How to Pack for a Mountain Bike Trip

Mountain bike tourism is on the rise, with tourists traveling over 400 miles annually to explore various mountain biking destinations, spending an average of $400 per trip. These trips offer a unique opportunity to traverse the best trails in the country — from rugged ravines to scenic coasts. However, it’s crucial to pack the right mountain biking gear and supplies to ensure a safe and enjoyable ride. This guide will help you understand the essentials for a mountain bike trip, whether you’re exploring trails near or far.

Choose Your Pack

Before filling up your bag, ensure it can handle the trip. It should fit comfortably on your back without inhibiting your range of movement. It needs space for everything on this list. If you need additional space or don’t want to ride with a heavy pack on your back, consider using a handlebar bag, frame bag or seat pack to take the pressure off your spine. 

The pack should be completely waterproof and easy to access in an emergency. Secure bike packs to the frame to minimize sway. Adding bags to the bike will also change your center of gravity. Tuck flanges and straps in to avoid getting stuck on vegetation. Choose a bag with inserts and pockets to organize your gear by type or need. 

What to Bring on a Mountain Bike Trip

Safety equipment 

You shouldn’t ride without the proper equipment. Inspect and replace your mountain bike riding gear before departing to bring everything you need to master the trail, including a helmet, gloves, pads, boots, goggles, long sleeves and pants and rain gear for battling the elements. Monitor the condition of your bike and repair trouble spots to ensure a safe ride. Look for rust around the chain, frayed brake lines, worn-down brake pads, tire punctures and reduced tread patterns that could trip you up.

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Multiple layers

Your internal body temperature will change on a dime as you put the pedal to the metal. Wear layers that can easily be added or removed based on your comfort level. Start with moisture-wicking inner layers made of synthetic fibers to absorb perspiration. Cover your arms and legs to shield them from the sun, bugs and flying debris. The outermost layer should be waterproof in case of rain. Bring bright neon colors to increase your visibility when riding at night. 

Wireless communication 

Taking a trip often means riding trails for the first time. Your group needs to navigate the area without getting lost or separated. Use mountain bike helmet communication to wirelessly communicate with each other up to a mile away. The device creates a direct link between you and the closest rider, so you don’t have to reset the connection when you’re in range. Just speak to the receiver to strike up a conversation, check if anyone needs a break and point out obstacles that can throw your companions for a loop.

Navigation 

You should know where you are in relation to the exit throughout every stage of your journey. Pack paper maps of the park or trail and a compass to orient yourself. Your cell phone may not get service in remote areas, leaving you blind. Note significant landmarks on the map to get your bearings quickly. Store the map in a dry, waterproof location to keep it safe. 

If you’re venturing deep into the wilderness, bring a radio, flares and an emergency blanket to stay warm if you need to spend the night. 

First aid kit

Cuts, burns and bites come with the territory. Bring everything you need to treat minor aches and pains on the trail to get home safely, including bandages, gauze, antibacterial wipes or gel, allergy drugs, over-the-counter pain relief, nausea medication, female sanitary products, scissors, a tourniquet, emergency medical supplies like EpiPens, insulin and inhalers.

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You can purchase a first aid kit designed for mountain biking. Check the expiration dates on your medications and replace anything that’s expired. 

Fuel and hydration

You need fuel and water to get through the trail. Bring dry, protein-packed snacks like nuts, granola bars or jerky to refuel mid-trip. Drink water regularly to offset your perspiration. The experts at Women in the Mountains recommend drinking at least 16 ounces of water every hour in cold weather or 33 ounces hourly in hot weather. Try to replace at least 75 percent of the water lost to sweat. A hydration pack makes it easy to drink while riding. It comes with a straw for taking sips without dismounting. 

Repair tools and supplies

A mechanical failure will bring your time in the sun to a screeching halt, forcing you to walk the bike back to the starting point. Bring supplies for temporarily fixing issues on the fly, including a wrench, extra brake cables, duct tape, zip-ties, replacement nuts and bolts, WD-40 or lubricant, spare spokes, compressed air or bike pump, spare tire and a patch kit. Print off instructions for making repairs and practice fixing issues before you depart.

Preparing for Your Next Adventure

Riding through unfamiliar areas exposes you to the elements. You need to bring a range of equipment and supplies to battle the unexpected so you can make it home safe and sound. Use this mountain bike trip checklist to prepare for anything that comes your way.

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