Even if you never intend to ride on the road or after dark, the third thing you must buy is a bright, reliable light set like the Knog Blinder Mob Mr. Chips Twinpack ($85). Shit goes wrong, tires go flat, rides go long, and you might just end up needing a bit of light to get to your car. Or, God forbid, you even end up on the pavement after dark.
The 80 lumens on the white, front light is enough to let you limp home in case of emergency, and the 44-lumen taillight will keep you visible for up to three-quarters of a mile. These cube lights also have a wide, 120-degree throw so cars can see you from the sides as well. Get them even if you never have to use them—they might just save your life. And if you are super strapped on cash, at least spring for the solo Mr. Chips taillight ($45).
Don’t believe the pro-road, bare-hands posturing: gloves aren’t optional. Mountain bike trails are rough, you will get blisters and calluses, and if you go down in the rocks or cactus (and you will eventually), you’ll appreciate something over your skin. You don’t need anything fancy or convoluted. The Troy Lee Designs Ace 2.0 Glove($36), with a mesh back, leather palm, simple elastic cuff, and soft wipe for your nose, are lightweight and plenty thick enough to keep you from skinning up your palms. They’re even touch-screen compatible.
At some point you may want to invest in a hydration pack, but as you start, rides will be short enough that you won’t need the volume or extra weight. I’d buy one or two of the Elite Cannibal bottle cages ($20), which are light and tough and make it easy to grab a drink from either side, and CamelBak Podium Chill waterbottles ($13), which keep fluids cold for an hour or two.