Pack-It Specter Sac Set by Eagle Creek ($38, 888.824.9460)
Eagle Creek is well known for their luggage and various other packs and systems to outfit travelers. Now you can add Sacs to the list. If you're an organizer and don't like filling your panniers haphazardly, Sacs are an excellent solution. Made of Silnylon, they're extremely lightweight (collectively weighing 2 oz.), stain and water repellant, tough, and see-through. The Sac Set offers three sizes: 8 x 6 in.; 10 x 8 in.; and 14 x 10 in. so you can pack all toiletries in one, socks and undies in another, and jerseys and jackets in the large one. The zippers are sturdy and one top corner offers a loop with a hanger clip while the other just the loop. In addition, they're TSA-friendly you can use them to carry “liquids” through checkpoints at airports. –Mike Deme
Speedier Lever by Crank Brothers ($7, 949.464.9916)
Changing flats is no fun. Ever. But it's unavoidable so you may as well use a tire lever that makes it as easy as possible. The Speedier nylon lever is unique it two ways: it features a handle design so you can slip it over your knuckles and one end is for tire installation while the other for removal. The removal part is self explanatory but the installation end is of more interest. Once you've got your tire in position an get it seated, you're only halfway home. We all know how much of a pain it can be to get the last part fully seated, especially with heavier off-road tires, but with the Speedier lever, you hook the installation hook over the rim and slide. I'm not saying it effortless, but it works a heckuva lot better than getting angry, swearing up and down, and feeling spent once you've won the wrestling match. You can purchase the Speedier levers from Adventure Cycling here: http://www.adventurecycling.org/cyclosource-store/search-results/sp/crank-brothers-speedier-tire-lever. –MD
Orion 1/4 Zip by prAna ($75, 866.915.6457)
In our neck of the woods, it’s still quite cold in the mornings and evenings, so staying warm while cycling during those times is a necessity. The prAna Orion 1/4 Zip jersey is an excellent solution to the layering requirement. It’s made of heathered polyester but is very soft on the skin and the fit allows for uninhibited movement. Other features include flatlock seams, which reduce irritation, the zipper locks so it won't slide once you've adjusted it to your liking, and it’s lightweight and quick drying. It comes in Fireball, Pewter, and Charcoal and can be worn anytime, not just on while riding. –MD
Spring Solar Charger by Vapium ($50, 888.393.6119)
The press release. They’re the emails my inbox likes the least. If I had to estimate, I’d say that only 3% of the press releases I get pertain to cycling, let alone bike travel, so when Vapium’s press release arrived, I was about to toss it when I saw the image of the Spring. Just goes to show that a diamond can be found in any rough.
The Spring's dimensions are 3 x 5 1/2 in. and it weighs in at 5 oz. And, sure, it's marketed as a charger for a vaporizer, but if you're not into that sort of thing, you can still make good use of the Spring as a charger for any other electronic gadget because it works quite well. After 8 hours in direct sunlight, it’s ready to go and charged my iPod Nano twice and my iPhone 5s up to 125%. It can also be charged by way of a USB micro port by plugging it into a computer or any other power source. Not a vaper? No worries, the Spring is a good charger for all your small e-products. –MD
Inertia Ozone by Klymit ($89.95, , 888.559.6481)
Most lightweight camping pads are of the small variety, either quite short or narrow. The Inertia O Zone is an exception. Weighing 14 oz. and measuring 3 x 6 in. when packed in its stuff sack, it’s a full-length pad at 72 x 21.5 x 1.75 in. when inflated. Klymit uses its neutral body mapping technology to design a pad that offers support to key areas of the body while removing (or not including) padding where it's needed less or not at all, which is what gives the O Zone it's waffled look. The top features 30-denier rip stop nylon while the bottom is constructed of heavier-duty 75-denier. In addition the O Zone features a self centering pillow with its own inflation valve. That’s what Klymit calls it. I’m not sure why — it’s attached, so I don’t see how it would become uncentered. The O Zone inflates quickly and is best deflated by rolling it up from the bottom up toward the quick lock valves. –MD
Escade Loose Fit Shorts by Primal ($100)
Any regular wearer of mountain bike-style baggy cycling shorts will tell you that the problem is often that companies have an excellent inner short — well-placed and padded chamois and a solid fit — or they have a fantastic outer short with just the right combination of stretch and protection, but they rarely have both. As such, I usually mix and match liners and outer shorts, but even then the interface between the two isn’t quite right since brands use all manner of systems to keep the pair working in harmony.
Well, Primal might’ve changed that with their new Escade short, which has an excellent liner short with the company’s Italian-made TMF chamois (of which I’ve been a fan of and ridden for many years) and an outer short that’s not too loose, not too heavy and extremely comfortable on the bike.
Four-way stretch fabric gives plenty of freedom of movement and seems very durable, though — knock on wood — hasn’t been crashed heavily enough to really test. Zippered pockets keep necessities secure and reflective accents are a nice touch for those stretches before and after a trailhead. The waistband has pulls on each side to fine-tune the fit, though I’ve found that Primal’s shorts run pretty true to size and don’t require much futzing.
Considering you’re getting an excellent liner short that can serve double duty elsewhere and a fantastic outer short, $100 seems like a bargain. –Alex Strickland
Tracker Urban Jersey by Primal ($70)
I seem to collect cycling jerseys like I collected baseball cards in my youth. So when a new one comes my way it’s now judged with great prejudice, as I’ve got a long list of features I like and dislike when it comes to cycling tops. In general, I’ve started eschewing “loose fit” jerseys because more often than not the cut is no different from a T-shirt, but the price is considerably higher than a moisture-wicking shirt I can pick up at my local sporting goods shop.
That is to say, I approached the new Urban Jersey from Primal with some skepticism, but was pleasantly surprised to find that the fit was just right and the SpeedPro material seemed to do a better-than-most job of keeping me cool on long climbs. The graphics are subjective, but I like them — not too loud but still pretty fun.
I will say that the SpeedPro fabric, like all synthetic fibers, does seem to hold in some stink vs. a lightweight wool jersey. I recognize this could be a personal issue, but if I were in need of a jersey to wear on multiple days without a wash I’d steer clear of synthetics if possible. For everything else though, this new jersey from Primal is a strong contender. –AS