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Essential Gear


Original Post
Laird Thornton · · Las Vegas, NM · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 0

So I am getting into the MTB scene starting with some light trail riding. (I have been riding bikes all my life, and always lived rural so I know the basics), however my question would be: What is essential gear to have?

The first trail I would like to tackle would beLa Tierra Loop, just outside Santa Fe NM. Now I already have a bike ('06 GT Avalanche 2.0) so that parts covered. What I am looking for would be a list of essential items a noob like me should carry on-trail.

On a side note I am seriously considering getting a rear-rack for the bike, so I can carry a bag and perhaps some panniers, though not sure if this is advisable or not for MTB rides.

Nate Hawkins · · Indianapolis, IN · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 1,638

Outside of riding gear for safety and comfort (water, helmet, shorts with chamois, gloves, sunglasses, and possibly some light armor if riding somewhere with sharp rocks/sharp or dangerous trailside vegetation), start with a multitool, pump, patch kit, and spare tube. make sure your multitool has a chain breaker. carry a spare powerlink/connex link. These are some basics.

You'd be well served to carry some kind of first aid kit. mine mostly contains bandages, some allergy medications, moleskin, antiseptics, etc. there can be entire threads dedicated to first aid kits. basic rule for them is to only carry what you're trained/comfortable using, and it's best to limit the items to the problems you're most likely to see. I've patched up folks' bloody noses and scrapes plenty of times, handed out sections of moleskin to alleviate blisters from poorly fitting shoes, and taken plenty of benadryl to alleviate bee stings (thankfully I'm not dangerously allergic). these are the common issues I encounter, so I carry for them mostly.

I add items depending on where I'm going, what time of year it is, and how long I intend to be out. they can include extra layers (ranging from arm/leg warmers to jackets), extra tools/repair gear (spare chain links, spare spokes, duct tape, zip ties, etc), water filtration gear (either purification tablets, a pump filter, or both), navigation gear (GPS, compass, paper map of the area whether it has the trails on it or not), extra food (simple carbs like gels or chews, actual food like sandwiches, fruit, bars, dehydrated meals + stove and pot, etc), shelter, sleep gear, etc.

I'd strongly recommend against a rack and trunk bag or panniers. Something like that will add significant weight to the bike, change handling, add potential points of failure, and additional locations for noises/rattling. For short outings where you only need water and basic toolkit for quick repairs, try a bottle and a saddle pouch. For slightly longer stuff where you need a little more of the extra items, try a backpack and hydration bladder. For the multi-day stuff, look into larger frame bags, handlebar bags, and underseat bags used for bikepacking (try bikepacking.net to learn about your options - most are from cottage gear manufacturers)

Laird Thornton · · Las Vegas, NM · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 0

Thanks for the detailed reply Nate. I appreciate it.

I am honestly glad you brought up the first aid kit aspect. I was focusing on making sure I had all the correct parts and accessories for my bike, but had not thought much on a "fix kit" for my own self.

I'll also stay away from the whole rack setup as you suggested, and just focus on a few small pockets and backpacks instead.

Nate Hawkins · · Indianapolis, IN · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 1,638

I've used my kit mostly to patch up other riders and on occasion have been greeted with looks and gasps of awe as I pull a first aid kit out of my pack and hand the injured rider some gauze for a bloody nose or whatever. I need to replenish a few things in there, though.

I forgot to mention, it might be worth having a spare derailleur hanger for your bike. I don't carry one around all the time (it usually lives in my toolbox). usually only if I'm going on a longer trip where I'll be away for more than a day or two. but it's one of those things where if you're out on a long trip and you mangle your hanger, it can ruin a week's worth of plans because you're unlikely to find the one you need in stock at a shop.

I recently ordered a couple from the shop where I work...and you can tell everybody's a bunch of roadies who don't think of these things because I got all kinds of questions about why I'd need more than one hanger for my bike.

Ed Parrot · · Amherst, MA · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 365

I'll second the derailleur hanger. I went on a group ride last fall, and the ride leader broke his derailleur hanger. It was his third broken hanger of the year. Some of it depends on the kind of trails you ride - we have a lot of rocks on most of the trails around here, although sticks can be just as destructive.

Kai Troester · · Pepperell, MA · Joined Jun 2011 · Points: 1,637

The usefulness of being able to attach packs to your bike depends if you want to focus on mountain biking or touring with a mountain bike. If you need to carry lots of gear a rack might be useful but it also dramatically changes what you can ride. Nate already pointed that out. So unless you feel that you need to attach a pack to your bike, don't add a rack and enjoy less restricted biking.

I don't carry a first aid kit although I may think about it for longer rides.

Kai

Steve Broyles · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2014 · Points: 6

after seeing two different people with ruined rides due to derailer hanger failure, I spent $14 on one via ebay and zip tied it to my frame.

other than that: spare tube, patch kit, tire levers, pump (maybe shock pump), and a multitool
are all good stuff

I also added a "bear bell" to my bike to let other riders (and skunks) know that I'm nearby. be sure to get one with a magnet-silencer so that you don't have to hear it all the time. they run $3-$5

Laird Thornton · · Las Vegas, NM · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 0
Steve Broyles wrote:
after seeing two different people with ruined rides due to derailer hanger failure, I spent $14 on one via ebay and zip tied it to my frame.

other than that: spare tube, patch kit, tire levers, pump (maybe shock pump), and a multitool
are all good stuff

I also added a "bear bell" to my bike to let other riders (and skunks) know that I'm nearby. be sure to get one with a magnet-silencer so that you don't have to hear it all the time. they run $3-$5


Seems like derailers are on the must have list as well. Thankfully most things are fairly small, so I dont have too much to carry (which is why I was asking about a bike rack to begin with).

Again, I appreciate everyone's replies. You guys have been super helpful and very nice. :)
Nate Hawkins · · Indianapolis, IN · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 1,638

There's no need to carry along a spare derailleur unless you're out on some huge expedition-level trip and a broken one would mean serious trouble.

For regular rides, if your derailleur gets messed up, with your multitool you can turn your bike into a singlespeed for the time being and limp out no problem. I've done this myself.

Worst case scenario, you just remove the derailleur entirely and shorten your chain, using the spare quick link you keep in your kit to put it back together.

Bo Dowling · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 0

Never really thought about the first aid kit...yup i will defintely be adding to the "backpack". Thanks guys just cause you never know. I try to ride with my pack as much as possible in hope to become equally as comfrontable riding with or without pack (feel a little ackward while riding). I also keep a few bucks for those in case moments...

Steve Broyles · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2014 · Points: 6

agreed. a spare derailleur is overkill.

i carry a derailleur *hanger*. usually strapped to my frame w/ a zip tie.
it's about the size of my pinkie finger, and weighs... 50g? maybe less?

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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