2018 Holiday Gear Guide

Nov 21st, 2018

‘Tis the season for Black Friday sales, endless catalogs in the mail, and — for many of us, anyway — a distinct lack of cycling as we watch the temps drop and the snow pile up. But that doesn’t mean we can’t dream of riding again and wrap the perfect gift for the special cyclist in our lives (or for ourselves!). The staff of Adventure Cyclist has compiled a list from stocking stuffer to super spoiled to make shopping a little easier, even if it’s only the window variety.

Adventure Cycling Association Membership, $22.50

Give a gift membership this holiday season for half price. When you join or renew, for just $22.50 you can give a year of Adventure Cyclist magazine and discounts on maps from the Cyclosource store, all while supporting the organization’s mission and advocacy work. 

Wolf Tooth Components Morse Stainless Steel Cage

Wolf Tooth Components Morse Stainless Steel Cage, $25

Made in collaboration with King Cage of Durango, Colorado, Wolf Tooth’s Morse cages offer four different mounting locations across 32mm of adjustment. This helps fit a larger bottle into a regular spot or makes room for a small bottle in especially tight locations. These are also handy when using a partial framebag. Bottle retention is fantastic, and the stainless material doesn’t mar bottles. We recommend the stainless steel version for $25, but if you have to have the best (despite the diminishing returns) Wolf Tooth also has a titanium version for a whopping $70 each. –Nick Legan

Green Guru Gripster

Green Guru Gripster, $30

Bikepacking bags need not be expensive (nor, for that matter, lacking in color). Green Guru’s bags are simple, cheap, and made from upcycled tent fabric in Colorado. The Gripster is a handy little bag that straps in the corner of your front triangle, leaving room (depending on your frame size) for the Upshift framebag and a water bottle. The Gripster may be small, but my puffy jacket stuffs into it perfectly, making it essential for cold-weather rides. –Dan Meyer

Espro Ultralight Press

Espro Ultralight Press, $40

Espro claims that its new Ultralight Press is the world’s lightest double-wall, stainless steel, 16 oz bottle. That it is also a coffee and tea press simply adds versatility to the bottle. With the Ultralight it’s possible to make French Press or pour-over coffee as well as loose-leaf tea. Or you can use it as an insulated mug for hot or cold drinks prepared elsewhere. 

I’ve used Espro’s original Travel Press for a couple of years and have to say that the Ultralight signals an upgrade. In particular, I like the new screw-top lid that seals well while still being easy to remove (the cap on the Travel Press can be overtightened and difficult to remove). The insulation on the mug is impressive, and you want to be careful not to burn your mouth if you put in a piping hot beverage a short time beforehand. I also appreciate that Espro makes parts available for its mugs — it’s better to maintain and update than to replace. At $40, the Ultralight is a great stocking stuffer for anyone, not just cyclists. –NL

Gaia GPS Membership

Gaia GPS Membership, $40

Looking for a way to cut down on the number of electronics you carry? Or perhaps you’d like a reliable redundancy in your navigation system? If so, give Gaia’s GPS smartphone application a gander. Useful for hiking, hunting, camping, off-road driving, and cycling, the app has great maps and can even record rides. Maps and routes can be made available offline so that you can navigate even outside phone coverage areas. While a free, slimmed-down version of the app is available, the fully featured $40 premium membership is a bargain. Included among the many map overlays is National Geographic’s Trails Illustrated series. Because it is an online app, Gaia automatically syncs all your devices. The app is robust enough to be used for primary navigation, but it can also serve as a great backup for very little money. –NL

WTB Riddler 45 Tire

WTB Riddler 45 tire, $58

With a fast-rolling center section and side knobs that hook up when cornering, WTB’s Riddler is a great tire for your touring or gravel bike, especially if you spend most of your time off the macadam. It rolls acceptably well on pavement, but it’s really meant for exploring dirt and gravel roads. The Light/Fast Rolling casing is wonderfully supple but a little thin for long, off-road tours on harsh terrain. Even so, I set them up tubeless and never flatted, even after pinging my rims on rocks while riding with too low of tire pressure. If 45mm is too girthy for your bike, the Riddler is also available in 37mm. –DM

Ecoths Laramie Shirt

Ecoths Laramie Shirt, $82

Many cyclists prefer to ride in, or at least carry along, a set of casual clothes while touring. Ecoths’s Laramie Long Sleeve uses 100 percent organic cotton dobby that is fashioned into a comfortable button down. Two chest pockets make a handy spot for lightweight items, and a microfiber cleaning cloth is integrated into the shirt, helping you wipe your sunglasses clear. The Laramie’s cut is on the slim side without being tight. While a long sleeve, the fabric is light and airy and acts as a nice thin layer in cooler temps or a perfect way to cover up in sunny conditions without boiling. Caring for the shirt is also easy as it is machine wash and dryer friendly. –NL

Great Divide Mountain Bike Route Map Set

Great Divide Mountain Bike Route Map Set, $103

Featuring completely redesigned maps to celebrate the route’s 20th anniversary in 2018, the Great Divide is the planet’s premier long-distance off-road bicycle journey. The updated maps extend the northern terminus of the route from Banff to Jasper, Alberta, and add a challenging but scenic spur to connect Adventure Cycling’s hometown of Missoula, Montana, to the route. 

North St. Pioneer 12 Pack

North St. Pioneer 12 Pack, $104 (with accessory belt and straps)

Made in Portland, North St. offers a wide range of bags useful for cycling. The Pioneer 12 is a larger bum bag available in a wide range of colors. The Pioneer is convertible thanks to an accessory hip belt and bicycle handlebar straps. If you only plan to mount it to your bike, you can save 13 dollars and forego the waist belt. The Pioneer 12 is the larger sibling to the Pioneer 9 Pack and has plenty of room for snacks, a camera, a jacket, some tools, and an inner tube. When you don’t have it crammed full, side compression straps keep it a bit slimmer. While the handlebar mounting is secure, we would recommend using it for lighter items as the bag can sway a bit while riding. But with the size, color, and mounting options, we’ve grown to love North Street’s Pioneer 12 Pack. –NL

Knog PWR Trail Bike Light

Knog PWR Trail bike light, $120

It’s a light! It’s a power bank! It’s the cure for the common cold! Okay, the last one isn’t true, but the Knog PWR Trail light is a pretty handy thing to have on a tour. I mostly toggled between two of the PWR Trail’s six modes: at its max output of 1,000 lumens, it’s bright enough for road rides in the pitch dark; and the Eco-Flash mode, its most efficient, is an effective daytime blinky that can also be seen from the side. (For the tinkerers out there, you can use Knog’s ModeMaker app to customize the light’s brightness and runtime.) Carried as a power bank/emergency light during a recent tour, the PWR held enough juice to charge my phone, camera, and rear light before it needed a charge itself. Note: If you plan on dropping your fully loaded touring bike a lot (like me), be prudent and carry an extra Side Mount for the light. –DM

Smith Lowdown 2 Sunglasses

Smith Lowdown 2 Sunglasses, $130

I feel like a crazy person buying sunglasses that cost three figures, but when you consider I probably pull on sunnies more than 100 days a year … yeah, it still feels a little nuts. But I’m on my second pair of Lowdowns, and unless I’m heading into the deep woods on a mountain bike ride and want more transparent lenses, I reach for these. Classic style, a nice neutral gray lens that doesn’t distort colors (if you spring for the ChromPop lenses the contrast is kicked up, but the gray still offers unshifted color), and comfortable fit make the Lowdowns perfect for running, riding, and porch sitting. It’s a splurge for sure, but one I’m sure I’ll make again. –Alex Strickland

Shimano SH-GR7 Shoes

Shimano SH-GR7 Shoes, $130

A good pair of cycling shoes is worth its weight in gold, but Shimano’s GR7 flat pedal shoe thankfully costs a lowly $130. It’s great for touring as well as mountain biking thanks to its lace-up upper, sticky Michelin rubber sole, and a clever ankle collar that keeps debris out of the shoe. I wore a pair during a three-day adventure on the Continental Divide Trail where we seemed to hike as much as we rode. The GR7s were sure-footed and comfortable throughout the journey and transferred power to the pedals just fine. I also liked that the materials used in the shoe don’t absorb water, keeping them light in soggy conditions. Sizing runs true, and the GR7s use a roomy last, which is great for riders who, like me, wear a slightly thicker sock. If you’re on the hunt for a new pair of shoes for flat pedals, Shimano’s GR7 merit a look. –NL

Garmin Edge Explore

Garmin Edge Explore, $250

Even with a GPS on every wrist and in every pocket in America, there’s still plenty of reason to reach for an “old-fashioned” bar-mounted device if you’re on a bike. Garmin’s new Edge Explore replaces the Edge Touring and Edge Touring Plus, but it’s still squarely designed with touring cyclists in mind. The 3in. touchscreen offers the usual functions in an intuitive interface, and with Garmin’s preloaded cycle map it offers a lot of functionality straight from the box. I loaded up GPX tracks and went out on a short loop tour around Puget Sound and found the screen easy to operate with gloves on or in light rain. The Edge Explore offers compatibility with the brand’s Varia smart lights and a suite of additional features when connected by Bluetooth to a phone, including rider-to-rider messaging that allows you to send preset messages to others with a compatible device. I never used that feature, but I can envision its potential usefulness in certain scenarios. Garmin claims a battery life “up to” 12 hours, which will vary depending on how you’re using the device. –AS


Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt GPS, $250

Wahoo Fitness’s ELEMNT Bolt GPS is one of the easiest to use, fully functional cycling computers on the market. Much of this is thanks to the excellent smartphone app that serves as an interface between user and device. Connecting to Bluetooth and ANT+ accessories like heart rate monitors, cadence sensors, or power meters is a cinch.

Additionally you can also connect to your Strava, Training Peaks, RideWithGPS, and other accounts so that once you finish a ride it will automatically upload the track and pertinent data to your profile. Again using the app, users can customize the data displayed on the various pages, dialing in the information most relevant to you on a given ride. LED indicators at the top of the device can be customized as well, keeping you on pace or within a given power band. Navigation is also excellent despite a fairly rudimentary black and white map page. Battery life impresses too with run times up to 15 hours. Recently Wahoo started offering the Bolt in three colors: black, red, and yellow.

Thanks to its reliable performance, ease of use, and small size, the ELEMNT Bolt is my favorite cycling computer currently on the market.  –NL

Cane Creek eeSilk seatpost

Cane Creek eeSilk seatpost, $289

For road and gravel riding, any measure of added comfort that doesn’t add unnecessary complication or maintenance to your bike is a win. Cane Creek’s eeSilk aluminum suspension seatpost weighs only 295 grams — similar to a regular post — but adds 20mm of vertical cushion. Five different elastomers are offered (three are included with the post), each varying the spring rate. On a dirt or gravel road, the eeSilk does a great job of reducing vibrations. It’s a subtle difference with big ramifications. The longer the ride or tour, the more benefit you’ll see. The parallelogram design maintains a consistent saddle tilt but there’s no getting around the small change in seat height.

It is only offered in a 27.2mm diameter and has eight millimeters of setback. Cane Creek offers $9 adapters up to 31.8mm for the 350-millimeter long post. The max rider weight limit is 330 pounds. If you’re looking to take the edge off the roads you ride, the eeSilk, with its titanium hardware and high-quality aluminum construction, is well worth its price tag. –NL

Gore G5 SHAKEDRY 1985 Insulated Jacket

Gore G5 SHAKEDRY 1985 Insulated Jacket, $350

For the cyclist who is perpetually cold, Gore’s new insulated version of its excellent SHAKEDRY 1985 Jacket may finally make winter riding a pleasant affair. The SHAKEDRY material developed by Gore is totally waterproof and windproof throughout the cross-section of the fabric. Its water repellency isn’t dependent on a coating, meaning that it will, barring any holes in the garment, remain waterproof over the course of its lifespan. The new insulated version uses Polartec Alpha synthetic insulation for increased warmth. Despite the added thickness, the jacket is still remarkably packable. A two-way zipper allows for venting while riding. While certainly expensive, the SHAKEDRY 1985 Insulated Jacket fits well and delivers performance that will last for years. –NL

Sierra Designs Sweet Suite 2 tent

Sierra Designs Sweet Suite 2 tent, $370

The Sweet Suite 2 is a great shelter for solo and duo trips. Two doors make entry and exit easy, and the dual-vestibule, semi-freestanding, two-pole design is light and easy to set up. It has nearly vertical walls that create a lot of internal space, making it easy to change and comfortable while waiting out a storm. The fly is pretty nifty too with several different pitches available. You can roll the fly from either or both ends and stow it at the ridgepole. This maximizes ventilation and views of the night sky but also allows for quick coverage if conditions change.

The entire tent stores in its own stuff sack, a design called the Burrito Bag, which is much easier to pack with its side-situated, cinch-down wide mouth and compression straps. Packaged weight for the $370 tent is 3 lbs., 10 oz. Nothing says Happy Holidays like putting a roof over your adventurer’s head. –NL

Priority 600

Priority 600, $2,200

Expect a full Road Test in the March issue of Adventure Cyclist, but first impressions of this Pinion-equipped multitasker have been positive. The cheapest Pinion gearbox bike on the market, the 600 (named for the 600 percent gear range) is marketed as a commuter, but the upright position, front and rear rack mounts, and 12 speeds make it a strong candidate for up to medium-duty touring. Equipped with WTB Road Plus 47mm tires, fenders, a dynamo hub wired to front and rear lights, and Gates belt drive, the 600 looks to be a versatile machine that brings the cost of entry into gearbox bikes down by a big margin. –AS

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