Tips, Tricks and Tools

As I was watching my riding buddy cruise back home this afternoon (with a missing bolt in his rear suspension), it got me thinking about some conversations I've had with members regarding what tools and equipment to bring along on rides, and I thought I'd share what's in my pack on any given ride.

This page is aimed at providing some suggestions for things to carry when riding, that will help you, or someone around you have a good time. I'll break down my pack as an example, and add good suggestions later.

I carry everything shown here on EVERY ride.

The Pack:

Camelbak MULE (or equivalent):

I carry a lot of stuff (tools, food, first aid gear, cell phone and extra layers) and I want to carry it in comfort, the Mule has been my go-to pack for years, and it has always worked out for me.

Protection: Clear Glasses

You like your eyes? Cover them. Most New England trails are overgrown with all manor of sharp things, and a LOT of the mud we ride through isn't exactly Kosher. You don't want it in your eye. Most folks will have something sharp/nasty/alive stuck in their eye at some point. You don't want this badge of honor. It sucks.

The Tools:

Spare tube and pump

I run tubeless tires, but there are PLENTY of ways a tubeless setup can fail, and at the end of the day, the extra weight of a tube and pump is nothing compared to walking out of the woods during blackfly season!

Tire Irons (see photo below)

You'll need three of them. Trust me. No. Don't listen to that guy who says 'you can do it with two'... you'll break one. Then you're walking. Three.

Chain-tool (top left)

These are sometimes built into multi-tools but those ones always suck, and never work right. I carry a dedicated Park CT-5 ( MINI-BRUTE chain tool just to make sure I don't have to fight with my chain any more than necessary.

Allen Wrench Set - (middle left)

1.5mm, 2mm, 2.5mm, 3mm, 4mm, 5mm, and 6mm, 8mm

This is a must-have... no one should be in the woods without this set (or similar)

Spoke Wrench(s)

Wheels take a LOT of abuse in New England, and they are often knocked out of true by a nasty fall... having a spoke wrench (and SOME idea of how to use it) will prevent a long walk back to the car

Leatherman (or Equivalent)

Multi-tools are great... but they don't have pliers. Pliers are pretty handy. As are knives, saws, awls, screwdrivers, can-openers, and chisels. Not sure about the chisel... haven't used that yet I guess. But I HAVE used all the other tools. Bring them.

Park TB-2 Tire Boots (inside patch)

These guys can be used to repair that damaged sidewall (that you just cut open on some nice sharp shale), OR it can be used to seal up a tubeless tire well enough to get you home. I carry two, along with some paper-towels to wipe down the sealent from the inside of my tire. You want the tire surface to be as clean as possible when you install these, so paper-towels are a good idea.

SRAM PowerLinks

These are the gold chain-links you see in this image along the top. They are used to reconnect a chain that has broken apart on the trail. They are cheap, and VERY easy to use. I recommend you carry at least TWO at all times.

Shimano Chain Pins

I don't use Shimano chains, but many people do. I carry these for you. You are welcome. :-)

Spare Bolts (assorted)

I've lost enough hardware on the trail that I now carry a few extra bolts (M5, M6, and those three on the right are shoe-cleat screws which always seem to fall out at the wrong time)

Zip Ties (AKA Cable Ties)

Just a handing thing to have... they are useful for tying up that busted-part-that-you-can't-fix. Often these are used to secure derailleurs or busted brake parts.

Little Roll of Duct Tape (I prefer Guerrilla Tape)

Useful for fixing tires, and patching up seething chest wounds. You can't predict WHEN you'll need it, you just will.

First Aid


Sorry kids, but what is yours-and-sticky is not for me to touch. Blood, guts, etc are all bad and can transmit disease. Carry some cheap rubber gloves, they are useful to wear directly, and also to use as a way to treat a wound. Carry two pair, obviously.

Tweezers & Light

If you decide not to wear those glasses at the top of the list, you may end up having someone shine this light in your eye as they fish out that still-buzzing black fly. The tweezers are most often used for tick removal.

Butterfly Bandages

Just in case you encounter something sharp and immovable, these are (literally) a life-saver.

Benadryl & Aspirin (not shown)

Benadryl can help someone with a Bee-allergy if they get stung. They SHOULD have an EPI-pen with them, but if they don't this could help

Aspirin? Not for your sore knees! For a heart attack. Might give you some time to get to the hospital... don't hesitate.

Gauze & Tape

Heavy bleeding is a dangerous trailside condition... these may help you stem the tide and get the injured person to the ambulance.

Honorable Mention (not currently carried by me)

Quick Clot first Aid Sponge:

These products come in various forms, this one is a sponge that is laced with the clotting compound (used by the US Military). VERY helpful in bad situations.