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.
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.
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.
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”).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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).
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.
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?