As summer has settled in for the long haul and all but the most dedicated skiers have hung up the planks, the time has come to ween off one gravity-fueled addiction in favor of the next. For a lot of us, we turn to mountain biking, which is a great way to pass the time until the hills are blanketed with dreamy pow once again. Regardless of your experience level on a two-wheeled steed of stoke, I bet you’ll find something on this list to help you step your game up and make your time on the trails more enjoyable.
Giro Montaro MIPS Helmet — $150
The verdict is out. MIPS certified helmets are here to stay and anyone who tries to argue that it’s a marketing gimmick or not worth the extra cash has clearly suffered too many headshots in a brain bucket from the past. Not only is the Giro Montaro MIPS-equipped, but this digestibly-priced lid is packed with features, including seamless goggle integration (for those of you using mountain biking goggles) and an ultra-safe camera or light mount on top that is designed to release upon sudden impact. The most impressive, but probably overlooked attribute of this helmet is the anti-microbial, hydrophilic pads on the underside that absorb over ten times their weight in water. This helmet is the pinnacle of protection and subtle swagger.
Oakley Flight Jacket — $223
The Flight Jacket is as much at home on asphalt as it is on dirt and is engineered with speed and aerodynamics in mind. These high-tech shades boast Prizm Road lenses—optimized to increase contrast in medium light scenarios with 20% light transmission—and interchangeable nose pieces to dial in fit with or without a helmet. The frameless design on the brow allows for maximum field of vision in the vertical plane and, with a flick of a switch, the Advancer nosebridge opens the interface to allow airflow that battles condensation on humid ascents. The non-slip nosepads and earsocks keep these shades glued to my face even when dripping with sweat, allowing for a precise, three-point fit that properly aligns the lenses at all times. For those that live life in the fast-lane, or are striving to do so, these are the shades for you.
Flylow Nash Shirt — $55
For those of you not entirely sold on the jersey look and don’t want to pigeonhole your shirt offerings, the Nash is an awesome athletic shirt that performs equally well while biking, running or hiking. This 94% polyester, 6% spandex shirt has a four-panel body for increased mobility, sewn in 50+ UPF protection, anti-stink tech and dries in the blink of an eye. Other than the sweet two-tone colors, my favorite part of riding in this shirt is how easily you forget you’re wearing it.
Thule Vital 8L — $139.95
The Vital 8L is fully catered to your biking needs while letting you stay focused on the single track in front of you. Its included 2.5L bladder with a magnetic ReTrakt hose return system keeps it neatly stacked on your shoulder strap for hands-free, all-day hydration. With easy-to-access jersey-style pockets on the side of the pack, you can easily stash snacks, tools and extra layers for any length ride. There’s also an internal zippered pocket for keys and valuables and a quick access, fleece-lined top pocket for your phone, sunnies or other valuables. This little guy has designated interior loops for a shock and tire pump and at 8L, there’s just enough room for all the gear you need and nothing you don’t.
Darn Tough BA Barney Crew Ultra-Light — $22
Finally, your search for the ultimate biking sock is over. The BA Barney Crew Ultra-Light is designed for winter biking, but I find it’s right at home in all weather conditions. This nylon, merino wool and lycra spandex hybrid features a performance fit with fine gauge knitting for a “put it on, forget it’s on” feel and ninja-like seam fusion for a truly invisible, no bunch fit. From the ankle up, the sock is noticeably thicker, which helps shield your shins from errant branches and unwanted run-ins with your pedals or cassette. The rest of the sock is second skin in nature with strategically placed forefoot mesh, a reinforced heel and toe and ribbed arch support. And best of all, like all Darn Tough socks, they’re backed with a no questions asked, lifetime warranty.
POC Resistance Enduro Adjustable Glove — $55
The Resistance Enduro Adjustable Glove was constructed with long, varied trail rides in mind. The back of the hand is optimally ventilated with moisture wicking fabric and the palm utilizes an ultra-supple material and silicon accents on the brake fingers for increased feel and grip. The wrist has a velcro closure for personalizing the fit and the thumb has a soft, terry cloth nose wipe. Best of all, the thumb is touch screen compatible, so you can keep ’em on when it’s time to document your “shredventures.” Beware, these gloves run small so please size up. I’m a medium in all gloves and the large in these fits me perfectly.
Giro Terraduro HV — $180
Thank you Giro for finally giving us flat-footed, bunion ravaged humans a spacious and comfortable option in biking footwear. In many other shoes I’ve tested, I’d finish moderate length rides with numb feet, but not in these puppies. The upper is sufficiently breathable with a three strap system featuring a replaceable, ratcheting top strap that won’t slip under pressure. It also has optimal pedal zone stiffness due to a stout nylon shank with a forgivingly flexible, full Vibram outsole for those inevitable “hike-a-bike” sections. The reinforced, rubber toe box protects your digits from rocks and trunks in tight sections and the AEGIS Microbe Shield keeps the funk at bay.
The North Face Base Camp Duffel L — $149
The North Face Base Camp Duffel is truly the last adventure bag you’ll ever need. The large boasts a 95-liter capacity and is just the right amount of space for all your outdoor pursuits. Whether you’re heading for a weekend ski trip, an after work mountain bike rip or just trying to keep all your gear organized when carpooling with your buddies on your next adventure, this baby’s got you covered. There’s a main, D-shaped compartment with an inside mesh zippered pouch for your more precious items, an end cap compartment perfect for wet or stinky clothes, removable shoulder straps, padded side handles and compression straps to minimize bulk when not fully utilized. When biking this is literally my base camp at the car. It holds it all: my hemet, shoes, hydration pack, snacks, layers, etc. and I like knowing that everything I need for an adventure is securely together in one absolute bomber bag that’s ready for whatever I throw at it.
Chamois Butt’r Original Anti-Chafe Cream — $17.99
It’s not the most glamorous topic, but saddle rash is a common occurrence to the avid cyclist and Chamois Butt’r has been leading the charge in relief since 1988. The company’s non-greasy skin lubricant is for use in every chaffing situation, whether preventing or soothing already irritated skin. Thanks to input from team riders and the public, Chamois Butt’r is also offered in a pH balanced version for ladies and they’ve developed some wash solutions to easily remove lotions and such from your skin and clothing. Chaffing is a harsh reality of skin contact in any endurance endeavor and can really rub your day the wrong way. I honestly don’t know how people biked long distances before this stuff.
Garmin inReach Mini — $349
It’s 2018 and you generally have great cell service on most bike trails, but when you don’t, the inReach Mini will surely prove its worth. All it takes is a nasty bail in even the smallest dead zone to quickly put your adventure on ice—but the inReach Mini will keep you connected. It’s roughly the same size as a Clif Bar and works anywhere in the world thanks to the Iridium satellite network. Using bluetooth and Garmin’s Earthmate app, you connect the Mini to your smartphone, then the device acts like a wireless modem allowing you access to all your contacts, maps, NOAA forecasts, send messages, track your location and, in the worst case scenario, send a SOS signal. The only catch is that you need to purchase a subscription plan to access the satellite network. Plans range from $12-100/month and can be on an annual contract or month to month basis. Still, the added peace of mind seems worth it.
Skratch Labs Sport Hydration Mix — $19.50
When you need that extra boost on that final techy climb this Skratch Labs Sport Hydration Mix has you covered. Skratch Labs was founded in Boulder, CO and lets you leave the chemicals behind—this stuff is made with real fruit for flavor and is certified non-GMO, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan and kosher. Add a scoop to your backpack’s bladder and know you’re giving your body what it needs to keep pushing deep into your ride. It may sound weird, but the Matcha Green Tea & Lemon is my favorite flavor. It’s palatable, earthy flavor is enjoyable without bugging my stomach and has about 16mg of naturally occurring caffeine per serving for a nice added jolt.
RMU Tailgate Protector — $249
The RMU Tailgate Protector is the ideal trailhead companion for folks who frequently travel with more than two bikes. It holds up to five bikes, allows you access to your tailgate handle and backup camera, has locking zippered pockets for tools and extra parts, includes top tube and fork attachments and sleeves to stow your cable locks when out for a rip. To top it all off, there’s an integrated beer cooler and bottle opener. The RMU team truly pulled out all the stops on this one and all this utility tailgate protector—and it goes for only $250? Yes, please.
Dakine Dropout Short Sleeve Bike Jersey — $45
The Dropout Short Sleeve Bike Jersey is the epitome of bike-catered simplicity. A casual, t-shirt inspired fit with raglan sleeves gives you room to move where a bike-specific bottom that’s longer in the back accounts for the constant tugging from wearing a pack or hunching over on demanding descents. The Dropout benefits from moisture wicking polyester and Polygiene odor control tech to keep you looking, but mostly smelling, your best at the end of a hard day’s work. Other than the price point of $45, my favorite thing about this Jersey are the radical colorways.
Dakine Syncline Bike Short — $90
The Syncline Bike Short is ideal for more enduro-style rides, where strenuous climbs are followed by long, flowy descents. This short comes in a 14-inch inseam and can be purchased with or without liners. Laser cut, stretchy mesh panels on the inner leg and rear yoke offer cooling in the spots you need it most and interior, side waist adjustments let you fine tune your fit with or without a belt. Zippered hand pockets on either side are tailored for even the largest smartphones like the iPhone 8+. To round out these simple but carefully thought out shorts, their casual look blends right in as you park your steed outside the local saloon for a cold one after your ride.
Dakine Hot Laps 5L Bike Waist Bag — $70
It’s official, fanny packs, well “waist bags,” are back in style and I couldn’t be happier. Not only does the Hot Laps 5L have a cargo pocket for your phone, snacks and rain layer, but Dakine cares about your hydration enough to include a lumbar-shaped, 2L hydration reservoir. The hose stows neatly along the waist strap thanks to an auto-locating magnetic buckle. If gnarly downhill tracks are your jam, this pack features lower straps that untuck to hold your knee pads or detachable chin guard on your ascents. And at $70— almost half the price of most bike-focused hydration backpacks—you’d be crazy not to convert.
Clif Bar Fruit Smoothie Filled — $21.48 (Box of 12)
When I first heard about the new Fruit Smoothie Filled bars from Clif, I must say, I was certainly hesitant. Upon reaching the “smoothie” center, I was pleasantly surprised to find the consistency to be like frozen or hardened yogurt kefir. This new offering comes in Strawberry Banana, Tart Cherry Berry and Wild Blueberry Acai, and all are USDA Organic and certified non-GMO. These bars are ideal for moments of regrouping on the trail when you have access to both hands and need a more substantial snack. 10/10, would eat again.
GU Energy Gel — $36 (Box of 24)
GU Energy Gels are the perfect quick shot of calories for any day on the trails. I like to keep a few in the pouch on my backpack’s hipbelt for easy snacking on the go. They’re packed full of carbohydrates, electrolytes and branched-chain amino acids to keep you fueled both mentally and physically. GU has also partnered with the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) to get #MoreKidsOnBikes. The collaboration birthed this new French Toast flavor, of which 10% of sales goes straight to NCIS. Now fueling your own adrenaline habit can help incubate others’ as well.
Light and Motion Urban 900 Longfin — $100
Whether you’re commuting during the 9-5 grind or racing the sun to sneak in a ride after work, the Urban 900 will light the way. This lamp’s high output is a blinding 900 lumens, giving you 180 degrees of visibility and battery life can run at that level for 1.5 hours. That’s surely enough time to pedal back to the car after the sun has set on you. In pulse mode, this light can run for 12 hours on one charge. This versatile, compact spotlight is Micro USB rechargeable, waterproof, impact resistant, comes with a handlebar and GoPro mount and weighs in at a mere 121 grams.
Thule ThruRide — $229.95
The ThruRide roof bike rack is made with us mountain bike fanatics in mind. Gone are the days of making your friends wait while you rifle through your garage searching for the adapter you’re positive you didn’t lose. This rack is made to fit bikes with thru-axles 12-20mm wide with no extra adapters. The 35-pound weight capacity lets you trust this rack with most every bike on the market; it also allows you to lock your bike to the rack and rack cross bars for added piece of mind at brown-pow apres. If hitch racks aren’t your jam, this is the rack for you.
Yakima HoldUp Evo — $499
The HoldUp Evo hitch-mounted bike rack is built for seamless integration with all the new bike trends like fat tires and boost hubs. The swing arm mechanism locks your bikes by the tires, is gentle on the fanciest carbon frames and won’t scratch your treasured paint job. Yakima went with an easy-to-use foot pedal design to make tilting the rack out of the way to access your trunk or tailgate painless. With a twist of a bolt you can horizontally align the two racks to use with any combination of bikes. Installing and removing the rack is also effortless with the new tool-free SpeedKnob system. But the coolest part about this rack is that—if you have the 2” hitch version—you can add another two bike racks for those days where the crew’s riding deep.
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