What To Carry With You When Mountain Biking In Duluth

World-Class Mountain Biking in Duluth

Whether you’re an experienced single-track ripper or a curious mountain bike novice, you’re probably aware that Duluth has become the go-to Midwest destination for mountain biking. The mountain bike scene in Duluth is blowing up – new trails are being added, existing trails are being updated, and the route options are seemingly endless.

With the growing number of rideable mountain bike trails in Duluth, a lot of folks are embarking on longer-distance rides that take them farther from their original starting point. As a result, it’s becoming increasingly important to be prepared for whatever challenges the trail might throw at you. Being prepared for a fun day on the trail is key to a successful ride.

Duluth Traverse Shuttle

Local riders prepare for a Duluth Traverse adventure after being dropped off by The Duluth Traverse Shuttle. Image: The Duluth Experience.

In this article I describe a few key items you should carry with you when mountain biking in Duluth. This advice is great for a type of ride, from a full-day “Grand Traverse” to a shorter spin on the trail. For tip on preparing for multi-day “bike-packing” expeditions visit BikePacking.com. Ok. Here we go.

7 Ways to Prepare for Mountain Biking in Duluth

1. Carry a Pack

There are a lot of options for carrying the basic tools and supplies you might need when cruising The Duluth Traverse. Saddle bags are a great option. Although space is limited, saddle bags hide beneath your saddle and are just large enough to carry the basics – an extra tube, tire levers, CO2 canister, folding multi-tool, etc. I recommend a larger hydration-pack which provides more space to stash a first aid kit, some snacks and… water. Which leads us to #2.

2. Water is Important – Carry it… Drink it!

Even if you’re just heading out for a short ride… water is key. Days can get longer than expected – especially when you’re having fun and in the groove. Duluth – while known for its cool lake-influenced climate – can come up with some surprisingly hot days on the trail. If you carry a hydration-pack, fill up your water bottle/bladder and stay hydrated. It’s a major bummer when you want to extend your ride but have to cut it short because you didn’t pack enough water.

3. Must-Have-Don’t-Leave-Home-Without-Em Flat Tire Fixing Tools

These are absolutely critical for avoiding hike-a-bike situations when mountain biking in Duluth. First off… extra tubes! Carry an extra tube – even if you’re riding tubeless -and make sure it’s the right size tube for the bike you’re riding. A pair of tire levers will be super helpful for changing out punctured tubes. If you’ve never changed a tube… practice. There are lots of helpful YouTube videos out there for guidance. A CO2 inflator or mini-hand pump will help you inflate your new tube and get you back on the trail in no time. It seems like a no-brainer but make sure you know how to use the inflator and/or pump… just in case. And throw a multi-tool in your pack to tighten things up when needed. At the very least, your friends will thank you.

4. First Aid Kit

I always carry a small backpacker-sized first aid kit in my hydration-bag. Its got gauze, medical tape, a few assorted band-aids, some anti-biotic ointment, benadryl, and a set of tweezers. This won’t save your life in a major crash but it has been super handy for smaller accidents that required removing gravel and dirt from small cuts and bandaging up minor scrapes. If you have severe allergies (e.g., bee stings) talk to your doctor about carrying an Epi-pen. That could save your life!

5. Plan Your Ride

It’s a good idea to have a pre-ride plan for wherever you’re headed – especially if you’re riding a new route. If you’re riding alone, always let someone know where you’re going and when to expect you back. In addition, there are great mapping resources on the MTB Project and Trailforks that I use all the time. Most smart phones have a GPS built-in and there are lots of apps out there for ride mapping. Use them! Getting lost is a real bummer and some of the trail systems in Duluth can be a little confusing. Do your research ahead of time and you’ll have a much better experience.

6. Wear a Helmet

Do I really need to explain this one? The brain is an irreplaceable piece of equipment.

7. Hire a Professional Guide and Ride in Style

You knew this one was coming. But seriously, if you’re new to The Duluth Traverse or simply want the VIP mountain bike experience then you should consider hiring a professional guide. Guided rides provide transportation to/from the trail, advice and guidance on routes, equipment rental, snacks, water, and a local ride-buddy to show you the best lines.

So there you have it folks. Enjoy a great season on The Duluth Traverse. With just a few simple steps you’ll be more self-sufficient and improve your skills as a mountain biker. Plus… you’ll be able to help out those other folks on the trail that didn’t get a chance to read this article.

Cheers! I’ll see you on the trail.

Learn more about The Duluth Experience’s guided Duluth Traverse Mountain Bike Adventure.

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