Unlike conventional touring cycling whereby you’ll often see cyclists carrying large pannier bags on the frames of their bikes mountain biking tends to be all about a culture of ‘travelling light’ in order that the bike performs over rough terrain to the peak of its capabilities. Therefore, you won’t often see mountain bikers laden down with much equipment.
However, they still need to be prepared for all eventualities, especially on longer trips so it’s important that they’re at least equipped with the essential items just in case.
As for clothing, most mountain bikers like to keep things ‘light’ so will usually come prepared and simply wear shorts and a T-shirt or, perhaps, a cycling jersey. Depending on the length of the trip, the weather and whether or not you’re camping overnight, carrying a lightweight fleece and waterproof jacket are also advisable and fairly light and easy to store. They can always be tied around your waist if you’re not carrying a backpack or have no other place to stow them away, although you should ensure that anything tied around your waist is kept away from any moving parts of the bike.
By the very nature of the terrain, mountain bikes are always more susceptible to suffering tyre punctures and other mechanical problems than a conventional road bike. A spare inner tube (or even two if you have space) should be carried along with tyre levers and a bicycle pump.
Fortunately, long gone are the days when you needed to carry almost your Dad’s entire tool kit with you when you went out cycling. Mountain bikes are designed to need as few tools as possible. There are multi-tools kit where both spanners and Allen keys are incorporated into one simple lightweight tool but other items might include a standard screwdriver, an open ended spanner, suitable Allen keys, chain tool, spoke key and a pair of pliers just in case.
Mountain biking is thirsty work, especially when the weather’s hot. You may need to carry more than one bottle of water if your route is long and you know there are no places to stop on the way or aren’t sure. Always make sure you take enough water to cover the duration of the trip. Energy bars to eat or some chocolate can also make the difference on a long ride and are easy and lightweight to carry but be sure to keep them cool and away from direct sunlight.
First Aid Kit and Other Items
You should always ensure that at least one member of your biking group is carrying a basic first aid kit and knows how to use it. Suntan lotion and sun block is also recommended if you’re out cycling in the sunnier months. And, remember, when you’re cycling at high altitude, you can still get sunburnt or suffer from sun stroke, even if it feels chilly.
Apart from the above, essentials to take with you will vary from trip to trip and from group to group but, as with any outdoor activity, it’s important to be well prepared.