All mountain bikers, whether novices or experts, need certain gear for safety and comfort on the trail. We’ve prepared this essential mountain biking gear checklist to help get you ready for your next ride.
The “Duh” Category
Helmet. Duh. Eye protection. Duh with options—sunglasses or goggles with lenses that adapt or switch out for changing light conditions are cool. Eye protection should be sturdy enough and wrap around sufficiently to protect eyes from gravel and dirt that kicks up on the trail as you ride.
Water—triple duh, but hydration pack or bottle cage? Weight and how hard and long you ride may answer the question. Rides over two hours may need the full hydration pack, but shorter jaunts can get by with a bottle in a cage. Either way, bring water with you. First aid kit—another in the “duh” category if you're going far out. Include basics and antiseptic wipes for anything you can't just ignore. Repair kit—carry a patch kit, multitool, and a packable minipump. Bring an extra tubes for tires that use them.
Carry emergency information. Someone back at home should know your planned route so they can call for help if you’re not back when expected. Bring ID, cash, a credit card, and your phone, tucked in a padded pocket or an underseat bag.
Gloves, Shorts, and Shoes
Hands work hard on mountain bikes—all the curves, hops, and handling, not to mention the inevitable wipeouts, can rough up fingers and palms. Invest in a good pair of mountain biking gloves to give you a good grip when you need it and protection from dings and scrapes that can happen along the trail.
Padded shorts offer both comfort and a bit of protection. The inner layer protects against chafing and contains the padding, while an outer layer can provide some insurance against scrapes. Even if you spend half the ride out of the saddle, standing up, the padded shorts will reduce the beating your butt takes on a long ride. Keep in mind that some padded shorts are intended to be worn dry, meaning, no saddle or chamois cream.
Depending on your preference (and terrain), ride either clipless mountain bike shoes or flats on platform pedals.
A good wicking shirt or jersey helps regulate your body temperature on a hot day. Always check forecasts for anticipated weather conditions and be prepared with rain gear or a sweatshirt if necessary.
Sunscreen and Lip Balm
The higher you go, the more intense the rays. Bring along your sun protection of choice and don’t forget lip balm; all that heavy mouth breathing can dry out your lips and cause uncomfortable cracking. Lip balm should also contain sun protection.
The Right Bike
We’re talking about essential mountain biking gear here, so it’s safe to assume you already have, or are at least contemplating buying, a mountain bike, like the extraordinary Marin Rift Zone or another versatile bike for road, gravel, or trail riding. Novices should seek advice from knowledgeable staff regarding frame size and type of suspension. Our team is made up of riders who've got experience on just about every kind of bike and are happy to help you make a choice!