Fall Mountain Biking

14 Must Have Items for Every Ride

by Robb Sutton

The following list contains items that you must have with you during every ride. Many riders find it unnecessary to carry all of these items on their local rides, but I have found that it is these rides where I end up needing most of the items on this list the most.

  1. Hydration Pack – There are several companies on the market that offer hydration packs. The most common is probably CamelBak. They have a ton of options, so make sure you pick the one that best suits your needs. I use a Dakine Nomad because of its unique ability to carry full face and conventional helmets. A hydration pack serves two very important purposes. 1) It carries your water. Most packs these days range around 70 oz to 100 oz with the 100 oz models being most popular because of their versatility. If you are planning on doing any mountain rides, opt for the 100 oz. 2) It carries all of the items that I am about to list.
  2. Spare Tube – There is nothing worse than being on the side of the trail with a flat tire and a long way to walk. Bring a spare tube with you on every ride. Even if you are running UST tires, a spare tube will get you home when you blow a sidewall.
  3. Tire Levers – Changing out a flat is much easier with the aid of some good tire levers. I have used Park Tools levers for years, but recently switched to the Maxxis brand. They are stronger than the Park’s.
  4. CO2 Cartridge – A CO2 cartridge will make filling up an empty tire/tube much faster on the side of the trail.
  5. Mini-Pump – You can pick these pumps up at any local bike shop or retail outlet. They are light and small enough to fit in your pack and some even offer a pressure gauge as an option. I would recommend buying one that has the pressure gauge so that you can be absolutely sure that your tire is pumped up correctly.
  6. SRAM PowerLink – A SRAM PowerLink is a single connecting link that SRAM provides with almost all of their new chains to connect one end to the other. This item could possibly be one of the most important things to carry while riding. If you break a chain on the trail, this is going to be your best friend. It allows you to remove the bad link with your multi-tool and then reconnect the chain without having to press in the pins. You can find these at almost any LBS on a red card for 4-5 dollars.
  7. Nutrition – While you ride, you are burning a lot of calories. You need to replenish these calories and nutrients during the ride. I use the Cliff Shot Bloks for short rides. They are light enough where they are not heavy on your stomach, but they include the necessary electrolytes to keep me going. Another good alternative are gels. This goo contains similar substances as the bars/bloks, but in a gel form. Many also include caffeine. On longer rides, I normally bring a peanut butter and honey sandwich.
  8. Spare Derailleur Hanger – Every recent bike in memory has the feature of a replaceable derailleur hanger. In the event that your rear derailleur hits a rock or other foreign object, the hanger is normally the first to give. These hangers bolt in to the rear triangle of your frame and can be easily replaced on the side of the trail. Carrying on of these will save your ride. You can have your LBS order you an extra or go by derailleurhanger.com and order one up.
  9. ID Card – Yes, that little card that allows you to drive on public roads may also save your life. If you get in a serious wreck on the trail, people need to know who you are and where you live. This information is also vital for hospital personnel. A company called RoadID also makes a wrist band that contains all of your necessary information.
  10. Multi-Tool – This “do-it-all” tool has almost everything you need for a trail side repair in a convenient and small package. I use the Multi-19 Tool from Crank Brothers. Be sure to pick up one that fits your needs, but I would recommend that it has a chain tool built in.
  11. Shock Pump – Most of today’s suspensions (rear and front) use air shocks. I carry a shock pump with me on the ride to make adjustments as needed. This may be considered optional by most riders, but I bring it on all rides.
  12. First Aid Kit – This one is pretty self explanatory. It is not if…it’s when you or someone you are riding with wrecks, it is good to have a small first aid kit available to clean everything up.
  13. Toilet Paper/Paper Towel – This multi-use item can be a life saver during a trail side restroom break, but it can also be used to wipe off anything. It is always a great idea to have a couple extra in your pack.
  14. Electrolyte Pills – Companies like Hammer Nutrition make electrolyte pills that can help prevent cramping and fatigue. These all natural pills are great on long rides to try to keep your legs fresh.

That is my comprehensive list. I consider everything on this list a must bring to make sure my rides go off without a hitch. It looks like a lot on paper, but the overall weight really isn’t a lot once you get loaded up.

One thing to remember…

You are going to run into riders on the trail that do not have the equipment necessary to make their repairs. As a mountain biker, we need to pay it forward by offering up a tube, tool or PowerLink to get the rider going again. When they offer to pay you for the help, tell them to carry one next time and give it to another rider if needed. This pay it forward attitude has saved countless rides over the years, and we need to do our part to make sure that everyone enjoys the sport as much as possible. It is pretty simple…treat others as you wish to be treated and as always…enjoy the ride.



Derrick cheo February 6, 2012 - 8:47 pm

Cable tie….. Maybe u guys will ask “why!”
But to me it’s helpful ,if anything should have torn or break, u will felt it damm useful…. Just bring along some cable tie with u next ride…. U will be surprise when it comes in handy

lovy June 16, 2011 - 5:17 am

torch and rope

San Designs May 22, 2011 - 3:41 pm

This lot weighs 3.5kg including the rucksack. It hurts my back after an hour – can’t i take something out?

See pic

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slowcow July 31, 2009 - 2:51 am

mini bottle of lube.

very useful in tropical trails where rain is common or rivers to cross.

brusko March 17, 2009 - 7:46 am

Gin bulag

Hollis March 17, 2009 - 2:22 am

a Trail Map

Paul January 24, 2009 - 11:40 am

I always carry one tube and a patch kit. They are light, small and cheap. What if you get a second flat? Really nice to have if you do any solo riding. Never had to patch a tube on the trail mountain biking, but one time I was road riding and 25 miles from home and it saved me.

198 January 27, 2009 - 8:40 pm

@ Paul – Great idea!

owen January 9, 2009 - 4:26 am

lil something-something
rolling papers
roach clip
condom – never leave home without one ( cause you might wish you had ..)
cash – bring cash !
nobody said cash …
dude — bring cash …..cash money – and change too !!!!!!!

kymtbr December 11, 2008 - 5:19 pm

Zip ties. Very handy, small, and light.

198 December 12, 2008 - 9:13 am

I keep those in my portable tool box at all times…in multiple sizes…you never know when you are going to need zip ties!

Darvistor September 18, 2008 - 8:36 am

I usually fill an old gallon milk jug full of water and a towel to wash down the mud and grime from the biek and myself. Sometimes baby wipes just dont cut it.

198 September 11, 2008 - 6:26 pm

@SS: I keep a tub of baby wipes in the truck. Good for wiping off the legs after one of those really dusty rides too…

SS September 11, 2008 - 6:17 pm

Baby wipes are a must. Got for any clean up and especially good for cleaning your arse after disposing of the beer and burritos you ate the night before!

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[…] 14 MUST HAVE ITEMS FOR EVERY RIDE Share and Enjoy: […]

Paul Mccort August 15, 2008 - 9:11 pm

“This pay it forward attitude has saved countless rides over the years”

No doubt, I have been lucky to have another rider prepared and save the day for us, and then return the favor on another ride. A good friend of mine always brings the “kitchen sink” on rides and I swear he helps someone with something every time. It’s that Eagle Scout thing…

RedRocker August 11, 2008 - 2:32 pm

I always bring TP. Carry it in a ziplock or something. We were on a long ride in Fruita and people knew who had them covered (so to speak).

Watch out with a knife if you travel. Leave it at home or check your gear if you like it. Just throwing your pack in a carry-on is pretty tempting.

Other items:
An extra pair of gloves for long/hot rides
Something to wipe your glasses with
Gatorade from powder in a bottle cage

RedRocker August 11, 2008 - 2:27 pm

I always have TP. Carry it in a ziplock or something similar.

When you shorten a new chain just throw the extra links in your pack. If you have time use them to fix the chain. Also bring more than one PowerLink if you have them. A broken link is longer than a PL so you may accidentally shorten your chain otherwise.

Watch out with that knife if you travel. My minitool has one and I make sure I always either leave it home or in a checked bag when I fly with it. I do get funny looks from TSA when running my Time pedals through security 😉

Other good ideas, especially for longer rides, are:
Another pair of gloves. I sweat a lot and a fresh pair can be nice.
Something to wipe those lenses with.
A bottle of Gatorade or other drink from powder. Water doesn’t always cut it.

jmilliron August 11, 2008 - 10:46 am

Extra derailleur hanger? That’s not a bad idea!

jmillirons last blog post..Walla Walla Washington Wine

MarkEm August 11, 2008 - 9:40 am

I keep some duct tape in my pack. On Saturday at Chilhowee, we used it to repair a 1 1/2″ chevron-shaped cut in in the tread of a tubeless tire. Popped a tube in behind it and Neil rode seven more miles back to the cars without a hitch.

198 August 11, 2008 - 9:30 am

@SS: Great add-on SS. The small knife is another must have.

SS August 11, 2008 - 9:16 am

Your list is good but I always carry these things in addition:

1. 5″ locking pliers – Can be a ride saver.
2. Small Knife – multiple uses.
3. Baby Wipes – ride clean!
4. Park tool self-stick patches – lighter than a 2nd tube
5. Park tool chain breaker – the multi tool versions don’t cut it MOST of the time.
6. Small phillips and flat blade screwdriver – just don’t care for the multi-tool versions as they are hard to use.

The multi-tool can be a good thing but there are a ton of choices out there. I like the ease of use that individual tools provide, but how do you choose and which one should you buy??

My multi-tool buying tips:

1. Does it have all the required tools I’ll need for my bike? Bring your bike when shopping and make sure it does. 2 tools I look for: 8mm for crank bolts, T25 for rotor bolts.

2. Are the tools and gadgets useable? Can you actually turn a spoke nipple with it? Can you reach all the bolt heads and still turn the tool to tighten/loosen it?

Since I carry a seperate chain breaker, screwdrivers & pliers I opt for one like the Park Tool IB-2 http://www.parktool.com/products/detail.asp?cat=7&item=IB%2D2 . If you want a tool that does it all then consider one like the MTB-3 rescue tool http://www.parktool.com/products/detail.asp?cat=7&item=MTB%2D3 .

Henry Tan August 11, 2008 - 8:15 am

Hi Robb,

This is a really comprehensive list of items to bring along for ride!

Thanks for sharing the info! Gave you a Digg!

Fellow STC member

Henry Tans last blog post..Top 5 Greatest Games In Champions League Football and NBA Finals!


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