Ideally, a day of mountain biking should be a refreshing chance to commune with nature, see some glorious vistas, and face down some pretty substantial athletic accomplishments. However, without the right gear on hand, it can also turn into a nightmarish ordeal consisting of getting lost, weathering the elements, trying to bike with a flat tire, and various other assorted disasters. By knowing what to carry when mountain biking, you can protect yourself against such possibilities and ensure a fun, smooth, and satisfying ride.
1. Portable Mountain Bike Pump
Road bikers can usually get away with riding without a bike pump on their person. Mountain bikers don’t have the same luxury. Mountain bike tires may be rugged, but they take a lot of abuse over the course of a bike ride through rough, rocky, off-road terrain. Luckily, lightweight portable options (like the Pump Me Up! Mini Bike Pump, or the Cyclone Cycle Mini Bike Pump) make re-inflating your bike’s tires on the go a breeze. Fuller bike tires, in turn, provide a smoother and safer riding experience.
2. Patch Repair Kit
Sometimes, the air will just get beaten out of your bike tires over time, thanks to rough terrain. Other times, an actual puncture in the tire could be responsible for the problem. While the best solution for punctured, flat tires is to toss them and replace them, you probably won’t have that option if you’re out mountain biking and are 10 miles away from your car. In such situations, a patch repair kit will allow you to repair your tire so that it will at least hold air. In other words, the right patch kit, coupled with a portable pump, can save your whole biking trip. There are numerous types of patch kits available, from self-adhesive patches to glue kits.
We’re not suggesting that you bring a smartphone along so that you can text while biking, or anything like that. Rather, you should bring your smartphone as a lifeline of sorts just in case everything goes wrong and you need to call someone for help. While there’s a chance you could be riding in areas without much of a signal, cell service maps have been broadening in recent years, and most parks or popular trails are covered with good enough service to call someone to come pick you up.
4. First Aid Kit
Even the most experienced cyclists can take a spill or two while biking over rough, uneven terrain. A small first aid kit stocked with Band-Aids, gauze, medical tape, painkillers, and antibacterial ointment should help you to attend to minor cuts and scrapes and get back to your ride without any major issue.
Water and sustenance are essential for any mountain biking adventure. Most cyclists prefer compact fitness foods like Gu, Power Bars, Clif Bars, SimplyProtein and other similar energy snacks. Bagels are also great for a bike ride, since they will give you ample carbohydrates without requiring you to tote around too much extra cargo. Dried fruit is another popular, nutritious snack among mountain bikers.
If none of these foods sound like an entrée, that’s for a reason. Usually, cyclists planning on heading out for a big mountain bike ride will carbo-load the night before (big pasta meals are ideal), and then eat small amounts of nutritious energy snacks throughout their excursion. There shouldn’t really be meal times, per se, throughout a mountain biking trip. Instead, stay nourished by having a few bites at every stop. This “a little bit at a time” schedule will keep you energized throughout the day, which will in turn help you to focus on safe, smart riding.
Along with your snacks, you will want to bring plenty of water to sustain you throughout your day of biking. Dehydration can quickly turn a bike ride from a productive and invigorating workout into a grueling and downright dangerous chore. How much water you bring along for your ride will depend upon a number of factors—including the heat, the length of the ride, and intensity of the exercise. Experts say that the average 150-pound cyclist should drink one 16-ounce bottle of water, per hour, in cool water, and up to four times that in hot weather.
Which water bottles(s) you bring, then, will depend on your unique circumstances. In any case, it’s a good idea to have a variety of different water bottle options lying around. After all, you don’t want to take too little water and then find yourself dehydrated, but you also don’t want to bring twice as much as you need and end up lugging around the extra weight for hours and hours at a time.
In the dead of summer on a day where the weather forecast says 0% chance of rain, maybe then you don’t need to pack a windbreaker or rain jacket for your ride. Weather can change quickly and unpredictably though, and you don’t want to end up caught up in the mountains in a storm with nothing more than a t-shirt to protect you. The average windbreaker is lightweight and doesn’t take up much space in your pack, but can save you from a wet, uncomfortable ride (or even hypothermia) if you end up caught out in the rain with 15 miles left to ride.
8. Backpack or a Running Belt
Finally, you’ll need a place to stow all of the items you are bringing along for your cycling trip. Most mountain bikers tend to prefer Camelbak-brand rucksacks in place of more traditional backpacks—not just because they sit close against your back, but also because they come with hydration bladders and are tailor-made for carrying water. As for the items you want immediately accessible during your rides or breaks (your phone, your snacks, some cash for emergencies, etc.), store them in the double-pouch running belt from e-Holster. With two secure stretchable pouches, the running belt provides extra storage without extra weight or worry.