Holiday Gear Guide: Under $50

Stocking Stuffers (Under $50)

Cheap Safety Glasses, $10

In general I support the thesis that spending more money gets you a better product. Bike frame? I’ve shelled out more to get the fancy carbon. Helmet? I’ve ponied up for the MIPS-equipped model. Eyewear? Here’s where the aforementioned thesis breaks down for me. I have a couple pairs of nice, expensive sunglasses, but I don’t use them for cycling. Why? Because eyewear, in my experience, takes more of a beating than any other item of cycling apparel. I should note that I’m chiefly a mountain biker, so my face spends a fair amount of time being whipped by branches and occasionally drug though the dirt. But even on the road, lenses are subject to the whims of high-velocity insects, gravel kicked up by tires, and general acts of carelessness. So considering the damage they’re likely to incur, why would I pay 200 shekels for fancy eyewear that is no more impact resistant or UV protective than a pair of $10 safety glasses from my local hardware store? The main reason would have to be vanity, I guess. People look at me funny in my cheapo glasses. There are also the issues of fogging, which is solved by taking the durn things off, and that of visual distortion, which I only noticed when I first put them on. Fit and style will vary by brand and model, so try a few out. I’ve found my favorite: the Bollé Contour. I have a tinted version for everyday riding and one with clear lenses for night riding, and they can be had for a little more than $10 from a certain online retailer. They even come with dork straps to keep them from flying off your head! –DM

Bedrock Tapeats Handlebar Bag, $50

Keeping a camera, phone, drink, or snacks handy improves any bicycle journey. Made in Durango, Colorado, the Bedrocks Tapeats handlebar bag does just that in a nearly waterproof, easy-to-use package. Whether used with flat or drop bars, the bag is strapped to the bar top and tethered to the fork crown for exceptional stability. Because it is almost waterproof, the Tapeats bag is also a good place for storing electronics. Large enough for a Nalgene bottle, the bag can be easily opened and closed with one hand and folds flat when not in use. If you find one indispensible, a pair of them can be mounted on either side of the stem for even more storage. –NL

Deda Elementi Mistral Bar Tape, $15

I’m happy to say that my quest to find the perfect handlebar tape might be over. Combining durability, comfort, a variety of color options, and a price tag that is easy on the wallet, I give you Deda Elementi Mistral bar tape. At $15, this synthetic perforated tape has a leather-like feel that offers excellent grip in both wet and dry conditions. Colors range from a classic brown to fluorescent yellow, so you’re bound to find a color that fits your style. –JT

Arundel Bando water bottle cages, $35

With four levels of adjustable bottle security, Arundel’s Bando cage is great for touring cyclists, even those who take to dirt roads and trails. Included with the Bando cage are two rubber straps that can be used together for ultimate bottle retention. A rider can also tune the level of grip using either the thin or thick strap, or use no strap at all for smooth road riding. The cage is made of nylon-reinforced plastic tough enough for off-road use. At 51 grams and only $35, the Bando is a great value performer. –NL

Good To-Go dehydrated meals, $7–$12

Camp food doesn’t have to be lousy or hyper-processed. So says Jennifer Scism, the founder of Good To-Go and an accomplished chef. Starting with a countertop dehydrator, Scism went about creating high-quality dehydrated meals for the gourmand outdoorsman and -women. With vegan, gluten-free, pescatarian, and vegetarian options, Good To-Go meals are offered in single- and double-serving sizes and have ingredient lists that you can actually read. The Pad Thai is exceptionally good after a long day on the trail. All the meals are made in Maine. –NL