- Buyer's Guide
Spending a weekend mountain biking can become an odd mix of situations. Rain at camp. Mud on the trails. The sun beating overhead. Starry skies at night. With all of these things in mind, and then some, our chosen mountain bike accessories can become unwieldy, requiring everything for on the bike, off the bike, and whatever may be in between. We want to highlight some of the very best mountain bike accessories we’ve tested for these adventures. Some are obvious, and some are not, but every item in this list is something we’ve found useful over many trips this Summer.
Stay safe, stay hydrated, stay dry, and enjoy the ride.
Mountain Bike Accessories | Gear Transport and Hauling
Carryology Credential: The most advanced bike rack in the world.
What’s the most important thing for your mountain bike adventures? Well… it’s your bike! The Piston Pro X by Kuat is the best way to get your bike from your home to the trailhead. I’ve rocked a Kuat Sherpa for many years, so I had no hesitation about upgrading my hitch with the Piston Pro X.
The stars of the show here are the Kashima-coated, hydro-pneumatic arms. I could pop and close the OneTap levers and arms all day. I’ve never had so much fun with a bike rack. However, their real purpose is for smooth, one-handed operation. One tap (hence the name) and your hydro-pneumatic driven arms open with a “pop shhhh”. It’s incredibly satisfying. The Kashima coating makes sure your rack continues to work as hard as you do for years to come, and let’s be honest, it looks great.
Even with a full set of bikes on the Piston, you’ll still have no problem accessing your trunk. The hand and foot lever tilts the entire rack, bikes included, down and out of the way. I use this feature all of the time – mostly after I’ve loaded my bike and forgot to throw something into the car. It would be really cool to have this also be piston-driven, but I wouldn’t want to think about the additional cost.
Kuat never sleeps on security. Both the rack itself and your bikes will be safe when out of sight. The rear of the rack contains an embedded tool that you need to remove to adjust the rack. This tool is held in place by a magnet and secured with lock-and-key. This same key is also used to lock and unlock your bikes with the included 12mm security cable. This cable is a huge improvement over the one I used on the Sherpa, being almost twice as thick. The outer coating is also a nice touch, so you won’t have to worry about any wear on your bike’s paint job.
One really nifty feature that everyone around you will appreciate are the integrated tail lights. Your vehicle does need to be wired for these, but it solved one of my main complaints of almost every other bike rack on the market; they block your tail and brake lights.
I really can’t get over how nice the Piston Pro X is. Every time I pull up to the trailhead a few people always want to check it out, especially after they see (or hear) the OneTap levers. Little do they know that my riding skills don’t match my sweet bike rack.
Check it out for yourself.
Carryology Credential: Stink-free gear hauling, made in the USA.
If you’re one to keep your riding gear in the car at all times, then this is the bag for you. The High Above Lost Lake Duffel, which originally launched on Kickstarter, is back after a short hiatus. Made from Phifertex®️, the duffel lets your gear breathe and dry out while never letting odors or sweat seep into the material.
An added bonus to the stink-free mesh is that you can see all of your items at a glance. No more wondering if you remembered to pack your shoes or helmet. Though, who needs to wonder when you’re the one hauling your kit around all summer?
The Lost Lake Duffel is all function. It’s no-frills and sets out exactly what it was designed to do; haul stinky gear. At 32L, it holds everything I need to hop on the trail at any time. You’ll find two pockets on the barrel ends of the bag, which are where I usually stash my gloves or glasses case.
You don’t even need an adventure for this one – it’s my favorite everyday gear hauler.
Carryology Credential: Hyper organization for every bit of your gear.
This is your dedicated adventure duffel. The Thule RoundTrip is the Type-A rider’s dream bag. There’s a spot for everything in your kit, and some spots are even already labeled. The sunglasses sleeve is felt-lined and padded. The entire left side of the bag is dedicated to your helmet. Dirty gear spots for shoes or socks and clothing are lined with tarpaulin for easy wipe-downs. The front zipper pocket even has elastic loops for tubes and other bike tools.
I love the U-shaped opening, which presents all of my gear when open. There’s no digging for anything, no searching around for my GPS which was hiding underneath my shoe. Everything has its place, from my water bottles and hydration supplements to my tools and repair bits. At 50L, the RoundTrip easily holds a weekend’s worth of riding gear. I found it a little big to keep in my car for post-work rides, but it was the hero of the day any time longer trips were involved.
Mountain Bike Accessories | Back Carry Solutions
Carryology Credential: Sleek, highly tuned hydration carry with enough room for a full day on the trails.
This is the most stylish hydration pack in existence. The team at Mission Workshop never compromises between sleek lines and hyper functionality. It’s what’s made them one of the standout cycling brands over the past decade. The Hauser was introduced as part of their Acre line which was originally oriented towards mountain bikers, but now encompasses their entire cycling-specific line of clothing and goods.
The Hauser is the bag I take when I plan on a full day of riding without stops back at the trailhead. In these cases, I usually want to keep a hydration bladder on hand instead of water bottles (or on top of water bottles), and I want a few things on me just in case of any whoopsies around the corner. There’s a significant amount of pocketing on the Hauser, so you know exactly where to stash your first aid kit or your tool kit. As a bonus, you get an included tool roll that stashes neatly into the front vertical zip pocket. It’s also super comfortable, and the oddly shaped hip pads may look a bit off at first but they really help with overall ride comfort and increased adjustability of the belt and shoulder straps.
The Mission Workshop Hauser is available in both a 10L and 14L size. I usually opt for the 10L, but if you’re someone who carries a bit more than the usual rider, or you’re expecting poor weather, then maybe grab the 14L before your next excursion.
Carryology Credential: Unrivaled waterproof protection and comfort for your most valuable equipment.
The Ortlieb Atrack BP isn’t the bag I grab most often, but it’s certainly one of the bags I’m most glad that I own. While many hip bags and backpacks on this list are highly water resistant, and waterproof in some ways, the Atrack BP is the only 100% waterproof body-worn bag on this list. Just due to the nature of working on pieces like this, it’s very common for me to take camera gear and electronics onto the trails, and this lets me do it with peace of mind regardless of the weather or trail conditions.
The harness is a brilliantly engineered assembly of hard and soft goods. The super plush straps and lumbar pad sit on stepless rails that let you dial in the perfect fit with plenty of airflow. The main access is actually behind this harness, which is a unique approach that keeps the waterproof IP67-rated zipper facing down and away from the elements. Even the hydration port stays completely plugged unless you need it.
On the exterior, laser-cut daisy chains allow you to lash your helmet and other gear, while the bottle pockets stay flush and out of the way until in use. The inside is mostly a black hole besides a few flanking zippered sleeves on either side of the main compartment. This was actually my only complaint about the bag – the interior sleeves do sort of get in the way. However, any brave soul could solve that issue in a few moments if really desired.
The Atrack BP is not only one of my favorite bags for bikepacking, it’s just one of my favorite bags for outdoor excursions in general, especially when I plan on being near water or in adverse weather.
Carryology Credential: Function over all else for adventure racing and speed demons.
I am not fast enough to wear this bag. The USWE Hajker 18 is a finely tuned hydration pack for those who spend more time on the trail than they do at home. Every curve, every articulation point, is designed with the intent to keep the bag hugging your body, bounce-free, at all times. This is the bag you grab for weekend-long adventure races through the mountains, or long descents that send you bouncing everywhere.
The USWE harness is as if Mystery Ranch’s Futura had a child with an F1 seat belt. It’s comfortable, secure, and like something out of a sci-fi flick. If you need extra support (or storage), the optional hip belt is substantial and has a quick-access pocket on either side. The internal dry bag keeps your essentials dry, and the roll top keeps your gear secure without any risk of dust and debris from your gnarly ride. Hydration bladders can be stored in the insulated sleeve, or throw your water bottles into the side pockets. When you’re finally done, strap your helmet to the included helmet hammock and take a well-deserved rest.
USWE offerings are some of the most unique adventure packs out there. If the Hajker 18 is too large, or too small, check out the rest of their impressive lineup to find something uniquely yours.
Mountain Bike Accessories | Hip Carry Solutions
Carryology Credential: The classic fanny pack for the modern rider; bombproof with waterproof materials.
The High Above Venture is the hip pack I use almost every time I ride. It’s perfect for after-work rips or rides where you want to stay light and fast. The Fidlock Hook and flap closure means the contents stay dry on rainy days but are quickly accessible without fumbling around with a zipper. This even makes gloved access easy and painless. There is a single AquaGuard zip pocket under the flap, which I like to stash my phone in.
The slim and tall build keeps the bag closer to your body for a more comfortable carry. Even packed up, the weight of the bag stays snug against your lumbar rather than feeling like it’s hanging off, like some larger hip packs. You can also opt for upgrades like a Fidlock V-Buckle or AustriAlpin Cobra Buckle for the waist strap. Or, even better, grab the Quick Draw edition for a nifty Fidlock twist bottle holder.
I think High Above makes the best bespoke hip packs on the market. Whether you opt for the Venture or any of their other hip-based offerings, the build quality and materials will instill confidence for even the roughest of rides, for years to come.
Carryology Credential: German engineering you can wear on your butt.
Want the most comfortable hip pack on the market? This is it. The Ergon BA Hip Pack has a wonderfully wide, well-padded hip belt. First, it’s secured with a strip of Velcro to set the padding, and then it’s tightened over the top with a side release buckle. It’s not the quickest thing to put on or remove, but the important thing is the experience while riding, and it’s simply unmatched. To top it off, the lumbar area is padded in a way to set it slightly off of the back, like some backpack back panels. It’s a breathable, well-ventilated hip pack, which is rare, or maybe even unique. Oh, and the backing material doesn’t absorb your sweat.
The other unique bit about the BA is the ratchet compression. Think about the Boa system you see on some shoes, and strap it to the front of a hip pack. You often don’t see compression systems on hip packs, since they can add bulk and weight, but Ergon has come up with an ingenious (and on brand) way to solve that problem. It helps keep the contents closer to your back during your ride, which always feels more comfortable and balanced.
The BA also brings some pretty unique organization to your hips. On one side there’s a mesh zip pocket for snacks, and on the other there’s a pretty interesting phone pocket. It has a padded piece of foam that keeps your screen a bit away from your body. The inside of the bag has a few small zip pockets including a security pocket, and it also supports a hydration bladder if that’s your thing.
The Ergon BA is one of the most unique hip packs out there. So if you want something crazy comfortable, yet a bit different, you owe it to yourself to check it out.
Carryology Credential: The everyman’s riding hip pack, with back-sweat-free hydration.
If you can’t decide which hip pack is for you, let me save you some time; this is the hip pack for you. The newly updated Seral 7 is everything you need in a riding hip pack. The hip belt is wide, comfortable, and slip-free. The back panel is well vented and doubles down on anti-slippage. The whole thing is like wearing a breathable hug.
The four-point compression system pulls the pack, and its contents, into your lumbar. This gives a huge boost to stability and prevents the pack from dangling off your back, especially when loaded up. Speaking of which, the Seral 7 can hold a 1.5L bladder in the main compartment for those hot days. This is also where I like to keep the usual on-trail items like tools, a small pump, and a med kit.
The front pocket has a few pockets, including one for your phone or sunglasses. On either side of the pack you’ll find a zip pocket for trail snacks.
I really enjoy the overall size and format of the Seral 7. It holds everything you’ll need for a day on the trail but easily compresses down for shorter rides. The team at Osprey knows how to make a hip pack, and this offering is no different.
Mountain Bike Accessories | Personal Protection
Carryology Credential: High-tech brain protection dialed up to 11 with Rapha style.
This Rapha variant of the Smith Forefront 2 is a great way to match up your kit, including the sunglasses listed below. Not only does it match up aesthetically, but physically as well – the sunglasses dock perfectly in the front eyelets
If you haven’t upgraded to a MIPS helmet yet, this is a great excuse to do so. MIPS stands for Multi-Directional Impact Protection System, and it helps protect from various rotational forces when you inevitably find yourself rubber up. A helmet is the one thing to never skimp on; protect that brain.
I’ve gone through dozens of helmets over the years, from many brands, and I think this is probably the most comfortable I’ve ever had on my noggin. The way it keeps sweat out of your eyes is wonderful, and it breathes while not giving up any ground for protection.
Carryology Credential: Premium, wrap-around full frames to protect and enhance your vision.
Ever put on a new pair of sunglasses and feel like they just enhance the world around you? The Rapha Pro Teams are crystal clear, and they’re designed to enhance the contrast of what’s in front of you. This makes the trail, and potential hazards, pop. It’s truly something you have to see for yourself.
Full frames are always my preference on harder days, as they offer a bit more protection. On some glasses, a full frame can impede vision, but Rapha’s offering has a wide wrap-around lens, so you barely notice it’s there, if at all. The frame is also super comfortable, with two swappable nose pieces and extra-grippy arms. For late days, the Pro Team comes with a clear lens that you can easily swap in without tools.
Add in a matching Rapha x Smith helmet so you can dock your glasses during those mid-ride rallies.
Carryology Credential: Frameless, best bang-for-buck riding glasses on the market.
I have a lot of sunglasses, and almost half of them are Tifosi. Why? Because they’re the best value sunglasses on the market. I’ve yet to find a better balance of performance to cost. I even have two pairs of these, one with Tifosi’s Fototec (transition-style) lenses, which I prefer for the trail, and another with darker smoke lenses, which I prefer for the road. Both can swap lenses to any other, including an included clear lens.
The full wraparound lens gives you solid protection against dirt, debris, and the random insect. They’re crystal clear and really wonderful to view the world through. The frameless design makes swapping them a breeze, and keeps the air flowing to avoid any potential fogging on muggy days.
The Tifosi Rail series comes in a number of different frame and lens combos to best suit your style and the road in front of you.
Carryology Credential: Purpose-fit wind jacket that comes along for the ride.
I’m the guy that heads out for a ride and regrets not taking a layer just as soon as he’s too far to turn back. The Rapha Trail Lightweight Jacket makes me think twice about that. Being true to its namesake, it’s lightweight and super packable. It would easily fit into a small bidon, your jersey pocket, or your hip pack. If you’re really running light, you can even strap it to your bike thanks to the included lashing strap and reinforced attachment on the jacket itself.
This windproof shell is purpose-built for riding. The hood easily fits over most trail helmets, and the ripstop nylon ensures you won’t have to worry about durability through unkempt trails.
While this is decidedly a riding jacket, I’ve come to love it for any outdoor activity, even just around town. Like all Rapha gear, it’s stylish, with unique accents where least expected, like the reflective armband and the high-contrast orange branding on the inside of the tail.
Price: From $19.99
Carryology Credential: All-day comfort for your feet, made from durable, odor-resistant wool.
If you’re wearing cotton socks, stop it. Stop it. The first time you wear a great pair of wool socks you’ll go home, throw out your entire sock drawer, and never look back. For cycling, the Swiftwick Pursuit Ultralight has been my go-to as of late. They’re a next-to-skin fit, and they’re unpadded so you’re able to keep things tight and tactile when on the trail.
The best part about the Swiftwick collection is that I’ve never had to replace a pair over the last year. I can’t really say that for many of the other brands I’ve rocked.
Carryology Credential: Effective protection from the sun, before, after, and during your ride.
Yes, even in the woods you’re getting a ton of sun. Keep one of these in your bag and never ride without coverage. The Dermatone offerings are great because they come in a number of shapes, sizes, and mediums. Personally, I’m a fan of the stick. It’s quick and easy and I don’t have to get my hands all oily in the process. I even keep an extra with me on longer rides if I need to re-apply.
Mountain Bike Accessories | Self Care & Emergency
Carryology Credential: CBD-based anti-inflammatory relief for your joints and aging bits.
I’ve got a bad knee, and so far, this is the best way I’ve found to keep that pain from creeping in while I’m riding. While CBD is seemingly in everything nowadays, it’s really been great for my personal pain management. The anti-inflammatory nature of the cream lets my knee keep kicking for hours, and I usually don’t have to resort to over-the-counter options like ibuprofen.
If the cream isn’t your jam, or your pain is a bit less targeted, there are options like tinctures and even gummies.
Carryology Credential: A life-saving device that you’ll use every day.
This was one of my unexpected additions to this list. After testing it over this summer, I’m inclined to suggest this as an essential part of everyone’s kit. The Somewear Global Hotspot, a consumer-friendly satellite device, is convenience and lifesaving in one.
Most days, you’ll be using the Somewear for communication when off-grid; texting a loved one, checking a map or the weather. You can even leave it connected and the application will use cellular when available, saving satellite data. On the worst days, and hopefully never, the Somewear can send an SOS signal to coordinate emergency response services anywhere in the world.
If you’re often out in the wilderness, or just away from cell service, the Somewear Global Hotspot is a must-have.
Mountain Bike Accessories | After-ride Essentials
Carryology Credential: Full wool slipper that keeps your feet dry and warm for post-ride libations.
Slippers. Yes, slippers. Those feet just pounded pedals for miles, so give ‘em a break. Glerups come in a number of styles, all with one thing in common; they’re made from 100% pure natural wool. We use wool t-shirts, socks, underwear – why not shoes and slippers?
While the original leather soled Glerups are an indoor shoe, the natural rubber sole version works great at the trailhead and at camp. If you’re looking for the most comfortable thing to put on your foot after a long day, these are it.
Carryology Credential: Sustainably made, sugarcane-based foam, washable, breathable sneaker.
In stark contrast to our other option, these are recovery shoes with activity in mind. Take your typical, boring, molded rubber shoe, and dial it up to 11. The Kane Revive is a sneaker hybrid that aids with your post-ride recovery and won’t look off around town either.
The Revive is breathable, well cushioned, well supportive, and even easily washable. To tie it all off, it’s made from bouncy, 100% Brazilian sugarcane.
Price: From $34.96
Carryology Credential: Change out of those bibs in comfort, without sharing too much with the crew.
Nobody likes sitting around in sweaty clothing, so I’ve been rocking Nomadix gear in my bag all summer. The Original Towel has been my do-all travel and adventure towel. It packs up small for its loft and size, so it’s easy to keep in the car or pack in almost any bag. Most of the time, I’m using it post-ride to stand around when I change into something a bit more comfortable.
Speaking of changing, the Changing Poncho has been a huge hit, mostly from riders happy that they no longer have to hope that I won’t accidentally flash them as I struggle with a towel around my waist. It’s big and roomy, leaving you ample room to change underneath, comfortably, without fear of exposure. On some cooler nights, I’ve just kept it on to stay cozy.
I’ve been really happy with both items from Nomadix, and there are plenty of designs to choose from.
Mountain Bike Accessories | Overnight Necessities
Carryology Credential: Lightweight, packable tent for sleeping or just hanging out.
Want a lightweight tent that doesn’t require you to mess around with hiking poles or floorless designs? Enter the Telos TR2 by Sea to Summit. When we first saw this tent at Outdoor Retailer 2021 we were incredibly impressed. Super lightweight, roomy, and easy to put up and take down. This is what we were looking for in an everyday tent, for backpacking, or otherwise.
Now, you may ask why you need a lightweight tent for camping out at the trailhead. For me, I almost always prefer a tent I can backpack with, as the trailhead very often requires some travel to get to, so I may not have access to my vehicle for the weekend. That’s the crux of much of the gear in this article – it’s not always car camping. The Telos is very easy to strap to my bike or pack when I need to.
Circling back on the ease of setup, the Telos design really makes it painless and foolproof. The amazing light yet strong DAC combines into one single unit – no more finagling with two to four sets of poles, figuring out which goes where. That goes doubly true due to everything being color coated – blue to blue, silver to silver. If you’re unsure which direction something goes, which is all too common when setting up a tent, just check the color markers. Every pole has a place.
One of the more unexpected things I’ve found with the Telos is just how roomy it is. It’s roomier than most 3P tents I’ve tried, and it still remains lighter and more compact. The biggest change here from other designs is the inverse set of poles that create your headspace. The amount of space you gain from avoiding the typical dome shape cannot be overstated enough. This is especially true on weekend adventures where you’ll want a place to change out of wet and muddy clothing.
The other cool feature of the Telos, one that we didn’t make much use of, is the hangout mode. The hangout mode takes the poles and rain tarp while ditching the main tent body in order to make a tarped area to hang out under. After a long day of riding, you’ll often want to escape the sun, or maybe get out of the rain. The only reason we didn’t use this mode was that it required you to break down your tent, and once my tent is set up there’s a very slim chance I’m taking it apart until it’s time to head out. This mode is definitely better suited to non-overnight endeavors where you’ll be hanging out for a few hours rather than a few nights.
The Telos TR2 is one of the best do-all tents I’ve ever tried. Though a tad pricey, I think it’s worth the extra cash if you’re going to be utilizing it a few times a year. It’s bikeable, backpackable, and car-campable, and it does all of those things really well.
Carryology Credential: A headlamp high beam that’ll help you see and be seen.
While we obviously recommend headlights for your bike for those evening rides, and since we’re targeting this guide at multi-day outings, it’s easy to forget you’ll be spending time off of your bike, and walking around with bike lights is awkward at best. The BioLite series of headlamps are some of our favorites; they’re sleek and comfortable, and they perform great. The 750 is the biggest one of the bunch, and we love how much of a punch it packs
The HeadLamp 750 feels more stable on my head than many smaller offerings, mostly due to the wonderful strap setup and the rear light that acts as a counterbalance. I was even able to use this on my MTB helmet in a pinch, and found it plenty bright when paired with a bar-mount light.
With numerous brightness modes, you can run the HeadLamp 750 for up to 150 hours at five lumens, or two hours at 500 lumens. Around camp, the red-light mode was great so that we didn’t blind anyone or ourselves.
Carryology Credential: A versatile lantern that will light your home and your adventures.
Over the past few months this has become one of the most useful lighting devices I own. It lives in my house on the super convenient charging base, and when I’m heading out on adventures for the weekend I just toss it in my bag and it’s good to go. One of my favorite things about it, outside of the sleek, classic vibes, is how it transitions from table-top to hanging lantern. Pop the top and swing the handle around and you can keep it next to you on a table or hang it from a tree or inside your tent. The push button dimmer is easy to use and big enough to find in the dark without fumbling around.
Like other items on this list, it’s not just for mountain bike adventures, or even just for adventures. I’ve used it during power outages and even just hanging in my backyard. It’s truly a versatile piece of kit that you’ll use for years to come.
Mountain Bike Accessories | Hydration and Libation
Carryology Credential: Keep your brews and food ice cold all weekend.
When I’m taking a cooler for a weekend, or longer, it’s not just about having a nice cold beer – it’s often about keeping perishable food safe. The Venture 45 makes the cut and then some.
The first thing I did with this cooler wasn’t to take it on an outing. It was to fill it with ice, throw some cold beverages in there, and then store it on my back deck, where the hot summer sun beats down for almost the entire day. I left it there for a week, and during that time I was still in and out of it, grabbing drinks, adding more, but never adding ice. After over a week, the OtterBox Venture 45 still had a solid base of ice, and everything was as cold as the day I put it in there.
The size is just right; big enough for beverages and food, and the Separator is key to keeping those items separate, often for good reason. If you really want to deck it out, grab the Side Table, which includes a cutting board and three built-in cup holders.
Carryology Credential: A sessionable, low-calorie option that doesn’t compromise.
Often, the last thing I want after a humid, summer ride is a big, heavy lager. Don’t get me wrong, I do want those, just not usually at that time. The New Holland Lightpoint Functional White Ale seems tailor-made for these situations. Brewed with coconut water and other goodies like raw honey and orange peel, Lightpoint is really delicious while only coming in at 3.7% ABV.
Carryology Credential: A non-alcoholic option that sacrifices nothing but the ABV.
I keep Athletic Brewing in my fridge and cooler all year long. It tastes great, and I feel way less guilty about grabbing one of these. You can easily enjoy a beer without feeling like you’re sacrificing your performance or your lifestyle. Each and every NA beer I’ve had from Athletic has been delicious, and on par with similar alcoholic beverages, if not better. In the end, I don’t think you’ll feel like you’re sacrificing anything at all.
Carryology Credential: High-performance hydration supplement with natural ingredients and THC-free CBD.
This is one of the strongest hitting hydration additives I’ve ever used. There’s a lot of powder in one packet. At first you may wonder how it’s all going to dissolve after first turning your water into a putty-like substance, but it does, and it works great. The taste is a nice balance between fruit and herbal, without being sweet. Give it a try and ride bonk-free, even on the hardest days.