A thought occurred to me on a recent mountain bike ride about what it takes to truly feel comfortable on the trail. We’ve all had those moments on any ride where you think of something you would like to bring with you next time, or worse, realized that you should have brought with you on your current ride.
Mountain Biking has seen growth in recent years and while that’s exciting and great for the sport, we see a lot of people on the trails who just didn’t come prepared. Because of this, we here at Erik’s would like to give you our picks for what to bring on trail every time you head out the door. Some are must haves, and some just make riding more enjoyable.
Helmet – It’s amazing how many people will set out without a helmet. The simple truth is a helmet is cheaper than any closed-head injury you can sustain while biking (on road or off), and you owe it to your friends and family to stick around a while longer! Whatever you choose, make sure it’s a certified lid (CPSC, SNELL, CE) and that it fits you properly. Second, make sure you like wearing it and it’s comfortable. Our staff at Erik’s is happy to take the time to get you fitted right and make some recommendations.
Cycling Shorts – with so many baggy options, there’s no reason to be uncomfortable. A padded liner is great for rides of any length and multiple pockets mean you can throw essentials in and pack light for short rides if you wish.
Hydration – Just don’t leave home without water. I’m guilty of not grabbing my bottles enough on road rides, but I will always take a swig at a break in the trail while mountain biking. A hydration back like the Camelbak Mule is my favorite because it allows me to put 100 ounces of water, keys, repair kit (more on that in a bit), wallet and phone safely away where they are less likely to get lost or damaged.
Repair Kit – If you break down on most trails around here, it’s a long walk out, and some double back so much that if its a new trail to you, it’s best to stay on it to the end. Basic essentials are bulleted below, as well as some advanced items that I would recommend for anyone who has been through our Park Tool School clinics in italics.
- Spare Tube (sized for your bike)
- Pump (For fine-tuning pressure and flat fixes, a pump like the Specialized Combo 2 is great)
- Tire levers
- Multi-tool with chain tool
- Patch kit and tire boot for large cuts
- Replaceable “quick” chain link
- Derailleur hanger specific to your bike (while hopefully never used, I carry this with me at all times to avoid a walk out.
Optics – When you’re in and out of shadows it may not seem like much of a need, but branches can hang low and be a real danger at speed. Pick a glass that fits your face and has either interchangeable (including light tint) lenses or a photochromic (tint-shifting) lens like the Tifosi glasses.
Gloves – Gloves provide protection for your hands in the event of a fall, but they are also an excellent sweat manager. By keeping your hands and grips as dry as possible, you improve your control over the bike. With an ever changing trail in front of you, this is very important. I prefer a full finger with little or no padding for the best contact.
So get out there – but make sure you are prepared.