Back in 2012 I wrote What Do I Carry When Riding My Bicycle? to show what I carry to be prepared for long mountain bike rides with a pack. Six years and some refinement and reduction later, it’s time for an update.
I like to do longer — but single day — rides, summer and winter, on any kind of MTB from XC to trail to fat bikes. My gear tends to stay the same for everything from an endurance race to a long day on dirt roads linking together parks, back country rides during a road trip to the typical after-work roll around a suburban park. None of these require the bike packer-level of supplies, but feeling assured that a surprise situation will be manageable does require a bit of planning. Since water and primary food (typically ERG! Energy bars and Infinit Nutrition mix) varies by ride I won’t be covering it here, but my pack and pockets have plenty of room for extra drink mix and food.
Almost everything I carry is because it was needed at some point in the past, and I like knowing that my gear is consistent between rides. When doing MTB rides I almost always wear a pack, only leaving it behind during shorter races where I’m trying to be competitive or rides where I’m okay with walking out should something happen.
My current pack is an Osprey SYNCRO 10 in Velocity Green color, M/L size. This is a high vis yellow/green that I chose because it both helps me be seen and it stays cool in the sun. Having a thin metal frame and mesh back keeps the pack away from my body which keeps me cooler in summer avoids a sweaty back in winter. A replacement badge from the Sport model Road ID is slipped over the elastic on the upper part of the left strap near my head, providing easily-visible identification and emergency contact info.
While many folks are moving to frame bags and waist packs, I’ve stuck to a pack because it allows me to carry a lot of water, easily transition gear between bikes, and it doesn’t rub on the frame. Frame packs seem like a great option and work out well for many folks, but as of now they just aren’t for me.
Here’s the two setups, summer and winter, tiered to show how things are packed:
Default / Summer MTB Pack:
- 6″ x 5″ Nylon Zippered Pouch (Amazon Link)
- Cable (Zip) Ties: 4x each thin/short and wide/long.
- Nitrile Gloves: 2x, in small plastic bag.
- Spare Derailleur Hanger(s): One for each bike style.
- Cash: 1x $20, 1x $10, 2x $5, 3x $1, in small plastic bag.
- Glue-Type Patch Kit: In plastic storage box.
- Tick Key
- Quick Links: 3x 11 speed, 1x 10 speed, 1x 9 speed, 1 link single speed chain.
- Folded Paper Towel: Prevents rattling and rubbing, for cleaning tube before patching.
- Presta to Schrader Adapter
- Lezyne Sport Drive HP Pump
- 4′ of 3″ wide black Gaffer Tape: Wrapped around pump body.
- Tools in Cotton Sock: Prevents rattling and rubbing, doubles as rag.
- Spare Tube(s) in Cotton Sock / Rag: Prevents rubbing, doubles as rag.
- Q-Tubes Super Light: 29 x 1.9″-2.3″ for XC/trail bikes, 26 x 2.4″-2.7″ for fat bike.
- LOKSAK aLOKSAK: 4″ x 7″
- Phone: Google Pixel 2
- Driver’s License / Credit Card
- Toilet Paper
- Fox 40 Micro Whistle: Pealess, won’t freeze in winter.
- CamelBak Antidote Reservoir: 3L, aka bladder.
- Emergency Food in Plastic Zip Top Bag, about 500 calories.
- House/Car Keys
- No bladder for water; it freezes. Insulated bottles on bike instead.
- Remove derailleur hanger and tubes for summer bikes.
- Mylar Emergency Blanket
- Little Hotties Adhesive Toe Warmers (2x)
- Extra gloves, head covering, and jacket, depending on conditions, planned length and effort of ride, location, etc.
This all has worked out well for me, being able to handle situations from cut tire sidewalls to puncture flats, broken chains and derailleurs to detached front brake cables.