The MTB equipment list: What to take on the trail

MTB packing list

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One of the most common beginner rider questions is: aside from my bike, what should I take along for a trail ride?

The answer to this question may vary depending on where you ride, experience, terrain and weather, but here is a “universal” packing list that includes most things that you should have when riding off-road.

Note that some items have higher importance than others, but in general having most items on this list ensures that you will be well-prepared for your ride in most conditions. Note that this list is intended as a general guide, and that you may need to carry additional items depending on your actual riding conditions or needs.

1) Must-have items (Do not go riding off-road without these items):

  • A decent helmet (MTB-specific helmets often have a visor for some added sun protection)
  • Something to carry water in: You can carry standard water bottle on frame-mounted cages, you can pack a couple of water bottles in your backpack or a runner’s waistpack, or – most convenient of all- you can carry a hydration pack.
  • A spare tube, tire levers, and a mini pump (you don’t to walk 5-30 KMs back to the trail head, do you?)

2) Recommended items (these items will make you a lot better prepared and equipped for MTBing, especially for longer and more technical rides):

(A) Clothing:

  • Padded bike shorts
  • Cycling shoes (type depends on whether you use clipless or flat pedals)
  • Cycling jersey: There are several cuts and styles, but quality cycling jerseys are made of a fast-drying moisture-wicking material and often has pockets on the back for storing small items like energy bars, mobile phones, etc.
  • Riding gloves: Short finger gloves are better in the summer or if you use electronic devices during the ride (a camera, GPS or phone). Long-finger gloves offer more protection for the knuckles and fingers, especially in the event of a crash.
  • Sunglasses: You don’t want to keep squinting against the wind and direct sunlight¬† for the duration of the ride. Many manufacturers offer interchangeable or Photocromatic lenses for maximum versatility, like the Tifosi Dolimite we recently reviewed.
  • A bandanna or headband: keeps sweat out of your eyes and makes it more comfortable to wear a helmet on long rides.
  • Protective clothing: Knee/shin guards and elbow guards. Some form of leg protection will protect your knees and shins from cuts and abrasions from falls and pedal strikes when your legs slip.
  • Extra layer/wind jacket: If the weather is chilly/windy (we’re blessed with sunny weather most of the year in Egypt so you might not be needing this except for a few weeks)

(B) Tools and spares (we already listed spare tubes and pump):

  • A good multi-tool.
  • A chain-breaker (if your multi-tool doesn’t have one)
  • Zipties (useful for many things)
  • A small patch-kit (puncture more than one tube? Have extra back-up!)
  • A spare derailleur hanger (if you don’t have one and break a derailleur, you can use the chain breaker to shorten your chain and ride home in single speed until you can get a new hanger)
  • Spare chain links, like the SRAM PowerLink.
  • If you ride tubeless tires, then a CO2 inflator and a spare cartridge.

(C) Other items:

  • A compact first aid kit (very important!)
  • Cell phone (You might not have coverage in all areas, but nice to have just in case)
  • GPS (not essential, but useful to view trail maps and navigation)
  • Paper towels/wipes
  • A shock pump (if your bike has front/rear air suspension)