Are you wondering what people bring on a day ride? Are you sure that what you bring gets you where you want to go happily? Food, tools, spares….? No, I am not talking about your neighborhood ride where you know every centimeter of the trail and where the rocks and trees greet you… Where help is a phone call away and water just around the corner.
I was always interested in what people carried in their bags…and what was needed to get to the to the end of a long day riding with a smile on you face. And yes I learned it the hard way as well…
In this post, I want to share with you what I bring and why. Not only in my backpack but on me and on the bike!
The packs; I ride with an Osprey Raptor 14 with a Camelbak reservoir. I have tried several brands and drinking systems and this is my favorite combination. In general all the major brands like Camelbak, Dakine, Vaude, Osprey, Deuter, etc. make good systems. Some suit better than others but none of them are bad.
When selecting a pack, make sure you go for a volume that suits your needs. I would suggest you go for a volume between 10 and 15 liters and a drink system of at least two liters. Don’t go for a bargain but invest in a pack that last, is comfortable and designed well.
Now you have selected your pack the question is: “what to bring”?
I ride with a Topeak Allien Multi Tool. This has all the required tool sizes and option to fix your bike on the trail and even do small repairs at home. Other brands like Lezyne and Crankbrothers make similar good tools as well. Just don’t leave without one….
Pliers are not a must. I have them because they come in very useful when you have to cut a cable or hold something that requires grip and force. If you bring them I recommend bring the lighter mini pliers.
A hand pump is a must. For a mountain biking get one that has a large air volume barrel and a hose that connects to the valve. The larger barrel makes it easier to get air in the big volume MTB tires. A flexible hose connection between pump and valve prevents shocks and force being applied to the valve. I have seen a lot of broken valves after people inflated their tire and removed the pump head…this means you are back to zero or even worse. With the pump come the tire levers…take plastic, it’s light and does the job.
Bring a knife to peel an apple, cut a zip tie or kill a bear……
A mini suspension pump can come in handy as well. It is not a must have but a good tool to bring your fork or shock back up to pressure or get your suspension dialed in while on the trail. Topeak makes an excellent little version.
A handful of spares will get you happily to the end of your long ride. They will not add a lot of weight but can make or break a ride. Spare gear cable….easy. When one breaks it can be replaced in minutes and get you home shifting happily. It helps to you bring both pliers with the gear cable.
A must have is an inner tube….nothing to add here, just make sure its the right size. Although most MTB tires are of excellent quality there is always a chance that a sharp rock cuts a hole in your tire side wall. On the picture, you can see a large black rubber patch. This is a piece of sidewall out of an old tire which, in case you have a sidewall failure you can put this piece inside your tire. Place it where you have the side wall cut and hold it in place by inflating your (new) inner tube. I have gotten home like that many a time….!
A box(es) with small parts. I carry an extra set of brake pads, caliper bolds, disk bolds, tire patch kit and other little items. Last but not least….your derailleur hanger! Make sure you bring one that fits your frame. Derailleur hangers are made to break, they break preventing your more expensive derailleur to get damaged. It’s a small little plate that is easy replaced….you can get one from your bike brand or find a suitable model on derailleurhanger.com.
Bring enough water and food for a long tour….when you do more than just one day trip remember that you are eating for the days to come. Plain water does the job but your body needs more…minerals, electrolytes, etc. Put a couple of scoops of your favorite energy powder in your water reservoir. Remember; “A good mountaineer always pisses clear!”
I ride with a little can of Red Bull….I am not a Red Bull fan but it has gotten me to the finish on several occasions. For lovers of banana’s: a Banana Guard prevents you having to take a bite out of a squeezed banana or having to pick banana sludge from your pack and everything inside of it.
Always bring a map of the riding area especially when you are not familiar with the area. I ride with a GPS device but nothing replaces a paper map. A scale of 1:25.000 gives the best indications, however, a good 1:50.000 map can do the job as well. For excellent MTB maps see my post about the Supertrail Maps. Having said this I still ride with a map of my favorite riding area just to combine different trails once in a while and look for new options. A GPS device is a nice tool when you are going somewhere where you have never been before. I have been riding with a Garmin Edge and I love this tool. More about that in a later post.
There are lots of websites that share rides and you can easily download a track upload it to your GPS device and just follow the route….it makes riding a new area so much easier. It can turn a days worth of looking at your map and guessing where you should go, into a fun ride! Good websites are GPS Tour (D), GPSies (also good for converting files), Utagawa (F), Tourfinder (CH) and of course MTBroutes (NL). I suggest you take a look at websites of your favorite MTB magazine and local blogs as well.
Your extra bike wear! Always bring a jacket when riding in the mountains. It can save your life…!! The weather can change quickly and at high altitude, it can get cold quickly. I have set out on rides on several occasions looking at the sky and thinking;”I don’t need a jacket….but what the hell lets just put it in there anyway” and many times I was very happy I did. When buying a jacket and arm and leg warmers pay attention to your size. Your gear needs to be close to your body! Assos, Specialized, Pearl Izumi, Gore Bike Wear, Odlo, Craft all make very good bike wear….Invest in something that fits, is comfortable and protective and that lasts. If you go out there you want something that makes you happy!