So you’re about to head out on the trails with some friends. The weather is perfect, the coffee shop got your order just the way you like it. The store you hit up the night before was having a 2 for 1 deal on your favorite trail snacks. Your new Fox moto kit is looking fresh, and your goggle strap is the envy of everyone in your group. You took the time out to prepare your bike before your ride and it’s running perfect. The universe is smiling down on you!
“For me, when everything goes wrong – that's when adventure starts” - Yvon Chouinard
Before you set out on your next adventure make sure you’ve packed a few essentials to keep your ride going. Even if you don’t know anything about working on bikes or how to use certain tools and aids properly, bring them. Chances are someone might come along who’s been there and done that. Also, NEVER RIDE ALONE. Develop a plan with your group to make sure nobody gets left behind and nobody gets lost. Trail rides are way more fun when everybody makes it back to base.
Here is a list of things to bring with you on rides. When you’re riding in a group you can divide the gear up so you can distribute the weight evenly between each rider. Also, there are great fender and tail bags that can take the weight off your shoulders.
I have used every single thing on this list at one time or another so I don’t leave without any of this gear.
I once did a solo trip through Utah and Colorado (yes, I know, never ride alone) and used nearly every one of these items on other people’s bikes. It’s a great feeling when you can help someone else get going.
A Plan. Know where you’re riding and who you are riding with. Make sure everybody understands the routes and checkpoints. Also make sure everyone has the proper gear and someone who isn’t going on your adventure knows where you are going. That can be a friend, relative, park ranger, anybody who wants to see you again.
Hydration. Whether you use a hydration style backpack or some other device make sure you bring water. A good hydration pack will also leave room for tools and things you may need on the trail.
Snacks. Because snacks.
Spare Tube. If you only bring one spare tube make it a front tube, It will work for the rear tire as well. Everybody in the group needs to bring their own spare tube.
Tire Repair Kit. The rubber cement that comes in some of these kits can also help in other applications.
Tire Irons. Two tire irons are good but three is better. Again, you can split up the weight between riders. Maybe you've never changed a tube in a tire and you’re nervous about the prospect of trying. Take a few minutes and research how to change a tube on the trail. Trying to use fix a flat may not work so be ready to tackle the challenge.
Tools. Make sure they are specific to your bike. You’ll need to know what size wrenches you’ll need for your wheels, spark plug, levers and anything else that needs repair. Usually you won’t need many tools but you will need the correct sizes. Not all dirt bike wheel nuts are the same size. Buying a tool roll that includes tools is convenient but make sure the tools fit your bike. My tool kit includes allen wrenches, screwdrivers, a small ratchet set, needle nose pliers and a few other tools. I also carry a telescoping magnet. This helps to find little nuts and bolts that disappear into the dirt or hard to reach places on the bike. Motion Pro makes a lot of great tools you can use on the trail or in the garage. Make sure you include a small pocket knife in your kit.
Compact Bicycle Pump/CO2 Cartridges. After you’ve successfully changed your flat tube you’ll need to inflate it. If you bring CO2 make sure you have the correct adapter to fit your valve stem.
Valve Stem Remover. While this one isn’t totally necessary it does speed things up if your tire isn’t totally flat. Plus they're very small and don’t weigh much.
Spare Nuts and Bolts. Dirt bikes rattle and sometimes things fall off. Buy a track pack from your local motorcycle shop and take a few of the nuts and bolts with you.
Blue Loc Tite. A dab of this will keep bolts from backing out on you.
Safety Wire. This is a Macgyver tool. This has saved me on several occasions. Safety wire can help keep a grip from slipping off or keep a lever attached to the handlebars. It’ll keep fuel line from slipping. I’ve seen riders use it as a master link on their chain after a chain break. I’ve used it to repair the strap on my hydration pack that tore off when I went down. You never know when or where you’ll need it but you’ll be glad you have it. Also good for household fixes. Need to hang a picture? Safety wire. Water hose is slipping away from the nozzle and getting everything wet? Safety wire. 3 dimensional art project needs help? Safety wire.
Zip Ties. The possibilities are endless. They’re small and light so take 5 or 6 or six with you.
Duct Tape/ Flex seal. Another Macgyver tool. Take a couple feet of either one of these to help finish repairing almost anything. It’s also a good item to have in certain first aid situations.
RTV/ High Temp Gasket Maker. When you’ve got to put an engine cover back on or make a drain plug. This one isn’t vital but it does come in handy. Having said that I’ve used it on both dirt and road adventures repairing other people’s bikes.
Quiksteel/J-B Weld. For when your engine case springs a leak. I’ve used quiksteel several times on the trail and it’s usually when someones bike falls over while on the kickstand and the engine case finds the only rock in a 10’ radius. Amazing.
Oil. The right kind for your bike’s engine. You may not need a lot but if the hole in your engine case just emptied it all out on the trail you may need to put a little in to keep things from seizing.
Levers. Bring a clutch and brake lever for your bike. Most levers are designed to have the ends snap off in the event of a fall but sometimes the whole lever goes. Have a back up and keep the ride going. If you’re the type that likes to be totally prepared, bring a shifter and rear brake lever as well.
Spark Plug. If you ride a 2-Stroke you'll always have one with you when you ride. It’s a good idea to always have an extra and sometimes it can work as an oil drain plug if it’s the correct thread size.
Master Link. Chains break and having a clip style master link will save your day. I broke a chain while riding solo through Canyonlands in Utah. Absolute lifesaver.
Extra Fuel. You never know. You might not be out for a long ride but if you suddenly find a hole in your fuel tank you’ll need to refill. Using a fuel safe container is always the best choice but in a pinch Gatorade bottles will hold gas and not melt.
First Aid Kit. Pack it and know how to use it! A little first aid knowledge can save a life. I’ve had to use my first aid knowledge on too many occasions and I’m glad I knew what to do in the moment. Taking a basic first aid class can save the life of a friend or even yourself. Store some waterproof matches in you first aid kit.
GPS Tracker. Check out the Kurt Caselli Foundation’s website https://www.kurtcaselli.com/shop They offer a link to a GPS tracker from Giant Loop.
Nitrile gloves. Things can get messy when fixing things so pack a pair and keep your hands from getting covered in oil and grease that would then go into your riding gloves.
Maps. GPS is cool but sometimes it doesn’t work. Always have a map of the trail you’re riding. Also, make sure someone else back at camp or home has the same map so they know where to find you.
Flashlight/ Headlamp. You never know when you’re going to get caught repairing or riding after the sun goes down.
Glow Sticks. If you do get stuck out after dark snap open a glow stick or two and hang one off the front and back of your backpack. This will help riders in front and behind you know where you are. If you happen to fall at the back of the pack you’ll be easier to spot.
Thermal/Emergency Blanket. Someone needs to pack this in the group. It can provide heat or shade to a downed rider. Again, pack a first aid kit and know how to use it.
There are a lot of things on this list but again, you can divide up the weight. It’s better to have and not need than to need and not have. You never know how to do anything until you try it and you’ve gotten this far so give it a shot.
Adventure doesn't start until something goes wrong. Those are the days you remember.
Be prepared and get ready for your next adventure!