Mountain biking trips are great excursions, combining exercise with the enjoyment of the wilderness. Unless you have to travel far to find ideal biking spots, they also save on fuel usage and require no complicated reservations. It can be easy to underestimate the amount of planning that should go into any mountain biking experience, however. Even when traveling with a group, emergency help will not be close or convenient, and the wilderness is unpredictable. When traveling alone, safety precautions are even more important. Packing well for a biking trip of any length can save you a great deal of trouble down the path. However, the more you pack, the more weight encumbers you, and so a balance must be found. When traveling with a group these items can be shared out to distribute the weight, but for solo rides, extra care must be taken.
The first consideration, after making sure that your bike is well-maintained, is clothing. Padded shorts for cycling are idea, one for each day. Padded liners also exist that can be worn under regular leisure shorts. Specialized shirts for cycling can be costly, but tops for walking, that are breathable and have good wicking qualities, serve almost as well and are more affordable. A windbreaker is also good to have, and if biking in rainy times, a waterproof jacket can serve both purposes. Sunglasses, a helmet, and good gloves help round out safety gear.
Hydration is vital for any exercise, especially for a trip powered by exertion. Although heavy, it is better to have too much water than to suffer dehydration, whether using bottles, canteens, or other means to carry it. CamelBak products are favored by many cyclists, particularly the packs that carry gear as well as water.
Sufficient food for the length of trip also should be included. Energy bars are popular, and can be inexpensive when homemade. Even if you do not plan to be out long enough to need food, granola bars are good to have on hand in case of emergencies.
The balancing act of weight versus usefulness becomes more complicated when preparing for potential emergencies. If your bike breaks down, or you encounter another cyclist in difficulty, being well-equipped is beneficial. However, carrying a bike store’s worth of supplies is impossible. A good multi-tool is a good first step, one with an Allen wrench for every size of Allen bolt on your bike. A quality mini-pump for your tires, as well as a patch kit, are generally considered standard gear to pack. Some cyclists also favor a pump for the shocks. Tire levers, spoke wrench, spare tubes, pliers, duct tape and bike lube are other useful things to have in case of bike problems.
In addition to your bicycle’s first aid kit, a standard first aid kit for you should also be included. In addition, other helpful items for your health can come in handy, such as sun screen, bug spray, bee sting kits, and some cyclists even carry snake-bite kits for emergencies. Of course, carrying clear identification and medical information is important should trouble strike.
Keeping emergency preparation in mind, it is possible to overburden yourself, but some simple items should be included. A small flashlight, a knife, a space blanket, a whistle, and a length of para-cord do not take up much room. A cell phone, if you get reception, and a GPS unit can also be of help.
While planning for trouble in packing for your mountain biking trip, and weighing the pros and cons of every ounce to haul with you, do not forget to enjoy the truly worthwhile experience of trekking through the wilderness. And if there’s any room left at all, a camera to record the experience will help you to recall it long after the tracks fade and your muscles recover.