You only need to experience the dread of not having that chain breaker tool once, snapping your chain 10km / 6 miles into your singletrack loop, before you make sure that you double check your mountain bike pack contents, before going out on your ride.


Lesson learned.


Or that other time when you smash your derailleur into 3 precious pieces, holding them in your hand, willing them to magically form back into that precision engineering, that only an XTR derailleur knows – before fashioning a single speed marvel and limping back to the car park.


Being prepared goes without saying, especially when launching into some unknown loop or point-to-point ride, on your search for singletrack. A careful selection of tools and equipment can make all the difference between a minor setback and a major rescue mission.


Being a big fan of luggage, packs and bags, I am always interested in tweaking the contents to get the right mix of useful gear. Equipment and tools that can get you out of the more common mountain bike mechanical’s on the trail, without being excessive or weighty.


Below is a snapshot of what currently resides in my pack, ideal for most rides. These are my essential items.



1. Camelbak MULE (circa. 2003)

This pack has been ideal both from a functional and reliability level. Features a 3L water bladder, various zip compartments and storage to carry all the items featured, plus additional room for a light rain jacket. An overview on mountain bike packs can be found here.

2. Spare Tube

I still run tubes and despite the weight, tubed tyres have provided minimal problems. I carry 1 tube on all rides and 2 tubes on longer, all day rides.

3. First Aid Kit

A very basic first aid kit, with Savlon, gauze pads and tape.

4. Bandage

All purpose bandage for a variety of injury uses.

5. Mini Pump

Pump with both presta and schraeder valve connections.

6. SRAM Powerlink

Easy and faster to repair a broken/snapped chain than a chain breaker, the SRAM powerlink is a worthy addition to your kit.

7. Set of Brake Pads

These are a pair of Avid brake pads, that while not essential for short rides, they are a useful spare for longer all day rides.

8. Rear Derailleur Hanger

The rear hanger is a just in case spare. To avoid being stranded and having to hike it back, halfway into your 40km epic ride.

9. Adjustable Spanner/Wrench

All purpose spanner

10. Set of Tyre Levers (3)


11. Puncture Repair Kit


12. Multi Tool with Chain Breaker

Ideal multi-tool that is compact with the inclusion of a chain breaker.

13. Energy Bars

These Winners bars are surprisingly good and available in Australian supermarkets. Other better tasting bars include Torq or Cliff bars.

14. Gels

For that quick burst of energy, gels provide a welcomed and effective boost. Try a  couple of brands to see what works best.

15. Cable Ties & Wire

The perfect complement to many on-trail repair work, cable ties and wire will get you out of a surprising number of situations – almost MacGyver like in their execution.


Other items not pictured but are also packed on most rides includes phone, wallet and keys.


What are your thoughts? Any items that you ride with that have become essential or have gotten you out of trouble? Please share your comments below.




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12 Responses to What are You Packing? 15 Useful Items for Your Mountain Bike Pack

  1. Luke says:

    Glad you like the bars. You can find them in bulk at our website ( as well as our range of energy gels and chews. Happy Cycling!

  2. Jason says:

    Dude, that’s a lot of crap to take with you. Drop your first aid kit. It’s so basic that anything fixed by it could easily be ridden out on. Look at your brake pads before you go out, the don’t go bad without warning. Leave your spares at home. You might need a spanner if you have bolt-on wheels. In that case, just bring the size you need. Not adjustable. Bring either a puncture repare kit or a spare tube – not both. I would go for a spare tube. I can’t see any reason for cable ties or a spare cable. You just cut your pack weight in half.

    • Malcolm says:

      Thanks Jason for your comment. There is no doubt i could drop the brake pads and spanner, but would still prefer the first aid kit and repair kit – minimal weight issues from my end. Cable ties have saved me on a number of occasions – again no issue with weight for these.

  3. Wanginit says:

    What to take depends on the proximity to assistance or self recovery and the risk they are prepared to take on. In the past I have ridden alone in areas away from mobile coverage at times, something I would prefer to avoid theses days. I have also had walk for 10 km plus due exhausting the spare tube supply.
    My first aid kit include a space blanket (protection from the elements), 15 cm elasticised bandage (snake bite), triangular bandage (for immobilisation/support), compressed wound dressing (penetrating wound or laceration) and a pair of protective gloves . Its all over the top until you really need it. None of it might be needed if riding with buddies not far from help. I consider this kit incomplete for more remote areas, a GPS EPIRB is on my shopping list (also considering the SPOT system).

    • Malcolm says:

      Good points. The risk of snake bite is certainly very high in Australia, having come across several venomous snakes on the trails in summer, on multiple occasions. At the end of the day, take what you think you need to get you out of trouble, based on the trail conditions, geography and distance.

  4. Sue says:

    I always take a first aid kit, and while (fortunately) I rarely use it for first aid issues, I once did a bit of a MacGyver and fixed my mates broken spoke with a band-aid. I also carry salt and a cigarette lighter in case of leeches, because I HATE those suckers.

  5. Neil says:

    I’m an XC rider (170-200 km per week) My friends tease me because I pack a lot. It adds to the weight, but I don’t have to worry so much. I’d add:
    1. Duct tape – yet another MacGyver cure-all. Stronger than micropore tape too.
    2. Baby wipes. For when you “have to go” and need something to wipe with. They also come in handy for first-aid clean ups.
    3. Spare AAA batteries for my lights.
    4. Spare spokes.
    5. Life-straw (google it) and water purifying tablets. It gets hot in this part of the world, and I’ve often come close to running out of water. It helps to be able to clean up some water.
    6. Compass and a photocopied map of where I’m riding. (What you gonna do if you break your fancy GPS?)
    7. Wet chain lube and a rag. Many times I’ve crossed a creek and got mud / sand in my drive train. Wiping the chain with a rag, and greasing it up with wet lube keeps me moving.
    8. Box of matches wrapped in plastic.
    9. Two large garbage bags rolled up. They don’t take up much space and can be used as an emergency poncho if you get caught out at night. You can also use them as thigh-high boots to cross a cold creek without getting wet.
    10. Whistle – tied to the strap of my Camelbak. In case I have to get rescued, or to get someone’s attention.

    • Malcolm says:

      Thanks Neil for your list – bag contents can be very individual and personal, but can be helpful for riders to see what other riders are packing. Thanks for the heads up on the life Straw.

  6. Shep says:

    Snake compression bandage is a must.

    • Malcolm says:

      Totally agree.

      Just came across a brown snake on the trail today and was 10Km out. That bandage is certainly going to buy time to get back into town.

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