At FREESKIER, we’re proponents of good times in the mountains—even once the snow melts. For many of us, when the rivers start running and the trails dry up, we’re still seeking adventure at high-altitude. Finding the flow state is just one of the draws of mountain biking: Beyond the exercise it provides and the ability to see miles and miles of trail in a single day, there’s something about the downhill that has us feeling the same “flow” as when we’re skiing. So, to round-out your mountain biking kit and maximize your performance on the trail, here’s a list of gear that we’re stoked about this bike season.
POC Spine VPD AIR Backpack 13
Known for its understated Scandinavian styling and emphasis on safety, POC delivers both with this minimalist pack that’s great for short rides. Most notably, the pack is built around a removable VPD Air back protector. The VPD acronym stands for “visco-elastic polymer dough” and, as the word “dough” infers, it’s not a stiff back brace—it’s a flexible protector that feels, surprisingly, a lot like you’re wearing regular backpack.
A second feature that makes this piece unique is the lack of a waist strap. Instead, POC has combined a chest and abdomen strap to secure the pack on your body and allow it to move freely with your upper torso, an unencumbered feel you don’t often get with a pack on your back.
As for storage, you’ll find enough room for a short trip: there’s tool organization inside the roomy main compartment along with a bladder-specific sleeve (out of which you can direct your drinking tube down the right or left) shoulder strap), a smaller, exterior pocket that’s designed to hold a helmet and, on either side of the pack, small pockets hold your phone or some necessary snacks for on-the-go munchies.
POC Aspire Clarity Sunglasses
Over the past few seasons, there’s been a serious uptick in single lens or “shield” sunglasses. POC has been making them for a number of years now and has some of the best in the game, thanks to its Clarity lenses. The lens technology was developed in tandem with legendary lens-maker, Carl Zeiss, to boost contrast and bring out details in the constantly changing lighting conditions that you encounter while biking. The oversized shield design provides a wide field of vision and the lightweight Grilamid frame features rubber contact zones on the nosepiece and temples to ensure the shades stay in place while you’re hitting mach speed down your favorite singletrack.
Dakine Reserve Windbreaker Jacket
For those early morning rides when there’s a chill in the air, a lightweight layer can add just the right amount warmth to keep you comfortable. Dakine’s Reserve Windbreaker comes in clutch in this scenario and also offers water resistance to keep you dry when a light drizzle comes in mid-ride. Luckily, none of this comes at the cost of comfort. The stretchy, ripstop fabric enables freedom of movement while riding and a vent on the back provides airflow to keep your body temperature regulated as things warm up. When it’s time to pack it away, the Reserve stuffs conveniently into its own pocket for easy, compact storage.
POC Essential MTB Women’s Shorts
These shorts are constructed of a stretchy and breathable nylon fabric and feature knees that are pre-bent to give the shorts a naturally active stance that you’ll be riding in more often then not. Our tester loved the performance and shape, noting that the shorts were long enough to be effective on rides and prevent chafing, while still retaining a feminine look. Velcro on the waist makes adjustments quick and easy, while a coating of durable water repellant will keep you dry during wet days on the trails. To bring it home, two hand pockets and a zippered back (card) pocket ensure you can take a few essentials along with you on your ride.
Norrøna skibotn Wool 3/4 T-Shirt
Combining high performance with casual style, the skibotn shirt from Norrøna is an easy go-to for your daily or weekly bike rides. The performance in this men’s shirt is derived from a polyester and merino wool combination which wicks sweat away while you ride, naturally combats your post-ride stench and maintains an extra-soft next-to-skin feel. Knowing you’ll likely meet up with friends during or after your ride, its nice to know the casual look of the skibotn also fits right in, no matter what.
Dakine Thrillium Bike Glove – Women’s
The official glove of Dakine team rider Casey Brown, the Thrillium is designed for maximum grip and feel with no frills. The glove features four-way stretch with a grippy goat leather palm for holding on strong. Brown’s initials and a retro design adorn the moisture-wicking mesh on top and a micro fleece nose wipe on the inside of each thumb wipe away dirt and grime from that last big landing.
Thule Helium Platform 2
The Helium Platform 2 is a new, light-duty rack from Thule that is all about ease-of-use. Rack aficionados may see some resemblance to the 1UP rack design, which has gained popularity in recent years—but it’s a lightweight design and user-friendly design make the Helium catch our attention.
The rack comes ready to install on a standard hitch receiver (but can be easily adapted to slide into two-inch receivers) and each bike tray can accommodate up to a three-inch wide tire. The ease-of-use really comes into play with the handles that adjust the rack: Each of the arms that hold your bike tires in place have a wide button underneath that release the hold. Simply grab the handle and button to open them up, place your bike into the tray and the arms will self-ratchet as you close them around your steed. An additional handle on the front of the rack allows you to pull the rack up into a storage position when you’re not using it or drop it down to access your back hatch/tailgate, even with bikes on there.
As for security, the Helium Platform 2 comes with an integrated hitch lock to keep your rack on your car or truck, as well as individual locks on each bike tray. As with many integrated locks, they’ll certainly slow a thief down but we wouldn’t recommend leaving your bike on there for a prolonged period of time.
Kate’s Real Food Tram Bars
Yes, Kate is a real person and this is real (good) food. Made from completely organic ingredients, these Tram Bars are loaded with the nutrients you need to keep you going on the trail and the best part is that they don’t taste like chalk as some of the other “bars” out there do. They’re freaking delicious. They come in six different flavors to satisfy almost any palette so do yourself a favor and pick some up before your next ride. You can thank us later.
Yeti Roadie 24
No ride is complete without a good old-fashioned tailgate session and the new Roadie 24 is the ideal cooler to hold your post-ride libations. The 24-liter capacity is tight, allowing you to pack a few extra beers and snacks. The cooler features updated latches that are a bit easier to flip open than the previous style and, unlike other coolers in the Tundra family, the Roadie is taller than it is wide, allowing you to slip it into slimmer spots in your car or truck. Inside, you’ll find the perfect width at the bottom to fit one of Yeti’s 4-pound ice packs, enabling you to maximize space while keeping things cool. Pack it up, throw it in your rig and you’ll always have a happy ending to your ride.