Geared Up: Holiday Gift Guide Edition

September 29, 2014

By Mike Deme, Kristen Peterson, and Alex Strickland

Power Up! 

by Mike Deme

Power. We all need it these days. I’ve covered a few of these products before in Adventure Cyclist gear columns but, since then, I’ve seen the explosion of these devices. Nearly every day I get an email about one or another. So here’s a roundup of some good options for powering your devices when an AC outlet isn’t available.

Jump Cable by Native Union ($50, 415-475-9775)

The Jump Cable is unique among power devices. It’s quite small, measuring 2 ins. x 2 ins. and a bit over 1/4 of an inch deep. It houses a USB cable with either an Lightening for iPhone 5, 5s, or 6, or USB micro connector for Android devices and just about anything that isn’t an Apple product. The cable wraps around the Jump and both ends click into spaces designed to hold them in place. The Jump also houses an 800 mAh battery which provides a 30% charge to iPhone and a 20% charge to Android devices. Not much, but it’s enough for about 3 hours of talk time and, at its small size, that’s about all you can really expect. 

Secur Sun Power Bank 4000 ($69, 855-452-8388)

The Sun Power Bank is unique among these devices because it features a built-in ultra high efficiency solar power panel so it can be charged by setting it out in the sun in addition to plugging it into an AC outlet or a computer. Although it doesn’t feature 2 output charging ports, it has a built in USB micro connector so you can charge an Android device and another device using the standard USB output port. Both the USB input and output cords are built in and insert into each top corner so they stay safe and out of the way. At 5 ins. x 3 ins. and weighing 4.8 oz., it’ll provide about 3 total charges from its 4000 mAh but, if you’re in a sunny environment, it’ll keep your devices charged over and over again. I noticed it’s best to fully charge the Sun Power Bank via AC or computer first, otherwise, it’ll take about 10 hours to fully charge via solar power. Once fully charged, it’ll keep about 70% of its power for about 3 months.

All of the following devices feature two charging ports so you can charge two devices at once:

Harmonica Style Power Bank by Lumsing, $60

The Lumsing device was the first that I came across that had two USB ports so you could charge two devices at one. At 5.5 ins. x 2.5 ins. and packing a 10400 mAh battery, the Harmonica will power iPhones, Androids, and Garmin devices over and over. It charged an iPhone 4 and 5 3 times each. That’s a lot of portable juice. It weighs 8.6 oz. and features a 4-light indicator so you can see how much juice is still available by pressing the button next to the light. The USB charging input is on the left side of the device which keeps it out of the way of the other power cables. If you’re looking for a device that can power you through about two weeks of charging a mobile phone, this is a strong contender. (As I wrote this, it was available on Amazon for $20, a great deal.)

PowerGrid by Tego Power ($60, 877-817-8346)

The PowerGrid features a 4200 mAh battery inside a rubberized housing that measures 3.5 ins. x 2.5 ins. and weighs 4.4 oz. At about half the battery power of the Lumsing, it still managed to charge the same iPhone 4 and 5 twice each. The PowerGrid also holds more than half of its charge for over three months. You can see how much power is available when you plug it in as 5 LED light indicators shine through the rubberized housing. You can also activate the lights by double pressing the button in the lower right corner if the PowerGrig is oriented with the USB ports facing you. The power input is also on the side, again keeping that cord from interfering with the others.

Konnect Kolor by JunoPower ($70, 415-528-2011)

The Konnect Kolor is the most powerful of these devices, featuring a 12000 mAh battery. It charged an iPhone 4 and 5 a total of 9 times. One of the best features of the Konnect Kolor is that instead of LED lights that indicate how much power it has left, it actually shows you a percentage number so you know exactly how much juice it has left. And at 5.25 ins. x 3.75 ins and weighing 9.7 oz., it’s also the largest and heaviest device, but for that your get the most power output. Another cool feature of the Konnect Kolor is a built-in LED flashlight, and a surprisingly powerful one at that, which you activate by double pressing the power indicator button. 

Braven BRV-1 ($99, 877-927-2836)

The BRV-1 not only can charge your devices, it’s also a waterproof WiFi speaker. I’ll admit it, I’m a music junkie so this device is high on my list of must-take-along items. It features a rugged rubber exterior with 4 rubberized feet to keep it in place while it rocks your world. Well, maybe not your entire world, after all, It’s only 4.75 ins. x 3.25 ins. x 2.25 ins. and weighs 12.3 oz. The BRV-1 sounds great in a small to medium sized rooms but gets a bit out of its depth in large rooms and when there’s ambient noise, however, if you’re a lone traveler, sit this device right next to you and it’s all you’ll need. I’ve found it to be a terrific companion in camp, and it’ll play for about 12 hours on a single charge. It features a 4200 mAh battery so it’ll only charge your device to about 90% before giving out.

Jackery Leaf, $50

The Jackery Leaf is a charger and protective case for the iPhone 5/5s. While there are plenty of protective cases and chargers out there for iPhone, the Leaf is unique because it consists of two pieces; the protective case and the battery power pack, which means you can have your iPhone in or out of the charger and still keep it protected. The protective case is quite slim and adds little bulk to you iPhone.

Once you've installed the iPhone in one of the two included protective cases, you can then simply slide it into the battery charger where it will engage the Lightning connector. The charger unit itself is charged via a USB micro port and allows you to charge the iPhone while it's in the battery pack. You can also transfer data to your iPhone through the battery pack unit.

The Leaf features a 2400 mAh battery and will provide 150% charge to your iPhone; that's one full charge and then another 50% charge. An LED indicator let's you know how much juice is left in the Leaf; green means fully charged, blue a medium charge, and red means dead.

Apparel for All

New cycling clothing company, Velocio, is taking women’s fashion to a new level. Combining comfortable and flattering fits with edgy designs, women’s cycling has never looked or felt so good. Behind the scenes of Velocio you’ll find Kristy Scrymgeour, a 20-year cycling veteran and the owner of the best women’s professional cycling team. With this kind of knowledge and experience driving the company, Velocio perfectly blends function and fashion to create a better, more enjoyable ride for everyone. 

Velocio reviews by Kristen Peterson

Velocio Stripes Jersey ($159, 805-215-0859)

The Velocio Stripes Jersey uses modern design to create a colorful and fun jersey that you won’t want to take off. Made from a soft and lightweight Bio Ceramic material, the jersey absorbs harmful UV rays while keeping riders cool on the hottest of summer rides. It is tailored fit to make the jersey loose but not baggy, which is flattering for any body type. But beyond style and fit, the details really make this kit. Unlike many women’s jersey’s, Velocio has three main pockets on the back and even includes an extra zipper pocket for valuables. For long distance rides or when the weather looks nasty, a third pocket is essential to carry all necessary equipment. Finally, Velocio’s jerseys include several small reflective details that add another small bit of protection and peace of mind while out on the road. 

Classic Bib Shorts ($199, 805-215-0859)

The Velocio classic women’s bib shorts make any summer ride more enjoyable. The chamois is on the thicker side, which may worry some minimalist riders. However, once on the bike, the thickness becomes unnoticeable even late into a long ride. The bib shorts are stretchy and forgiving but compressive enough to keep riders’ thighs looking sleek and slender. Also, the leg bands have small rubber grippers that gently hold the shorts in place without creating the dreaded sausage leg look. However, this looser and more flattering fit allows leg warmers to creep down mid ride. So keep these shorts for warm summer days. Velocio bib shorts use a mesh upper layer to hold the straps in place and evenly disperse pressure across the shoulders. This extra structure also helps keep the chamois from moving around while riding and makes for an overall comfortable and no-fuss ride. 

Whether you plan to ride across the country or across town, the Velocio cycling kits are a great option for comfort and style. The colorful and fashionable jerseys make things light and fun while the bib shorts will keep you riding for hours. With different colors and stylish designs, you can choose the jersey that makes you look great and feel more confident out on the road. A great kit may not get you to your destination faster, but Velocio’s women’s designs will make the journey that much more fun and more comfortable. 

Woolx Midweight 1/4 Zip Top ($110, 888-465-7977)

The Woolx 1/4 Zip top is a perfect garment for the upcoming cold-weather riding season. It’s an incredibly versatile garment that can be worn alone, under a vest or windbreaker, or even under your favorite cycling jersey, if it’s not skin tight. It’s made of 100% Australian super-fine merino wool and has similar characteristics to cashmere. I’m not going to claim it’s as soft as cashmere next to the skin but it’s brushed surface keeps itchiness to a minimum. 

If you’re looking for a base layer jersey you can rely on to keep you warm while riding, this might be your ticket. Keep in mind, wool is a great temperature regulator and it doesn’t absorb odors so you can ride in this jersey many times before it’ll need washing. It comes in sizes small through double XL so it’ll fit both men and women.   —MD

Club Ride Jack Flannel ($89, 208-726-2582)

Flannel and cycling go together like, well, they don’t. Or at least I didn’t think they did before spending some time in Club Ride’s Jack Flannel jersey. Let’s be clear, this isn’t the top of choice for a midsummer expedition or even a chilly fall cyclocross race. But it’s perfect for just about anything else once the sun sets or autumn air sets in. 

Made from a breathable, wicking flannel called Dri-sulate and sporting a pair of zippered pockets, underarm vents, and a few reflective accents, the Jack Flannel is as functional as it is stylish. I wouldn’t hesitate to pack it along for a casual tour when space isn’t at a premium and there might be a few stops in pubs along the way. The armpit vents, in particular, elevated this shirt to jersey status and allowed for a little more output without marinating in sweat.

The jersey is cut in Club Ride’s comfort fit, so it’s a little on the boxy side. In fact, though I usually sit somewhere between a medium and a large when it comes to cycling tops, I’d opt for a small in the Jack Flannel. 

There’s also a women’s version, called the Liv’n Flannel, that features the same fabric and features but with a little more of a traditional western cut and fewer plaid options. Both mens and womens versions are a new take on cycling jerseys, and one that looks just at home on the bike as it does behind a desk.  —AS

Sanuk Vagabond ($55, 855-467-2685)

Sanuk’s original Sidewalk Surfers are a staple around college campuses where disheveled undergrads can’t be bothered to lace up a pair of shoes before stumbling out to class. But the sandals — Sandals? I didn’t believe it either — might be my new favorite camp shoe.

Rare is the cyclist coming through Adventure Cycling’s headquarters without a pair of flip flops bungee’d to a rack or peeking our of a pannier. There’s nothing better than letting the dogs breathe a little after a long day in the saddle, but even in the height of summer Montana’s nights can dip down near freezing at elevation. That’s where the slacker-friendly Sanuks stepped in and took the prize for me. As light and packable as flip flops but with lightweight full coverage, these slip-ons provide just the right amount of warmth and protection around camp while still being breezy enough for warmer temperatures.  —AS

180s Torch LED Gloves ($70, 877-725-4386)

There are a million ways to light up and reflect at night, but more often than not those accessories are add-ons that do one thing and do it well. When I spotted the Torch LED gloves at 180s during the Outdoor Retailer tradeshow earlier this year, the proverbial light bulb went off in my head.

These softshell gloves feature a small, but powerful LED light on the index finger knuckle of each hand powered by a small replaceable battery. The light and battery virtually disappear during the day, adding no noticeable weight or bulk to the slim gloves. But at night a quick push on the wrist-cuff-mounted battery illuminated the LED in either a flashing or solid mode. While I wouldn’t count on them for illumination of the road ahead, they do provide some additional light to see and be seen. But more importantly, I found that having an LED literally on-hand made signaling turns exponentially more obvious to drivers and added an additional and useful layer of safety at night.

The gloves are touchscreen friendly, so using a smartphone was a cinch and the wind and water resistance of the fabric was perfect for cool morning and evening rides. I haven’t had them long enough to provide much insight on durability, especially in the palms where bicycle grips hit, but the construction seems ready to provide a long life.  —AS

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