Geared Up: Heat Wave Edition

Sep 6th, 2022

Waterfield Jersey Pocket Tool Case

Waterfield Jersey Pocket Tool Case, $69

Waterfield’s Jersey Pocket Tool Case is a handy and stylish way to carry your phone, tools, keys, and whatever else you can fit in it while out riding your bike. It comes in two sizes, small and large (or Pro and Pro Max, to denote which iPhone model fits), and has an outer zip pocket for cash or cards and a main zip pocket with a phone sleeve and a couple of smaller pockets for organization. It’s available in leather in several colors, or in a nylon weave called Forza in a few other colors. 

I tested the size small and can report that my ancient iPhone 8 fits with room to spare. I mainly used the Tool Case to carry my phone, keys, and a multitool while riding my road bike. The Tool Case fits perfectly in a jersey pocket, and its textured nylon back serves two purposes: it keeps sweat from seeping into your goodies and helps the Tool Case from unintentionally sliding out of your jersey. The zippers and nylon back are waterproof, but Waterfield makes no claims about the Tool Case itself being entirely waterproof. With the leather outer, I wouldn’t want to subject it to a heavy rain. Not that I had to worry about that, considering I live in Salt Lake City. 

As good as the Jersey Pocket Tool Case is as a tool case for your jersey pocket, it could certainly serve as a large-ish wallet to hold important items while on tour or otherwise traveling. And because it’s not cheap at $69, you’ll be incentivized to keep from losing the Tool Case regardless of what you’re keeping in it.  –Dan Meyer

Specialized Fjallraven Field Suit

Women’s Specialized/Fjällräven Field Suit, $220

I don’t think anyone will be surprised that I have many, varied opinions about the Women’s Field Suit that Specialized and Fjällräven launched this summer. As much as I am a skeptic of a good gimmick, I can’t deny that this garment was made for me. I’ve been wearing it on and off the bike consistently for the past month — all days where the thermostat rarely dipped below 90°F. The Field Suit is undeniably well designed by people who understand (and likely participate in) urban cycling and short bikepacking adventures. I get compliments everywhere I go when I’m wearing it and not a single joke about Moonrise Kingdom (yet).

Aside from being a totally fun garment, its technical assets are plentiful. The cut of the shorts deserves an award for actually being large enough to comfortably fit cyclist thighs, unlike most women-specific technical pants I have ever worn. There’s also room to wear a chamois underneath without feeling too tight or constricting movement. The adjustable cam-lock waistband is a feature that I wish all pants had — with one cam on each hip, adjusting on the fly is super quick and easy. Another win goes to the *functional pockets* scattered throughout the whole garment: eight in total. The napoleon pockets are large enough to fit an iPhone, which makes listening to a podcast during my morning commute very easy (I only wear one earbud, don’t come after me.) Off the bike, I find myself resting my hands in the hip pockets constantly because they feel so natural. There are reflective strips inside the hems of the shorts that are revealed when cuffed for riding in low-visibility conditions. 

Getting into the Field Suit is slightly easier than getting out of it, but it’s really not that bad. I unzip fully and then reach behind my back to pull the suit off one shoulder. The zipper zips from both top and bottom, which I suspect might make it easy to use a urination aid while standing, though I didn’t test this. 

The biggest (and perhaps only) downfall of the Field Suit is that I would hardly consider the G-1000 Lite fabric to be breathable. If I could publish the photo my riding companion took of my entire backside absolutely drenched in sweat after a two-hour ride while wearing a fanny pack and camera slung around my back, I would. The fact that this fabric can be waxed to increase wind- and water-resistance is laughable, but as we head into fall and winter now, perhaps my tune will change. Living in a climate so dry it inspires nosebleeds, I shudder to think what it might feel like to be trapped in this jumpsuit in the humidity of a 90°F day in the South. I’m going on a limb and saying that the hottest weather I would comfortably wear this in for a bike ride in a dry climate is 85°F and 70°F in a humid climate. The good news is that the fabric dries somewhat quickly and sweat marks disappear.

All in all, I totally recommend the Field Suit if you’re someone who appreciates thoughtful, utilitarian design in your clothing. The construction is so solid that I don’t think the price tag is outrageous. And it doubles as your Pokemon Trainer, Steve Erwin, or Amelia Earhart Halloween costume! The Field Suit comes in both olive green and black, sizes XS–L, and is available in men’s as well.  –Ally Mabry

PNW Loam pedals

PNW Loam Pedals, $99

PNW keeps churning out solid, affordable gear, and the Loam pedal is no exception. Made of aluminum with a large platform (105mm x 115mm), 11 replaceable pins per side, and an axle rolling on sealed bearings, it’s an absolute steal at just $99. It even comes in fun colors! 

My test pedals spun smoothly and freely right out of the box, and so far they haven’t developed any play or drag. If they do need some love in the future, PNW offers comprehensive service kits, including a full rebuild kit as well as axles, pins, and washers. The pins are on the tall side and provide a ton of grip, and the platform is large enough to keep foot ache at bay. The Loam pedals might be overkill for some cyclists, but for mountain biking and dirt-focused bikepacking, I think they’re a high-performing, high-value option. If I have any complaints, it’s that aluminum pedals transmit a lot more shock when they come into contact with rocks as compared with plastic pedals.  –DM

Sea to Summit Escapist Tarp

Sea to Summit Escapist Tarp, $239

Key to a solid minimalist camping setup is a good tarp, something light and packable and with multiple pitch options. Sea to Summit’s Escapist Tarp comes in two sizes, is seam-sealed and waterproof, and has eight reinforced tie-outs with adjustable guy lines. It can be pitched any one of a number of ways and even has suggestions printed on the stuff sack. It’s also lightweight and packs down quite small, roughly half the size of a 2L Nalgene bottle. 

I tested the size large, which, at 10 feet by 10, is plenty big for two people, depending on how it’s pitched. Tying it between a couple of trees in a classic A-frame was my favorite setup, but when you don’t have access to tall trees, you have to get creative, and the Escapist’s plethora of tie-outs helps a lot. A couple of times, I camped on a windy ridgeline with nothing but scrub oak for support, and with the Escapist I was able to pitch a sort of low lean-to. I couldn’t sit up all the way, but at least it kept the wind out. You could even use your bike for support if it came down to it, and if you happen to carry trekking poles when touring, you can use them to make a solid structure without any need for trees. After months of use, the Escapist Tarp looks nearly new, with no holes or damage to seams whatsoever. I wouldn’t hesitate to bring the Escapist with me on a long tour, but I would consider bringing some bug protection if I were traveling through various climates.  –DM

Swiftwick Flite XT Trail socks

Swiftwick FLITE XT TRAIL Socks, $24–28

A sock is required to tick a few specific boxes for me to be able to classify it as a quality sock. First, it must stay in place without cutting off circulation — no droopy cuffs, no numb toes. Second, it should probably be made of merino or a fabric that similarly wicks sweat and never smells terrible. Finally, I need to feel confident using it in multiple scenarios, like for both cycling and running (because multipurpose clothing is my jam.) Ultimately, a high-quality sock is one that you don’t think about and that you don’t feel even on the hottest, sweatiest days. 

Swiftwick’s new FLITE XT TRAIL socks hit all those marks and then some — they provide a little cushion on the parts of your feet that make the most contact with your shoe, and they utilize GripDry Fiber in the heel and forefoot to increase stability on uneven terrain while running. Even on the summer days, I didn’t notice my feet sweating in these socks while I was riding or running. They’re thin enough to slip in and out of cycling shoes easily and still allow for room to breathe. And they’re cute! I love a good charcoal heather sock. The FLITE XT TRAIL socks come in small, medium, large, and extra-large sizes and have two cuff height options: two inches and five inches.  –AM

Apidura Backcountry Full Frame Pack

Apidura Backcountry Full Frame Pack, $192

A full framebag is a key component to a good bikepacking setup as it makes the most use of the space in your main triangle. Apidura’s Backcountry Full Frame Pack is available in three sizes (2.5L, 4L, and 6L), is fully waterproof, and arrives with smart details like a dual-zip main compartment, burly fabric, and compatibility with Apidura’s Frame Pack Hydration Bladder. Because the Backcountry framebag comes in generic sizing, it may not fit your bike perfectly. Indeed, the 4L size was a smidge small for my large Kona Unit, but not so small that I could have gone up a size. Imperfect fit aside, the Backcountry worked extremely well for carrying overnight gear and even just a bottle and snacks for a day ride. The heavy-duty waterproof fabric is overkill for my usual desert-adjacent expeditions, but it’s nice to know that a surprise rainstorm or a brush with stubborn scrub oak branches won’t faze it. And if you do live in a wet climate such as the Pacific Northwest or the UK, I expect this framebag will hold up just fine. 

If you’re worried about how well this pack will fit your bike, Apidura has a new sizing tool. Simply take a photo of your bike in profile (ensuring the rear wheel is on the left side of the photo), launch Apidura’s sizing tool on your computer or smartphone, and upload your photo to the tool. After you calibrate your image by matching the rear rim to a yellow circle in the tool, you can then select one of Apidura’s many frame packs and digitally place them in the main triangle of your bike. It works pretty well! I applaud Apidura for putting forth some genuine innovation.  –DM

Ibex Journey Short Sleeve Crew

Ibex Journey Short Sleeve Crew, $88

Ibex calls the fabric in their Journey shirt Weightless Wool, and they’re not kidding around. With merino wool spun around a nylon filament, the Journey feels oddly substantial, almost thick, for something that weighs nearly nothing at all. It makes for a light, airy shirt that breathes and wicks sweat as well as anything else I’ve worn, not to mention feeling incredibly comfortable against the skin. But what sets the Journey apart for me is the fit: I’m six feet tall and fairly thin, and the medium Journey fits me like it was custom made. The torso is just tight enough to feel like a performance piece when cycling but not so tight that you can’t wear it as a casual shirt, and it’s a little longer than most T-shirts I’m used to, providing some extra coverage when you’re bent over the handlebar. And like other Ibex products, it’s machine washable and odor resistant — I could wear the Journey on a daylong ride and then hang it up to air out for a day or two in my basement, and it would smell just fine.

I’ve worn plenty of other expensive, high-performance shirts from big-name brands in the cycling world, and Ibex’s Journey blows them out of the water. I can’t stress this enough: if I can only bring one short-sleeve shirt on a tour, I’m bringing this one. If I can only have one T-shirt for the rest of my life, it’s this one.  –DM

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