I have been riding the Gore Wear C5 Infinium Hybrid Jacket for a couple months now here in Utah since the weather turned cold. Last year we reviewed the Gore C5 Active Jacket a full Gore-Tex® Jacket. The new Infinium Hybrid offers similar protection from rain and cold weather in a stretch soft fleece lined fabric called GORE-TEX Infinium. It is not as waterproof as the C5 Active Jacket, but offers a more comfortable, quite, jacket for cooler days with a chance of precipitation.
With all Gore Wear products we have tested, quality is expected and usually delivered. The C5 Infinium jacket is no different. I top sections of the jacket, arms, shoulders, and back are covered by traditional Gore-Tex® fabric. The chest, under arms and back is covered by a soft quite and breathable layer.
The key to the relatively new Gore Infinium splits the lines of waterproof and breathability. Infinium fabric provides a bit of warmth and a bit of waterproofing with a lot more breathability and comfort. The Infinium offers a four way stretch, and makes it a lot more comfortable to ride both road and mountain bike in.
The pocket zippers on the hand have small inconspicuous pulls. The chest pocket zipper is easier to grasp with gloves on and a great place to stash a phone.
A panel of Gore-Tex® on the rear of the jacket makes for easy clean up after a wet or muddy ride. There are also two reflected tabs on the side of the back panel for visibility.
Large internal pockets are great for stashing arm or leg warmers, gloves, large phones, and snacks.
The hood can be rolled up and secured with a plastic button. It works under a helmet but not over. It can also be tied with a draw cord to help with fit and side visibility.
A lightweight trail jacket for riding in mixed conditions
Material offers windproof and highly water-resistant protection
Breathable membrane prevents overheating and clamminess
Hybrid construction is lightweight, warm, comfy, and packable
Adjustable under-helmet hood can be stowed away when not in use
Taped seams on shoulders and back for added weather protection
Stretch panels ensure freedom of movement on the bike
Adjustable waist hem with cord stop keeps mud and moisture out
This must watch video explains the hybrid jacket and some of the amazing technology that Gore Wear has created.
Membrane/laminate Gore-Tex Infinium Face fabric 55% polyester, 45% nylon, Shoulders, upper arms Gore-Tex Active, Front and back panels, underarms 87% polyester, 13% elastane, Lining 100% polyester
This is not just a cycling jacket. It works well for a slim fitting all around active jacket. There are no back pockets, so you won’t be getting strange looks wearing it to the movies. However, you won’t have that familiar pocket you are so use to reaching for. It’s my current go to jacket for mountain biking.
It does a pretty good job of regulating heat as the temperature fluctuates during a ride.
The jacket fits true to size as a medium. I am 5’10” 160 lb and it fits me perfect with a single layer under. It would not be considered a race fit, but it’s slimer that typical mountain bike specific jackets.
The jacket has held up to some mud and rain rides as well as machine washed and hung dried. It’s been used with back packs and hip packs.
In July 2019 Jabird announced one of the smallest and lightest truly wireless and waterproof headphone on the market. Having been a wireless headphone user for many years, we were excited to try a new headphones by Jaybird. In full disclosure, Jaybird send us the Vista to provide our unbias and honest review.
The Vista is offered at $180 which puts it in the same class as Apple Airpods and Jabra Elite wireless headphones. The price may seem a little high, but when compared to cheaper wireless earbuds on Amazon.com they are far superior in quality and sound. All have true wireless capabilities, on board charging, and waterproof. I’ve been using Jabra Elite earbuds for years so I will be making a lot of comparisons to the them throughout this review.
The Jaybird Vista Features
Jaybird Vista Case
The Jaybird case is extremely small and light weight when compared to the competitors. It’s clam-shell design with a small lanyard make it really nice to toss in your pocket and forget it’s there, or easily retrieve it. Weighing in at just 6 grams, it’s one of the lightest and smallest on the market, while still offering an additional 10 hours of charge. The case also offers a quick charge feature to add an hour of play time to the headphones in just 5 minutes in the charger. Connecting the headphones via Bluetooth is simple, just hold down the button in the center of the case, watch for the light on the front, and scan for the device on a phone or computer.
The case also has magnets to secure the headphones when dropped into the case. It’s a nice feeling to just sortof toss them into the case and the magnets grab them and secure them in the right position.
The case using USB-C for charging, something Jabra still hasn’t moved toward and is still using micro-USB. I’m currently paired with the Samsung Note that has USB-C charging, so it’s nice to only have a single cable to charge both.
The earbuds are centered around a 6 mm milled driver that fairly decent sound quality. The Jaybird app allow for fine tuning the EQ to provide a customizable sound. This is something I really liked as I enjoy many different styles of music.
The earbuds can be used to take phone calls in stereo or use each headphone independently. This is something Jabra Elite headphones can’t do. Even cooler is that you can use each earbud independently, and maintain battery in each earbud independently. In theory you could get up to 32 hours of listening when using only one earbud at a time, and charging the other during use.
The earbuds are IPX7-rated waterproof and sweat-proof. I sweat in them a lot. I use them on outdoor bike rides a couple times a week, and haven’t had any issues with them yet. Time will tell, if issues arise and if they do I’ll keep them updated here. For example after about a year of the Jabra Elite earbuds I started having issues where one earbud was quieter than the other. I’ve read online it’s a common issue, some say it’s overheating, other say they just get dirty.
Some of the features missing that we would like to have that were offered with the Jabra Elite are the hear through feature that allows you to hear the surroundings. The functionality on the earbuds is a little limited too, with only a single button on each earbud.
Jaybird Vista Earbud Buttons
There is only a single button on each earbud on the Jaybird Vista while there are two buttons on each ear bud with the Jabra Elite. While the Vista buttons are customizable, I still found myself lacking functionality at the earbud. You have to select button functionality in the app for 1 of 3 button clicks. Single click (default play/pause), double click (default next song), click and hold (default to power off). To use volume, google assistant, next/previous, or volume up/down require setup in the app and loss of other functionality previously assigned to the button. Even the custom setting for single click only offers functionality capable with Spotify premium account. I am and Amazon music user so these customizations were useless to me.
Jaybird Vista Earbud Fit
The earbuds come with a 3 sizes of silicone ear gels that all have a wing to fit into the upper part of the ear for a secure fit. I used some of the first generation wireless Jaybird headphones year ago. The wings attached around the driver/battery and quickly became useless. The earbuds were contently falling out of my ears unless I was sitting still at a desk. The new Vista earbuds fit really well, I can’t get them to fall out of my ears if I wanted to. Additionally, it worth pointing out, the Jabra Elite headphones are larger. I’ve been told it looks like I have olives in my ears when wearing them. Also, I’m not the only one to complain about the look of the Airpods just being ridiculous. As an avid mountain biker, I’ve seen a number of Airpods laying on the trail having fallen out of riders ears. The Vistas have to be my favorite fitting earbuds with a low profile, even after wearing them for hours, sleeping against them on an airplane, I have the least pain with them.
The headphones feature Jaybirds JBS1 wireless technology using Bluetooth 5.0 to connect to any bluetooth audio source. Now I’m no audiophile, but I like good sound, and can tell the difference between poor sound and good.
If I had to pick the Jabra Elite or the Jaybird Vista over sound alone, I think I’d pick the Jabra. However, with the Jaybird app, a lot more can be achieved in terms of finding the sound you like than with the Jabra Elite.
The Jaybird app has to be my current favorite for managing the headphones. The battery life, EQ, button assignment, and profiles make a perfect companion to the headphones, and its easy to use.
One annoyance was the updates to the ear pieces. I was traveling without internet access and kept being requested to update my Jaybird Vista. Only after failing to update a number of times was I able to proceed with sections of the app.
Button controls can be customized in the app.
Find my bud is a feature to find earbuds that might be lost. You must allow location access and it will use a small amount of additional phone battery. However, it works surprisingly well. While I have never lost an earbud, as a mountain biker it’s nice to turn on this feature when riding to offer a little bit of security.
Voice prompts are offered to readout power and battery life when turned on. This can be changed to only queue on tones, voice and tones, or turned completely off. Additionally, there 8 different languages to select from.
Lastly in the app is settings for the Auto off. It can be set to “Don’t turn off”, “Turn off after 15 min”, or “Turn off after 60 minutes”
Frequently Asked Questions about the Jaybird Vista Headphones
Who are the Jaybird Vista for?
The Vista are targeted at athletes with the waterproof and sweat-proof design, they stay put during everything from running, gym sessions, cycling and everything else we tried from yard work to writing reviews.
What it’s like to use the Jaybird Vista?
The Vista have a unique shape and ear fit design. The ear gel are more oval in shape that most round shapes. They seal out almost all outside noise. There is a single button on each earbud that can be used in three functions. Single press, double press, and press and hold. The single press can be used to answer and disconnect phone calls or control music.
Are Jaybird Vista good Gym headphones?
The Jaybird Vista have to be our favorite gym headphones we have used to date. The small and compact case, low profile ear buds, waterproof and sweat-proof make them ideal for gym use. I can keep the case in my pocket and forget it’s there because it’s so small.
How long does the battery last in Jaybird Vista earbuds?
During normal use in ideal conditions sitting at a desk I was able to get close to the advertised 6 hours of playback with both earbuds powered on. It takes about 2 hours to charge the earbuds back up to 100%, but they can be speed charged for an hour of use in just 5 minutes.
How do you pair Jaybird Vista to your phone?
The Vista are about the easiest headphones to pair with. Simply open the case, hold the internal button for a couple seconds and look for the device in your available devices to connect.
Do the Jaybird Vista have a warranty?
Yes, in AMR and AP One-Year limited warranty. In EMEA Two-year limited warranty.
The Bottom Line
Would I recommend the Jaybird Vista headphones to a friend? Absolutely, with the caveat they are a bit expensive. But the overall value is right on par with other headphones in the same category. They stay put in your ears and don’t fall out. They are comfortable for long periods of time. I haven’t experienced any latency issues with them, or even any connection issues thus far. The biggest issue has been when the earbuds try to “Update” from the app. It always seems to hang and fail. This hasn’t effected the use of the earbuds, but I anticipate I’m not benefiting from the updates. Overall, a great buy, keep an eye out for new colors and think about these as a great holiday gift for that special someone.
Disclosure: We may receive affiliate compensation in connection with purchases of products via links on this page. Even though we may receive compensation, we always give our honest opinion, findings, beliefs, or experiences on each product.
Thule is synonymous with ski, bike, and cargo haulers. However, with over 75 years in product engineering specializing in plastic and metal construction, hard shell luggage is a natural product category for them to expand. The new Revolve collection offers a simple, durable collection of products for business and personal travelers that is sophisticated yet reliable and durable.
We were sent the Revolve Carry On Spinner and Backpack to test while traveling to Europe and a few domestic flights, and road trips. Having used everything from duffel bags, backpacks, and fanny packs to travel in the past we were excited to try out a piece of premium quality luggage. They are a perfect match
Thule Revolve Wide-Body Carry-On Review
The simple design of the Revolve carry on suit case is a super solid build that has nothing that is not needed. The inside has a simple secure strap to hold down items on one side, and a zipper full closure on the other side.
The rolling wheel are far superior to much cheaper alternatives. My travel companion was using a less expensive big box store version of a similar 4 wheel carry on. We did a fair amount of walking (a couple miles) on sidewalks, cobblestone, and asphalt. The wheels remained smoother and it was obvious they where a higher quality wheel and bearing. The wheels continued to roll smooth the entire trip.
The hinge on the Thule suitcase we reviewed was build to last. It felt solid, and even when over stuffing the carry on. At one point had to sit on the suit case to get it zipped closed because we had purchased to many souvenirs. I felt confident in the zippers and hinges the entire time. Additional, there are bumpers to protect the hinges.
The internal zipper pouch fully seals one side of the carry on suit case. It also has a flat zipper pocket. It works well for storing ties and other flat items.
One of the nicest features to the simple design is the locking system. A TSA three digit lock can be used to secure the zippers into a secure slot. A push of the button ejects the zippers for opening the suit case.
The Thule Revolve is the perfect companion when traveling with the Thule Crossover 2 backpack. The updated Thule backpack with the carry on provided enough room to travel Europe for a week.
Thule Crossover 2 Backpack 30L Review
The Thule Crossover 2 is a rugged professional looking travel backpack designed with the traveler in mind.
Having used over a dozen different backpacks for travel, it’s refreshing to use a clean bag specifically design for the purpose. It doesn’t have all the additional chest straps, and waist straps that only get caught in seats and overhead compartments.
The Crossover backpack has three locations designated for laptops, and tablets. As someone who typically travels with multiple laptops and tablets this was so nice to have padded sleeves for each item.
External pocket are allow convenient access to necessities. There is also a zipper for holding power banks and internal route wires.
The top pocket is great for frequently access items. A small complaint is the size of the pocket. I have a few larger pair of sunglasses that were hard to store with anything else in the pocket. Additionally, when storing easily accessible items is that they are easily accessible to others. When riding busy subways I was always removing the bag for security reasons.
The Thule Crossover backpack fits perfectly under the seat on an airplane. The abrasion pads protect the bag from the abuse of storing and retrieving the bag.
The internal is just as clean and protected as the external of the backpack.
The Thule Revolve suitcase is a very high quality, clean suitcase that comes in a variety of sizes. We tested the carry on but it is worth checking out the entire collection. If you are looking for a sophisticated look, high quality build, that will last for many flights, and through that streets, to the office or hotel, this is a top rated pick.
The Thule Crossover 2 backpack is a bag I would recommend to vacation and business travelers. It’s a great “Crossover” pun intended use backpack. It can double as a great looking professionally bag, but is equally comfortable being used as a day pack around the city. The price of $230 (As of October 2019) might be a lot to swallow. But after using many cheaper bags, I can say you are defiantly paying for a much higher quality bag, with more protection and features that a standard off the shelf backpack.
Elite Released the Direto X at Eurobike 2019. The sleek looking new black and chrome is an upgrade from the companies best selling home trainer the original Direto. The Direto X now tops the charts as one of the most accurate trainers on the market with 1.5% Accuracy and 2100 W Power. As of today, Direto X is the only trainer on the market that is able to actually measure your power output via built-in power meter alongside the Drivo II and the original Direto.
The Direto X interacts with ANT+ FE-C and Bluetooth FTMS, meaning that they both interact with any app, software, computer, smartphone and tablets via iOS, Android, OSX and Windows in order to obtain total customization and interactivity for your indoor training sessions.
The home trainer is a ergometer used to measure effort from the rider. The new Elite Direto X home bike trainer transmits data from the device to a smart phones app, or other software. It offers a very accurate representation of the amount of power that is being exhausted. Automatic pedal resistance is managed via magnetic resistance. The powered Direto X is connectable to computers, smartphones and other training devices that include video training, Google maps training, Strava and TrainerRoad.
Out of the Box
Direto X Trainer
3 Support Legs
Front Wheel Riser Block
Power Cable with adapters
Quick release and hub spacers
Promotional material with free trials
The Direto X requires just a few minutes to assemble. here are 4 bolts on the bottom of the unit to hold the legs, that’s it.
Depending of the bike and cassette you are using there you may need to install an adapter to the freehub body for compatibility.
The 3 legs collapse together to make the Direto X extremely small and able to slide under a bed or flat against a wall.
Data Transmission and Connection
The Elite Direto X uses both Ant+ and Bluetooth Smart protocols to connect to Smartphone apps and other software.
Power Range and Slope
The power range is wide and depends on the speed. The accuracy of the Direto is measured at plus or minus 1.5% accuracy.
Slope is simulated on the Direto X as a function of speed and weight. The higher the slope the more power is required and simulated. This is controlled by the Direto X magnetic braking system. It basically acts on a spinning metal disc to provide resistance. This allows the Direto X to be extremely accurate and a wide variety of training options, and prevents the pedals from locking for safety.
The Direto X is equipped with a freehub body that is compatible with 9/10/11 speed cassettes by Shimano and SRAM. Additionally, with an accessory the freehub is compatible with Campagnolo 9/10/11 speed cassettes.
The LED lights on the Direto X indicate data is being transmitted. The red LED indicates that the device is turned on. A green LED indicates the Direto X is connected view ANT+, while the blue LED indicates the Direto X is connected via Bluetooth.
The Direto is compatible with 130 to 135 mm hubs with a 5 mm quick release and 130 to 135 with a 12 x 142 thru axle.
We were excited to see the release of the new Elite Direto X in person and get our hands on it. Look for an in-depth review coming in the future once we have more time with the newest home trainer from Elite.
Hutchinson hit the market with a new aggressive enduro tire aimed at fast, durable, and grippy riding. The tires come in a variety of diameters and widths. Namely a 29″ and 27.5″ both in 2.4 and 2.5 widths. They have a foldable rugged bead and side to side hard skin protection that place different tread compounds (different rubber mix) in flats, sidewalls, and edges. They weigh in at 27.5 x 2.4 = 930g, 27.5 x 2.5 = 980g, 2v9 x 2.4 = 1030, 29 x 2.5 = 1080.
The 2.5 were designed to be used as a front tire with a 2.4 on the rear. The 2.5 tires have an aligned row with steep edges to help lead corner traction. The 2.4 is slightly faster rolling and a more steer friendly tread pattern while the 2.5 has a thicker and taller knobs for traction in the corners. Most riders will opt for a 2.4 up front and a 2.5 in the rear.
The 2.4 tread pattern has a more off shoulder design. It pushes the knobs out offering a smoother less resistant roll, with really good traction in the corner once they engage. For such a large tread tire, they roll fairly well because of this design.
I loaded up my Pivot Firebird with 2.4 and 2.5 27.5 Hutchinson Griffus. I have them set up tubeless (Stan’s Sealant) with a pair of DT Swiss M1700 Rims, and no inserts. I’ve ridden them in Park City, Utah USA dry and dusty conditions, Park laps at Deer Valley, Utah, and Moab Slick rock. These are all very dry, sandy, and dusty riding conditions here in the Utah summers. I’ve put a few hundred mile on them and they are wearing very well. The tires were designed for dry conditions but just looking at the tread pattern of the tires, and tall knobs they are still very usable for wet conditions. If you are riding the wets on a frequent, you may want to look at Hutchinson’s other specific wet tires.
The Griffus has a round profile keeping the outer knobs off the flats to improve rolling resistance, but once engaged in transition the tire really shines. The casing is supple and conforms to the trail well. The tires hook up well on dry sand and dust. They also offer gripping braking performance with aligned knobs to improve stopping power of the tire.
The larger volume tires increase confidence. I drug them through a number of jagged rock gardens where I was sure I’d end up with a puncture or torn sidewall, but have yet to have an issue with them yet.
The Griffus has already made it’s way to the podums of EWS. Isabeau Courdurier has won the first two rounds of the 2019 EWS aboard the new tires. The Griffus are a great option for any lover of the Maxxis DHR and DHF, or just looking for great value and traction on dry dusty trails.
Lets just get this out in the open from the beginning. These bike shorts are expensive, and not in most mountain bikers budget. That being said, if you can afford $265 bike shorts, these are the absolute best mountain biking shorts money can buy.
Now that we have addressed the elephant in the room, I’ll explain why I have fallen in love with these shorts, and reach for them any chance I get (on or off the bike). I have been mountain biking for many years and owned 20+ pair of biking shorts. Styles have changed over the years, but there is something to be said about a classic style that can be worn on and off the trail.
The Kitsbow Masterlink (formally the Adjustable Short V4) is one of if not the most expensive stand alone (no chamois included) mountain bike short. In full disclosure we were send the Masterlink short from Kitsbow for our unbiased review.
When you first put the short on you will fumble with the tricky one hand buckle. The you will notice that these shorts feel like no other mountain bike shorts you have ever worn. The stretch material and soft lining complimented by soft breathable pockets make these shorts simply wonderful. They feel durable, yet very comfortable, and breath very well.
Masterlink Bike Short Construction
So how do we get to that price tag!? Kitsbow is know for making premium mountain bike apparel. They source premium materials and construction methods without cutting corners for mass production. There are many stand out details from embrodered logos, soft waist, one handed belt, vented stretch pockets.
It’s worth pointing out that I’ve put these shorts through a good amount of torture from rock climbing, hiking, biking, and a few days at amusement parks and the beach. I’m always disappointed when the material begins to “pill”, especially with soft vented pockets. With many hours and washes, there has been no “pilling”. Swiss Schoeller®-shape fabric provides unmatched fabric toughness with unparalleled feel in the hand and on the leg.
Masterlink Bike Short Fit
As few have commented on Kitsbows website the shorts do run slightly large. I currently weigh about 165lb wear a 31/32ish waist pant and am wearing the size Medium short. The size small was too restrictive, but the Medium offers just the right amount of movement without a lot of added baggy.
Peddling in the Masterlink short was really comfortable. The soft fabric glides over a chamois. They also fit well over knee pads.
It’s hard to say “These are the best shorts I’ve ever ridden”, but the Kitsbow Masterlink are my new favorite riding shorts because they are extremely comfortable, stretchy, and just baggy enough. The fabric is like super soft yet holds up to mud, trees and a few tumbles. They are an extremely expensive short, and don’t include a liner or pad, if you are looking for the best, this is it.
The zipper pockets, fancy belt, comfort(yes, they really are that comfortable) make these a really great option for bike commuting, on the trail or out on the town.
The only complaint I have is that the shorts hold a wrinkle when stuffed in a riding bag. After riding in them for a short time the wrinkles disappear. Other than the wrinkles, these will be my go to shorts for the next few years.
I have been riding the Hutchinson Fusion 5 Storm All Weather tire on my Felt z4 for a few hundred miles now and wanted to give my take on the tire as an all around road tire suitable for all conditions. Full disclosure, I was sent the tire from Hutchinson to give my unbiased opinion. I have the tire paired with a set of Reynolds AR41 carbon wheels with disc brakes. This is also my first time running road tubeless (more on this later). After having been persuaded over the last couple years, I’m gravitated toward a slightly wider tire for comfort, flat protection, grip and durability. I’m riding the 700 x 28mm Clincher tire.
The Hutchinson Storm rubber compound is exclusive to Hutchinson. It’s aimed to offer rolling performance, grip, and now wear too slowly. As you can see by some of the pictures, even after a few hundred miles the center rubber strip from the manufacture process still show up. So far, I’m very happy with the wear and grip and durability of the tires. They are fairly consistent with most higher end tires I’ve used in the past.
According to Hutchinson website the tires are reinforced with Kevlar Pro Tech and 127 TPI and weigh 325g. As with most, I’ve been an avid user of the Continental GatorSkin’s for years. The Fusion 5 are a good comparison while I have not run them Tubeless for obvious reasons, they perform very similar as far as rolling resistance.
The Hutchinson Fusion tires paired well with the Reynolds carbon wheels. I never had a problems seating the foldable bead, and had more problems running tubeless with the valves than the tires. Even when the tire was flat after sitting for a week or so, the bead was attached and no weeping around the bead or sidewalls.
Max PSI is 100 for the tires, and where I like to ride them as close to that as I feel safe. Even at 100 PSI they feel very comfortable and fast rolling. During the couple wet rides I had, they performed great, and very similar to other high end tires. Grip the road well, with just a little slickness on painted surfaces and man hold covers. From a stop to start in wet weather I had to take a little power off the tire to start to prevent slipping, but this is pretty standard with most tires in the rain I have ridden.
I have yet to flat with the tire, so I am happy with the construction. Running tubless, I was a little disappointed with the amount of air loss in just a few days of not being on the bike. I did submerse the tire multiple times and every time it was leaking around the valve not the bead. I am well pleased with the Hutchinson Fusion. I plan to leave them on this bike for the year and ride them into the cold of winter to see how they perform when the rubber hardens up. For the price, they are a great value and I would recommend them to a friend looking for a good all around comfortable tire.
Check out the Hutchinson Fusion All Weather Tires on Hutchinsontires.com:
Hydro Flask has just entered the hydration pack market with the release of the new Journey Series 10L and 20L hydration packs. We had a chance to review the Hydro Flask Hydration Pack that was sent to us from Hydro Flask for our unbiased testing. They are similar in some ways to a CamelBak, Gregory, High Sierra, and Osprey offering of hydration backpacks but offer something new, an insulated sleeve and insulated HydraPak water reservoir.
The Hydro Flask hydration backpack feels overbuilt. It’s extremely rugged, stiff, waterproof fabric with taped seams makes it a bit difficult to manipulate when packing it up. The zippers are also weatherproof which makes them a bit more difficult to use. The durability of this backpack stands far above the rest. Having used many hydration packs for hiking and biking for many years. This is the most over built hydration pack I have ever used. A lot of design time and thought went into the pack. Additionally, the features, straps and articulated back make it one of the top contenders for the most capable hydration pack on the market.
Using the Hydration Pack
Over the past month I have used the Hydro Flask backpack for my primary hydration pack for both hiking and biking. There are adjustment points that most large hiking back packs have, that are incorporated into the backpack from shoulder adjustments to waist. I largely felt like this was unnecessary because of the size of the pack it’s hard to pack enough weight into it that these straps become necessary.
A feature everyone seems to love is the articulated back panel that separates the back from the backpack. This allows airflow and keeps the heat from your back from warming up your water. Water will stay cold for 4 hours, just fill the water bladder to the line with ice and water. We have had cooler temperatures here in Utah, USA while I have been testing the pack, so I anticipated it would exceed the claims which it did. I look forward to using this backpack for a few rides in Moab, Utah later this year where temperatures can reach 100F to see how the cold water holds up. The bite valve is very similar to most and functions the same providing adequate water flow.
20 L vs. 10 L Backpack
The backpacks come in two different volumes, the 20 L and a 10 L. They also come in two different sizes, a Small/Medium and a Medium/Large. The difference is that the Medium/Large is about an inch and a half taller to accommodate a taller person.
The 20 L Hydro Flask Backpack offers a few more pockets and organizers that the 10 L Hydro Flask Backpack. It has a quick stash pocket on top and two separate compartments to separate the bladder from any cargo you are carrying. They both have the same 3 L water capacity.
Pros and Cons of the Backpack
Water stays colder much longer than other hydration packs
Multiple color options
Webbing and adjustment points all over the pack
Articulated back panel keeps your back cooler, and water colder
Insulated Bladder and Storage panel inside the pack
No tie down points for attaching helmets, jackets, or pads, to the external of the pack.
The back pack is very rigid, this makes it a little difficult to install a full water bladder, or fill with other items.
Smaller access pockets are a bit small for large hands
One of the most expensive hydration packs on the market
The Water Reservoir or Bladder
The stand out feature of the Hydro Flask hydration packs is the insulated HydraPak water reservoir. It paired with an insulated neoprene sleeve keeps water cold for hours. The hose exits the pack from the top, and attaches to the shoulder strap by magnet. The hose also easily detaches for cleaning.
A full water bladder can be a bit difficult to slide into the sleeve. On multiple occasions I had to let some water out to allow it to slide into place. Once the bladder is in place it is very secure, and you don’t feel water or weight movement when in motion.
Overall the Hydro Flask Journey Series Hydration Pack backpack are great for Mountain Biking and Hiking. I though I would prefer the smaller 10 L, but kept using the larger 20 L for a little added storage.
I would have like to see some better options for organizing bike tools, pumps, snacks, etc. in the pack. Also, there are not outside attachments for helmets like many other hydration packs offer.
This pack has all the major features of a full blown backcountry pack. It’s much heaver duty that most hydration packs, an adjustable in every direction. My favorite feature is the articulated back panel. It keeps the air moving across your back and your water colder.
Is this backpack right for you?
The main selling point of the Hydro Flask backpack is the insulated hydration system. If it’s a concern to you, you should defiantly be looking at the Hydro Flask Journey Backpacks. Additionally, if you are looking for an extremely durable and adjustable pack, I can’t recommend another pack more than the Hydro Flask backpack.
This article is designed to be the best and most comprehensive guide to dressing and apparel for riding a bike in cold weather. It will cover everything from different layers, our favorite clothing, and when to wear each type of layer. Then we cover riding in different types of weather and protecting different parts of the body from the cold and weather. In conclusion we cover some cycling terms used in this Cycling Guide and their definitions as well as a broad list of cycling cold weather clothing manufactures.
This guide is very long, use the links below to jump to different sections.
I am a mountain biker by heart, but when the snow arrives and the trails are covered I long for the circular motion of my legs. Road cycling has been my alternate as opposed to fat biking or stationary bikes. I enjoy the cold crisp air (although usually polluted here in Utah) as well as gear that can make riding in near freezing temperatures almost enjoyable. From many years of biking in cold weather with average ride lengths and times of an hour or two covering 20 to 50 miles there is a system to staying warm and comfortable when riding a bike in cold weather.
Weather, Forecast and Preparation
I usually check the weather daily finding the high and low for the day, chance of precipitation and anticipate what I might experience during my ride. For example if I’m starting a ride in the daylight, but plan to end into the dark I can anticipate at least a 10 degree change when the sun sets, I better have charged lights with me, and a clear lens pair of glasses. Another variable worth checking is cloud cover and precipitation. In my experience riding in freezing weather with a bright sun warming you is a lot different that freezing weather with cloud or pollution cover. Even with similar outside temperature a sunny cold weather ride always seems warmer. Lastly, precipitation can come in various forms or rain, hail, and snow. Being prepared for them keeps me happily pedaling even when things get nasty.
I break my rides into different temperature ranges to know how to prepare for a ride. I will dress very different on a 50 degree ride vs. a 40 degree ride. Additionally, if I leave late afternoon in the winter I know I am going to experience some sort of temperature drop. I then make a decision of layering, venting, and additional protection.
There are some basics when planning to ride your bike in cold weather that are helpful to understand up front. You can and will likely still sweat, even when its below freezing. Remember, moisture is your enemy. The windchill can be brutal, and rapidly bring down your core temperature. Pay special attention to toes, fingers and face as they are typically the first to get cold.
Winter Cycling Considerations
As we cover all aspects of riding bikes in cold weather, there are a few considerations to think about when trying to remain comfortable in the cold weather.
When riding in cold weather weather a small gap in clothing can let cold air in and start to cause discomfort. Around the wrist, ankles, and up from the bottom of a jacket are all places that air can creep in. Also, cheaper cycling clothing or summer clothing worn in winter can allow air in through seams in clothing. Spend a few extra seconds to pull a sleeve over your gloves, or secure zippers.
Head Neck and Face
Don’t ignore your head and face when riding in the cold. Covering your head with a cap can be an easy way to adjust your temperature and cool off or add warmth quickly. A lot of heat can also be lost on the neck, a trick is using a tight fitting hooded layer like the Gore Layer. The hood fits tight around the back of your neck keeping the wind off, and in extreme conditions can quickly be put on under a helmet to add warmth, without a packing an additional layer.
Use a tight fitting hooded cycling jacket and cinch the hood around your neck for modular protection that can also be used to cover your head in an emergency.
Heating and Cooling Control
Riding in colder temperatures requires adjustments especially on rides over an hour or two long. You will likely experience ranges plus or minus 10 degrees. Keeping your body and clothing dry by adjusting clothing will help you remain comfortable the duration of your ride. Use your zippers to adjust body heat quickly.
Cycling clothing can be made specifically for cold weather, warm weather or indifferent. Jerseys, shorts and tights are usually constructed by sewing panels of material together. Typically the more panels the more comfortable the clothing and fit. Additionally, waterproof and water resistant material often have taped seams to prevent leakage. Look at these considerations when purchasing clothing for cold weather biking.
Sweat and Moisture
The absolute most important consideration when biking in cold weather is keeping your body and clothing dry. If you set off for a ride and are comfortable, it is likely you will be too warm shortly. Simply unzipping a jacket or jersey can help cool down quickly and easily adjusted to regulate heat.
Along with managing sweat and moisture, you should be managing your overall heat. Cycling can generate a lot of warmth, but a long stoplight you can loose it quickly. A full zip or 3/4 jacket can easily dump head while riding, but can be zipped up at a light to hold in heat. Some tights offer wind protection on the front, while being completely vented on the back.
Temperatures can fluctuate up to 40 degrees on a ride. Checking the forecast before a ride is always helpful to know what changes you might be encountering, and prepare for the worst. I like using the National Weather Service Forecast to plan my bike ride. It offers temperatures, wind chill, precipitation, sky coverage, wind, and a lot more.
Additional Clothing Storage
A great place to store an extra jacket is in a water bottle cage. Simply roll your jacket up into the diameter of a water bottle and slip it in there. A rubber band can be helpful to keep the jacket together.
Another option is using jersey pockets but for a bulkier jacket I recommend the above trick of storing a jacket in a water bottle cage.
Lastly saddle packs are another great place to store a light weight layer depending on the size.
It is worth noting that your bike may need additional care when riding in cold temperatures. Bike suspension can become sluggish, salt and water can wreak havoc on components and bearings.
Using a bucket and brush with warm soap water to remove salt grit, and other debris is essential. Take time to check your bearings that water is not getting into them, clean and re-grease to keep the water out of them. Keep a clean and well lubed drive train. Using a wet specific lube like WHITE LIGHTNING WET RIDE (TM) or FINISH LINE WET BIKE LUBRICANT
Staying Hydrated in Freezing Temperatures
Trying to use a Camelbak® in cold weather just doesn’t work, even when temperatures are above freezing, the hose still freezes up making it impossible to get any fluids. Even various water bottles tips get ice around them making it difficult to drink from.
I’ve found that soft hydro pack water bags works great to store water under layers to prevent freezing and are not cumbersome like a hard water bottle. They also collapse as you drink from them making them less occurred to carry.
1. Layering Clothing for Cold Weather Cycling
The key to staying comfortable either warm or cold weather is preparation and layering. We list a large amount of options for different layers and styles for riding in temperatures from well below freezing to mildly cold. We provide options for clothing to start riding in as well as additional layers that should be brought to stay comfortable throughout a ride. For example it may be acceptable to bring less layers for a short 30 min ride when you know you will be back home or to the car to warm up if things go bad. However, on a multi-hour ride you may encounter many different weather and temperature rides, and may be miles form the protection and safety of structure. You will want to ensure you are equipped with layers to support you should the worst weather arise.
1.1 What is the Best First or Base Layer for Bicycling
A proper first layer will sit against your skin as the “First Layer” of clothing you put on. It should fit fairly snug around your body and is the first line of defense from the cold weather and your body moisture. The main purpose of a base layer is to draw moisture off the skin and keep you dry. Sweat, condensation, rain, snow and other forms of moisture can be your enemy when trying to stay warm while bicycling in the cold weather. Remember here the goal with the first layer is to keep you dry. A proper base layer will act as a slight insulating layer, but it’s main purpose is to pull moisture from the skin.
The best base layer for bicycling should be worn against your skin. It will act as an additional layer of skin on your body. Most base layer materials are fabricated to provide a small amount of insulation while wiking moisture.
Often times a cycling short is worn as a first layer on the bottom. This could also be a tight or bib depending on the weather. For colder applications think about wearing a padded chamois as your first layer and an un-padded tight or pant over the top. In addition to a bike short, arm warmers and leg/knee warmers can be used as a base layer for ultimate adjustability.
1.1.1 Base Layer Materials
The best base layers are made of wool, wool blends, and synthetics like Polyester and Microfiber. Manufactures have also began to include GORE-TEX Windstopper® into base layers for an additional layer of protection. There are also insulating base layers and non-insulating base layers.
There are some materials that are designed to use moisture as a cooling mechanism and can make you feel colder when riding be aware of materials and manufacturing processes that are labeled as “Cooling”. Also be aware of cotton, it holds moisture like a sponge and will create a cooling effect.
1.1.2 Types of Base Layers
Top – Long Sleeve Base Layer
Top – Short Sleeve Base Layer
Top – Sleeveless Base Layer
Top – Full Zip, 3/4 Zip, Button, Pull over
Bottom – Shorts with and without Chamois
Bottom – Nickers
Bottom – Tights
1.1.3 Why you should own a base layer
Base layers are more common now in summer and winter however, they work differently. A summer base layer is designed to keep you cooler, and are constructed differently than a winter base layer that is designed to keep you warm. A base layer is the first defense against perspiration, sweat, and cold chills. You should own and wear a base layer to help keep you drier, and better regulate temperature. Wearing a cotton shirt will trap and hold onto moisture and when the temperature drops, or you pause your ride, you immediately feel the chill set in.
1.1.4 GearChase Pick for Base Layer
The Craft Warm base layer is a simple well designed base layer for cold weather riding that won’t break the bank. It’s made of Polyester and Elastane and works very well in moisture transport.
The Gore C3 Windstopper® Classic Thermo Bib Tight+ is our pick for an offering base layer protection with an incorporated seat pad. It incorporates Windstopper® technology as well as light insulation. It’s a great base layer and chamois pad combination for temperatures down to 32° degrees (0 Celsius) when combined with a tall wool sock, or layering with knee warmers.
I have been wearing the Kitsbow Escalator for mountain missions in the cold for a few months now. Kitsbow uses top quality materials and adds a touch of style to them, here with the button 3 button look. I’m 5’10” about 160 and wear a size Medium. It fits slightly snug but perfect for layering, and looks great when shedding layers. It’s also works well around the office.
The Kitsbow Rockstacker Merino Tight is a great base layer for the lower body. Layering with a Cycling Short with padding, It’s a mixes merino wool with wind and water resistant panels around the shin and knee. It offers more protection that an integrated biking tight, or knee warmers and make it a great option for a base layer for your lets you layer on the bottom as well.
A mid layer is designed to fit over the top of a base layer, not restrict movement add warmth and sometimes wind protection. It should also have some moisture wicking properties, and trap air as the first layer of warmth. Often a bike jersey can be used for a mid thermal layer depending on the conditions you may work off your other layers all the way down to a mid layer as temperatures rise. A bike jersey with a fleece lined back makes a great mid layer. It can be warn alone, but will also offers functionality like pockets and zippers if needed.
1.2.1 Mid Layer Materials
Mid layer materials like merino wool, fleece lined fabric, or synthetic polyester insulation make excellent mid layers. They may have a thicker weave or heavier knit to increase warmth. Look for layers that offer a way to trap a small amount of air from the skin and elements. Wool and fleece do an excellent job at holding air and keeping you warm.
In the mid layer you will start to see additional features like zipper pockets, elastic and rubber grips to keep jerseys in place. You will also start to see jersey pockets on the back of a mid layer, something you should avoid with a base layer.
1.2.2 Types of Mid Layers
Decisions for Mid layer might be to wear a long sleeve, short sleeve, or sleeveless jersey, a full or three quarter zip, or high neck. When shopping for a mid layer take these into mind.
Top – Long Sleeve Mid Layer
Top – 3/4 Sleeve Mid Layer
Top – Short Sleeve Mid Layer
Top – Full Zip Mid Layer
Top – 3/4 Zip Mid Layer
Top – Button Mid Layer
Bottom – Full Length Tights
Bottom – Nicker or 3/4 Length Tights
Bottom – Insulated Short
1.2.3 GearChase Mid Layer Picks
The Gore C5 Thermo Trail Jersey is a heavier weight jersey great for cold weather cycling. It has a slim fit with a lot of features a typical bike jersey may not. Because it can be worn as a jersey or layered it make it a great value.
The Gore C7 Windstopper® Pro Bib Tight is our top pick for a mid-layer tight. It has incorporated Windstopper® technology to block wind, is still very breathable, and provides some waterproofing, all with a seat insert (chamois) for comfort without bulk.
The Pearl Izumi Elite Escape Thermal Jersey is a great option for a mid layer. It can be worn alone, with a base layer under, or as part of an entire layering system. Its slim fit and articulated arms allow it to be layered better than a non cycling mid layer.
The Pearl Izumi Elite Escape AmFIB Cycling Tight is a great option when you know you are going into extreme cold weather. It’s the warmest tight Pearl Izumi makes and incorporates PI Dry™ and a Soft Shell fabric to keep you try and warm. I’ve been wearing these tights for about 3 years on the coldest of days. They are still my top pick for when the weather is at its worst.
A soft shell or hybrid layer is a third layer that can offer partial protection from wind, rain and snow. Layering on top of the base layer, and mid layer it builds the base to keep the core temperature up. Soft shells can also be worn as an outer layer. More and more companies are incorporating Windstopper® tech and waterproof coatings to make them a great option in a defense against the elements. You can find soft shell jackets with rear pockets and front zipper pockets for storage and easy access.
A Soft shell layer should be where you add your warmth. Aside from a full insulation layer for extremely cold days, the soft shell layer should be a thermal fleece type fabric that provides moisture transfer and heat. A soft shell is flexible and more comfortable layer than a hard shell jacket. It doesn’t have that hard crunchy feeling of a hard shell (think of your ski parka). A soft shell is much more comfortable than a hard shell, and it provides more protection that a fleece jacket.
1.3.1 Soft Shell Layer Materials
Soft shell materials are constructed with stretch woven fabric that often have a waterproof durable water repellent (DWR) to protect against rain and snow while still being breathable. Often times soft shell jackets combind layers by adding this waterproofing, or additional fleece on the inside of the garment.
When comparing soft shell jacket vs. hard shell jackets, soft shells are three times more breathable that Gore-Tex hard shell material. They offer more stretch and comfort. However, they are not as waterproof or windproof as a hard shell in the worst of weather.
When comparing soft shell jacket vs. fleece jackets, the soft shell is more water resistant, and will block wind better than fleece alone. Soft shell jacket won’t pill like fleece and do not attract as much animal hair.
1.3.2 Different types of Soft Shells
Soft shell layers come in a variety of options. Because they are a versatile clothing option that can be worn as an insulation layer or as an outer layer there are many features in soft shells like hoods, internal and external pockets, pit zips, and convertibles into vest. They often start incorporating WINDSTOPPER® Gore-Tex® and other features to make them full featured all around jackets.
Bottoms tights and shorts are often lumped into soft shell and mid-layers. Some of the extremely warm tights are very similar to a soft shell. Separate leg, knee and arm warmers can also feel a lot like a soft shell and are made from the same materials.
Top – Full Zip Chest Pocket
Top – Hooded Soft Shell Cycling Jackets
Top – Arm Warmers are often constructed like Soft Shells
Bottom – Full Length Tights
Bottom – Nicker or 3/4 Length Tights
Bottom – Insulated Short
Bottom – Leg Warmers are often constructed like Soft Shells
1.3.3 Why you should own Soft Shell
A soft shell cycling jacket or insulated cycling tight/pant is one of the most versatile biking clothing options. It can be used in many applications and covers a wide range of temperature options making it a great choice to grab when heading out for spring and fall bike rides. Additionally, when winter and cold temperatures come, it can be used as an insulation layer.
1.3.4 GearChase Soft Shell Picks
The Pearl Izumi Elite Jacket jackets is one of our picks when layering with a protective layer. It’s slim fitting and articulated arms work well when working with multiple layers.
The Gore Wear C5 Windstopper® Trail 2 in 1 Pant is a great hybrid pant. It’s our pick because of the versatility. It offers a tight under a second short like layer with Windstopper®. The bottoms can also be turned in to convert to a long short. These have been a goto pant this winter for both road rides in the rain and mountain biking.
The Gore R3 Windstopper® Hoodie is one of my go to soft shell jackets. Hooded jackets aren’t always popular for cyclist, however the tall neck coverage that comes with the hood, and the option of throwing the hood on under a helmet in a extreme condition makes it a very versatile soft shell jacket for cycling. The fit for the hoodie works well for road and mountain rides and is excellent for layering.
The Pearl Izumi Soft Shell Zip Off Pant is the one of the best warm pants that works great for layering. A slim base layer or leg warmers fit well under the Soft Shell cycling pants. The articulated knees and adjustable waist make them a great all around pant on and off the road in all weather.
For extremely cold conditions add an insulation layer to keep your body temperature up. When riding in sub-freezing temperatures you will likely add a full insulation layer to keep you comfortable.
An insulation layer could be a soft shell jacket but a new style of puffy jackets for cycling are starting to be brought to market. They are excellent for bike commuting, fat biking, and other extremely cold cycling activities. Insulated jackets are often larger and harder to pack into a jersey pocket if things get warm.
1.4.1 Insulation Cycling Options and Materials
Full insulation layers could be a fleece lined jacket or even into a down or synthetic down jacket to really trap air and add warmth. These jackets will likely fit looser that typical cycling clothing to allow for trapping air and layers. You will see these jackets made with PrimaLoft® , DownTek™ hydrophobic down, and Polartec® to provide ultimate warmth.
A cycling specific insulated layer will be lower profile while still offering similar properties to that of a ski/snowboard insulating layer. The arms will likely be articulated and longer sleeves to prevent air gaps.
1.4.2 Different Types of Insulating Layers
Top – Down, Fleece, Primaloft®, Thinsulate®, Polartec® Vest and Jackets
The Castelli Cross Prerace Jacket is marketed as a warm up jacket for pre-race. It’s cut as a cycle jacket with long articulated arms and low back. It’s insulated with Primaloft® which makes it a great option for adding a lot of warmth on sub freezing days.
The Endura Primaloft® Puffy Cycling Jacket is insulated and cut for cycling. It’s silicone hem and light enough to be packed down if needed. For ultimate warmth when fat biking or on the coldest of rides this is another one of our personal picks.
A hard shell jacket is the first line of defense from the outside elements inward is your outer protective layer. It should be a waterproof breathable shell. It acts as a barrier against wind, rain and snow, yet still allows the body to breath and resist perspiration buildup. They are great to have for maximum wind and weather protection.
The downside to a hard shell jacket is that they can be noisy, and a little harder to roll up and pack in a back pocket.
1.5.1 Hardshell Protective Layer Materials
You will see a lot of hard shell or outer layer made from GORE® Windstopper®. It is some of the best technology for water resistance, breathability and wind stopping (pun intended).
1.5.2 Different types of Hardshells
Top – Light weight wind blocker
Top – Heavyweight Shell
Bottom – Most hard shell bottoms are long pants, but there are a few options or hybrids like the Gore hybrid pant above, or hard shell shorts.
The Pearl Izumi Elite WxB Rain Pant is a full rain weather pant for the worst conditions. It’s adjustable to keep water out while remaining breathable. They are also a great option for adding serious warmth.
Items like eyes, ears, toes, knees, fingers and faces sometimes need special attention. There are many different accessories like headbands, hats that fit under helmets, helmet covers, arm warmers and knee warmers to help quickly protect an area that has become cold.
1.6.1 Types of Accessories for Staying Warm When Biking
There are a number of various accessories for hands, head, neck, arms, legs and toes to keep them warm.
Face Covers (ColdAvenger)
1.6.2 Best Winter Cycling Gloves
The Gore Universal Glove is a perfect glove for a wide temperature range. It’s not too bulky it makes riding difficult. It still has a good amount of insulation. It’s one of our favorite winter riding gloves for both road and mountain biking.
Hands are one of the first extremities to impact cold weather, wind, and start to feel the effects. They can be difficult to keep warm and still be able to hold onto the bike, shift, and use brakes.
There is a huge variety of gloves from thin finger-less all the way up to fully insulated lobster style gloves for sub-zero bike riding. There is also something called “Bar Mitts” that allow you to hold onto handlebars without the bulk of gloves around your hand.
When selecting the best gloves for cycling in cold weather. Look at the forcast, do you anticipate rain or snow? I’ve found riding down to about 20 degrees with a split finger mitt. Any colder than that requires short rides, hand warmers, or bar covers. Choose a glove that allows you to still hold onto your bike, use brakes, and shift comfortably.
1.6.3 Best Winter Cycling Socks
The Gore Thermo Sock is one of our favorite cycling sock because if it’s function. The sock is a tall wool stocking that offers a layering of calf when paired with a long tight. It provides additional warmth and does well at keeping the foot warm, even with foot perspiration. It’s not overly bulky, and a mix of synthetic and wool makes it great for all around riding. Also the taller sock under a tight adds an extra layer of warmth that a 7 inch sock won’t.
Next to hands, feet are often the fastest part of the body to get cold. When selecting the best winter cycling sock for cold weather think about the thickness of the sock, how it will fit in your shoe, and stay dry.
1.6.4 Best Winter Cycling Shoe Covers
The Pearl Izumi P.R.O Barrier Shoe Cover offers water and wind resistance. It is not the warmest shoe cover, but a great all around. I’ll typically wear it from 45 degrees down, and may layer over the top of it for extreme rides. It’s worked well in keeping my feet dry in rain rides for a couple hours.
Shoe covers are a must in winter cycling. They block out wind and water while allowing moisture to escape. There are insulated and non-insulated versions of shoe covers. Some are velcro closure and other offer zippers. For extreme conditions there are full rain covers. For extreme days I like to layer even my shoe covers.
1.6.5 Best Winter Cycling Leg Warmers
The Gore c3 leg warmer are a simple full length leg warmer that offers the flexibility of removing and storing them in a jersey pocket. The zippers make them easy to remove without removing shoe covers or shoes.
When choosing the best leg warmers think about when you will be wearing them. Are you buying them trying to avoid buying a biking tight? Or as a quick way to warm up and plan on pulling them on and off throughout the day.
A thick, fleece lined leg warmer can work well replacing a thermal tight. However, they are not as easy to apply and remove as a thin wind blocker or knee warmer. So when you are looking to buy the best leg warmers think about how you plan to use them.
1.6.6 Best Winter Cycling Arm Warmers
The Pearl Izumi PRO Soft Shell Arm Warmer is our favorite pick for cold weather. It’s heavy weight, soft lined, with front panel wind protection makes it one of the most advanced arm warmers you can buy.
Similar to leg warmers, how do you plan to use the arm warmers? A light weight thin wind blocking arm warmer can work well to take the chill off on an evening ride but can store easily in a jersey pocket.
If you are trying to avoid taking an extra layer, an arm warmer that is fleece lined can offer more protection and warmth.
Commuting in Cold Weather
A commuter pant should be something you can walked into the office without turning heads from noise or function over fashion. A commuter pant also needs to offer protection from the cold and some additional function over a normal trouser.
The Arcteryx A2B Commuter Pant is a nice lighter weight pant designed for the bike commuter with reflective tags on the back pocket and inner cuff.
The Kitsbow Haskel has to be our favorite commuter pant. The pant is full of features like hip pocket, plastic buttons around ankle to taper leg, vented pockets. All in a style that can be worn around the office without attracting attention. It is one of my favorite pants to wear for any activity because of the fit, function and I love the soft durable material.
Now that you understand the many different layering options, you need to understand how to use them together for different temperatures ranges. There is a lot of personal preference in riding temperature comfort, so there may be some experimenting to find out what works best for you. A good rule of thumb is that if you are comfortable when you leave for a ride, you will quickly be too hot. If you leave on the colder side with an extra layer you should be comfortable for an hour or two long ride in colder temperatures.
The guide below offers ten degree groups to give you a guideline of what types of clothing and layering options can be used to remain comfortable during a ride.
2.1 70° to 60° Degrees Fahrenheit (21.1 to 15.5 Celsius)
When riding in temperatures above 70° degrees Fahrenheit a typical cycling kit of light short and jersey will be sufficient. You may even look into some wind protection or tall socks for style points. As soon as the temperature drops down to 60°, you may start to notice the cold on an overcast or slightly windy day windchill will feel even colder.
This is a great range for shorts or bib cycling shorts and a jersey. A cooling base layer might also be a good option for this range. In your jersey pockets it nice to have a very light weigh shell and/or leg and arm warmers in case of a temperature change.
Top: A lightweight cycling jersey paired with a cooling first layer works great for this range.
Bottom: A standard cycling Short, or bib will offer enough protection and warmth for a ride in this range.
Hands: Finger-less or glove-less is a good way to go with semi-warm temperature.
Head: A vented helmet in this range is a good idea to keep air moving over your head keeping yourself from overheating.
Feet: Light weight cycle specific sock
2.2 60° to 50° Fahrenheit (15.5 to 10 Celsius)
Bike riding in 50° to 60° degree Fahrenheit weather is when you start thinking about wearing a long sleeve jersey, and bringing a lightweight jacket with you. Also at this point you may start your ride with arm or leg warmers already on. Generally, the heat generated from your pedaling will warm your body in this temperature range if covered.
Starting a ride will be slightly chilly. But after your cadence increases for a few minutes you feel the warmth trapped in your clothing. At the lower range around 50°, you will feel the chill when stopped for lights or conversation. You may also want to wear a full fingered glove.
Top: Long sleeve jersey, Short sleeve jersey with arm warmers, lightweight outer layer.
Bottom: Cycling Short with knee warmers, Bib with knee warmer, knickers
Hands: Light to medium glove
Head: Cycling cap, lightweight cap
Feet: Heavier cycling sock, toe covers
2.3 50° to 40° Fahrenheit (10 to 4.4 Celsius)
Biking in 40° to 50° Degree Fahrenheit weather is going to require a bit more preparation. You will often be starting a ride in warmer full leg warmers or heavier tights, a long sleeve jersey, maybe a base layer. Staying dry becomes even more important when the temperature drops. Make sure you are managing moisture by adding and removing layer or unzipping throughout your ride as needed. You also need to start thinking about your head, ears, toes and fingers staying warm.
Longer rides in the 40’s will start to get to your extremities. A shoe cover, well insulated, wind blocking glove, and head cover are becoming a necessity.
Top: A good option is to wear a light base layer, and an insulated jersey and a soft shell to start off the ride. You may also want to bring a light protective shell or other item that is packable and can quickly be put on to trap heat if the temperature drops.
Bottom: Starting with full length leg warmers, tights or bibs is recommended. Also, some hybrid pants that incorporate Windstopper® into the front and tights on the back offer great breathability and protection from cold wind.
Hands: A mid weight riding glove with insulation should provide comfortable riding for shorter rides. For longer rides you may want to consider a more insulated weather resistant glove.
Head: A cycling cap, light head cover
Feet: This is when you need to start thinking about keeping your toes warm. A full foot cover, Wool cycling socks.
Eyes: Cold air passing over your eyes becomes uncomfortable and causes them to water. Take care to protect your eyes with full cover cycling glasses.
2.4 40° to 30° Fahrenheit (4.4 to -1.1 Celsius)
We are getting serious now. It’s going to be cold when you walk out the door. You should be starting your ride with a base layer, mid layer, and light outer layer. Windchill can really bring down your core temperature. You will be starting with a base layer, long sleeve jersey and layering up with a mid layer. Next consider adding an insulative layer or vest over your protective layer. Keeping your overall body temperature warm while also keeping your extremities warm takes some planning.
Biking in these cold temperatures you will still be adding and removing protective layers, and unzipping softshells to breath and exit heat. Keep in mind you could encounter snow and ice.
Top: Base layer, mid layer, soft shell and protective shell
Bottom: Thermal tights or bibs
Hands: Cold weather gloves with substantial insulations.
Head: Head cap
Feet: Here you really need to start thinking about your feed. A thicker wool sock should be worn, and a shoe cover when getting down to freezing tempatures.
2.5 30° to 20° Fahrenheit (-1.1 to -6.6 Celsius)
Cycling in the twenty degrees fahrenheit will be cold to start with, face covers, head covers, shoe covers and winter specific gloves will be needed. Shorter rides are more manageable in these temperatures, but 2 or 3 hour rides shouldn’t be out of the question with the proper preparation.
Ask yourself questions as you are planning your ride. Do you expect precipitation? Then a waterproof top and bottom will be a must. Do you expect a drastic change in temperature, for example going from daylight to night? Then make sure you have an extra layer. Is wind going to be a factor in your ride? Windchill can bring down a temperature drastically, especially when wet.
Bottom: Knee warmers, wind blocking tights or bibs. Waterproof tights
Hands: You will need a heavy weight winter riding glove with insulation and wind blocking of some sort. Additionally, you may want to look at bar mitts at this point. Disposable hand warmers can also be used on the backs of hands in gloves to keep the dexterity of your fingers in the gloves.
Head: You will be loosing a lot of heat from your head, especially with a large vented helmet designed for warm weather riding. A wind stopping skull cap that covers ears, balaclava, and/or a helmet cover can all help keep your head from loosing all your bodies heat.
Feet: Protect your feet with thick wool socks. Keep your feet dry, start with dry feet and fresh socks right before your ride. Another pro tip is to start using disposable toe warmers. They offer just enough to take the edge off and keep you in the saddle a little bit longer.
2.6 Below 20° Fahrenheit (-6.6 Celsius)
Be prepared to really bundle up, and cover those air gaps. Any skin that is exposed at this temperature is going to get uncomfortable very quickly.
Top: You should be following the full layering guide above for sub-20 degree biking. Wear a long sleeve base layer to wick moisture from your skin. Next a jersey on top will help to start the insulation layer. Over your jersey should be an insulated soft shell. At this temperature I like to wear a hooded soft shell to use in an emergency. If it is really cold out put on a full insulation layer with some loft to it that will trap warm air. Lastly, a hard shell jacket will do the best at protecting you from the wind.
Bottom: Start with a heavy weight cycling short, then layer up from there. For really extreme days, put on leg or knee warmers next. Cover them with a wool tight.
Hands: Hand warmers, lobster gloves, bar covers, well insulated gloves
Face/Head/Neck: Balaclava, Face cover, glasses
Feet: You should start thinking about layering your with your feet. Typically layering socks won’t work with low profile shoes. Start with a thick wool sock, then your shoe. You can then layer the outside with a thermo overshoe cover, or just a toe cover followed by a larger over cover like the Gore(r) Light overshoe that has enough room for layering.
Another trick I’ve used for feet is to put them in a plastic bag. This isn’t comfortable, or a long term solution but it works.
Eyes: Your eyes need protection at this temperature range. Look for a full coverage glasses or eve goggles.
3.0 Dressing For Different Types of Biking in the Cold
3.1 Road Biking in Cold Weather
When road biking in cold weather you will be moving through a lot of cold air that can bring down your core temperature. With road biking there can be short intervals of high output followed by short intervals of mild effort. Generally with a steady temperature, and relatively steady riding, you can remain in the same layering throughout your ride. It’s easy to dump heat by unzipping a layer.
When selecting clothing for road biking in cold weather, it can be difficult to layer multiple long sleeve layers. Start with a short sleeve base-layer and build up from there. Try to select clothing that progressively gets larger as it hold additional layers under, while still remaining form fitting.
Pay close attention to protecting your hands and feet from the cold. Keeping them dry is essential to keeping them warm.
Pro Tip: Start your ride with a fresh pair of socks. The socks you have been wearing all day in the office will likely have a little moisture in them that will cool more quickly.
3.2 Mountain Biking in Cold Weather
When mountain biking in cold weather you are more likely to encounter snow, water, and mud. Layering for a cold mountain bike ride is a little easier that a road bike ride. Layering can be a little bulkier because you aren’t fighting the wind as frequently. Also, you may be riding with a backpack or hip pack that allows you to more easily store an extra layer.
Following the layering pattern above, start with a base layer, build upon it depending on the temperature. Skip or include layers according to the climate and forecast. Just be prepared for a walk in the mud or snow if you double flat miles from your transportation.
3.3 Bike Commuting in Cold Weather
Commuting to work, school, or just around town in cold weather on a bike doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. Like the Kitsbow Haskell pant there are many article of clothing designed to be worn from the pedals to the chair.
Consider layering when commuting on a bike. A thin tight added to a commuter pant can be plenty to block the wind and prevent a wardrobe change at every stop. Layering with stylish layers like the Kitsbow Escalator Merino Henley top and a protective layer over the top can be worn from the bike to the office.
You may encounter water, mud, snow on a commute. Having a protective coated pant that is easily wiped clean and waterproof or water resistant can prevent you from looking like you had a protein stain on your backside. Additionally, a waterproof protective layer can be ditched at the door leaving your mud soaked remains to drip in the entry.
You may want to look into getting a set of fenders for your tires to keep the additional mud and grim off your clothing.
3.4 Biking in the Rain
Obviously the key is to stay dry. There are many advanced clothing articles designed for riding in the rain. Everything from rubber pants to Gore-Tex. Rain doesn’t need to spoil a bike ride and with proper coverage with the right clothing it can be enjoyable. Riding a bike in the rain, make sure you keep your feet and body dry. Cover your feet with waterproof boots. If warm enough I choose to ride in the rain without gloves as they are usually the first item to get saturated. A waterproof cap with a brim can be helpful to divert the water from your head. Lastly, eye coverage is essential when riding in the rain.
3.5 Biking in the Snow
Riding a bike in sleet and snow is similar to riding in rain, but add an additional insulating layer as needed. Close off gaps where water and cold air like to creep in.
Biking in slush and snow can require good tires that offer grip on multiple surfaces. Additionally reducing tire pressure can help increase traction. There are even studded tires for extreme ice conditions. Just keep in consideration that once the road gets wet, man hole covers, painted lines, and oil patches become very slick on two wheels.
3.6 Biking in the Ice
Similar to riding in snow and rain, riding in ice storms or icy streets can be a bit daunting. But with the right equipment and spiked bike tires can make commuting in an ice store very possible. Follow the guidelines of dressing for snow, and add layers as needed.
Think about studded tires if you know you are going to be commuting in ice on a bike. These are little tiny pieces of metal that protrude from the tire and provide traction through ice.
3.7 Biking in Cold Wind
Wind: Biking in a cold wind can bring temperatures down as much as twenty degrees with windchill. Additionally, a cold wind can expose gaps and loose seams in clothing allowing cold air in. Technologies like Windblocker are great for keeping the cold air from getting in. However, the cold moving air around you still cools your core temperature. Use an outer layer that is waterproof or windproof. Layer underneath as recommended above in our temperature range section.
4.0 Areas of Protection when Riding in Cold Weather
4.1 How to Keep Your Head and Ears Warm Biking
They say we lose most heat through out head, whether a misnomer or truth, your head is an extremity and loses heat quickly. To keep your head warm, skip the beanie and get a lower profile cap that’s designed to be worn under a helmet. For warmer days a headband can keep ears tucked in and warm while still allowing sweat to evaporate. For colder days a fleece neck warmer with a skull cap or a balaclava can keep you warm even in sub-freezing temperatures when bicycling. A pair of full coverage glasses can prevent watery eyes from cold air. For extreme days, ski goggles can be worn, however it can be a challenge to prevent them from fogging during high exertion.
4.2 How to Keep Your Face Warm Biking
Keeping your face warm and dry when cycling can be a challenge, but I have a few tricks. Wear a high collar jacket that you can hide behind works well to block cold air up to your mouth. Full face covers often trap moisture and are difficult to breath during high output.
4.3 How to Keep Your Body Warm Biking
Keeping your core temperature up while riding in cold weather is essential to keeping your overall body warm. Once your core temperature drops it’s hard to recover. Use layers as described above to ensure that your body stays warm. On extremely cold days think about bringing hand warmers or body warmers just in case a chill starts to set in.
4.4 How to Keep Your Arms Warm Biking
Arms extended in the cold wind can quickly cool with cold air continually moving over them. Stopping the cold air from penetrating, keeping them dry, and insulating your arms will help them stay warm.
There are many different types of clothing to keep your arms warm. There are insulated arm warmers, regular arm warmers, and wool breathable arm warmers. You may have felt the sensation of your arms burning or tingling after a long cold ride. Arm warmer are the perfect solution to prevent this.
4.5 How to Keep Your Hands Warm When Biking
There is a lot of talk and even more options on what style of glove, handwarmers, and heating elements should be used when cycling. While a heated glove is not going to be needed for all of us, it is an option.
A pro-tip is to keep a pair of rubber gloves stashed on your bike in a seat tube, or handlebar. If your glove get wet, or you need some added warmth. They can be used in a pinch for a short period of time to warm up your hands. Just slip them on as a liner for other gloves. They keep your hands dry and warm when layered with other gloves.
Keep extra pair of rubber gloves stashed on your bike for an emergency. They can save your hands
4.6 How to Keep Your Legs Warm Biking
Much like arm warmers, leg warmers and tights are your best option for keeping your legs warm in cold weather.
When mountain biking you can get away with wearing a tapered pant, or larger knee pads to help keep you warm.
When commuting choosing a bike specific pant or a loose layered option can be best for keeping clothing clean and dry, while adding warmth.
4.7 How to Keep Your Feet Warm Biking
Your feet are likely to be the second body part to become cold. Keeping them warm can be difficult. It’s likely too hard to wear multiple socks in an already tight fitting cycling shoe.
Start with a heavy weight wool sock inside your shoe. Don’t try to cram multiple layers in there as it will be uncomfortable and likely won’t offer any additional warmth. Next a shoe cover over you shoe to block wind and water. For extreme days add an additional boot glove or water cover. With these three to four layer outside your shoe provides more comfort and warmth overall.
Pro Tip: Using an antiperspirant deodorant on your feet helps reduce the perspiration and keep your feet dry and warm.
4.8 How to Protect Your Eyes in Cold Weather Biking
Keeping cold air off your eyes is often overlooked. Cold dry air can quickly cause irritation and annoyance. A full ski goggle may be necessary for extreme conditions, but for most a full cover wide and tall glass will provide adequate protection.
We were recently given the opportunity by ROKA to build our own APEX sunglasses through their website. I wanted to put together a pair of glasses that would work great on winter rides where the sun is often less bright, and something that would work adequately well for night riding as I do a lot of road and mounting biking via bike light.
I choose the CP-1X a 56 mm tall lens that offers full eye coverage and is large enough to block too much air flow. The APEX system allows you to select a top rocker, bottom rocker, and GEKO™ ear piece colors. I went with a stealth Matte and gloss black look to mix with a yellow lens. The Yellow lens has a very high light transmission (V.L.T) and also enhances what light is available. It’s a great sun glass for cold overcast days and night riding.
I understand that not everyone can spend $245 on a pair of sunglasses. ROKA is currently running $20 off for you and a friend. For something on the cheaper side that will not cover your face as well check out some of the inexpensive safety glasses on amazon to use as a pair of cycling glasses.
4.9 What Type of Chamois or Cycling Shorts for Cold Weather
Chamois or your padded cycling short should provide you with a couple benefits. It should offer a cushion for your backside. It should also provide some warmth and possibly wind blocking. Be careful, not all chamois or spandex is created equal, and some is designed to keep you cooler. Feel the different weights in fabric on chamois.
Look for a thick possibly fleece lined cycle short with a pad for comfort. These can often be layered under or over cycling tights. So try them on with additional layers you may plan on riding in.
5.0 The Conclusion of Bike Riding in Cold Weather
When the cold ride is over and you have come to an end, it’s time to keep your cycling gear clean, dry, and stink free. Mid-layers, Insulating layers, and protective layers can often be worn numerous times without needing to be cleaned. However, first layers, and jerseys usually need laundry after each ride or two. Clean bike clothing not only looks great, but allows the fabric to breath well, and function better.
Some cycling clothing has specific washing instructions. Be sure to read your tags. Most advise against dryers, and it can deteriorate elastic quickly. I like to wash on a warm gentle cycle with mild detergent. Then hang dry my attire.
We have covered almost everything you need to think about when preparing, riding, and finishing up a cold weather bike ride. We covered the general ideas of how to prepare and dress for cold weather cycling. We also covered different garments that are great for layering. We looked a various temperature ranges and how you should layer for each of them as well as prepare for change.
Further we looked at the some of the best ways to protect and warm different parts of your body, from head, neck and face all the way down to your toes.
Just because the weather turns cold, doesn’t mean you have start riding your bike inside on a bike trainer machine. Simply dressing appropriate for the weather can make any day on a bike an enjoyable one.
6.0 Cycling Clothing Term Definitions
Balaclava: A thin hood head cover that also covers neck and face. The eyes are typically the only open portion of a balaclava.
Bib: A tight or short that includes suspenders design. Usually made of Lycra or mesh and designed to be breathable and lightweight. Bibs offer additional comfort over standard cycle shorts.
Body mapping: Some clothing has different stiching, panels, or ventalations built right into the garment. This is know as body mapping. It is meant to provide more/less warmth or cooling to different areas of clothing. For example under arms could have a well vented mesh where a the chest may have a heavier core material for warming.
Breathability: The amount if air permeation through a garment from the inside out. A breathable garment should protect you from the elements outside while keeping you dry inside. This term usually describes a protective hard shell.
Cap: Can refer to a beanie style head cover, or a cycling hat designed to be worn under a helmet.
Chamois: Sometimes referred to as the entire bike short, it’s the pad found inside a cycling short that cushions the butt as well as wicks away moisture and allows airflow. Typically made from synthetic material with a medium density foam.
Coolmax: A breathable fiber to add a bit more comfort. It is designed to provide a bit more cooling and warmth when needed.
Fleece: A soft usually fuzzy and fluffy insulating layer. Designed to be soft to the touch and warm. They are well at trapping heat and are breathable.
GORE-TEX®: A waterproof breathable fabric membrane that allows air to pass out of the jacket, but keeps moisture from getting in. Often used on breathable garments.
Jersey: A biking shirt made to fit specifically for cycling. Typically made of fabric that wicks moisture well. Usually has pockets in the lower back with a long full length or 3/4 zipper.
Kit: A cycling jersey and short that match artwork, color or branding.
Meraklon: The first polyelfin fibre ever developed, winning its creator a Nobel prize! Now it’s a brand name fibre that’s common in base layers.
Merino: A fine soft wool from merino sheep. It is the standard for wool garments. It is softer than standard wool, doesn’t stink like synthetics and is an excellent insulating layer.
Nickers: A 3/4 pant or bib usually ending in the middle of the calf or just below the knee. Sometimes called Bloomer or Knickerbockers.
Storm flap: Strip or flap of fabric usually behind or in front of a zip designed to stop rain and wind penetrating. Can also be a flap on the back of a jacket to stop mud or rain.
Synthetic: Man-made fibre such as polyester, as opposed to natural fabric like wool or cotton.
Wicking: When a garment pulls moisture or perspiration off of the skin in an effor to evaporate it and stay dry.
Windstopper®: Proprietary Gore fabric, similar to Gore-Tex but with increased breathability/wicking properties and a softer outer shell. This material comes with or without a fleecy inner face.
Hydro Flask has released new sizes in their soft coolers and new bottle colors just in time for spring.
The new sized soft cooler back pack and tote in 15 L and 18 L respectfully are a more usable size down from the 22 L and 24 L sizes. The soft sided coolers are meant to offer a days worth of cooling that is easily portable. you choose if you plan to haul on your back, or as a tote.
The Unbound Series (TM) soft coolers are easy to transport, light weight, comfortable and keep items cold for up to 48 hours depending on the outside temperature. The Base of the cooler has added insulation for comfort and longer lasting cooling. The top and side pockets use leakproof zippers to keep water in and out. All the internal seams are welded and waterproof. All of this is backed with a 5 Year Warranty.
The new tote and pack come a a wide variety of colors. The new tote we tested starts at $224.95. These are very rugged 420D nylon that looks great and stands up to rough use against rocks, boats, and even kids. The additional pockets are very small and tight fitting. They work to hold wallets and keys and that’s about it.
A new line of colors for the popular cup coolers, bottles and sling just in time for spring.
The Cooler Cup has to be one of my new favorites. It works best with a 12 oz and the rubber top to hold the can secure. The rubber stabilizer can also be reversed to the bottom and the cooler used as a cup. I’ve also put a 16 oz. can in there with some additional work. It works well, not as good as a sealed Hydro Flask bottle but works surprisingly well.
If you have not tried a sling for your bottle they are a nice addition for hiking. There is a small pocket to stuff some cash or a car key. I’ve found myself using it a lot more than I though for short little hikes. It now comes in the new Maroon Brick color and a Blue Lagoon color.
The new sizes and colors from Hydro Flask are always exciting to see. If you have ever used a Hydro Flask bottle you know how well they work at keeping beverages hot or cold, if you have not, it’s time you try. We use them on a daily basis around the office and on adventure. In the winter hot chocolate and tea stay warm all day while we are skiing and snowboarding on the mountain. In the summer, they keep our water chilled while we are on the trails.
For larger excursions or more friends, the Unbound series of soft coolers make for a great portable cooler that is very comparable to the Yeti Hopper Backflip, Trooper LT or the Podster by Orca. The value, bulk and weight to cooling ratio make the Hydro Flask the perfect in between portable cooler.
You can see all the new colors in the Cooler, Bottles, and Cooler Cups in the link below:
This really is the headlamp we have been waiting for. It boast 330 Lumans, can run for 3.5 hours on high, or 40 hours on low. It cost only $49, is USB rechargeable, and has many lighting options including red flood for night expeditions.
BioLite HeadLamp 330 Review
BioLite launched a kickstarted back in September 2018. The lights are now readily available for purchase. BioLite sent us a light to test and provide our unbiased feedback.
The first, most notable, and possibly best feature of the light is the extremly low profile light. No more flopping around which makes this an excellent option for adventuring in the evening. Trail runners will love this headlamp that shifts the weight of the battery to the rear of the head strap and more evenly balances is when running. Runners will also like the SlimFit fabric that runs across the front of the headlamp, it’s soft and acts as a sweatband when worn against the forehead.
BioLite Headlamp Impressions
It’s hard to believe that such a compact and well packed light can boast run times of three and a half hours on high, and up to forty hours on low. I’ve used the headlamp a number of times around the house, on a recent camping trip to Sedona, and dawn patrolling in the Utah mountains.
The light is perfect for use around the house when re-lighting a pilot light in the water heater. While 330 Lumans can be a bit much when working on something close up, you can hold down the power button on the top of the light to infinatly dim or brighten the light.
BioLite Headlamp Modes
There are six modes for the headlamp. A red flood mode that is great for saving your adjusted eyes during the night. Bright flood mode for covering a large area, perfect for trail running. A white spot light that is great for close up working. There is also the diming function where you hold the power button and the light cycles through what feels like infinite levels of brightness. Lastly, there is a strobe function and a lock out function to prevent the light from turing on in a pack.
BioLite Headlamp Features
The light has a USB 900 mAh Lithium Ion rechargable battery. It is IPx 4 rated to be weather resistant, (Not waterproof) and weighs just 2.44 oz (69.17 g). There is a four light led that indicates the charge level of the headlamp when turned on or off.
Cons of the BioLite Headlamp
A few things we didn’t like about the new headlamp from BioLite is that its so small it can be hard to press the button with gloves on during a dawn patrol early in the morning. Additionally, the light functions can get confusing. Trying to remember if I’m suppose to double click, or hold it down to switch from one light to another had us guessing each time we tried to switch. It seems like every headlamp manufacture dose this a little different, so trying to remember usually took some time.
It may be to soon to say, but after years of using over 20 headlamps, this has to be one of the better and favorites I have used. The run times are excellent, I can leave it in my truck and top off the charge with a car USB charger. It’s a great value at $50, considering you wont be shelling out for rechargeable or alkaline AAA or AA batteries. I’ll have to see how it holds up over the years, but as for now this will be the first headlamp I grab when camping, dawn patrolling, night hiking, or just working on something around the house.
If you found our first look and review helpful, consider using the links below to purchase the headlamp from BioLite. We will get a small commission that helps us keep GearChase.com going. Also, dont forget to check out our homepage at GearChase.com for daily deals from hundreds of online outdoor retailers.
We recently had a chance to try out some Topo Designs products for the first time. In a travel fashionable category similar to GoRuck, Herschel, Fjällräven, and Tom Bihn. Topo Designs is known for their travel packs and clothing. They make very stylish travel bags as well as fashion/functional clothing. Topo Designs was started in 2008 by co-founders Jedd Rose and Mark Hansen. The idea of an alternative outdoor gear company was born. Rose began to design and sew packs in his Fort Collins, CO basement while Hansen took to the streets for partners. Focused around durability, beauty and function, Topo Designs products are as fashionable on the trail as they are in the pub. Topo Designs backpacks and clothing seem simple from first glance, but it’s the small details like hidden stash pockets, and hanging loops on travel shirts that are stand outs for Topo.
Topo Designs Reviews
There are many great reviews on the web of unbiased opinions of the quality and style of the products. Just take a look at what the Male Fashion Advice Reddit community has to say:
Topo Designs Jeans, Pants, Shirts, Sweaters and Fleece
Currently Topo Designs has many different clothing products for men, women from tops, bottoms, coats and jackets, to hats and other accessories. Their backpacks and bags range from work bags and travel bags to backpacks and hip packs.
Topo Designs Wool Long Sleeve Tee Review ($98 Retail)
I have been wearing the Wool Tee Long Sleeve for the last month or so. I’ve worn it as a simple shirt, backcountry skiing, cold weather biking, and packed it many times using the PackFast™ Packing Band to throw in a gym bag, or pack for an additional layering option. The Merino wool is very soft and with the added Spandex is a perfect layering option when active.
There have been a few reviews on Topo Designs website about the Tee shrinking after washing. I have been careful washing it on gentle with cold water and allowing to air dry and do not feel that the tee has shrunk at all. You can read all the reviews here.
The overall fit is true to size. I am 5’10” and weigh about 160 lb. I am wearing the Medium and feel that it is a perfect fit. However, if I were afraid of accidentally shrinking the Tee I would size up to a Large.
Topo Designs Tech Pants Review ($119 Retail)
The Topo Designs Tech Pants are a popular style and fit for any outdoor activity. I’ve been wearing them to the office, climbing gym, camping and hiking. The Cinch cord at the ankle make them perfect for climbing in, or for cooling off. The added DWR finish make them a great adventure pant, that resist stains and water well. The front pockets are flat and don’t hold a lot more than a phone or wallet. The rear pocket are open and fit flat as well. They are accompanied by a small zipper pocket perfect for stashing valuables.
The pants pack well, and often are included in my day pack as a light weight alternative lounge pant. The two way stretch is across the leg, not from top to bottom.
As mentioned above I am 5’10” about 160 lb. I am wearing size medium and they are a perfect fit.
Topo Designs daypacks, backpacks, pants, shirts and other clothing and accessories can be purchased directly from their website. Additionally, Topo Designs is distributed through some amazing retailers like Amazon.com, REI.com and Nordstorms.
Finding Topo Designs clothing and packs on sale are best around holidays, for example they are currently offering free US Shipping.
Topo Designs Conclusion
Topo Designs is a great fashionable alternate to the standard outdoor gear. It is backed by their MAP Guarantee™. The future for Topo Designs looks bright, have a look at their website for the complete line of clothing and travel packs.
KUIU’s new Venture 2300 day pack has quickly become my favorite pack for short day long outings when I want an internal framed pack for load support and comfort. The pack weighs in at 3 lbs 9.4 oz. It measured about 22 inch tall and 11.5 inches wide when empty. It is constructed of top quality Courdura 500D fabric to prevent wear and damage in rough rocks and branch terrain. The overall volume of the pack is 2300 cubic inches vs. the Venture 1800 version that is a little smaller. The pack comes in 2 sizes Medium and Large for different waist sizes. If you are looking for a larger pack with similar design, features and quality check out the KUIU Icon Pro 3200. Optional gun and bow holders can be attached which make for the best hunting backpack.
The Venture pack from KUIU is designed to be a larger sized capable pack for use on day trips, although when traveling light I’ve been able to use it for overnight trips as well. The pack caters to the hunter that wants comfort, versatility, and quality. The backpack offers ample internal and external pockets, compression straps, tie down points, and modularity.
Choosing the right size KUIU Backpack
Initial Out of the Box
I’ve got to use the KUIU Venture 2300 on a couple day outings in the last month that I have owned it. Some of the first things I noticed when I put the pack on was the lumbar support. After always fighting lower back pain, it felt good to have a really well fitting back panel, with the right curve to match my back. The thought that went into the entire pack; as you start using the pack you see why zippers were placed the way they were and how the pack easily opens for access, even when loaded. The hip and shoulder straps are really well made with a lot of though into the stabilization and comfort when wearing the pack.
In the field
With the pack loaded up with about 30 lb of gear, it feels stable and easy to adjustable for a typical day in the brush. I am typically one the starts and stops a lot. I remove my pack and put it back on many times through out the day. Each attachment point with adjustability had store away straps for extra webbing, which made the pack easy to attach and remove without webbing catching or tangling all over the pack. I like how the pack tapers down from top to bottom, this allows for adjusting weight more evenly, and packing the necessaries where they are more easily accessible.
The top pocket of the Venture 2300 is one I use the most for storing scopes, snacks, glasses, etc. It’s sized much larger than typical packs in this category. The size elastic pockets are perfect for water bottle storage. I do wish they were slightly angled forward to make it easier to insert and remove items without having to remove the pack. The external large vertical pocket was perfect for holding additional clothing, it was easily accessible, large volume to hold rain gear, gloves, and a down sweater. The large D-Ring zipper make is easy to open even with cold hands. The internal zipper pocket were a great addition, that a lot of packs in similar category leave out. It was great when laying the pack on the ground and opening the U shaped flap, it lays flat with access to the mesh pockets that also have large oversize zipper pulls.
The bladder sleeve held all of our bladders from Camelback and Platypus up to 3 liter. There is a standard attachment clip inside the pack for hanging the hydration bladder. The hose can be fed through a small zipper in the middle top of the pack. On the shoulder straps there are KUIU branded loops to thread the hydration hose through to keep it out of the way when not in use.
While the KUIU Venture pack has been one of my favorites to date, it has a few things worth mentioning. The Courdoura fabric can be a bit noisy. The sizing can be a bit confusing when ordering a pack, watching the KUIU sizing video above can help a little. The compression strap dilemma, most packs suffer from having to undo the compression straps to fully open the pack. However, to be fair, KUIU Venture design with separate connecting and removable compression straps on the front of the pack as well as the side make it less annoying having to pack and unpack any gear attached to the outside of the pack.
For a quality, feature filled pack that is well worth the price tag the any of the Venture packs from KUIU are a great option. The internal frames and ample compression as well as organization and quick access pockets make it a win.
The KUIU Super Down ULTRA Hooded Jacket is a top of the line down insulated jacket with hood designed as a mid layer to be worn under a more durable shell. The KUIU ULTRA Jacket is completely packable down to a 6 inch by 6 inch pocket for super easy packability and storage once the morning chill wears off. The lightweight of the ULTRA jacket, small packable size as well as the warmth to weight ratio make it a great option for always having in a pack for inclement weather.
I am currently wearing a size large, that fits true to size for most large sized down jackets of similar weight. The lighter fill weight of the jacket makes it work well as a mid-layer. It allows you to maintain mobility when worn alone, or as an insulating layer. The sleeves fit standard for average sized, the chest and stomach fit a little larger than average. I weigh about 160lb, and would have gotten the size Medium if I was always planning to wear as a mid-layer. However, I like to wear the KUIU Ultra alone as a jacket and feel the large is a better option for this. It’s notable that there is a small Velcro latch on the back of the hood for pulling the upper portion of the hood back away from the face. When combined with the hood drawstrings, the hood can be cinched to move with your head and out of view. It’s worth noting that the Ultra jacket doesn’t have pit zips or chest pockets. These are two features some consider a necessities on a mid layer. Around the wrist is tight fitting elastic for holding the sleeves in place when adding a layer. They also work well keeping a draft out of the jacket and snow from getting in the arms. The bottom of the jacket has an elastic adjustable band for sealing out drafts. The hood also has a draw cord for reducing heat loss.
If you are looking at purchasing the KUIU Super Down ULTRA Hooded jacket you likely are at least familiar with the warmth to weight ratio of down, DWR treated down to help maintain loft and warmth when wet, fill weight and Fill power. If not here is a quick rundown of the Down used in the KUIU ULTRA Jacket. The Jacket is filled with premium 850+ goose down. 850 down is top quality down that provides really good warmth to the amount of down that is used. The Down is treated with DWR that makes the down completely waterproofs. It will remain dry, maintain loft, which continues to trap air and warmth.
KUIU Alternate to Down Filled Jacket
KUIU has a wide variety of jackets to meet many elements and climates. If you are looking for a different price range, or something that may be more suited for wet, cold, rain, etc. be sure to check out their KUIU Jacket Comparison Guide. There are many reasons to choose a down filled jacket vs a synthetic jacket for warmth. You will definitely pay more for a down filled jacket, but in my opinion the warmth to weight ratio is worth the added cost. However, the care for a synthetic insulation, cost, durability, warmth when wet, are all valid arguments for synthetic.
I always get anxiety wearing lightweight down jackets, especially with the cost of a high quality product. The lightweight material can easily catch a tree branch and tear a hole. The KUIU Super Down is made with Toray stretch fabric to reduce the risk of damage. The Toray Stunner fabric feels very similar to most down jacket with a slick lightweigh feeling. You will notice a bit more give/stretch to the coat. It’s still a little noisy, and if you are looking for something a little quieter, I would recommend the Kenai Ultra hooded jacket. It’s a synthetic jacket very similar to the Super down ultra.
One of the biggest arguments for Down in my opinion is weight and packability. It’s pretty amazing something can pack down so small, and be compressed even smaller in a pack if needed, yet provide so much warmth and protection. I always have a down jacket in my pack for emergencies. They weigh almost nothing, take up so little room and can be a real life saver in the case of an emergency. The picture below shows the jacket compressed into its stow-able pocket.
The claim is the with Pedaling Innovation Catalyst Pedal is that by moving your foot forward on the pedal and having your arch supported at both ends, you can generate more power.
The second claim by Pedaling Innovation Catalyst Pedal is that you can pedal more efficiently. By placing the foot in the middle of the pedal, stress is taken off the ankle and allows for better actuation from the hips.
Pedaling Stability and Comfort
The last claim from Pedaling Innovation about the Catalyst Pedal is that by having your foot balanced stability and comfort is improved.
James Wilson operates MTB Strenth Training Systems and after years of coaching mounting biking strength training he discovered a missing link between the rider and the bike. James discovered that similar to barefoot weight lifting movements could also be applied to biking. The translation of this to biking was the Catalyst pedal. It is a large long oversized (143 mm long, 95 mm wide, and 16 mm thick) pedal weighing in at 505 grams and costing $99. The pedals are made from heat treated 6061 T6 aluminum. They are manufactured by VP Components a trusted name in the bike industry for years. They have single DU bushing and dual sealed bearings. The spindle is a heat treated Cr-Mo standard 6 mm Allen. The pedals have a staggering 18 pins per side at each end of the pedal to connect to the shoe on each end of the arch. Additional 8 mm replacement pins are included for additional traction.
This video from Pedaling Innovation founder James Wilson explains his science behind this new pedal design and theory.
My review experience on Pedaling Innovations Catalyst Pedals
I was introduced to Pedal Innovation in early 2018 when I was demoing a bike for the day with Pedal Innovation Pedals on it. The unusual size and shape caught my attention and wanted to know more. I went over to pedaling Innovations website and researched a the theory and logic behind the oversized mountain bike pedal.
My current go to flat pedal is the crank brothers stamp 3. An already large pedal that I have grown to love. Riding smaller flat pedals just feels weird now. But the Catalyst Pedal is suppose to be more than just an oversized pedal, it’s a new idea, of getting off the balls of your feet and into the middle of the foot on the pedal.
In the box
Inside the box there are instructions on foot placement, the pedals, and extra long pins.
Having been fighting knee problems for years I can’t spend more that a couple hours on a set of clipless pedals. I’ve found the freedom and “float” offered with flats allow me to adjust my foot to different locations on the pedal to relieve stress, use different muscles, and offer a rest to other muscles. This seemed to help and allow me to go on much longer 3 to 4 hour rides without the fear of pain. Pedaling Innovations seemed like an obvious solution or at least a viable option to extend my rides, and reduce my discomfort.
I’ve now put about a hundred miles on the pedals. Climbing and descending felt much different with the pedal axis under the arch of the foot. Driving through the middle of the foot as opposed to the ball of the foot took some real getting use to. Right away I didn’t feel like I could generate as much power as I did from the ball of my foot. I did however, noticed a feeling of more stability and control when climbing and descending.
As read in other online reviews of the Pedaling Innovation Catalyst pedals I too had a problem keeping my heels down when descending. I would find when hammering through a rough section, my heels would begin to bounce off the back pins. This isn’t something I’ve experienced with my other pedals. I am going to continue working on this technique to find a placement to see if this improves overtime, and will keep this updated.
As for the claim of more power, I didn’t feel like I was generating more, but perceived power is always a hard to gauge. I don’t currently ride with a power meter on the mountain bike, but I would love to have some real data on the actual watt output when compared to conventional flat pedals.
Compared to standard pedals
In the photo below I compare the length of the Catalyst Pedal to the Crankbrothers Stamp 3 (which is a big pedal). You can see the Catalyst extends well beyond the length of the Stamps. They are approximately the same width.
I ordered the Keen Presidio II Mary Jane shoes in my normal size and the length is perfect. The heel is a little loose but then, I have a narrow heel. There doesn’t seem to be an option of ordering these in narrow, which I sometimes do to prevent a sloppy heel. I am not too worried, as the strap keeps the shoe on, even with a slightly loose heel. It also gives me the option of wearing a nice wooly sock with the shoes in colder weather.
One of my favorite features of all Keen shoes that I have tried is the internal support mechanism that provides excellent arch support. In fact, my podiatrist specifically recommends Keen shoes for this feature. This shoe did not disappoint. The ESS shank offers rigid, but lightweight stability in the mid foot. If I want, I can remove the insole and insert my custom orthotics and the shoe still fits comfortably. However, I often don’t bother wearing my orthotics in Keen shoes because the arch support in the shoes is so effective.
The upper part of the shoe is full grain leather which is supposed to be water repellent. However, if I was to wear these outside on a wet day, I would probably want to treat them with a waterproof spray to prevent stains.
The outer sole is made of non-marking rubber that leaves no skid marks on the floor. However, the tread is pretty tough looking which gives me a real feeling of stability on slick floors. The inside of the foot bed is a soft suede which makes it very comfortable to wear.
I love Keen Mary Jane shoes. They can be used to dress up or dress down. They look great with jeans, or dress pants or even a skirt. I’ve worn them with soft, wooly socks in the winter and tights with a skirt. They are really a practical, versatile shoe. When I first saw the two-tone look with black uppers and a grey lower sole, I was afraid they would look too sporty to wear with a casual skirt, however I did not get that feel when I tried it with a skirt.
When I wear my Keen Mary Jane shoes, I can almost always count of someone saying, “ cute shoes!” or “Where did you get those shoes?”.
The strap has a stylish buckle and is attached with an elastic loop to give a little more stretch in finding a comfortable fit.
The wide toe box gives lots of room for toes! Even with toes that are crooked, or have other issues will fit comfortably in these shoes. Again, the arch support makes for no pain in my foot, even after wearing the shoes all day.
I wore the shoes for the first time for 12 hours and it never felt like I was just breaking them in. They were comfortable all day long.
Again, my only complaint was the heel being a little loose, but the strap has 5 holes in it, so I just cinched it up a little tighter, on the next to the last hole, and the shoe stayed on my foot just fine.
The Keen Newport is one of the most popular adventure sandals, and for good reason. It’s been one of Keen’s staples for years. The Keen Newport H2 takes the original Keen Newport and made it water friendly. The grip of the sandal was improved for walking through rivers and wet rocks. It is arguably the most popular adventure sandal to ever hit the outdoor market.
The H2 Newport looks very similar to the ever popular Newport, however instead of leather straps, they have been replaced with neoprene and nylon for a quicker drying sandal. It’s categorized as a closed toe sandal. There are not a lot of other closed toe sandals that offer the same protection. The Teva Omnium, Ahnu Tilden Sport, Merrell All Out Blaze water shoe are a few other competitors. That you may want to look into when considering the Keen Newport H2.
I found that the Newport sandals are a great all around sandal for travel if you only want to bring one pair of shoes/sandals but want the convenience of both. The Newports are comfortable enough for long pavement walks, but when the trail ends, the sandals keep going. They easily adapt to a water shoe when hiking riverbeds, or caught in rain storms. The security of the full wrap around the foot prevents foot slip in the sandal when wet.
The Keen Newport H2 would be a good recommendation for someone looking to travel light and wanted the convenience of shoes and sandals. Additionally, when anticipating water crossings, or wet conditions the Newport can still provide stability of a hiking shoe with full water traction. This is ideal for rafting, and boating. The Newport H2 can also be used was an everyday sandal. With controversy, it can be worn with socks to help prevent sweating feet, and additional comfort.
The uppers are made from neoprene, nylon webbing and a Aegis microbe shield. The same elastic cord is used instead of laces. The mesh lining helps the sandals to dry out quicker when on the feet. The top of the shoe has a synthetic material to back the elastic lacing system. The sandals are easy on and off with a quick push button lacing system. The heel loop makes pulling the sandal on easy even when wet.
The sole feels a little harsh the first time wearing the Newport H2. It seemed to soften up a bit after wearing them for about a week. There is good arch support, and plenty of extra room in the toe-box as is typical in most Keen shoes. The Newport uses the classic Vibram sole rubber, which performs very well in wet and dry conditions. The sole is also siped for improved wet ground traction. The tread pattern works well in most conditions, however, in some scrambling up loose or slightly muddy the bite isn’t as aggressive as would expect from an adventure sandal. However, this also comes at the price of an all around sandal that can be worn from street to trail.
The mid-sole is not as forgiving as you would expect. The stiffer mid-sole makes walking on rocks and through riverbeds more confident. The mid sole is made from a compression molded foam, and contoured to match the arch and ball of the foot. You will notice the classic patented round toe protection. There have been other reviews online where the mid-sole has detached. I have not seen any indication of separation from the sole and mid-sole in my months of use.
The bed of the Newport sandal is closed cell foam that is coated to prevent stench from sweaty feet. Its softens over time, provides waterproof foot foundation. The foot-bed is also surprisingly stable when wet. As with a lot of sandals when they become wet they are slippery in the foot-bed. The Newport uppers and the foot-bed keep the foot in place and keep stability even when wet.
It is worth pointing out that these are sized about 1/2 size too small. I can confirm ordering up 1/2 size is highly recommended. The sandal feels as though there is a lot of additional room in the toe-box. I have smaller width, flat feet, and felt a lot of movement which allows the toes to splay out. There were a few hot spots from the sandals right out of the box for me around the ankle, but once they broke in it was less of an issue.
After spending a few months around town, a few hikes and some water walks the H2 Newport are a very comfortable sandal for the protection. Having very flat feet, I did get a hot spot under my arch, and around the ankle entry that I am still hoping will go away as they break in more. The closed toe design provides protection from stubbing toes in rocky riverbeds. The neoprene inner of the sandal dry quickly, prevent chafing from the nylon webbing, and provide stretch in the sandal.
Weight: 14.2 oz/402.6 g
Activity: Hiking, Beach, Watersports
Activities: Beach, Hiking, Paddle, Sailing
Upper: Washable polyester webbing
Lining: Hydrophobic mesh
Rubber: Non-marking rubber outsole with razor siping
Fit Tip: This style is running a 1/2 small. We suggest ordering a 1/2 size larger than your usual size!
Measurement Note: Our measurements were taken using a Men’s size 9 US (42.0 EU). Measurements may vary by size.
The Keen Newport H2 is a great shoe for someone looking for a multi-purpose sandal that can be worn around town or out for adventure. It’s a shoe that can be worn for 3 seasons. The value for the shoe is there for the right person.
The ROKA GP-1X is a larger version of the ROKA GP-1 made for full coverage and demands of long sunny and heated days on two wheels. With features like rubberized customization nose pieces and ribbed ear pieces, the light weight glasses are meant to stay in place even under the rigors of all day rides. The sunglasses are ultra light weight, have full spectrum coverage, and look pretty good too. The ear pieces and under-rim provide stability and structure to the glasses while the wide angle lens provide eye protection from both the sun and rouge debris.
ROKA – GP-1X Lens
The lens of the GP-1x cycling sunglasses are coated on both the back and front of the glasses. Coatings are applied to build up performance and transmission. A hydroleophobic coating helps keeps moisture off the lens. Additionally, an anti-scratch protective layer, an anti-reflective layer, anti-fog and mirror or polarization layers are added depending on which of the 4 lens options you choose.
The over-sized fit is something I have grown to love in riding glasses, from keeping the wind and dust out of my eyes to preventing blinding sunlight from odd angles. With a full 140mm width and 57mm height the coverage is huge, just the way I like it. At only 26 Grams (confirmed actual weight), they feel great on the face even after wearing them all day.
The GP-1X ear pieces are made from a titanium core wire and wrapped in what ROKA calls GEKO(TM) retention for keeping the glasses in place for all sports.
ROKA GP-1X Nose Piece
There are 3 optional sizes for the Removable GEKO Nose pad. The GEKO tech offers a custom fit that secures the nose glasses to most face shapes.
Here is more on the ROKA GEKO Patented Fit system
As well as a two year limited warranty against material defects or workmanship. ROKA also offers 100% satisfaction guarantee for 30 days if returned in new, unused condition for a refund or like-for-like exchange. You will have to pay the shipping for returns. Even better, is the Home Try-On program they offer. You can have 4 pair of their sunglasses sent to you for 7 days. Keep what you want, and the shipping cost is applied to the glasses.
Having tried hundres of sunglasses, and at least 30+ cycling glasses the ROKA GP-1x are very near the top of my list as my favorites. I really like the look of them, the oversized coverage, the GEKO grip, and just how light weight, flexible and comfortable they are. The lens are very much premium quality with both clarity and protection. These are a priemum cycling sunglass, and not everyone is going to spend $220 for a pare of cycling glasses, but if you are looking for the best, in performance, coverage, and weight. It’s worth checking out the ROKA GP-1x.
Otterbox has entered the game of premium coolers that was once dominated by the name Yeti. It seems now that there are a large amount of options for premium coolers that claim to keep ice for weeks. If your going to spend hundreds of dollars on a cooler, you should be expecting the best. A name notorious for phone protection has stepped up to the plate and hit a home run with their Otterbox Venture coolers. They are a beautiful looking cooler, with the Otterbox feeling to them. The construction is extremely rugged and solid. In addition to the cooler looks it also offers a modular design for adding on cutting boards, drink holders, bottle openers and dry storage.
The Venture cooler series from Otterbox has to be one of our favorite premium coolers to look at. It’s design features clean rugged look with eye catching details like the mountains on the underside of the lid, and molded handles. The color choice of white and blue are optimal for cooling and look great, but offered in a variety of colors and prints. The cooler seals tight thanks to the giant rubber ring around the lid that seals water and ice in the chest.
The inside of the Venture coolers are slightly tapered, and angled for draining water from the large drain plug. The cooler features two inches of refrigerated grade insulation foam through the cooler. There are literally hundreds of videos on youtube comparing these coolers and true ice retention, so we won’t bore you with another. If you want to spend the next 24 hours watching them you can see them all here.
One of our favorite design features is the latches on the Otterbox Venture coolers. If you have used other coolers, you know how awkward it can be to latch coolers when they are on the ground. Because the latches on the Venture coolers latch up, its much easier to open and close the cooler. They are easy enough for kids to use them, and provide a solid feel to them when closed.
There is also a small hole that continues through the latch. This provides a location to install a long lock to secure the cooler, and enhance its bear resistance.
The latch lay flat when not used to keep the cooler closed. They remain out of the way unless you have the bottle opener or another accessory installed under them. In that case the latch will rest on the accessory installed below.
It has durable rubber feet that keep it from sliding around in a boat or back of a truck. If that is not enough, Otterbox sales a retention strap (basically a tie-down) to further secure the cooler for transportation.
The handles on the Venture cooler are burly, but can get in the way when packing. Because the handles are molded into the cooler they don’t lay flat and it makes packing the cooler tight next to other objects a bit harder. Some coolers handles store away flat to the side of the cooler. If you are planning to pack the cooler tight in the back of a truck keep this in mind.
The Venture coolers are big and bulky. They usually take two people to move them. The fixed handles do make it easier and more secure when swinging the cooler in or out of a boat.
Otterbox Venture Cooler Sizes and Capacity
The Venture cooler comes in three sizes, the 25, 45 and 65 quart. These are true measurements, unlike some of the claims made by competitors. We recently saw a price drop of about $50 on the Otterbox coolers. Additionally, they have been seen on sale on GearChase.com from retailers like REI.com and CampSaver.com
A growing concern in the backcountry is bear, they smell food and come looking for it. Otterbox like other cooler brands claim the bear resistent. Having put their coolers through the test they earned the IGBC Certification No. 5155 in June 2017. You can read more about the bear testing done here.
Otterbox Cooler Accessories
Otterbox has a variety of accessories, that can be added to the cooler for modularizing the use of it. Although the accessories can be expensive, it offers a lot more variety a side from other coolers.
Here you can see the accessories all working together on the Otterbox cooler. The cutting board can be used inside the cooler or stored on the side table. The table and drink holder simply drops into the handle. It’s not super sturdy and I could see a little kid pulling on it and breaking off the mounting brackets.
Here is a list of all the accessories Otterbox offers for their coolers
It’s hard not to compare the Otterbox Venture coolers to the Yeti Tundra Coolers. They both claim keeping ice for 14 days, have great build quality, and keep stuff cold for a really long time. Both the Otterbox and Yeti coolers are bear resistant and they cost about the same. I think the Otterbox edges the Yeti out with the closure system, and overall look and design of the cooler. Honestly, they are both really great coolers, and you would be happy to have either cooler on a long trek to keep your food cold.
Otterbox Warranty and Manufacturing
Limited Lifetime Warranty
Covers defects in manufacturing, material and/or workmanship under normal use and service for the lifetime of the product.
Otterbox Coolers are manufactures in the USA. Designed in Fort Collins, CO. Made in Detroit, MI. You know this is one tough cooler.
Otterbox Venture Cooler Conclusion
The new Venture series coolers offered by Otterbox are just what we were looking for in a cooler. Not everyone needs a $300 cooler, but if you spend long over a week away from the ice box in the direct heat of the sun, it can be easy to justify the cost. We love heading to Lake Powell in Utah where we spend many days away from ice. The Otterbox Venture is exactly what we need to keep food and liquids cold for over a week while we are camping or on a house boat. The build quality is top notch, and with all the accessories the Venture is out goto cooler for longer treks. There are a few down sides to the the Otterbox a side from the price point worth noting. The Venture 45 and Venture 65 coolers are almost always a two man job to move. The Venture 65 weighs almost 30 lb with nothing in it, add ice, drinks, and food, and it’s easily over 100 lb. Also worth noting, if you order your cooler from Otterbox.com, you can get free shipping.
XX2i Optics has been know as a great value sunglasses company catering to outdoor enthusiast who enjoy running, cycling, angling, and more. We have been using the France2 sunglasses for cycling over the last couple months and really enjoyed them, but had some complaints. too. Above, you can see what is included in the box,
3 sets of lenses
3 sets of nose pieces and temple rubbers
Cleaning cloth and storage pouch for lens and glasses
Tool for changing nose piece
The sunglasses are very adjustable with the ear pieces and nose adjustment. You can bend and shape them to fit your face. I have a larger face, so i was able to open the nose piece up more to get the glasses centered around my eye. This is something I’ve always hard a hard time with glasses that don’t offer adjustability. The frames are made from hard light weight plastic that are flexible enough to easily pop the lens in and out.
The lens were very easy to swap out and felt very secure once a new set was “clicked” in. I didn’t anticipate how often I would be swapping out the lenses. I end up riding a lot around dusk and typically bring a light with me. I will take all three sets of lens with me. Riding the darker lens when I start my ride, switching to the medium lens at dusk, then the clear lens for night.
The nose piece is attached by two small screws. Even with the small tool provided, it took longer than expected to switch the nose piece color. It’s not something I plan on doing very often so it wasn’t a huge complaint. The lens were high quality and offered a clear view and protection from the sun.
My biggest complaint about the glasses comes around the size. These are considered a larger frame set of sunglasses, but they are still too small for my face. I like to have my sunglasses provide a substantial amount of wind and sun blocking. The glasses while adjustable still allowed for a lot of air to enter under the lens into my eyes. Additionally, riding at dusk parallel to the sun I noticed that the glasses didn’t extend far enough to the outside of my face, and the sun shone directly into the corner of my eye.
The case is another great value for these sunglasses. Its something I can throw in a bike bag, or even the back pocket of a jersey. Sunglasses costing twice as much don’t come with cases this nice.
I think the number one most stand our feature of these sunglasses is their warranty. “Lifetime Warranty! No questions asked, you break or scratch them, send them back to be replaced for a nominal shipping and handling fee! ” and their return policy “XX2i orders have a 365 day return policy! If you are not happy for any reason, simply send your order back with a copy of the invoice and we’ll credit you in full. (less any shipping and handling fees, please note you would like full credit on your invoice)”
Overall these are an exceptional value for the price. With their return policy, you can try them out for just the cost of shipping and handling. If you can’t swallow paying over $200 for a set of sunglasses that always seem to end up getting scratched, broken, or lost then XX2i are a great option for you.
I have been riding the Gore Wear all mountain short about 10 times over the last month. They are a unique style not commonly seen in the states with a long slender Euro cut to them, and a high waist ut took some getting use to. An all mountain biking short from a name like Gore, you know is going to be a quality build with all the bells and whistles. While this bike short doesn’t come with a chamois, it’s fairly reasonably priced at about $150 retail for what you are getting.
2 Way front zipper vent
Tough enough for laps in the park, but comfortable enough for all day rides
Long 14 inch inseam for better coverage
Zipper pockets on both sides
Ventilation zippers for heat management and room for pads
Stretch panel in hips and rear for comfort
Adjustable waistband with velcro
The front of the short takes some innovation from the top of the line road kits with a multi panel construction. The dark black close to the inside hip is a breathable mesh that still is holding up strong. The inner legs have a silky smooth abrasion resistant feel to them. The material slides very smoothly when peddling. The grey panels of the shorts have a semi stretch to them in a material similar to a tough swim suit, and overall feel very durable.
The back side of the C5 mountain bike shorts are made of an abrasive resistant material that has been standing up well to the 50+ hours I’ve had them against the saddle.
There is a unique venting zipper that can be opened from the top or bottom of the zipper. Also, shown is a oversize pocket on the side, big enough to hold even large cell phones.
When opening from the top it keeps the shorts tight against the leg while allowing venting to the rest of the shorts. The dark black you see through the mesh is my chamois.
When opening the shorts from the bottom you get a bit more flair out of the shorts. I like to ride knee pads most of the time and have found that I need to leave a couple inches unzipped just to get the shorts over my pads, because of the long slender fit.
There is a waist Velcro adjustment and show are the other zippers on the shorts. These are defiantly a premium short made with 95% Polyamide and 5% Elastane on the outer shell. The internal is soft Polyester. They are machine washable, and have held up well in the washer and dryer.
We had a chance to try out the Brazil Matt Tortoise sunglasses with polarized lens from XX2i recently and wanted to share our take on this classic design.
XX2i offers some really great glasses at a great value. They are miles a head of the cheap gas station sunglasses you buy, but are paying the huge premium for some of the big names in the optics industry. With all the same features including polarized lenses, UVA and UVB blocking, color popping view, and a really nice semi-hard case, these are a really good value for the price.
In the photo, you can see how the lens really add a dramatic effect to the view. The leaves look greener, and colors pop.
The glasses are a medium fit. I have a bigger head, and like a bigger set of sunglasses. These were a little right behind the ears for me. The fixed nose piece was very comfortable, and they stayed in place, even with sunscreen and sweat on the nose.
The lens are really great on these glasses if you like that sort of faux reality. Hiking seems to come life, behind these lens. They also look great with the tortoise color frames and blue mirror lenses.
XX2i offers a no question asked warranty. Seriously, scratch them, sit on them, just pay shipping and handling to get a replacement!
Additionally, they offer 365 days to try them out. Again, seriously take a year to try them in all conditions if you dont like them send them back for a full refund minus shipping and handling.
These are on sale right now for $34.99, really good value for that price.
The hooded waterproof jacket is made for all outdoor activities you might get caught in the rain, or need some quick protection. The Gore-Tex material offers superior waterproofing and breathability while still providing wind blocking. Gore Wear offers top of the line waterproofing for athletes that need a strong, breathable, functional all around jacket.
There is a front pocket that looks small, but held our oversizeds smartphone without issue. The pocket is also mesh on the inside so you don’t end up fogged up camera. This is the only pocket on the jacket.
As you can see the jacket doesn’t sit as low on the back as a cycling specific jacket, but offers just enough protection to keep your top half dry. The wrist are highlighted with yellow reflective strips. I was riding a size large jacket and like the extra room to move around in the jacket. The Gore Active Jacket has also become my mountain bike go to jacket. It packs down so small, I can throw it in a waist pack and take it with me whenever dark clouds are in the sky.
The selves are nice and long and I didn’t feel any pulling in the shoulders or across the back.
The jacket fits tight around the waist and did ride up on the waist a little when peddling, this is just a sacrifice for having a dual purpose jacket. There is a slight drop in the tail but very minimal.
The Gore Gore-tex (I know it’s confusing) keeps you dry. In our testing we went out in full on downpour. Shoes were filled with water, chamois, knee warmers and socks were soaked, but everything under the jacket was dry and protected. The Gore C5 Active hood jacket is very thin, but still provides some protection from the wind. By the end of an hour ride in the heavy rain and about 60 degree Fahrenheit weather was pretty cold with just a jersey on underneath. The Gore-Tex kept my jersey, phone, wallet all dry.
You can really see just how well the water beads up on the Gore-Tex fabric. The outer fabric is treated with DWR for waterproof and windproofing. Also, the inside of the jacket is coated with a Gore-Tex membrane for additional protection.
It’s worth pointing out if you are buying this for a biking specific jacket, it barely covered the back of our jersey. It however works very well as an all around waterproof jacket for multiple sports.
GORE C5 Hood
It’s worth pointing out is the hood on the C5 Active jacket is not meant to fit over helmets. However, it can be worn under a helmet in an emergency.
After a ride with the helmet on top of the hood, you can see it kind of pushes water into the fabric and through the DWR Gore-Tex coating. However, on the underside the jacket stayed dry.
It’s not a cheap jacket at $279 retail price but as for superior waterproof and breathable jacket for both cycling and running, it’s hard to beat. It’s super light weight, easily packable to bring along if rain is in the forecast. I’ve tested quite a few waterproof jackets over the years, and as for weight, waterproofing and breathability it’s hard to beat the Gore Active Jacket. Some of the downsides are the lack of pockets. I feel like I need to wear a jersey everytime I ride with this jacket just for additional pockets. The slightly dropped tail in the back could be just a tiny bit longer. You really are paying for the best of the best, in craftsmanship, durability, and waterproofing. It’s an investment, but should last you for many years to come, just keep your wheels upright, and stay away from sharp tree branches. To view more information about Gore Jackets, you can visit their site here. Or feel free to jump over to GearChase.com and see what deals we might have found on Gore Gear.
Blendtec Blenders are some of the strongest and toughest blenders on the market today. There are three categories of Blendtec blenders. The Classic Series, blenders that have made Blendtec a household name, and often sold in stores like Costco and online. They are the simple all in one blenders. The Designer Series offers more power and additional features than the Classic Series, and beautiful designed elements. Lastly, The Professional Series combines commercial power, new innovation and sound control. In addition to the three categories of blenders, Blendtec also offers a variety of jars and accessories for each.
We have been using the Blendtec Designer 725 for many months now, it is by far the most powerful blender we have ever used. In addition to the overload of power, it is loaded with features, and has a super solid and stable feel. Blending and food prep time is reduced with this advanced blender.
We used the classic stainless steel model that blends (no pun intended) into most kitchens, and is designed to fit under most cabinets.
Blendtec blenders have been the goto blender for athletes and shake enthusiast. They fit right into our lifestyle for both healthy eating and quick smoothies on the go. At GearChase.com we also LOVE awesome deals on gear, so when we heard that you can get Blendtec blenders refurbished at a nice discount as well, see the pricing below.
We have always loved watching the “Will it Blend” videos too, so we were ready to put this blender to the test.
We at GearChase are passionate about the outdoors, gear, deals, and feeding our body to keep doing what we love as long as we can. Blendtec promises to make it easier to do this.
For some hard data, we looked to research that has been done on the topic rather than just regurgitating what others simply hear or read from a non-research method. A study was done in 2014 and published in the US National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4103735/) on the effectiveness of blending vs juicing on the phytochemical (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phytochemical) and antioxidants (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antioxidant). The results were as expected, juice products containing fruit peels, seeds, etc. contained higher total antioxidants that the juiced fruit. Additionally, the research suggest that the blended fruit contained larger amounts of phenolic compounds and ascorbic acid. The phytochemical content of the fruit were significantly affected by the juicing method as opposed to the blending method.
Feeding our bodies after destroying them on the trail, snow, mountains, pavement, etc. is necessary for survival. Our bodies need recovery, and there really isn’t a better way that consuming a blended shake or smoothie to get the essential nutrients in the quantity and speed that our bodies need.
Another positive we experienced during our use was the reduction in stomach irritability. Typically after a hard workout, food tends to upset our stomach. By blending these fruits and vegetables together, we were able to get the nutrients that we had starved from our body back to it, without feeling the sickness of eating a meal after a workout. It’s the perfect way to mix up a recovery shake.
The Deal with Refurbished Blenders
You have all seen the amazing “Will It Blend” videos that made Blendtec a household name. But they are expensive! There is a great option, the refurbished models offer a great savings over the retail version, and are often even more reliable than the retail version.
The majority of the blenders that are sent back to Blendtec are from Sam’s Club or Costco. Because of the many Blendtec blenders that are sold from these warehouse stores and their lenient return policy. Most blenders returned have less that 15 blends on the blender and rarely because there was an issue with the blender itself.
These refurbished blenders have been used, but don’t expect to see green smoothie stuck in the buttons or corner of the wildside jar? Everything from a returned and refurbished blender is replaced. The jars are not reused, they are sent back for recycling as well as the base of the blender. Really, the only part of the blender that is reused is some circuitry, the motor, and the power cable. Everything else is brand new. You will get a new base, new blender jar, so there are no concerns that you might be reusing someone else’s dirty blender.
The blenders go through a series of vigorous test both physical cycles and electronic analysis to ensure that the blender is working properly before it leaves packaged up. The packaging of a refurbished blender is basically the same that would be expected from the retail version. Included is the jar, base, recipe, other instructions as well as packing material.
you are basically getting a new blender with a motor that may have a few dozen blends on it. It’s definitely worth noting that while a new Blendtec blender comes with an 8 year warrantee, the refurbished blenders still come with a 7 year warrantee! That’s a huge piece of mind to feel covered in the case of a failure.
In full disclosure, Blendtec sent us the Designer 725 unit to try out for a few months and provide our feedback on the unit. Although Blendtec sent us the blender it in no way influenced our reviews or outlook on the unit.
If you can afford the upgrade to the Designer 725 it’s well worth the extra money. It’s clean look, and touch digital buttons make cleaning it and looking at it a lot easier. We tend to think the other blenders like the Classic 575 or the Total Blender tend to look too industrial sitting on the counter. However, the Designer 625 and 725 have a beautiful appearance.
The Designer 725 is really in a league of it’s own as far as speed, power and capacity. With it’s 100 touch point blending control, 3.8 peak horsepower motor at 1,725 watts it can handle anything you can shove in there. The sliding control is very useful to just place your finger on and slide up and down as you hear the blender start chopping, or when the presets aren’t quite doing their job.
The user interface was very friendly and easy to use. With five preset blending cycles as well as a cleaning cycle there is just about everything you need to create Smoothies, Juices, Soups, Salsa, Ice Cream, and don’t forget the self clean option that works pretty good for normal uses.
In addition to the 100 Speed touch sensor, there is also a multi-speed pulse button that you can hold down and let go to pulse the blender blade as desired.
On of our favorite designs of the 725 was the sleek modern touchscreen. It’s flat and smooth and cleans off with one wipe. No more using the corner of a rag to scrub around little buttons on the blender.
3.8 peak horsepower motor
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Illuminated Touch Screen
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6 Pre-Programmed Cycles
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100 Speed Touch Slider
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Add 10 Seconds
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7 Year Refurbished Warranty
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The BlendTec wildside 5 sided jar is dishwasher safe and allows for higher volumes and a lower counter height. The “Wild Side” a fifth sided corner helps to turn the contents and redirect them back to the blade. The jar is impact-resistant, and BPA-free copolyester. These jars are all dishwasher safe. The height of the jars is also specifically designed to fit under your cabinet.
There are also smaller 2 qt (64 OZ) containers as well as a Twist Jaw that is used for creating ultra thick recipes like peanut butter.
The Twister jar works really well to agitate the ingredients and help insure a smooth blend of something so difficult like almonds or peanuts.
Below we were using it to make a chocolate almond butter. It starts off slowly smashing and grinding the almonds. We weren’t too careful while using the twist lid and made a bit of a mess, so be sure to hold the lid down tight as you are turning counter-clockwise. It’s incredible how much heat is created when girding the almonds, just touching the side of the twist jar it was fairly hot.
You can also see by the photos, using the Spectacula™ spatula it’s very easy to get the entire contents out of the jar not wasting any of those expensive almonds. It’s not as easy to clean the large jar by just running a cycle of soapy water. We did have to get out the scrub brush and clean well around the blade. The scraper comes completely apart which made cleaning it very easy. Even the top cap pops in and out for cleaning.
One complaint we had with the twister jar is that it seemed to fit more loosely on the base, so we felt like we needed to babysit it more that the other jars. It wasn’t too big of a deal since you are holding and twisting the jar during use. Another complaint was that after a few uses of the twist jar, it began to show signs of use on the bottom gasket. Not sure how long these would hold up, but it’s good to know the jars are covered by a 3 year warranty. It’s also worth mentioning, the customer service with Blendtec is above and beyond. As we had questions about the blender, and the jars we sent emails and called into Blendtec to get quick answers. They were always very polite responded very quickly, and made sure I had exactly the information I needed. I’ve heard of many others with the exact same experience so I can’t assume they were just being nice to us.
It’s nice to see some real world photos, and not just the cleaned up manufacture photos of what it actually looks like to blend nuts. As you can see it’s pretty clean and does the trick. We couldn’t have been more pleased with the results. By the way, if you like Nutella, you have to try the chocolate almond butter from one of these twister jars.
The blade is very unique on the BlendTec blenders jars. It’s not sharp like you might expect. It’s somewhat blunt edge however pulverizes by ripping and shredding it’s contents with it’s hardened steel. I was told that there is quite a process that goes into making the blades to keep them somewhat flexible on one side and strong and hard on the other for the perfect crushing machine.
The lid was far better than any other lid we have used as far as sealing the top of the jar. However it did leave us with some concerns and wishes. The lid seals amazingly well if you have it pressed tightly around all sides of the jar. The vented top was a little hard to remove when trying to add contents during blending, but not too bad. Washing the lid can be a little tricky, or you might just feel spoiled that the Jar is so easy to clean, and you might actually have to scrub the lid.
While the videos of the Blendtec always seemed to be perfect we did have a few issues with contents getting stuck in the top and sides of the blender. If we tossed in a half apples, it sometimes would just float around in the jar. We learned what can and can’t get away with using the Blender. For example just tossing in entire celery stalks didn’t always get caught by the blade, and we had to cut them up into smaller pieces. Basically, just cut or keep your contents small enough to be moved around in the blender from the start. Also, make sure you have enough liquid for the blending purpose, and you will be fine.
Juicing, Soups, Ice Cream
Juicing with the blenders huge motor was amazing. It was fun to just throw whole fruit into the machine and let it do it’s magic. It literally pulverized everything and anything we put in it. It was easy to drink more fruits and vegetables knowing that you were going to be left with a gritty fibery mess. It blended everything from frozen strawberries and pineapple to broccoli and celery.
It’s incredible to think that you can warm up soup with a blender. But the 3.8 horsepower motor had no problems warming up a soup using just the blender. There are a bunch of healthy and not so healthy soups listed on blendtec website, one of our favorite was teh creamy taco soup.
One of our favorite treats was blending frozen bananas. It matches the consistency of ice cream and with a little chocolate syrup it even taste similar.
A super nice feature of Blndtec blenders is the clean up. Just add a small drop of dish soap to the jar, and a cup of water and touch the “Clean” cycle. It does a really good job after making something like a smoothy to clean the jar up.
The Designer 725 comes with blending rewards (https://www.blendtec.com/rewards) built into the blender. The program is designed to reward you for eating healthy. There are certain milestones build into the blender that display a code when reached. You can then redeem your codes for recipe books, gift cards, product discounts, kitchen supplies and more.
For example, we hit 100 blends and got a Spoonula. Of course you will still need to pay for the shipping, but still a great benefit. Additionally, we hit 100 blends relatively fast. Also, we noticed you get blend rewards for cleaning too.
While there were a few nitpicky issue we had with the blender, the one that really stands out is just how loud the blender is. If you can opt for the commercial grade blender with the cover it’s very quite. But without this cover this thing is loud. Not just kinda loud, like wake up the kids the house is on fire loud. It’s amazing, running the blender without the jar on this’ fairly quiet. But you load up the blender and turn it on, the sound is very loud. Luckily it’s short, and once the large bulky items in the blender are broken down it does get a little quieter.
If you have been brought down by cheap, under powered blenders for years and years (like we have been) Blendtec blenders are like experiencing what you expected blenders to do when you were a little kid. Anything edible we dared to throw in the blender was handled with little to know agitation. These blenders are expensive, and the refurbished models help a little. We can honestly say, these blenders can change your life. Over our time testing, we ate much healthier meals, and consumed more fruits and vegetables than prior eating habits. It’s easy to drink these healthy smoothies, and feel full throughout the day.
The build quality is top notch. A lot of detail that goes into each part, from machining little caps inside the jars to meticulously testing each and every motor.
Check out the link below to view all the refurbished deals on Blendtec Blenders today.
Do you really need a $160 pump to be able to mount your tubless tires anywhere? There are currently about 10 different pumps or DIY methods for inflating a tubless tire on the go without electricity or the use of a compressor. They range in price from the cheap 2 litter bottle hack. The pumps range in price from about $70 USD to $180 USD. One of the favorites we have used is the Topeak Joeblow. The pump can be used like a regular floor pump when the switch is turned to “Inflate”, or charged like an air compressor when switched to “Charge” mode. The pump can store upto 160 PSI (11 BAR). Dealing with a compressor in addition to presta valves and the other obvious inconvenience make having a portable tubeless pump almost a necessity with most high end bikes being set up tubeless. The topeak pump also includes a super long hose that nicely stores securely around the pump. It includes two air release or bleed buttons for letting reducing pressure in the tire or charger.
Preparing the Tire for Use of the Topeak JoeBlow Pump
In our testing and use over the last few months with the Topeak JoeBlow pump and our initial review of the pump we replaced a rear tire. After removing the old tire. Sealant should be refreshed every few months in tires, and it’s easy to just break the bead, and add a couple ounces to keep it blocking flats. There is the option to remove the valve core, and add sealent through the valve, but we found it just as easy if not easier to just pop the bead add the sealant and use the JoeBlow pump to reseat the bead and inflate the tire.
Here we have the new tire already installed back on the rim. We cleaned up any dirt and residue with a quick wipe down before placing the new tire on.
The Maxxis DHR 2.4 was tubless ready tire, the Stans recommendation was to add about 3 or 4 oz for a new tire.
With the tire completely seated inside the rim with only a small opening at the bottom we added the sealant and pushed the rest of the tire into the rim without spilling any of the sealant out.
Charging the Topeak JoeBlow Pump
With the tire installed with sealant to the rim, we charged the pump by rotating the top nob to “Charge” and taking about 50 strokes of the pump to reach 160 PSI. The pump consistently took 50 full strokes of the pump to reach full charge. We could have gotten away with less than 160 PSI to seat the tire, but always went to 160 just in case.
Topeak Smart Head
One of our favorite features about the JoeBlow and other Topeak floor pumps is the smart head. The smart head works with presta and schrader valves the long lever on the head makes it easy to lock on to the valve. It has a convenient bleed button on the head to reduce pressure in the tire during filling. It has been one of the best multi use heads I have ever used. It’s easy to know when it’s seated properly on the valve, and the long leverage on the locking lever makes it easy to secure without busing a knuckle on a spoke, or breaking a valve stem.
The additional bleed valve is located on the charge tank to discharge the floor pump.
This pump couldn’t be any easier to use, It’s heavy duty, and heavy, which I like for it’s use it gives it a solid platform for pumping. It’s still portable enough to bring to the trail and on trips. We have had a 100% success rate with the pump, as long as you take a few minutes to check the tire and valve are property prepared. Using the pump as a standard pump works well, however not as fast as other larger volume pumps. Even with a compressor in the garage, I reach for the JoeBlow pump to seat my tubeless tires.
A good quality flashlight is something everyone needs. They are useful when camping, power-outages, emergencies and just around the house. One of the biggest complaints I’ve had about flashlights is never knowing what kind of charge the battery has. This means I usually end of bringing an extra set of batteries every time I go out. The just released Fenix UC52 feature on board battery status. A digital display of the estimated run-time for the battery. Additionally, the light charges via micro-USB so if I need to quickly top it off I can do so from a solar panel, power pack, car charger, or phone charger.
The light is wrapped in a solid and ridged metal construction that fits very well in hand with it’s contoured shape. You can carry the flashlight with the lanyard, or the included holster.
A lanyard can be attached to the back of the flashlight to wraparound your wrist when walking with the flashlight in hand. The unique shape of the Fenix UC52 fits feels very comfortable when toting around or balanced in hand. The two flat sides make it easy to rest on an uneven surface without it rolling away.
Out of the Box
A standard nylon case, belt loop, D-ring, and Velcro closure holds the Fenix UC52. With the wrist strap on, it’s a little cumbersome to get in and out of the case, but still usable. Pushing buttons out of the box, revelied that the top button displays the current percent of battery remaining for a couple seconds and turns off. The bottom button did nothing until I held it down for a few second or so. Next pushing and holding both buttons displayed a lock icon in the LCD, and flashed the light a couple times. This seemed to lock the light from turning on. One really nice feature is that when the light is locked, if you push a button it flashes a couple times and displays the lock icon, to indicate the light is locked. I’ve used other lights that lock and you have no idea why it’s not turning on until you remember the secret button combination to unlock it. For the UC52, to unlock the light you hold both buttons together for a couple seconds, the light comes on and displays the run-time. I really like that feature.
Once the light is on there are many functions, the top button will cycle from strobe to SOS. The bottom button cycles through 5 brightness settings. Run-time is from around 82 hours to 42 min depending on the setting. The throw is from 253 meters on high to 18 meters on low. Meets many FL 1 Standards for 3100 Lumens, 1 Meter drop, and 2 Meter submersion in water.
Below are the different brightness’s taken with the same aperture and exposure to get a feeling of the intensity between levels. The flashlight was pointed at a wall about 4 feet away.
This has become my go to light. It’s capable for all situations. The light isn’t so large it’s cumbersome, but packs enough power to meet long times between charging and high output in emergency use. Around the house and campsite I find myself using Level 1 and Level 2 as indicated on the LCD. Running temperatures stay low, there is plenty of light for small projects, and battery impact is minimal. On Level 5, the light does get pretty hot to the touch.
As an avid biker and explorer, it’s nice to have the option to light up the place with 3100 Lumans just for the fun of it. I tried mounting the light with a few different options when hiking and biking. With velcro straps, and two flat sides, the light is much more capiable of being mounted to a bike frame, or other surface. The light is well balanced, and stayed in place fairly well. With the larger batteries, the light wants to move around a bit, but could be used in a crunch as a bike light.
Aside from the weight of the larger batteries, the light feels comfortable in hand. When running the light on Level 5 (3100 Lumans) it gets pretty warm really quick.
Charging the light couldn’t be easier, a micro USB can be plugged into many sources and charged a lot faster that expected from a good power source.
Max output of 3100 Lumens (Blinding)
OLED Screen display battery run-time and mode
Micro USB Charging
Heavy duty construction
15 (82 hours) to 3100 (40 Minutes) Lumen Range
Waterproof up to two meters (IP68 Rated))
6″ x 1.7 ” x 1″
9.7 oz with battery
The UC52 by Fenix uses a XHP70 Cree LED light to deliver it’s maximum range of light output. The battery is a 7.2 V/3500mAh Li-ion battery that is sealed inside. Fenix also offers a 2 year free repair.
Micro USB Charging Cable
Head over to Fenix to see the entire line-up of Flashlights, Tactical Flashlights, Headlamps, Bike Lights and Lanterns.