Geared Up: July 2014

RecoFit Armcoolers ($35, recofit.co, 877-732-1505)

If you want an arm sleeve that provides multiple functions, you might take a look at RecoFit’s Armcoolers. They look like a typical arm warmer but, in this case, looks are deceiving. These are coolers feature Icefil, a technology with Xylitol, a natural sugar alcohol, that creates more effective evaporation. They also offer anti-microbial properties and 50-plus UV protection so they block infrared and offer UV protection. These arm coolers also feature a hypo-allergenic rubber upper-arm gripper to keep them from sliding down your arm while also providing gentle compression.

Using these on a warm day, I noticed the cooling effect immediately but it wasn’t something I noticed over the entire ride, probably because I got used to it. Overall, because of the variety of features the RecoFit Armcoolers offer, they get high marks. —MD

Power Crunch ($30 for 12-bar box, powercrunch.com/products/energy-bars/original)

In the jungle of energy bars, it can be hard to stand out because there are many tasty bars that provide the straining body with the nutrition to carry on. One brand I’ve tried recently and am pretty happy with is Power Crunch’s Original Triple Chocolate. These bars provide 205 calories with 13 grams of fat, 5 grams of sugar, and 13 grams of protein. Essentially, they are chocolate-covered wafers and taste quite delicious.  

Other flavors are French Vanilla Créme, Peanut Butter Créme, Peanut Butter Fudge, Cookies & Créme, Wildberry Créme and our newest stroke of genius, Chocolate Mint. —MD

Brooks Slender Leather Grips (€65, brooksengland.com, +44 121 565 2992)

If you want to spiff up your townie, cruiser, or commuter bike, one quick way to do so would be to add Brooks’ Slender Leather Grips. These vegetable-tanned leather grips are made with all the care and consideration of all other Brooks leather cycling kit. They are very easy to install on straight handlebars with aluminum and stainless steel clamps at each end that are tightened by a torx bolt. Importantly, if the leather wears out, you can simply replace it instead of the whole grip by unwrapping the old tape and winding new leather around the aluminum core. 

The Slender Grips are made in Italy and come in black, brown, honey, aged, royal blue, apple green, olive green, red, ochre, and maroon. —MD

NiteIze Gear Line ($15 for 2-footer; $20 for 4-footer, niteize.com/product/GearLine.asp)

If you’re going to be camping on your next bike tour, the Gear Line from NiteIze might interest you. You can use it to hang a variety of items whether they are communication devices, water bottles, apparel that needs to dry, lights — you name it — as long as it has something to clip to, and you can use it inside or outside your tent. The 4-footer features 10 s-biners from which to hang things (5 #2s and 5 #4s) and the 2-footer offers 6 -biners (3 #2s and 3 #4s). Both can be attached to their anchor points by heavy-duty twist ties which allow for a connection point to just about anything.

GU Energy Gel and Chomps (Box of 8 Gels - $11.60; Box of 16 Chomps - $31.75, guenergy.com)

One of the many pleasures of bicycle travel is that when energy is required, it’s more often than not time for a slice of pie rather than a Powerbar. But a friendly roadside dinner or coffee shop can’t always pop up at the perfect time and some roads wander far from home-cooked vittles. So when the time comes to reach deep into the bottom of a pannier to retrieve some effective energy for one last climb, it might as well taste good. GU has a pair of options that are among the best I’ve tested depending on your texture preferences. For those who don’t mind the fast-acting — but sometimes a little off-putting — consistency of an energy gel, GU’s Espresso Love isn’t quite Starbucks, but having caffeine delivered in a coffee-esque medium just feels right. If energy gels are a little too... viscous, ripping open a packet of Chomps could be just the ticket. The gummy bear-like chews provide a nice energy kick with a satisfying bite. They go down best with water, but unlike energy bars that can sometimes cause instant cotton mouth, the Chomps are fine on their own. Either style delivers a mix of carbohydrates, amino acids, electrolytes and caffeine to help keep the ride going. —AS

Darn Tough Vermont Socks (Tab No Show $15; Micro Crew $17, darntough.com)

Finding the perfect cycling sock is like looking for a unicorn: it’s fun to search, but you’re highly unlikely to hit pay dirt. This spring my journey brought me to Darn Tough Vermont socks, which back up the inherent promise of their name with a lifetime warranty. Blow out a big-toe-hole in their and they’ll send you another pair on the house. The company’s Tab No Show Light Cushion and Micro Crew Ultralight are two of Darn Tough’s most popular cycling socks, and it didn’t take long to figure out why. The crew sock’s higher ankle height — and eye-catching herringbone design — was perfect for keeping rocks and dirt at bay and the ultralight fabric was perfect for my shoe fit. That said, when temperatures start to rise I prefer my ankles to be bare, which tipped the scales toward the Tab No Show when it warmed up. A small ankle tab prevents any annoying achilles rub and while the lower height let in a few loose pebbles, the cooler cut was well worth it. For my shoes, even the light cushion was a bit too much and cramped my toes, but Darn Tough makes the same model in an ultralight version that would be perfect for those snug shoe situations. Both models are made from merino wool with nylon and spandex. —AS


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