Mountain biking is all about stealing a moment out of your insanely busy lifestyle to connect with nature’s tranquility. It’s a time to get away from it all and actually live — for a moment. And carrying a phone doesn’t seem like one of the most effective ways to make it all happen.
Still, your smartphone might be something you may want to bring on your trip. You might crash or encounter mechanical issues while out on the trail. And you’d need to call someone for help. You could also use your Google Maps to avoid getting lost out in the woods.
And if you’re like most MTBers and like taking cool photos of yourself riding berms or doing bunny hops, a phone comes in handy. What about using your handset to track stuff while riding?
Plus, you never know when an emergency will happen at home or work. And your loved ones and colleagues might want to reach you quickly. Turns out carrying your phone isn’t such a bad idea, huh?
I’ve convinced you not to leave your smartphone at home, hopefully. Now, you’re wondering how do I carry my phone while mountain biking? I wrote How to Carry Your Phone While Mountain Biking to answer that very question and more.
Below I list down 7 simple and super convenient ways to carry your smartphone while out mountain bike riding.
7 Ways to Carry Your Smartphone Mountain Biking
- Carry your phone in your MTB jersey jacket
- Slide it in your cycling shorts pocket
- Put it inside your frame bag, top-tube bag, or saddle bag
- Carry it in your MTB hydration pack or backpack
- Mount your smartphone on your bike
- Carry it in an armband
- Let Other MTBers Carry it for you
Let’s now dive a little deeper and see how you might use each of these phone transportation strategies while on the trail.
1.Carry Your Smartphone in Your MTB Jersey Jacket
Carrying your $600 smartphone in a traditional cycling jersey may not be a very good idea if you crash all the time. Even if you crash occasionally, your pricey phone might slip out and break into smithereens. There’s always a bit of risk carrying a phone in a traditional cycling jersey’s pocket.
My cycling jersey features three pockets on the back, just like most traditional cycling jerseys. But I must admit I don’t usually carry my iPhone in my jersey’s pockets. Even though it’s not a crazy-expensive phone, it’s still an iPhone, right?
While I crash infrequently, there’s always a possibility I might fly off the bar. It happens, you know. And the idea of my phone sliding out and hitting some hard baby head touchscreen-first terrifies me.
But I keep seeing mountain bikers using this phone carrying method. And I assume it works for them, or they’d be buying new phones every few MTB rides.
So, carry your cell phone in your cycling jersey only if you’re super careful or you’re a dang good mountain bike rider. If you rarely crash and can fall in a way that’s safe for yourself and your phone each time, definitely use this approach.
At least you won’t need to invest in any kind of special or fancy equipment to carry your smartphone. Just your jersey. And there are tons of good and affordable men’s cycling jerseys and women’s cycling jerseys on Amazon.
*Affiliate links disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
The Short-Sleeve, Full-zippered Sponeed Men’s Cycling Jersey is a decent choice. It’s more affordable than most, fits true to size (at least it does for my SO), and looks cool.
For women cyclists that don’t wish to spend a whole ton of money, the Short-Sleeve, Full-zippered Women’s Men’s Cycling Jersey is a good deal. I bought this, and it came with shorts, and I’ve heard that some people didn’t get the shorts. The set came with a breathable top, and I like the girlie colors of the clothes.
If you go with this phone-carrying method, be ready to wear a cycling jersey all the time. You’ll have to sacrifice wearing casual T-shirts or a different jersey style, say an enduro-style jersey. But that’s not like too much of a disadvantage.
2. Slide Your Phone in One of Your Cycling Shorts’ Pockets
Don’t want to carry your expensive phone in one of your cycling jersey’s pockets? No worries, you can always put the phone in one of your cycling shorts’ pockets.
Now, some cycling shorts come with small pockets on the bib straps. And these bib straps are added for the specific purpose of holding relatively small items such as keys and phones.
What I like about using bib strap pockets is that they completely hide your phone as you ride. Others, especially non-cyclists, won’t easily notice you have a phone in there.
If you’re the kind of person who likes doing more with less, this is the perfect phone-carrying solution for you.
But there are a few things you should know before buying these cycling shorts. Understand that some shorts don’t come with these little hidden phone pockets. So, you’ll want to spend enough time researching cycling shorts with phone pockets reviews.
There’s one more thing. Some cycling shorts feature hard-to-access pockets that are a real pain to use. My hubby once owned a pair of cycling shorts with extremely hard-to-reach pockets. He soon learned he’d bought a product that solved problems by creating others when he tried to remove his phone.
Jason couldn’t get his phone out without pulling the damned bibs down and then loading up the pocket. He finally needed to pull the straps back up. And that’s too much hassle.
3. Put it Inside a Frame Bag, Top-tube Bag, or Saddle Bag
One of the safest ways to carry a phone while mountain biking is putting it inside a bike bag. No one gets to see your phone, not that it matters one bit.
But it gets even better. If you crash, chances are that the fall wouldn’t send your phone flying fast into the air.
My hubby carries his phone inside a saddle pack/seat pack. But you can also use a frame bag or a top-tube bike bag to achieve the same aim.
While using a bike bag is a good idea, make sure your phone fits in there. Also, make sure your device won’t keep moving around the storage as you bunny hop, hit bumps, or roll over rocks.
But what kind of bike bag do you need for transporting your phone? Should you use a top-tube bag, a frame bag, or a saddle bag? We’ll see in a short while.
Using a Frame Bag to Carry a Phone
What’s a frame bag/frame pack? A frame pack is a MTB storage bag mostly used to carry heavy items. The storage also comes with pockets. And you can use these pockets to stash your phone.
A frame bag stays in the triangular space created between the top tube, the seat tube, and the down tube. Some bike frame packs fill the whole space while others fill the space partially.
If you like having a water bottle cage on the down frame, consider using a bag that doesn’t cover the entire triangle. Another disadvantage of a larger pack is that it can get in the way of the rear suspension.
This bike bag type helps keep your ride stable by lowering your bike’s center of gravity. Also, it’s a pretty secure way to carry a smartphone.
The only drawback of using a MTB frame pack is you may not access the phone without stopping first. I recommend a full-on waterproof frame bag for obvious reasons.
Carrying a Phone in a Saddle Bag
A saddle bag is just as the name suggests — a bag that’s attached to a bike’s saddle/seat. This bag comes in a pretty narrow design.
This kind of bag works very well when it comes to riding narrow, technical trails. For narrow trails, a rack or pannier may not be the best option to store your supplies. Use a saddle bag instead.
A mountain bike saddle bag is a great choice for stowing lightweight items that are somewhat bulky. Think of your sleeping bag or a puffy coat for bikepacking.
You may also pack your flat repair supplies in this storage system. And if there’s enough room for your phone, put it in there. But you won’t be able to access your phone quickly as you would with a cycling jersey.
However, saddle MTB bags for bikepacking can sway from side to side. And that can be annoying. Plus, those side-to-side movements can make your phone flop around.
Usually, the swaying happens because you didn’t pack properly. Or you didn’t secure the saddle bag firmly enough onto the seat post. To prevent these movements, pack the heaviest items closest to your MTB’s seat post. Also, make sure to secure the storage firmly enough.
Use a Top-tube Bag
A top-tube bag sits atop your bike’s top tube. In that position, it’s not surprising that the bag may flop around a little if not properly secured.
When choosing a top-tube bike bag, make sure it’s not too big. If it’s too large, the bag may keep getting in the way as you pedal.
Whether you’re doing a short ride or a long one, you can have this bag as part of a more comprehensive storage system. This bag is good for carrying small items such as keys, snacks, your phone, and whatnot.
A typical top-tube bike bag features a tear-drop shape and that’s why mountain bikers often call it a gas tank.
This bag mounts onto your bike’s head tube and attaches to the top tube through velcro straps. It’s usually 2-3 velcro straps. And these straps help minimize side-to-side swaying. You can definitely put your phone in there if there’s adequate room, but not if the bag keeps flopping around.
One advantage of carrying a phone this way is that you can easily access it when you need it.
4. Carry it in your MTB Hydration Pack (or Backpack)
Every mountain biker understands the need to stay sufficiently hydrated. That’s why most of us love our hydration pack. But we use a hydration pack for more than stashing snacks and water.
A hydration pack is great for transporting water because you don’t need to stop to enjoy a swig. It comes with a sip tube that makes drinking its contents a breeze.
Hydration packs are pretty much like regular backpacks and come with pockets and other storage options. You should easily find room for your phone.
And these bags aren’t expensive. You can find a good one at a sub-$25 price tag. I love my Vibrelli hydration pack that features a 2-liter hydration water bladder/reservoir.
I also use my Vibrelli pack for hiking. And it’s held up well since I bought it months ago.
Here’s one reason I like storing my phone in my hydration bag. It’s that once I zip it up, I can forget about the phone until I need it. And I don’t worry about losing it.
I have my phone in a silicone case for added padding. Then, I wrap my phone with something soft to add cushioning around it. And I’ve never lost my phone even though I’ve crashed a couple of times.
But I only use my hydration pack for long rides rather than shorter MTB trail rides. It’s a little too big to carry on short recreational rides.
When I’m planning on riding around for about an hour or so, I carry something smaller such as a top-tube bag.
You can also remove the storage tank of your hydration tank to fit in more stuff. But if the bag gets too heavy, your bum will soon notice it.
5. Carry Your Phone in an Armband Holder
Armbands aren’t that common in the mountain biking world or in the cycling world in general. You’ll often see them with runners, but you can certainly use them for carrying your phone.
One great thing about armband holders is that they come in different sizes. Chances are you’ll find something that fits your phone. What’s more, the best armbands for carrying a phone have sweat-resistant properties.
There’s the little issue of phone accessibility while riding, though. While removing your phone from its armband case isn’t too hard, it can be a bit of a hassle.
Runners can use corded headphones to receive or make calls. But that wouldn’t work very well for a cyclist. Fortunately, you can always use Bluetooth/wireless earbuds.
Most armbands won’t allow you to carry your phone with its casing on, though. You’ll have to remove the casing in most cases. Luckily, some armband options will let you use your phone with its casing on.
When it comes to choosing armbands for carrying your phone on mountain bike rides, find an option that features a zipper. You also want to pick up something that lets you view and access your phone’s touchscreen. Get something with a clear window.
One more thing: choose an armband made out of sturdy material. You want an armband that’ll stay in place whether you’re on or off your bike. If the material is firm and the straps sturdy enough, your armband will probably keep your phone safe in a crash.
The best armband for carrying a smartphone MTBing I’ve seen is the Tune Belt AB89 Armband Holder. This one works for Apple iPhone 11 Pro, X, XS, and SE 2020 as well as for Samsung Galaxy S8, S9, and Galaxy S10e.
6. Mount Your Smartphone on Your Bike’s Handlebars
Mounting your phone on your bike’s handlebars places your device within easy reach.
If you’re riding unfamiliar mountain trails and would like to use your phone to find directions, get a bike mount. This method also works well for when you want to track your riding stats. Or when you want to take nice pics or videos of yourself riding.
Few bike mounts work satisfactorily, though. So, be sure to read detailed bike mounts for carrying phone reviews before buying. You’ll also want to watch a few videos on how to properly handle the mount.
One good thing with bike mounts is that they keep your phone in front of you the entire time. You can view your stats and directions easily. However, it’s easy to get distracted while riding.
Also, it’s not uncommon for bike mounts to release expensive phones even when the rider isn’t pedaling too fast. And if you ever take a bad spill, chances are you won’t use your phone post-crash.
Another disadvantage with mounting your phone is that it doesn’t help your aerodynamics.
If you opt to use this phone carrying method, make sure to choose a really good bike mount. And don’t use it for technical rides with lots of jumps and drops.
I’ve heard some good things and few bad things about the Rokform Handlebar Cell Phone Mount. I insist that you read all the negative reviews on this bike mount and decide if it’s worth the money.
7. Let Other MTBers Carry Their Phone for You
Odds are most of the dudes you ride with bring their phone every time. And they’re more than willing to take pics of you doing bunny hops and trackstands or whatever it is you love doing.
So, why not have your friends record stuff and send you the pics or videos later? Yes, it’s not the most convenient way to take pics or record videos. But it’s not too hard either.
If you leave that $1,000 iPhone at home, it’ll be 100% safe. You won’t lose it barring burglary while you’re away. And you certainly won’t damage it in a crash.
How to Carry Your Phone Mountain Biking: Final Word
You don’t have to carry your phone while out riding the trails. But, having your phone around some of the time makes complete sense.
Your boss may need to ask you a quick but critical business-related question. Or your significant other may get into some crisis and need you to know right away.
Or you might take a really big spill out in the woods and need to call someone to come and get you to the hospital. Or you might want to record your trip or see your stats.
In all these situations, carrying a cell phone is a good idea.
You can use a bike bag to carry your phone. You can also stash it in your jersey’s or cycling shorts’ pocket.
If you’re more into casual riding rather than technical trail biking, consider mounting your phone on your handlebars. An armband holder is another way to have your phone with you while out enjoying a recreational ride.
And if your phone cost you a boatload of money and damaging it terrifies you, leave it at home. Instead of carrying it, have your dudes take your pics or record your videos.