Whether riding by yourself or in a group it is really important to be self sustaining. This means that you should be able to get yourself out of most common situations. What you should bring really depends on where you are riding and who you are riding with.
Where You Are Riding?
Are you riding in the back country or on trails that only a few people ride every day (or week). If this is the case, then you should be riding a little heavier, bringing more gear and supplies than probably necessary. While riding less popular trails can be really fun, it can be really dangerous if you get hurt. If you are riding around a well traveled park, you could get away with bringing a tube and water – ideally, you would bring more than this.
Who Are You Riding With?
If you are riding by yourself, you are going to end up stuffing more gear into your backpack. When you ride with friends you can split some of the gear between the two of you to lighten your load. You should always ride with a friend – especially if you are going on less traveled roads. Riding with other people is really important as they can help you if (when) you get hurt.
The following is a list of mountain biking equipment that usually take with me. While I usually don’t take everything listed here every time I go out, I do go through these items when I am prepping for a ride.
Spare tube – having spare tubes is always a good idea, bringing multiple tubes is generally a better idea when you are riding rocky terrain or you are riding in a group. There is always the one dude that shows up and he can barely find his helmet and gloves let alone tubes and something to carry them in. If you’re the guy that doesn’t bring his own tubes, don’t be that guy. Nobody likes you. Really.
Patch kit – Ever pop a tire and bust out your spare tube to realize that you forgot to swap out your popped tube for a new one? Or you didn’t swing by the bike shop in between your last ride and just popping a tire? It happens, that’s why it’s really handy to carry a patch kit. Get one of the ones where you apply glue, these work better than the ones that you apply straight on. They are small and light so you can stash a kit pretty much anywhere in your backpack.
Bonus reason to carry a patch kit: Remember that guy who doesn’t bring his own tubes and mooches off of everyone else? Want to give him the $10 downhill tube in your backpack? No, give him a patch.
Pump – You’re not going to get far if you have a tube and no pump. Unless you’ve got cash to burn and picked up a CO2 inflator and several refills. Then you probably don’t need a pump.
Tire irons – While you don’t always *need* tire irons to get your tire changed, it makes life a lot nicer. And they are cheap.
Multi-tool – There are a lot of variations of multi-tools out there. You can find one as simple as allen wrenches and tire irons or you can go all out and get the deluxe version. Getting the nicer version reduces the amount of other tools you need to carry.
Quick Link – Break your chain? You’re in a world of hurt without a quick link.
Water – duh. At least two liters.
ICE Card – In Case of Emergency – This has your name and important information such as any important medical information as well as people to call if you are incapacitated.
Ace bandage – these can be really helpful when you’re hurt as they are great for binding yourself back together. You can use the ace bandage with things like sticks to make a splint to get you down the mountain.
Butterfly bandages – While ace bandages are great for creating a splint or helping with a twisted ankle, they aren’t going to help you if you get a nice gash. I like to carry butterflies because, unfortunately, it isn’t that uncommon for me to find myself laying in a pile of rocks – Butterflies will get you down the mountain where you can properly take care of a wound.
Shock pump – Do you ride air suspension? Then you should carry a shock pump.
Zip ties – These are one of my favorites. They are really good for Macgyvering things like shifters back on to your bars or re-ataching a light to your bike.
Food – If you are going on a longer ride or you are going to be going through less traveled trails, it is a good idea to carry a bit of food with you. Clif bars and granola bars are great because they can be kept for long periods of time in your backpack. Having a little food to snack on can be a life saver if you suddenly find yourself light headed (unless you are light headed from hitting your head on a rock, then it probably won’t help much).
Red Bull – Getting in over your head is no fun. If you go on an epic ride and find yourself dead tired well away from the end, Red Bull might be your best friend. While I prefer a Monster Assault, the Red Bull is smaller and fits well in a backpack.
GPS – There are a couple really good uses for a GPS. First, they are a great way to track your ride, not only how far, but how many vertical feet you climbed and how fast you went. If you are riding a new trail, a GPS can be really helpful as you can often find a route to load onto your GPS
Phone – Your buddy crashes and needs help; your phone is your friend. Bonus: If you have a smart phone, you can load apps on that will act as a GPS and track your ride for you.
Camera – Mountain biking will give you the opportunity to see things most people don’t have the opportunity to see. Take pictures, make them with they rode. Or take a video of yourself dropping off a rock and send it to your buddies.
This is a guest post by Brian of San Luis Obispo Web Design.