Spend one hour in the saddle using the wrong gear, and you may never climb on your mountain bike again. A few essentials—gloves, a helmet, clothes that can get dirty, and a good dose of courage and stamina—can make all the difference. The below five fat-tire friendly products rise to the fore as some of the most essential gear for all manner of mountain biking, from downhill plummets to free-ride acrobatics to quad-punishing cross-country rides.
The perfect mountain biking pack almost defies description: you want something that’s svelte and low-profile so you don’t feel off-balance while swinging through singletrack. But you need something that can carry your tools, food, layers, and oddball sundries. No pack has achieved that Platonic ideal quite yet, but Osprey’s Escapist 20 comes damn close. The panel-loading backpack boasts a breathable ventilated harness, with a mesh hip belt, a hydration sleeve, twin water bottle mesh pockets, and a discrete, stowable rain cover. Inside the front panel, you find a cache of storage options that cater to bike tools, while the main compartment offers cavernous storage for the bigger items like a jacket or vest. As with most cycle-specific Osprey packs, the Escapist has also been outfitted with a LiftLock helmet attachment (which slips through the helmet’s vents to be easily carried) and a strap for clipping on a flashing light—features that make this pack ideal for commuting as well as mountain biking.