What Do You Take With You In Your Trail Pack?
When I ride the trails, I always have my trail pack with me, and depending on where I am or who I’m with will determine what I have with me. Extra weight is extra weight no matter what form it’s in, be it Gatorade, sandwiches or zip ties, every ounce has to be controlled by you, the rider.
Always be prepared when riding, something as simple as electrical tape might mean the difference between riding or walking back to your truck. You can’t take your toolbox with you, but you can take a few items that will do the job in a pinch. This Is a list of thing I have in my trail pack. I have included links to Amazon.com to help you find what you need at the best price possible for your trail pack.
Let’s start with emergency equipment.
Every rider knows there is a certain level of risk involved with riding a dirt bike. Flying through the trees on 250lbs of metal powered by explosions can get you hurt, so make sure someone can find you if you accidentally climb a tree or take a shortcut down a mountain. No matter how good of a rider you are, you will never be better than sh*t happens. The following are emergency items I have in my trail pack EVERY time I ride.
Ride with a Cell Phone:
No matter where I am riding I will always have, at a minimum, a fully charged cell phone in my trail pack. I take a pre-paid flip phone I bought at Walmart for $15. The phone is not activated, but if the phone has reception I can call 911.
I don’t like to take my smartphone on the trail with me because I like it and I don’t want to have replaced it. If I am going on a long ride, I will wrap my nice phone in a small towel for some cushion, then put the wrapped phone in a zip lock bag to keep it dry.
Signal Smoke: I carry a signal smoke stick that burns orange smoke for one minute, and is visible for 5 miles. Orange smoke is the universal help signal, and any law enforcement or EMS that see the smoke will respond. And if local authorities don’t see the smoke, anyone with common sense who sees it will call it in. Signal smoke isn’t cheap, (about $15) but it’s priceless when it saves your life.
Signal Flares: If you find yourself stranded at night, signal smoke won’t do any good, so I also have a four pack of aerial flares in my trail pack. These flares shoot up 450 feet into the air, burn for 7 seconds, and burn at 16,000 candelas. If anyone is outside and one of these goes off, it’s tough to miss.
Side Note: Do NOT play with emergency flares or smoke, I set off an emergency smoke flare when I was a kid and the sheriff and EMS didn’t appreciate the false alarm. If I were older, I would have received a considerable fine.
First Aid On The Trails
First Aid Kit: I keep a basic first aid kit in my trail pack, mine is no bigger than a bar of soap, and I got it free from the American Red Cross. My tiny first aid kit includes bandages, plastic tweezers, and alcohol swabs, but I mainly have it for the instant cold pack. If I go down and sprain something, I can get cold on it immediately to avoid swelling. However, a cold pack will not fix my dented exhaust.
I do keep a full kit at the camp/truck with all the big stuff like gauze, hydrogen peroxide, sutures, etc.
Another Side Note: Don’t try to stitch something if you don’t know how to do it, using tape will work until a medical professional can get to the injury.
Ace Bandage: An Ace Bandage can serve multiple purposes; compression for sprains, securing a cold pack, holding a splint in place, wet with cool water to treat 2-stroke exhaust pipe burns, etc. An Ace Bandage is one of the most versatile tools in your trail pack, and they don’t cost much.
Basic Supplies For Your Trail Pack
I would rather be hungry and thirsty than stranded, so tools take priority over food when preparing my trail pack, I can’t fix my dirt bike with a banana. Aside from a chain breaking, these tools will cover almost anything on the trail. When I get a flat tire, I can still get back to the truck, when my handlebars are broken, I have bigger problems.
Tape: electrical tape is the way to go, it can be used for easy waterproofing, and in an emergency can be used for compression or to secure a splint. Stay away from duct tape. Yes, in any other situation duct tape is the king of tape, but it’s useless when it gets wet. Plus, 10 feet of duct tape is 10x bigger than 10 feet of electrical tape, so you’re using up a lot of space in your trail pack. (I may have exaggerated, but you know what I mean)
Zipties: It is loose? Zipties. What broke off? Zipties. Zipties are essential for quick fixes, and since they take up very little room, there’s almost no reason not to have them in your trail pack. Case in point, I have used zipties to secure slipping dirt bike grips after taking my bike for a swim. I’ve even used them to secure the rear brake reservoir after a close call with a rock.
Basic Tools For Your Trail Pack
Hex Wrenches: Considering there are no American made dirt bikes, it’s safe to assume that every bike out there is metric. I keep a multi size Hex (allen) wrench set with me. I can do anything from adjusting the bars, to removing the sub frame. What you want to avoid are packs of loose wrenches, they will get lost, it’s just a matter of time. You also want to avoid cheap wrenches. If your multi wrench is made of cheap plastic, you are just inviting trouble if you need to loosen a stubborn bolt.
I had a cheap multi-hex wrench shatter while adjusting my handlebars. Sharp plastic vs. hand skin, plastic wins. Fortunately, I was in my garage, so I was able to bandage the cut, but if that had happened on the trail, I would have been in trouble. Plus, once the plastic frame breaks, you will have no leverage on the wrench, making it almost useless.
Multi-tool: Another important tool that needs to be of good quality. A cheap leatherman knock-off won’t do you any good in your trail pack. The quality of the construction and the quality of the steel in the tools could mean all the difference in a survival situation. Cheap metal won’t last long under excessive use, like building a shelter.
Socket Tool Thing: My first KTM came with a multi-use “T” handle wrench. It came with sockets and screw driver attachments. KTM claims I can completely tear down and rebuild my bike with this thing, but I haven’t tried. Fortunately, it’s very light and compact, and extremely handy.
Screwdriver: Obviously taking a bunch of screwdrivers with you would be impractical, but sometimes multi-tools aren’t good enough. I picked up a 6-in-1 screwdriver from Home Depot for $2.99 and it’s working out great. The screwdriver has two different sizes of phillips and slot bits, and the bit holder doubles as a nut driver.
Food and Drink For Riding
Clif Bars: I prefer Clif bars for their natural (as natural as packaged food can be) energy and protein. Power Bars are basically candy bars. Those big Met RX bars are too bulky and expensive to carry on a dirt bike. I can get a huge variety pack of Clif bars on Amazon for around $30, and that will last a while. Clif bars also pack a lot of protein and calories in a small bar. You won’t get stomach cramps from eating too much and you won’t fill up your trail pack.
Gatorade: Gatorade, not just “sports drink” is better than water, and WAY better than energy drinks. Water does not replace minerals and electrolytes lost during exercise, and energy drinks dehydrate you. Gatorade also gives you some calories to work with. If you are serious about your hydration and performance, you should look into some intra-workout powders.
Camelbak (Hydration Pack): Camelbaks are an easy way to keep hydrated on the trail. They don’t cost much, and after a while, you will unconsciously drink a steady stream of water (or Gatorade) as you ride. This eliminates the need to stop and the need to carry a bottle with you. Most trail backpacks will have a camelbak pocket is you want to keep things simple.
Extras For LONG Rides
Backup Gloves: I keep a pair of backup gloves in my trail pack for long rides. If I start to feel blisters forming, I can switch gloves to change the contact points on my hands. Also, if I try to go swimming with my bike, I have an extra set of dry gloves.
Rubber Gloves: I mainly keep rubber gloves in my trail pack for wet riding. I can put a layer of rubber gloves under my regular riding gloves to avoid long term exposure to water. When your hands get wet while riding the chance of reduced feeling will increase exponentially (if it’s under 70 degrees). The chance of developing blisters and sores increases as well. Rubber gloves can also be used with electrical tape to seal things. Plus, if your buddy goes down, you can wear your rubber gloves while administering first aid.
It might seem like a lot of stuff for riding dirt bikes. But, I can fit it all in a belt pack I used for hunting (It’s just a giant fanny pack).
Also, I would rather carry some extra weight if it means I won’t get stranded. I won’t get hungry or dehydrated, and most importantly, if I get hurt, I can patch myself up. And in the worst case scenario, I can call for help. I hope this article will give you a good foundation for building your trail pack!
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