Posts Tagged biking gear
We went bike riding for a week straight, but in these Ibex merino wool shirts, we felt comfy and smelled good.
Earlier this month I took my wife on a cycling trip in Portugal with Bike Tours Direct and rode along mostly empty roads in the Alentejo region. It’s a farming area full of vineyards and olive groves, wineries and cork trees. We rode on hybrid bikes because usually it was paved roads, but sometimes dirt paths.
Ibex Giro Full Zip
I brought a few different shirts along, some just synthetic workout shirts, but the one I wore the most was this Giro Full Zip Jersey. Made in the USA from New Zealand merino wool, it kept me cozy on cool mornings and wicked the sweat away to keep me nice and comfortable when the sun hit high noon. It fits snug but is stretchy, a zipper with a locking tab running the length of it.
I didn’t use all three pockets on the back, but the divider did make it easy to find the phone I stashed there when the Portuguese tour operator called to make sure everything was going fine. I could stash my sunglasses back there too when going inside to get something to drink. Like most cycling jerseys it’s longer in the back than in the front, useful even when you’re not hunched over like a road racer.
In the end I wore this Giro FZ jersey through three days of hard cycling in the sun and it still didn’t smell like it needed a wash. That’s a big advantage when you’re away from home and don’t have a lot of time to mess with figuring out laundry. When it is time to wash it though, you don’t have to treat this shirt with kid gloves: toss it in the washer and then hang it up to dry.
The shirt comes in three color choices on the Ibex Wool site and lists for $140. You may find it for a bit less at Amazon.
Women’s Indie Freeride
My biking companion for the week wore another one from Ibex, the women’s Indie Freeride with a half zip.
This was the first time she’d ever worn something made of merino wool and her first time in something from Ibex. She was really impressed by the feel of the fabric and how uncannily it worked for temperature regulation. “I never got chilly and I never got sweaty.”
She also liked the fit of it and how the zipper is so well concealed in the design. You can’t see where the zipper stops and the regular seam begins. This model doesn’t have the full cycling pocket set-up across the back, but it does have one zippered stash pocket if you want to use it for running or other active pursuits.
Nothing in the Ibex line is cheap, but nothing ever feels cheap either. Plus I can attest they’ll stick to the promise that comes on their tags: “Exchange or get a refund for your garment for any reason.” That’s not something you see very often.
This model comes in three colors with a design on the back on the Ibex Wool site, listing for $120. The one my wife wore was red with a design on the front though and that’s the one still showing up on Amazon for slightly less.
I’m currently on a self-guided cycling tour in Portugal with Bike Tours Direct, riding from village to village on two wheels, so these Rev Shorts from Pearl Izumi are getting a workout. The best part is, I don’t look like a complete dork when I leave my helmet and walk into a strange cafe, my Portuguese phrase book in hand.
I bike a few days a week at home too, but that doesn’t mean I have to wear spandex from my knees to my shoulders. I’m not into the “Je suis un cycliste” look. For years my main pair of cycling shorts has been some baggy ones from Hoss that I’ve about worn out after using them for oh, six years now.
I expect these Pearl Izumi Rev ones to be my go-to pair for even longer. They’re well-made and are from a company known for producing cycling and running gear for demanding athletes.
These don’t look like biking shorts, which is kind of the point, but they do have the built-in padding to keep your butt from getting bruised. Plus they’ve got a vented mesh section on each leg to let the air flow out when you heat up.
The synthetic fabric wicks well and dries quickly. You could probably go on a week-long cycling tour with just this one pair of shorts and wash them in a sink when necessary. They would dry by morning.
I like the way these fit on the outside, with ample give to them and an adjustable waistband. I would prefer a bit more room in the crotch area as it’s more constricted than it needs to be in my opinion. The padded liner is connected to the back of the pants but not the front though, which does make it easier when it’s time to go to the bathroom. That and the fact there’s a normal zipper and a snap on the top like regular shorts.
The Rev Short from Pearl Izumi is one of several in their bike shorts line that allows you to look more like a surfer than a Tour de France contestant when it’s time to step off the bike and grab a beer. See all of them here. I wish a 13-inch inseam wasn’t considered so normal these days, making every pair of shorts come down to a guy’s knees, but looking at the racks of shorts and swimsuits in stores, we’re stuck with this length for a while it seems.
The technical Rev Biking Shorts come in this color or solid black and list for a hundred bucks even. You may find them for a bit less at your local bike shop or at Amazon. There’s also a women’s version that is naturally not so long.
There are times you need to be fully covered even when it’s not cold. When you start out exercising on a cool morning, at the beginning of a hike, or when you’re going to spend way too much time in the sun. When your body starts heating up and producing perspiration, suddenly those long sleeves (and maybe even a hood) don’t feel like such a great idea anymore.
Several companies are coming out with new clothing lines this year, however, that can cool your body back down as much as five degrees when they start getting wet. This Sol Cool Hoody is one of them, armed with Icefil technology, a compound “found in the birch tree and mint gum.” The idea is that it arms you with UPF 50+ sun protection all over, but keeps you comfortable in the hot sun or during a workout.
I’ve used this on two trips and an in-town biking trip now and have been happy with the results. I didn’t carry a thermometer around to check my body temperature, but it did get noticeably cooler when I started sweating and a breeze kicked in. I’ll definitely be packing this for an upcoming bike tour and my next trip to the beach.
I found another handy use for it too, off-label so to speak: as a snorkeling cover-up. I’ve got nothing close to a full head of hair anymore, so this ExOfficio hoody allowed me to swim around on the surface for an hour without getting burned anywhere—including on my head.
I didn’t have anyone take my photo doing it though because I’ve got to admit I felt a little like a 1970s science fiction movie character with the hood on. You’re probably not going to wear it casually around town.
Like the other items in ExOfficio’s Sol Cool line we’ve reviewed before, this shirt is lightweight, wrinkle-free, and dries in a flash. It’s thin, stretchy, and comfortable. It’s got quality flat seams and thumb holes for getting more of your hands covered.
See more reviews of ExOfficio travel clothing from this gear blog.
Where are you supposed to put all that cycling gear when you’re not using it in transit? This Mountainsmith Bike Cube Deluxe is the bag meant to hold it all.
If you’re like most cyclists, you often get your bike to where it needs to go by car first. You put it on a bike rack, ride to the starting point, then get all of your gear out of the car before taking off.
This bag is the one that keeps all that stuff together: helmet, gloves, tools, shoes, glasses, lights, and whatever else you usually need. The general idea is that you keep everything bike-related in this one catch-all and then you just grab and go when it’s time to ride. If you’re the type who loves Mountainsmith’s Modular Hauler system or K-9 Cube, this is another organization aid to keep your car camping or road tripping auto from getting trashed.
Speaking of trashed, this thing even includes a mat for you to lay out for changing from regular shoes to cycling shoes if you’re the type that brings separate shoes. Or just to change out of your muddy ones into something else after mountain biking, for the ride home. The mat then goes in a separate pouch on the outside of the bag.
It also comes with a nice tool organizer for tune-ups and plenty of pockets of different sizes in three sections, some of them mesh and some not, plus a Velcro organizer flap you can move around. I like how the middle section is vented so if damp things are in there some air can circulate.
There’s a handle on the top that secures with Velcro plus a shoulder strap in case you need to walk a ways with it. The only downside of all this storage space is…it’s not going with you on the bike. It’s meant to stay behind in a vehicle, house, or hotel.
The Mountainsmith Bike Cube Deluxe lists for $80, but right it’s going for under $50 at Amazon. That’s a fantastic value for something designed this well that holds so much. You can also check prices at Rock Creek and eBags.
Big backpacks are optimal for hauling a lot of gear around, but completely useless when you want to go out for a day hike, run, or biking excursion. For a great, pared-down pack complete with a hydration bladder bonus, check out the Hydrapak Tamarack Pack.
The pack has 7 liters of gear storage space—enough to fit your phone, necessary clothing items and a few food items. A friend and I have a “sandwich rating” for smaller packs, which amounts to the number of sandwiches (and of what size) you can fit in the pack once you’ve placed your other gear and water inside. For me, this pack has a three-medium-sandwich rating. That’s larger than a puny PB&J (which are tasty, nonetheless), but smaller than a hero.
Sandwiches aside, the pack weighs 1.1 pounds before you get everything in there. There are ample pockets—from smaller front- and top-zip pockets that will fit smaller items like keys and phones to the larger main compartment and front stash pocket for the rest of your gear.
On top of all that, there’s a dedicated zippered reservoir pocket in the back panel, which fits a full 3-liter bladder. The bladder itself has a slide-open top that makes it easy to fill but also seals tightly. Best of all, it’s PVC free. The hydration sleeve has 360 degrees of insulation, allowing your water to keep its temperature longer (even protecting it from body heat) than with many other packs.
There’s ample padding for your back, as well as padding on the shoulder straps. The waist belt is removable, in case it gets in your way. Even loaded up with gear and water, the pack is comfortable for hours on the trail. I’ve used it out hiking and biking on the California coast, and it’s my go-to bike pack at home.