Mountain biking is a high-intensity sport that requires access to large areas of rugged terrain. Unless you live near good trails, the sport also requires some commuting. How you prepare for that commute is vital.
Much of your preparation will be ensuring that your bike is trail-ready and loaded onto a proper bike rack for hauling. But the gear you might overlook can be just as important to bring along. Here’s a list of some mountain bike essentials to keep in your vehicle.
Having a reliable multi-tool on-hand is about as important as properly inflated bicycle tires and working brakes. Repairs are common, and no one likes being caught on the trail without the tools to make them.
Most multi-tools feature a comprehensive set of Philips and flathead screwdrivers, hex wrenches, chain breakers and spoke wrenches. Despite the mix of tools, they aren’t typically very big and can be easily stashed in your glovebox. Just don’t forget to take it along for your ride.
Our recommendation: Crank Brothers M19 ($34)
Why we picked it: Designed for downhill, endurance and cross-country riders, the Crank Brothers M19 features tools needed for a wide variety of repairs and tune-ups.
NUTRITION AND ENERGY BARS
Staying nourished on long rides is essential. Experienced cyclists know to carry snacks with them. For longer rides, stash a couple of bars in your riding pack and a few more in your glovebox. You want to make sure you have enough energy for the drive home.
Power bars packed with fruits and nuts, and even candy bars, can be lifesavers in a pinch, especially if your blood sugar gets low. Energy gels are a good substitute if you’re looking to lighten your load or minimize expenses.
Our recommendation: 12-pack of Clif Bars ($11)
Why we picked it: Small enough to fit in your pocket yet hearty enough to nearly replace a meal, Clif Bars are a great trail companion.
The rugged nature of mountain biking creates many torn or popped tires. Prepare for the inevitable by packing a tire-repair kit that fits in your jersey or riding pack. Make sure to practice changing tires and tubes, or using a tubeless system, at home. You don’t want to turn your ride into a massive hike because you can’t repair a flat.
Savvy DIYers can piece together their own repair kits, but plenty of professionally curated options are available for anyone unsure of what to include. The most important contents are tire fluid for tubeless tires, C02 cartridges with a dispenser, tire levers and tire patches. A dollar bill often works to boot a tire that has severe damage and protect the tube.
Our recommendation: Genuine Innovations Deluxe Tire Repair Kit ($33)
Why we picked it: This kit includes a cupped inflator, three non-threaded CO2 cartridges, a patch kit and two tire levers. It all fits in an easy-to-stow, zippered wallet. If you’re running tubeless, it’s best to carry the correct size innertube for your wheels just in case you get a flat and run out of fluid or have trouble re-establishing a seal between the tire and the wheel rim.
Mountain biking gloves are one of the easiest pieces of gear to overlook. But they provide as much protection for your hands as a helmet does for your head and do for the rest of your body.
Look for a pair that not only protect your hands from scrapes and cuts, but are also breathable, wind-resistant and waterproof. Shoulder season gloves that work as the temperatures change are good during most of the year, save for the coldest winter months.
Our recommendation: Pearl iZUMi Cyclone Gloves ($40)
Why we picked them: Designed for the changing temperatures of shoulder seasons, Pearl iZUMi’s Cyclone gloves offer gel padding for comfort and are water- and wind-resistant.
Every mountain biker should ride with, or carry, bike lights no matter the time of day. Many mountain bike trails feature sections covered by trees, and it’s imperative that other riders can see you. This is especially true if your ride includes paved areas with vehicular traffic. Studies have shown that riders of bikes with lights, even during the day, are less likely to have mishaps.
Most bike lights don’t add much weight to a bike, making them easy to install and forget about.
Our recommendation: Cycle Torch Shark 500 ($40)
Why we picked it: Rechargeable via USB and functions as a flashlight when not attached to a mountain bike, the Cycle Torch Shark 500 is a dependable and versatile bike light.
ADDITIONAL GEAR TO CONSIDER
- Protective sunglasses: Whether it’s dirt or rocks flung from a bicycle or a low-hanging tree branch, plenty of trail debris can hurt your eyes. Protective sunglasses are the best method for preventing this. Look for a pair with polarized or contrast-boosting lenses, as they’ll make the trail that much easier to see.
- Hydration pack: Like proper nutrition, proper hydration is key to enjoying mountain biking. Toting a water bottle gets the job done but a hydration pack not only offers an easily accessible water source but often also has storage pockets for gear.
Editor’s note:Trucks.com freelance writer Amanda Ellis contributed to this article.
This article updates a previous story to include additional gear and explain Trucks.com’s recommendations.