That buzz you’re hearing these days is the buzz of cabin fever. Spring is the time for cold-climate mountain bikers, eager to wear shorts and feel warm sunshine on their faces, to escape to a warmer climate for the first non-fatbike ride of the season, preferably on dry dirt. Whether it’s Sedona, Moab, Tucson or some other amazing place, you need a plan and you need a packing list.
Stay in a hotel or camp out, here’s what we recommend you take with you.
Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler 90L ($109): A spring mountain biking road trip requires a big gear hauler that is soft, lightweight, rugged and with a lot of cargo capacity. That’s why we recommend the Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler 90L. Every piece of gear on this list will fit inside and, when not in use, it packs conveniently into its own cube for storage. Padded side grab handles allow it to be carried like a big suitcase, making is easy to schlepp from car trunk to hotel room or campsite. Removable backpack straps allow it to be carried like a backpack for hands-free maneuverability when maneuvering longer distances. The Bi-Tec Armor Lite fabric is weather-resistant and comes with Eagle Creek’s lifetime warranty too.
Deuter Race EXP AIR ($108): My pick for the epic all-day ride? The Deuter Race EXP Air hydration pack. Its mesh straps and back panel allow for impressive air circulation making it an excellent choice for hot weather. With an adjustable sternum strap and mesh hip belt, it is a comfortable and stable pack in all cycling positions. It comes equipped with a voluminous 3.0-liter hydration bladder and offers twelve liters of cargo capacity. Inside the pack is a separate hydration bladder pocket and a roomy main compartment to hold snacks, first aid kit, or rain jacket. Outside the pack is a secure zippered pocket to hold quick-access items like tools. Additional features include a helmet attachment, an integrated raincover and two stretch side pockets to hold items like a water bottle or bike lock.
Pearl Izumi ELITE Escape 3/4 Tight ($140): We recommend these highly comfortable and very breathable tights for a spring mountain bike trip because they’re comfort-rated from 50 -70 degrees Fahrenheit. That happens to be the optimal daytime temperature for which all spring destination mountain bike trips aim. The high-density breathable chamois with a two-layer suspension core makes them incredibly comfortable for long days on singletrack. They are a bit longer than the standard capri, offering more leg protection. Silicone leg grippers hold them in place allowing you to focus on the trail, and avoid the dreaded “capri creep.”
Patagonia Dirt Craft Bike Shorts ($149): These comfortable and breathable shorts have the right amount of utility to makes them perfect for the destination spring mountain biking trip. The outer short has a DWR (durable water repellent) finish to make them water-resistant when riding in a rogue rain shower or when splashing through creeks. You can also ditch the inner liner and wear them as hiking shorts or over the Pearl Izumi ELITE Escape 3WQTR tights. The fit is outstanding thanks to the stretch material and an internal elastic adjustment system that helps reduce any back gap. They’re also knee-pad compatible and the front button is secured with sturdy webbing and large enough to fasten when wearing gloves.
Showers Pass Bamboo Merino Henley ($75): Cycling jerseys come in synthetic or natural fibers, like wool or bamboo. Natural fibers have anti-microbial properties, are moisture wicking, and can be used for a full week without requiring a wash. This saves money, reduces wear and tear on the garment and your water bill, making it good for the environment too. What we like about the Showers Pass Bamboo Merino Henley is that it is made from both merino wool and bamboo fibers, making it incredibly soft, comfortable and moisture wicking. Fit is more on the relaxed side so you can wear a long-sleeved baselayer underneath on cooler days or early morning rides. The cut is long and provides plenty of coverage in the back.
Pearl Izumi ELITE Pursuit SL Jersey ($90): This ultra-lightweight synthetic jersey has UPF 50+ sun protection and is developed with sweat-activated ELITE In-R-Cool fabric powered by Ice-fill to cool you down when the sun and your body heat up. Three back pockets are deep enough to carry three packets of Gu and an elastic hem keeps the jersey securely in place.
Camping on a destination mountain biking trip allows for a great deal of flexibility and cost savings as campgrounds are cheaper than hotels and tend to be closer to the mountain bike trails. Plus, if you opt for a semi-supported self-guided mountain bike ride, you’ll definitely want your own camping gear at night after riding all day.
Slumberjack SJK In-Season 2 Tent ($269): I like the Slumberjack SJK In-Season 2 tent because it has three doors, three vestibules and a full coverage, waterproof rain fly to keep out inclement weather. It has multiple ventilation options but still provides warmth and manages condensation. At 7lbs, 5ozs, it takes up minimal space in the car on the road trip out but still offers a roomy interior for you to stretch out comfortably at night. But the piece de resistance? You can convert the vestibule door into a shaded porch!
Osprey Mira AG 26L ($165): Because your spring destination mountain bike trip will take you someplace warm and beautiful, plan to spend a day or two out of the saddle hiking for a different view and experience. The Osprey Mira AG 26L the AG (“anti-gravity”) system is composed of a seamless suspended mesh back panel that does an excellent job of balancing the pack’s load and dispersing it so that you can move freely and not feel off-kilter or off-balance. The frame itself offers enough flex to allow the pack to move with your body but never enough to cause discomfort. Notable extras include a Hydrapak hydration bladder for easy drying and cleaning, comfortable and ergonomic shoulder straps and hip belt, outstanding ventilation and an integrated rain cover.
FIRST AID KIT
Adventure Medical Kits Mountain Backpacker Kit ($39): Should an injury occur on your hike, the AMK Mountain Backpacker Kit makes it easy to administer basic first aid. Organization in this kit is fantastic. The kit opens into a clam-shell design and treatment supplies are categorized according to the most common hiking injuries—wound care, burns and blisters, and cuts and scrapes—and the two methods with which to treat them—instruments and medication. The other benefit to this kit? It’s made of very durable materials and is compact enough to fit inside an Osprey Mira AG 26L (or equivalent size pack) and a Deuter Race EXP AIR.
Garmont Dragontail LT ($160): The Garmont Dragontail LT pulls double duty as an excellent light hiker for loose terrain and scrambling over rocks. Solid protection comes in the form of a 1.8mm water repellent suede upper, wrap-around rubber band and thick and durable midsole and outsole. Comfort-wise, the Dragontail delivers. Internal padded mesh lining and thick tongue provides all-day comfort and the heel-lock suspension and lace-to-toe closure system with both eyelets and webbing ensures an outstanding fit right out of the box.
Toad & Co Debug Trail Tights ($89): Enjoy a day hike, control odor and sweat and repel bugs! The Toad & Co Debug Trail Tights does it all. Literally. The polyester and spandex blend fabric, which is Buesign® approved, is treated with Insect Shield® Technology and Polygiene® to ward off bugs, control odor and wick moisture. A gusseted crotch and a flat, wide, comfortable waistband ensure comfort and allow for full range of motion when scrambling over rocks. The two pockets on the back, and the drop-in waistband pocket are nice touches, despite them not being functional for anything larger than a packet of GU or tube of lip balm. But comfort-wise, they can’t be beat. Also good for road trip out in the car and relaxing around the camp in the evenings.
Stoked Roaster Signature Blend Double Overhead ($15.50): A good day on the singletrack begins with a good cup of coffee, especially if you’re camping. Stoked Roasters roasts beans that are certified organic by the Oregon Department of Agriculture and have six Signature Series Blends in their line. My favorite is the Double Overhead. It’s a bold and rich French roast with hints of chocolate and other deliciousness. Though Stoked Roasters is a brick-and-mortar coffee shop in Hood River, OR, they do have a convenient subscription program to deliver fresh beans to your front door as often as you want.
Stoked Roaster Stoked Stix ($9.00 for pack of 8): The beauty of the Stoked Stix instant coffee packets are that you don’t need to pack a bean grinder on your trip, you can just boil hot water and begin your day right. The packets are lightweight and convenient—and instant. The beans are crushed into the finest of powder making it dissolve easily in boiling water. The taste and flavor is outstanding. It is not your grocery store Nescafe. Like all Stoked Roasters coffee, the Stoked Stix are made from 100% certified organic beans and they come in medium or dark roast.
Esbit Ultralight Titanium Solid Fuel Stove ($17.99): This tiny titanium stove, which is powered by solid fuel, literally fits in your pocket. It can also fit inside your hydration pack or daypack, allowing you to have a warm beverage on the trail. The stove is very simple in design, with three legs that fold out and a center tray to hold the solid fuel. You can use the stove with any aluminum or titanium pot. We used it with an aluminum coffee cup to boil water for a cup of Stoked Stix at camp and hot tea on a day hike. Depending on your elevation and the temperature, each solid fuel tablet will burn from 10 to 15 minutes. Any solid fuel that is not used can be extinguished and used later, too.
UCO Rhody + Hang-out Lantern ($49.99): You can hang this handy compact lantern anywhere via its magnetic lanyard hanging system—from a tree at your campsite, inside your tent, inside your car. It runs on a rechargeable Lithium Ion battery and provides up to 130 lumens of light that is adjustable via an attractive wood inlay dial. It also has a USB output so you can charge your phone.
GSI Stainless Steel 64oz Growler ($54.95): No spring destination mountain bike trip is complete without tasty craft beer from the local brewpub. I like the GSI Stainless Steel Growler for many reasons. I can fill it and take it back to camp or the hotel, its vacuum insulation keeps the beer cold and carbonated, it is airtight to maintain the beer’s flavor and it’s good for the environment because you’re not creating empty bottles and cans. And if beer isn’t your thing, it works equally well for wine, water or hot beverages like tea and coffee.