I am a newer rider and the more I ride the more I enjoy it, looking for anyone to share equipment and or add one to there bike or apparel, I am struggling changing to MTB shoes and clips, my buddies say just do it, guess hate the thought of less control. Please share with a newbie looking to learn
Pedals are all preference. Go with what works best for you! I like clips personally but I know tons of people who run flats.
When I went to clips, I spent a good couple of hours just at my local park and barkyard just getting used to the idea of clipping in and out. Lowered my seat as much as I could as well to make it easier to bail. I also use Shimano SH56 cleats. They are multi-release which means that you can pull your foot off the pedal in just about any direction (except for straight up).
As for upgrades besides pedals: Dropper posts are a great way to increase the convenience of dropping the seat and getting it out of the way when the trail gets gnarly.
Welcome to the sport. No equipment will substitute lack of skills. I switched to clipless only after I was able to ride a difficult trail without putting my foot down. It might work for you as well. And still I had a few falls due to being unable to unclip in time.
Before buying clipless pedals practice to do track stand, get comfortable with your wheels sliding sideways, and just get a feel of your bike. Good luck
Flat pedals can be awesome, but only if you have a good set up. Cheap one will seriously compromise your riding abilities. Get a good set of flat pedals with replaceable pins like these Raceface Aeffect pedals.
I also combine these with a pair of inexpensive soft rubber grippy sneakers like these Newbalance 608v4’s.