When thinking about what to bring on a mountain bike ride, there are a few factors to consider. Time spent on the bike and/or in the trail will have the most impact on what you are going to pack. The longer and farther you plan to ride, the more you will need to bring. Weather can also play a factor. You don’t want to get caught in a rainstorm without a jacket or something to keep you warm.

Many riders have a standard set of things they like to bring with them. Here we offer two sets of suggestions for what you should bring with you on the trail. The first list is for shorter rides, while the second option is for bigger outings farther from home. This article assumes you already bring your phone on rides. Phones are useful for the obligatory Instagram post but, more importantly, can help in case of emergency.

Dakine
Dakine

Short ride (1-2 hours)

Maybe you are going for a few quick laps of your local trail network after work, or trying to squeeze some shredding in before class. Usually with a ride this short you won’t be too far away from your car or home base, so you can get away with packing less.

Pack: Dakine Hot Laps Stealth

The Dakine Hot Laps Stealth waist pack tucks nicely under your jersey and in some cases can’t be seen at all. This makes it perfect for short rides when you don’t want to wear a larger pack but still want to bring sufficient items to fix a flat and avoid the dreaded mosquito march back to the trailhead with a deflated tire. It’s also great for shuttle runs or riding laps where you will be constantly close to food and or water.

1) Tube – A pretty obvious item to bring on a mountain bike ride in case you get a large puncture or sidewall slash, you can insert or replace the tube and still finish your ride

2) Tire Levers – Essential if you plan on installing a tube in your flat tire

3) Pump – You will need a pump to get air in that tube. Also nice to have in case you forgot to inflate your tires before the ride. I recommend a higher volume mini pump to inflate faster. A CO2 inflator could also be used in place of a pump, but make sure you have a large enough canister to fill larger 29” or plus size tires.

4) Multi Tool – A good multi tool for mountain biking should have all common sizes of hex keys and torx drivers as well as a chain tool if possible. Don’t leave home without one, because eventually something will rattle loose on your bike.

5) Tire Plugs – Tire plugs are borrowed from the auto industry, but do a great job of plugging holes tire sealant can’t handle. Installing a tire plug takes a fraction of the time changing a tube does, and you can continue your ride tubeless.

6) Water – Assuming you have a cage on your bike, one bottle should suffice for rides of this length.

7) Snacks – No matter the length of ride, it’s always good to pack a snack and avoid bonking or getting hangry and attacking your ride buddies.

Long rides (2 hours plus)

When embarking on a mountain bike ride over 2 hours there are some things you are going to need to consider. Especially when riding deep into the woods safety is an issue. You want to make sure you are prepared for the worst, in case of a mechanical catastrophe or a wrong turn that could leave you lost in the woods for hours. If you plan to ride for an entire day in the mountains some people may want to pack more, but these are the essentials.

Pack: Dakine Syncline 12

The Dakine Syncline 12 pack is not the largest pack on the market, but in my opinion is the perfect size for carrying everything you need on long rides without excess space and weight. Some people will want to bring the kitchen sink, and for that you can choose the 16 L version or something like the Dakine Seeker 24. The Syncline has a few great organizational features I have come to like including the lumbar water reservoir which helps keep the bulk of the packs weight near the bottom. The Syncline also has a bunch of great internal pockets that help separate tools from food and other items. There is a helmet loop which is something I have come to expect from all packs, and the air flow back panel and straps are both comfortable and breathable.

1) Water – With a 3 L reservoir the Syncline can carry a lot of water. Three litres of water usually lasts a thirsty rider anywhere from 2 ½ hours to 4 hours depending on the conditions. For harder efforts and rides approaching and over three hours I recommend adding a bottle of electrolytes to your bike if you have a bottle cage.

2) Snacks – For rides over 2 hours you are going to need to refuel. Everyone has nutrition and food preferences but I recommend bringing at least 2 energy/granola style bars as well as an electrolyte supplement like gels or gummies to replenish all those calories and sweat you have lost. Many people including myself prefer bringing trail mix and or bananas, but whatever your preference, it’s better to bring too much than not enough.

3) Tube – A pretty obvious item to bring on a mountain bike ride in case you get a large puncture or sidewall slash, you can insert or replace the tube and still finish your ride. Some people may choose to bring 2 tubes on really long or isolated rides.

4) Tire Levers – Essential if you plan on installing a tube in your flat tire

5) Pump – You will need a pump to get air in that tube. Also nice to have in case you forgot to inflate your tires before the ride. I recommend a higher volume mini pump to inflate faster. A CO2 inflator could also be used in place of a pump, but make sure you have a large enough canister to fill larger 29” or plus size tires.

6) Tire Plugs – Tire plugs are borrowed from the auto industry, but do a great job of plugging holes tire sealant can’t handle. Installing a tire plug takes a fraction of the time changing a tube does, and you can continue your ride tubeless.

7) Rain Jacket – Hopefully you don’t need to use it, but if things get wet and or cold, you wont regret packing it.

8) Master link – In case you snap a chain pushing tons of watts up a steep climb a master link is nice to have for quick fixes.

9) Whistle – If you end up getting lost or separated from your riding partners a whistle can be essential in helping locate each other. Luckily if you don’t have a whistle the Syncline has one integrated into the chest strap buckle.

10) Lighter – This is very much an item you pack but hope not to use (for riders who don’t smoke). In case you are in the woods past dark and or find yourself in need of heat, you won’t regret bringing fire.

11) Emergency Blanket – The name says it all. Another item you don’t want to use but could very well save your life in an emergency.

12) Multi Tool – A good multi tool for mountain biking should have all common sizes of hex keys and torx drivers as well as a chain tool if possible. Don’t leave home without one, because eventually something will rattle loose on your bike.

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