Geared Up: May 2014

Sugru ($22 for 8 mini packs)

Is Sugru the duct tape of the future? Wait, was is Sugru? It’s a self-setting rubber that can be molded into just about any shape and that adheres to just about any surface. It comes in 5 gram packets which have the shelf life of about 12 months (much longer if you refrigerate it). The stuff couldn’t be easier to use — you cut open the packet, knead it into a ball, and then apply it to whatever object you’re trying to fix or adapt. It’s general uses are nearly endless (as you can see here: youtube.com/watch?v=8fOSo_EN-y4) and I’ve used it for many cycling applications: attaching a light to the back of a helmet, applying to a slightly rusting spot on a rack, attaching a super lightweight pump to a bicycle frame, and even securing an Adventure Cycling map to a table when the wind was up — no rocks necessary. Sugru is inert, flexible when cured, and is heat and cold tolerant. If you’re heading off on a tour, take some Sugru along, you’ll find it comes in awfully handy. One quibble, you need a knife or scissors to open the packets. It would be handier if came in tearable packets. sugru.com –MD

KIND Bars ($107.50)

There are many nutrition bars available on the market but KIND bars are a bit unique. When you look at one, you see exactly what you’re going to put into your body. You can see the nuts, honey, rice, and other ingredients — they’re not all smashed together — and they taste like what you see. And they have other positive attributes. They are high in fiber and protein, gluten free, low glycemic, low sodium, and contain no trans fats. In addition, they are very light — perfect for the gram counters. 

KIND bars come in a variety of flavors and types, including Strong & Kind, Fruit & Nut, Kind Plus, and Nuts & Spices. You can find where to buy them individually if you don’t want to purchase an entire case by using their online store locater here: kindsnacks.com/store/#All-Bars. kindsnacks.com –MD

Nite Ize SpokeLit ($9)

The SpokLit is an easy way to make yourself visible when riding in the dark. It’s an LED light that is easily attached (read no tools required) to your wheel’s spokes. Once attached, it will glow steady or flash and it comes in red, blue, green, or disco, which cycles through a variety of colors. SpokeLit is shock and water resistant, weighs only 1 ounce, and the 2 2016 3V batteries are easily replaceable. If you like to ride at night or early in the morning, you should consider adding a SpokeLit to one of your wheels. niteize.com/product/SpokeLit.asp –MD

Coghlan’s 10L Dry Bag ($5) 

When on a bike tour, it’s highly possible you’ll encounter some level of nasty weather conditions. When you do, it’s nice to know that certain items will remain dry, especially your sleeping bag. If you don’t think you need fully waterproof panniers, you can instead stash a Coghlan’s 10 liter lightweight dry bag somewhere in one of your panniers, frame bag, of trailer. If it looks like rain is going to start falling, you can stuff your sleeping bag and lightweight pillow into the dry bag and feel secure that they’ll be dry when you get to camp. 

Coghlans 10L dry bag weighs only 1.3 oz., has dimensions of 7.4 x 14.8 in., and offers a top-buckle closure. Put your mind at ease and carry one along on tour. You won’t regret it.

To purchase visit coghlans.com/store-locator.aspx or look for them at most outdoor retailers, sport shops, or REI. coghlans.com –MD

 

Outdoor Products Ripcord Pack ($29.99)

It’s a fairly safe bet that anyone who’s been an outdoor enthusiast for a while has purchased an Outdoor Products, ummm, product. The brand is a staple in the camping section of Wal-Mart stores around the country and makes packs, hiking poles, and just about everything else a Boy Scout Troop might need. I was, to say the least, skeptical of the new Ripcord Pack that landed on my doorstep, having convinced myself that I’d “graduated” up to more premium level gear needs from back in my Outdoor Products days. But snobbery seemed unbecoming so I packed the 720-cubic-inch bag, loaded the reservoir and put the mid-size pack to the test.

First, there are multiple smaller pockets, which makes organization easy but cramming in a single mid-weight layer difficult. I prefer a larger main compartment for camera gear, which had to be split up to fit in the Ripcord. The nylon construction and heavy duty zippers stood up well and I must admit, I do like the pack’s looks. Plus, the top pocket’s handy key a phone-shaped pockets made grabbing those go-to items easy, though their relative exposure at the top outside of the pack could be an issue in crashes.

The company’s Cyclone hydration bladder was a concern starting out, though the neoprene hose covering was a premium-seeming feature. Anyone who’s dealt with inferior bladders knows that leaks can be common from either the hose-bladder connection or the bite valve, and after becoming a pretty loyal Camelbak user over the last few years I have no tolerance for dripping. While it’s only been through a small portion of the riding season so far, the Ripcord has been leak-free and easy to use. My one quibble would be the straight bite valve is less ergonomic than the 90-degree bend used on Camelbak models and makes for a less-natural movement to get the valve into your mouth. 

All in all, the Ripcord is a functional pack at a price that can’t be beat. outdoorproducts.com/ripcord-hydration-pack/ –AS

Native Linville Sunglasses MSRP: $129

Some people are fine grabbing a set of $5 sunnies from the gas station, while others — cough, me, cough — horde shades like they’ll become a valuable currency on par with gold and bacon after the zombie apocalypse. As such, I’ve got pretty particular parameters when it comes to the sunglasses I reach for when hitting the road or trail. Native’s Linville model had a tough row to hoe right out of the gate, as I don’t usually like the look of glasses without a complete frame around the lens. In fact, I didn’t much like the look of the Linvilles when I unboxed them, but once adjusted for my nose’s considerable bridge and securely on my face I found myself liking the brown lens and brown “wood” style frame. A lot.

Featuring a pile of Native’s technologies, the Linville has interchangeable lenses, lens technology that prevents them from gouging you in the eye in the event of a crash and something called Cam-Action Hinges, which I can no longer live without. The glasses’ arms feel incredibly solid at the hinges and as you open them, there’s a muted but very firm “snap” feeling as they move into place. This solid feel is reassuring when it comes to quality of construction and the additional force required to open or close the arms keeps the glasses from going limp on a hinge when setting them down or cramming them into a case. It seems like a silly thing, but it’s one of those features that makes a big difference when there are so many great optics options out there.

The polarized brown N3 and non-polarized silver lenses included are both excellent variable light conditions, giving plenty of depth and contrast without being so dark as to plunge shadowy spots into total darkness. The brown lenses might not be quite color-neutral enough for long trail rides, as the brown tint made some ruts and grooves in shady sections of trail blend together, especially when covered in brownish pine duff. nativeyewear.com/Eyegear/id/80#product-80-variant-550 –AS


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