put together your own. Aspirin, Benadryl, non stick pads, gauze, and some paper towels will take you pretty far, especially if you carry the next items on this list.

Mountain Biking Essential Carry

Instead of carrying a small roll of tape, try wrapping some around a pump.

Duct Tape

When all else fails, duct tape is the answer. We like to wrap a generous strip around our hand pump, so it takes up literally no space.

Mountain Biking Essential Carry

In a pinch, zip ties can be used to hold just about anything together.

Zip Ties

Another must have for emergency trail side repairs is zip ties. There’s no limit to what you can do with these things. At enduro races, we’ve witnessed racers hold a tire and rim together or limp home a broken frame (with stick splint).

Mountain Biking Essential Carry

Sometimes your body just needs a little fuel.

Food

Not all emergencies are medical or bike related, sometimes a cramp can derail your day. Your body needs energy and just a little sugar can work wonders. We prefer to carry real food, like trail mix, but energy packets take up almost no room. One of our favorites is UnTapped, because it’s pure maple syrup (and you can use it on your pancakes in a pinch).

Alpinestar Descender

There are tons of lightweight packable jackets on the market. The Alpinestars Descender 2 is one of our favorites. IPA for scale.

Packable Jacket

Regardless of the temperature or season, we always carry a packable jacket. You never know when the weather will change….or how cold it might get at the brewery. One of our favorites is the Alpinestars Descender 2, because it packs into it’s own saddlebag.

Mountain Biking Essential Carry

The majority of our trail essentials fit neatly in this CamelBak tool roll. Storing items in a tool rool makes it easy to swap between bags.

Things I missed?

These ten items make up the core of our riding essentials, but we often carry a wallet (with cash) and a phone. Depending on the outing, there might also be a pocket knife, shock pump, sunscreen, spare hanger, headlamp, and insect repellent wipes stashed in the bag. It all depends on how long or far we plan on going.

What do you carry on your rides? Do you try and keep it light, or are you hoarder?

Photo Thumbnails (click to enlarge)

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    • Aglo says:

      That don’t work with my hanger :).
      It’s a Syntace X12 hanger by the way.
      But I carry one with me,why carry a temporary hanger if you can carry the correct hanger.

  • gil says:

    Chain quicklink like a SRAM powerlink
    Old rear deraileur cable
    Toilet paper unless you want to use a sock

    • John says:

      Right. Other wise, you might have to use leaves, and that can be problematic. Especially if you’re like my friend’s son, who didn’t know what poison oak and sumac look like, and wound up using it to wipe.

      He definitely knows what it looks like now, though.

  • George says:

    Spare derailleur cable. Takes no room, no added weight and will save you limping home on a single speeding.

  • Midgemagnet says:

    A bit of old tyre sidewall and a stout needle and thread for patching sidewall blowouts and – in tick country – a tick removal tool and small zip bag for sending tick samples off to the Lyme disease testing lab.

  • Dave King says:

    Also:

    Spare cleat bolts
    Der cable
    Der hanger
    Chain pin

  • andrew stevens says:

    I always carry a mini vise grip. fix bent der.,& hanger Used once to hold on broken quick release, cuts cables and housing…….

  • jeff says:

    lately I’ve been carrying the spare cotter pin that comes with shimano brake pads. Have had two riding buddies lose their brake pad bolt on rides. Also, one of these was fixed with bailing twine, modern bailing wire. That would be good to carry.

  • Tomacc says:

    “set of hex keys”??? Sorry, what 4? I’m riding since 20 years and never needed anything like it.
    For a 200km MTB ride all I need is:
    1. Tube
    2. Chain quicklink
    3. Pump
    4. Patch kit
    5. Money

    That’s essential. All the rest You wrote about is like a waterproof jacket and a tent.

    • John says:

      You’re lucky, as I’ve used Allen wrenches many times. Admittedly, if you maintain your bike well, and threadlock your bolts, you’re less likely to need them. But, the problem is that many riders don’t, and you may have to deal with their problems on a group ride.

  • jay says:

    extra rear d hanger
    20 bucks
    eyedrops
    A few extra bolts
    a handful of advil and 3 perkoset

  • Nick Janssen says:

    No chain tool or spare link or chain pin?
    Since switching to tubeless, chains breaking happen far more often than flat tires or other mechanicals on our group rides.

  • dan says:

    Tweezers are something everyone should have in a first aid kit. They’re not very big and are useful for removing all kinds of thorns, cactus spines, splinters, insect stingers etc.

  • Franky says:

    I’ve used glueless patches for over 20 years and only had four fail, the very first one I tried using, a cheap brand that failed, and then two I tried to get to stick on a latex tube with no success but they did last till I got home. I’ve had as many as 15 glueless patches on a 5 year old tube that was in one of my main tires, and not one ever let go. I use only the Park brand, I have heard the Lezyne glueless patch works great but I haven’t tried those to make any intelligent comments on them yet.

  • Mars says:

    Bear spray,
    toilet paper,
    emergency blanket,
    matches/ lighter,
    string/cord,
    compass,
    lights,
    extra clothes.

    And the one thing I should carry, but don’t have, is a SPOT tracker.

  • BobK says:

    Disappointed the IPA didn’t make the kit but otherwise all good advice.

  • Big Mama says:

    Umm…cel phone? I will admit there’s not service everywhere I ride but it seems like a no-brainer.

  • Will Urich says:

    Nobody’s said it, so I will – You all missed the most essential part of your gear….:

    Weed and a pipe or artifice to smoke that shit out of.

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