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What to Bring When Mountain Biking: Build Your Essential Bike Kit

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Mountain biking is lots of fun when you’re prepared. You may want to bring a backpack so it can hold your water, first-aid kit, and these 11 essentials.

Mountain biking is lots of fun and it’s a great way to spend time when you’re prepared.

What do I mean by prepared?

When you’re going mountain biking, you need to have the essentials with you in the case an problem comes up.  Things like flat tires or getting banged up can really sour the day if you’re now stranded. For some of these, you may want to bring a backpack so it can hold your water, first-aid kit, and the essentials like money and your cell phone.

The best mountain bike ride loses the fun quickly if you have an issue and are not prepared. So let’s go over a gear checklist now to make sure you have the right gear mountain biking requires.

If you are going to a mountain bike park or somewhere that readily has services available in the event of an issue, then not all of these are as essential to bring or you could leave them in your car and get them when needed.

The Basics

You’ll need to check over your bike first.  Check the frame for cracks, check to make sure everything is adjusted, and make sure all of the bolts are tight.  You don’t want a wheel coming off while you’re moving along.

You’ll need your helmet, elbow pads, and knee pads.  You know, the usual assortment of safety gear you’ve had since you started biking. Beyond that, the usual biking clothing like gloves and sunglasses are very important.

First-Aid Kit

You’ll want to bring a first aid kit that is waterproof with at least the basics: bandages, alcohol wipes, anti-septic wipes, cotton gauze, tweezers,  and a whistle (so you can call for help with it).  The whistle is one thing many people don’t think about, but if you crash in the woods, the whistle will be easier for people to hear to find you than yelling and making your voice hoarse will.  This one on Amazon has everything above and more at under 1 lb.

Be sure to review ahead of your ride how to fix the basics with the first aid kit. If you are riding more dangerous terrain like a downhill course then you definitely will want to know what to do ahead of time.

Extra Water

Generally speaking, bring 50% more water than you plan on needing.  There are lots of reasons why you may need more than you’d expect.  The weather may turn sour and you’ll have to wait it out so you’re out longer than expected.  The temperature may be hotter or have more of an effect on you.  Perhaps the person riding with you didn’t bring enough (you are riding with someone and not alone right?).

Like I said, lots of reasons and it’s better to have extra than not enough.

Basic Repair Kit

You’ll want to bring along a basic repair kit to deal with mechanical issues.  The kit needs to have some basic things in it to be useful:

  • A multi tool to tighten bolts
  • A mini high pressure air pump
  • Tire tube patches
  • A useful case.  Many will mount and hang just below the seat.
  • One or two bike tire pry rods

Hopefully you won’t need these, but if you have mechanical issues or a flat you’ll be glad you have a way to fix it and keep on going.  This bike repair kit on Amazon has everything you need for those mechanical issues.

Remember to always check your bike over for mechanical issues before going out for a ride.  Things like cracks in your tires can happen and it shortens your bike tire life.

Extra parts

Certain parts on a mountain bike just break more often than others.  You’ll want to keep a couple of these spares around so you don’t get stranded.

You’ll want to bring at least one extra master link.  If the master link breaks, your chain is coming right off.  With an extra link you can get back on the trail in short order and keep on moving along.

You’ll also want to bring an extra deraileur hanger.  These break fairly easily and having one means you aren’t stranded.

Chain Lube

Too much water due to shower or stream crossings, or too much dust, can cause a chain to not work properly.  Pack a small bottle of lube and a small cloth to deal with it.


You’re likely going to be out in the sun for quite a few hours.  Nobody wants to look like a lobster and getting a sunburn puts a damper on what is otherwise a really great day.  Keeping a bottle of SPF50 waterproof sunscreen like Coppertone’s Sport series works great.  You want sunscreen that will stay on through water splashed on stream crossings and also sweating.

Cell Phone

Cell phones are great for taking selfies and all, but in this case you’ll want the phone in case of emergency so you can call out for help.

Rain Jacket

A warm day can sometimes turn cloudy quickly and a a little bit of rain can give you a bit of a chill.  Have a portable rain jacket in the backpack ready to use is a very good idea.  You can get portable and compact rain jackets that are smaller than a water bottle that you can put on while you weather the storm.  This one on Amazon is ultra light-weight at 7.5 ounces and it’s adjustable to keep it away from the tires.

Zip Ties

Keep a few zip ties in your backpack to deal with potential mechanical issues.  Zip ties are all purpose and they can fasten down a cable, hold on a hand break, or even replace a broken shoe lace.  They take little room, weigh almost nothing, but if you need them they’re invaluable.

Duct Tape

You can fix almost anything with duct tape, and in this case have a small roll of duct tape can make all the difference.  Like zip ties, you can fasten things back temporarily enough to get to the bottom of the mountain.

LED light

Chances are at some point it’ll be dark before you get home.  A small LED light will be lightweight and give the best light output for the small battery and last the longest.

You may just need to see the bike trail you are riding or you may find yourself fixing things after it gets dark.  Having a light along with a spare battery for it is a must have.

The Complete Mountain Bike Kit

There are quite a few things that aren’t obvious at first that you need to take them but if you find yourself in a pickle you’ll be glad you did. These are the essentials and there are certainly more items you’ll need at some point.

Hopefully you’ll just have the things and not need but it’s far better to be prepared and have a good day biking than to have a bad day and wish you had.

If you are bikepacking (rides on a bike that cross many days), then you’ll want to carry things like a sleeping bag to ensure you can sleep well and be refreshed for the daily biking. Many riders do this across things like rocky mountain trails or other scenic paths. Just make sure you bring all the mountain biking gear you’ll need since it’s tough to go back. Everything you need will be with you.




About the Author

Tony K

Senior Technical Writer,

Tony K is a technical editor at He has a focus on downhill bike riding but still loves xc bikes too.

With more than ten years of mountain biking experience and more than 5 years testing mountain bikes, Tony has ridden and tested hundreds of different bikes and products, everything from XC to enduro bikes. Tony regularly competes in mountain bike races while seeing how long those compontents can hold up which gives me a lot of insight.

When he isn't shredding down a mountain or camping out, he is writing reviews for Mountain Bike Experience.

Rides: Surly Lowside, Canyon Exceed