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)