When you're getting ready for a day of trail riding, you'll want to make sure you have everything you need to see you through.
There are usually two types of riders: the under-prepared (me) and the over-prepared (everyone else). You may find yourself without a vital multi-tool when you need it most or laden with half your pantry in your bag which drags you down.
We've put together a list of essential items that we think you'll need when out on the trails.
Safety first! A well fitting and suitable helmet is the bare minimum for a bike ride... except for a bike, of course.
Make sure it fits properly with the straps adjusted to your chin correctly. Also, it's good practice to regularly check the condition of your helmet. If the straps are looking frayed, or it's taken one too many hits, it may be time to invest in a new one.
A good multi-tool is invaluable whilst out riding. You never know when you need to adjust your set-up, especially if you have a nasty fall which knocks your cockpit into disarray.
Even if you don't need it, a friend or another rider might!
You just never know when you'll get a flat tyre. It could be a slow puncture or a full-on rip, but having a spare inner tube is essential for keeping the ride going. They are light and easy to roll away for stowing at the bottom of your pack.
You can get some brilliant all-in-one pumps which cater for your suspension and tyres while still being compact. So if you're feeling your suspension is a little too soft, or you've just changed a snake-bite, you'll pump will come in handy and save your ride from being cut short.
A good supply of fluids will help replenish those that are lost through exercise. Hydration packs are brilliant for storing your water, as well as all the tools, snacks and bits you need for a ride.
How much water you take out with you will depend on how long your riding for, your personal fitness levels and the amount of fluid you lose through sweat. The most common fluid capacity for hydration packs is between 2-3Litres.
In addition to having a good supply of fluids, snacks are key for getting those little boosts of energy when you need them most. Nuts, seeds, and trail foods are great for protein and slow energy releases. Allow yourself one treat for that epic climb you just did (for me, it's Haribo), but don't fill your pack will junk foods and sugars.
Dry dressings are small and convenient for packing away in your bag, and they come in handy if you've hurt yourself, or someone in your group has hurt themselves.
If you're prone to burning and bug bites, then in addition to your dry dressings, pack some bug spray and sun cream to help prevent irritations. Nothing worse than ending a great day of riding with prickly sunburn and swollen bites!
A small amount of cash should always be taken on a trail, ideally in a waterproof plastic pouch. It may be for that essential post-ride cuppa, where the café doesn't take a card. Bike wash machines, tool hire and even the car park may require cash, but a little change can go a long way in unexpected circumstances.
Mobile phones nowadays allow us to access the world from our fingertips, but a fully charged mobile isn't just for the Strava stats. It's important for the possibility that you'll need to call for help in case there's an emergency.
It comes in handy when you're organising a group ride, and for taking those memory snaps!
A Small foldable rain mac can be invaluable for a comfortable ride. You never know when a breeze will have you shivering, or a shower spell can soak you to the bone. Super lightweight rain jackets can be rolled away to take up minimal space in your bag.
Perhaps the most important essential you'll need for a good bike ride is a smile! Have fun and enjoy the freedom that a bike can give you, and explore the world on two wheels.
These 11 MTB essentials will help you stay safe, prepared and keep you smiling all ride around.
Now you just need to remember how to pack it all! - But don't worry, we have this handy guide to help.