Here’s everything you’ll need for an adventure riding trip
© Ibis Cycles
Get ready for your first offroad biking adventure with our guide to the essential pieces of kit that you'll need for your journey.
Are you thinking of expanding your horizons and want to explore roads not covered in tarmac? Have you got that desire to explore the unknown? To go off the beaten track?
Thought so, but are you unsure about what exactly you need to go on your adventure? Here’s a rundown of the key bits of kit you’ll need to leave the grey top behind and explore the country trails.
Getting off the beaten track used to mean deciding between a mountain bike and… well, that was it, really. Road bikes, even with wider tyres, historically weren’t really made for taking on gravel surfaces, even if you did fit the widest tyres possible to your wheelset. In the present, gravel bikes have come along to fill the gap between mountain bikes and road machines.
Gravel bikes generally come with a more forgiving geometry, while they boast bags of tyre clearance for keep the ride as smooth as possible. Some feature additional technologies to help smooth the ride further, for example, Specialized’s Future Shock suspension unit.
Because gravel and adventure riding can be what you want it to be, the ‘rules’ surrounding clothing are equally relaxed. So, you can opt for tighter-fitting road-like kit, or for more relaxed, looser-fitting kit.
Key features to look out for include a forgiving cut and fit, with plenty of pocket space for easy-access storage. You may opt for bib shorts or looser waist shorts, but consider the coverage you’re getting – you may wish to wear knee or leg warmers, or a thermal three-quarter or long tight underneath for added protection.
How much storage you need will depend on how long you’ll be away from base for, but as you’ll need to be self-supported, you’ll want to make sure that you have enough for a full day’s excursion. This means that your normal saddle bag probably won’t cut it.
You can outfit your gravel bike with additional storage options, including Specialized’s SWAT compartments for spares on its Diverge gravel bike, as well as add-ons including full saddle and handlebar packs. In some cases, you might even fit a rack in order to carry larger items such as lightweight camping gear.
Sometimes on-the-bike storage just isn’t enough, in which case a backpack might be necessary to carry all you need for a weekend trip away.
While it needs to be big enough to store your essentials, bear in mind that it shouldn’t be so big that it stops you riding your bike safely. So, think about the profile it has on the bike, and the support it gives. Does it clip around your chest and waist for a more secure fit? And, does it feature an air circulation system in the back, and holes for hydration packs?
While on the road, a simple road-going GPS bike computer can be enough to find your way. Off road, gravel tracks and trails aren’t always marked, so a more robust GPS device is recommended. You may have such software on your smartphone, but remember that these usually rely upon 3G signal to load maps.
Therefore, a dedicated GPS unit with detailed navigation maps is a good idea so you can follow a planned route even off road. Alternatively, of course, if you prefer not to rely upon technology, a waterproof map and compass is an essential to make sure you can find where you are.
Finally, always ensure that you have plenty of drinking water. Out in the wilderness, you should always look for faster running water if you run low and require a refill for your bottles and don’t have access to a fresh water tap, but that doesn’t always guarantee clean water.
As a result, you should always keep a pack of water purification tablets sealed in a bag so you can sanitise water before drinking.
Spares and Equipment
When you’re going off the beaten track, the reality is that you’ll be further away from assistance than you might have been on the road. You need to be self-sufficient away from civilisation, carrying enough spares to see you through multiple potential incidents.
This means, alongside key clothing, you’ll want to carry the following as a minimum:
- Two spare tubes
- Puncture repair kit
- Strong tyre levers
- Battery charge pack
- Plenty of high-energy food
Also, you need think about how long you’ll be riding for. Do you need to carry a tent for an overnight shelter? Packable sleeping bag? A fire starter pack? All need to be carried with you if you’re going unsupported.