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MTB Gear & Apparel Packing Lists

What To Bring To The Trailhead & On Your Ride

Heading deep into the landscape on two wheels connects you to nature and satisfies your free spirit in a way that the daily grind simply can’t. But if you’re rolling a far-flung trail, you need to be self-sufficient, and we’re here to talk about the gear and apparel needs you may overlook when setting out on your next MTB ride. 

To The Trails: Packing Your Vehicle 

From transporting the star of the show (your bike) to maintenance and nutrition, here’s the gear to pack in your four-wheeled ride: 

Racks & Tailgate Pads

Unless you love squeezing your bike into your trunk, a good rack is key. Choose one that can support enough bikes for you and your typical crew or family. And if you’re bike-slinging over the tailgate, protect your rides and your truck with a tailgate pad. 

Floor Pump

One day you’ll inevitably show up to the trailhead with a deflated or flat tire and have to decide whether to blow a CO2 canister or spend a few minutes pumping away with an on-bike minipump. Save yourself the energy—pack your floor pump in the car, and get yourself and your ride mates rolling faster. 

In-Vehicle Tools & Maintenance

Once you’ve packed your pack or saddlebag with tools for the ride, we don’t recommend unfurling it until you have a trailside mechanical. Carry a dedicated set of basic tools with you that are for in-vehicle only to get on the trail sooner.

Packing chain lube and a few cleanup rags are helpful as well.

Batteries & Charging Pods

As the bike becomes a more battery-powered experience, it’s solid practice to keep spare batteries and charging cords at the ready. Power meters and electronic shifters often run on size 2032 batteries, which efficiently store in a glove box or tool pack. And if you run a SRAM electronic drivetrain, bringing along a charged, spare derailleur battery is a good idea.

Bring your charge cables along for the drive to charge up on the way to the trailhead.

Take Care Of You

Don’t forget about ride-prep for yourself. We recommend—in addition to your hydro-pack and bottles—keeping at least a gallon of spare water in your vehicle, as well as some extra food, to refuel post-ride and save you from bonking if your ride turns out to be longer than expected. 

A few other trailhead must-haves:

On The Trails: Packing For Your Ride 

Let’s spin into tips that set you up for the best on-bike experience. 

Spares & Flat Kits

An obvious gear pick, but one that is often forgotten, is your kit to fix flats. We recommend pre-packing your flat kit in a dedicated ride bag and not messing with it until you have a flat or trailside mechanical—don’t set yourself up to rely on it at the trailhead. Here is a list of gear we’d recommend carrying in your flat kit. 

Riding Apparel

Weather conditions can go outside the predicted forecast, so if you live in a place where conditions are variable (we’re looking at you Rocky Mountains), it’s best to be over-prepared than caught in a rainstorm with no protection. We recommend carrying a minimum of a wind jacket, neck gaiter, lightweight rain shell, and leg/arm warmers in transitional months. In peak summer, sunscreen and sun-sleeves help protect your skin. 

Beyond weather, learn a bit about the trails you’ll ride beforehand. If it’s a wide-open slickrock range or trails with close run-ins with brush, you may want to swap sleeves and shorts length. Long-sleeves—or even ¾-sleeve—reduce scrapes and brush exposure on tight trails, and cover elbow pads out of the way also. Longer shorts keep the brush and sun off your legs so you can ride more confidently and offer more protection in the event of an endo. 

Lighting

Sometimes, you lose track of time riding epic trails—or get lost—and the sun gets low sooner than you planned. For longer trails you don’t know well, it’s good practice to carry a charged, trail-worthy front-and-rear light set to get back safely in low-light conditions. We recommend a front-light with at least 1000 lumen max output so you can see the trail obstacles ahead. 

Navigation-Ready Cycling Computer

If you don’t know the trail system by heart, having a bike computer with the trail navigation preloaded is our go-to tip. Not only can you plan out your route, but you can explore off-route and be directed back to your original course as well. 

For our curated list of on-bike and at the trailhead gear picks for spring, read more here.