Like all sports, mountain biking requires you to have a certain amount of kit to participate. You need the bike of course, and the safety gear such as your all important helmet. However, there’s also some other essentials you’re going to need to carry in your trusty backpack. Here’s what you should be carrying with you at all times on the trail.
Two Spare Tubes
Your inner tubes can take a real beating when you’re out on the track. It’s great when you pull off a great trick, but your tyres may take the brunt of the damage and go flat. Flats are a nightmare when you’re out riding, but if you’re prepared you can be back out in no time.
Two inner tubes are something ever biker should have in their backpack. Some riders only keep one on them, but it’s not enough. Double flats happen, and if you’re in that situation you don’t want to be begging your friends for another tube. Bring two with you and you know you’re safe. Plus, if a friend is need of that tube, you can help them out.
A Patch Kit
Have you used both your inner tubes but you’ve got yet another flat? Sounds preposterous, but it happens. If you’re in that situation, you’ll be glad you brought a patch kit with you. These kits take up very little room in your bag, so they’re well worth having on you. A glueless patch takes very little time to apply, but they won’t last as long as patches that use vulcanizing agents. It’s up to you whether you value speed or longevity more.
A Tyre Pump
That inner tube or patch kit won’t be able to do anything without this. Every biker needs to have a tyre pump in their bag, without question. The type of pump you buy is really up to you. Many bikers swear by owning a CO2 inflator and cartridges, as they work quickly and get you back on track. In a pinch though, a mini hand pump will work just as well and that tyre inflated again.
Allen Keys/Hex Wrenches
You’re going to need to do some repairs on the road at some point, and so you’re going to need the right tools. Most bikers will keep a set of allen keys or hex wrenches with them. They can handle most bike repair jobs, and so keeping one set will save room in your bag for the other essentials.
Make sure you don’t just buy any old set, though. A low quality set of wrenches can actually do more harm to your bike than good. Instead, ask around and see what your friends are using. Recommendations can help you get the best tools for the job.
A Chain Checker
The chain on your bike needs to be taken care of. If you let it wear out it can begin to ‘stretch’, which means it can cause damage to your cogs and chainrings. These are more expensive to replace, so keeping an eye on your chain is essential.
A chain checker is a cheap and small little tool which you can use to check the chain quickly and easily. It measures the distance between the rollers of the chain, and lets you know when it needs to be replaced. You’ll honestly wonder how you did without it.
A Chain Cleaner
Taking care of your chain also means keeping it clean in between rides. Obviously, after every ride you should be cleaning your bike thoroughly, which will mean taking the chain off the bike to clean it off. If you’re in a hurry, or won’t be able to clean your bike for a while after riding, chain cleaners are a great little tool.
These work by clamping onto the chain and wiping all the mud and grime off. They’re simple to use, and easy to get hold of. Of course they can’t replace a full cleaning, but when you’re in a pinch these can make a real difference.
An Accurate Pressure Gauge
It’s important to keep your tyres inflated properly when you’re out on a ride. Keeping them at the right pressure will improve your ride comfort more than you know. If your tyres are under inflated they’ll be at risk of blowing, keep them over inflated and you’ll lost accuracy in your ride, even risking injury.
The best way of avoiding that is to get an accurate pressure gauge. There are lots on the market, but all you really need is a display that tells you the pressure of your tyres. They’re one of the best tools to have on you before a ride, so you can check you’re getting the most out of your tyres.
Water Bottles Or Hydration Packs
Like any other type of exercise, you’re going to need a lot of water while you’re on your bike. That means water bottles at a minimum are an absolute must. Most mountain bikes will have a water bottle cage on the frame, which you can clip a bottle into. If yours doesn’t you can easily buy and attach one yourself. It’s worth keeping one bottle in the cage and another in your backpack, so you have enough water all the time.
If you’re going on an extended ride, this may not be enough. This is where hydration packs come into their own. They’re essentially backpacks that hold a water bladder with a hose, so you can drink while on the move.
A First Aid Kit
This should go without saying, but a first aid kit is an absolute must in your bag. Accidents happen, and you want to be able to handle anything that crops up. Make sure your first aid kit is fully stocked before you head out, and make sure you know how to use it. It’s not just you who may need it, so be prepared to lend a hand if there’s an injury on track.
Most people wouldn’t be caught dead without their phone anymore, but you especially need it when you’re out on a ride. They’re essential for calling for help in an emergency, or even just keeping in touch with others if you get separated. If you’re worried about damage to your phone, buy a tough phone case to protect it. There’s lots on the market now and they’re very affordable. It’s also worth buying a portable charger, to ensure your battery never runs out.
Finally, you’re going to need to bring some sunscreen with you when you’re out in the elements. You may think you don’t need it when it’s cloudy, but you’d be amazed at what damage the sun can do to your skin in those conditions. Keep some Factor 30 on you at all times, and make sure you reapply it regularly. You’ll be glad you did when you avoid the dreaded sunburn!
These are all the essentials you’ll need in your backpack when you’re on your bike. They’ll keep you prepared for any eventuality, without taking up a huge amount of room. Make sure you have them on you, and you’ll be ready no matter what.