We’ve received more questions from riders in their first season of mountain biking, and this one should benefit them as well as the crew they ride with. It’s always best to arrive prepared for the most common catastrophes, and if you add fresh baked cookies to this list you’ll make friends even faster.
At a bare minimum, there’s little excuse to be out in the forest without the means to mend a punctured tire. A tube, tire lever, and a CO2 inflator or pump are the only items I don’t ride without. Even on the smoothest green tracks folks can occasionally find thorns or nails to cause a leak, and the resulting repair can eat a lot of daylight if you don’t have the correct gear available.
No matter how well your bike is assembled, things will rattle loose. Packing a multi-tool with the right bits for most of your bike can help save rides from turning into hikes. A chain tool and an extra link will save a lot of drivetrain woes, and you’ll want to make sure the tool includes Torx bits that correspond with your components. Multi-tools can be pretty massive, with tire plugs and pocket knives included. If you can swing the cost, it’s nice to have an emergency tool for shorter rides and a fully equipped option for daylong adventures. We like this one and this one.
Fluid and food
Bringing more food and water than you think you’ll need is always a safe bet. If you haven’t had your blood sugar drop on a ride yet, aka bonked, you will eventually. Bonking isn’t fun, and in some cases, it can get dangerous if you’re not able to push on and arrive home before dark. I like to cram my pockets with the highest calorie foods I can find that take up minimal space, so things with peanut butter in them are preferable. Find the grub that works for you and stash extra in whichever pocket has space. The same goes for water, though you likely know how precious and vital that element is. Drink early and often and always fill up when there’s a clean source for more.
In addition to these things, I like to stash my phone in a pocket in case of emergencies. I try not to use it unless I have to, and it has saved me from sleeping in a frigid forest more than once. Apart from the cellular computer, packing any extras that are specific to your bike might be helpful. For example, if your new ride has a SRAM AXS drivetrain and dropper, a spare battery is easy to stash in case one dies.
Finally, lugging along a few extra jams for friends never hurts. If you have space in your pocket or pack for an extra bar there’s a good chance someone will appreciate it. I always bring two tubes in case someone flats and forgot theirs. Both 26″ and 27.5″ tubes will stretch into a 29″ tire, and 29″ tubes can be folded in on them selves to be reduced for smaller diameters, so there’s no real need to worry about the size of the tube. While tubes give specific widths that correspond to the tire they would work best in, nearly any size will work to get you home. I have used a 700x23c road tube in a 29 x 2.4″ to get back to the car and it worked fine.
Is there anything else you never ride without? Let us know in the comment section below.