Top Ten Pieces of Gear 2010 – Part 2

Welcome back for part 2 of our Adventure Racing Gear Top Ten!  If you missed part 1, you can find it right here.  Below you’ll find numbers 6 through 10 (and a bonus #11).  Again, these are in no particular order.  Okay, on to the gear reviews – here we go!

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6. Golite Mesh Hat

Adventure Racing Review - Golite Mesh hat

I used to wear Outdoor Research’s Swift Cap as you may have read in our ABC’s of Gear part III.  While that is a quality cap, I’ve since switched to the Golite Mesh Cap, and I’ve never looked back.

It’s the most comfortable hat I’ve worn, it breathes really well, and it wicks moisture much better than the OR Swift.  It comes in white (which I prefer since it’s much cooler), black, and white and gold.  You can also get a Golite Visor if you so desire.  The hat weighs almost nothing, and it’s quite stretchy.  There is a coolmax liner to keep the sweat out of your eyes as well.

One other great feature is the dark underside of the bill.  This cuts out the glare you would find with other white caps (kind of like when football/baseball players put eyeblack under their eyes), making it perfect for paddling.  Oh, and yeah… This cap also keeps the sun out of your eyes.

Yes, the white cap can get pretty grimy.  I’ve thrown mine in the dishwasher with success, and when it gets really nasty, I just scrub it by hand in the sink using dish soap.  It has come out clean every time (with the exception of a small ketchup stain on the side when my nephew Eli accidentally mashed a hot dog into the side of my head – and even that can hardly be seen).

The Breakdown:

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Highly breathable
  • Wicking / Keeps sweat out of eyes
  • Looks great
  • Comfy
  • Blocks out glare with dark underside of the bill
  • Washes easily

Cons:

  • White can show dirt and grime more than other colors
  • Not-fully Nephew/Hotdog-proof (see above if you just skipped to the bullet points)

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7. Suunto Clipper Micro Compass

Adventure Racing Gear Review - Suunto Clipper Micro Compass

This little compass comes with its own band, but it also fits on most watch bands (which is how I wear it).  This is perfect for quick and easy navigation or for when you just need to get a general bearing. There is even an adjustable bezel if you want to take a more accurate bearing.  In fact, for all but the most difficult navigation, this is pretty much the only compass I use.

I recently forgot to take this with me to the 24 Hour Shawnee Extreme Rogaine, and I was so bummed!  For the first 12 hours, I kept looking down at my wrist only to find that it wasn’t there.  To be honest, I sort of felt naked without it.  It was a pain to keep grabbing my compass, holding it steady, and getting a general bearing.  It’s just so much quicker and easier with the Clipper Micro Compass.

I’ve never had any issues with this compass.  It’s durable, and it’s very affordable at only 11 bucks or so.  I hated that I left it at home for that last race, and I don’t plan on making that mistake again.

The Breakdown:

Pros:

  • Tiny and lightweight
  • Affordable
  • Accurate
  • Great for quick and dirty nav
  • Adjustable bezel allows for more accurate nav
  • Bezel and arrow glow in the dark
  • Comes with band or fits on watch band

Cons:

  • None that I’ve found

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8. Mountain FeedBag

Adventure Racing Gear Review - Mountain Feedbag

Okay, I know this one looks weird.  I had my doubts about it when I first saw it.  Won’t it get in the way?  Nope.  Won’t my bike be off-balance since it’s only on one side? Nope. Won’t everyone stop me and ask about it?  Maybe…

The Mountain Feedbag holds a ton of stuff – bars, gels, energy drinks, candy bars, bike tool, an extra water bottle, keys, cell phone, beer… The list goes on and on.  And the best part is you can access all of this without getting off of the bike.

Imagine actually answering the phone before it goes to voice mail while you’re still riding! Or imagine scarfing down a Clif Bar while passing your competitors as they stop to access their packs!  It’s all right in front of you and easily accessible since you can easily open and close the Feedbag with one hand.

It’s never gotten in the way on any ride I’ve ever done.  Not once has it hit my bike or a knee.  And I’ve never felt off-balance with this on my bike.  In fact, I don’t even notice it’s there until I need to get something out of it.  Pairing the Feedbag up with a Simple Strap (reviewed in Part 1) has been an amazing combo, and I’ll never go back to a saddle pouch.

For longer rides or races, this thing is a life saver.  Planning on doing Syllamo’s Revenge?  Get a FeedBag.  Love doing gravel road rides?  Get a FeedBag.  Tired of stopping to access your phone or food?  Get a FeedBag.  Seriously, just get one and thank me later.

The Breakdown:

Pros:

  • Holds an amazing amount of stuff
  • Completely accessible while riding
  • One-hand operation
  • Stays completely out of the way
  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • Looks a little odd

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9. e-Fuel Electrolyte Energy Drink

Adventure Racing Gear Review - e-Fuel Electrolyte Energy Drink

Okay, I’ve talked about e-Gel and e-Fuel for a long time now – basically in every race report I’ve written.  Why?  Because they work!  I truly believe that the e-Fuel saved my race at The Berryman Adventure this year.

The e-Gel is great, but I prefer the e-Fuel.  What’s the difference?  Well the e-Gel is a lot like other gels (only better in my opinion) while the e-Fuel is meant to be added to water.  It’s not a messy powder, though.  I always hated trying to mix powders in my water bottles during a race.  It’s a pain in the ass and way too messy.  The e-Fuel is a concentrated liquid in a pouch slightly larger than a gel pouch.  You simply rip the top off and pour it into your bottle.  No fuss, no muss.  Unlike messy powders, e-Fuel is perfect for carrying in your pack.  It’s quick, clean, and easy.  It mixes way better than powders do as well.

I honestly believe that e-Fuel works better than any other gel/drink I’ve tried.  My teammates agree.  Don’t believe us?  Go here and compare e-Fuel to other products for yourself.

The only thing we can’t figure out is why more people aren’t using it.  We haven’t seen anyone else at any adventure races using it.  In a way, it’s kind of been our secret weapon against cramps.  Maybe I shouldn’t be letting the cat out of the bag.  Oops… Too late.

On top of all of that, the good people at Crank Sports (the makers of e-Gel and e-Fuel) offer a great incentive program.  By joining their free “club” you get 10% of all purchases back to put towards future purchases.  Great deal, right?  Right.

The Breakdown:

Pros:

  • This stuff works!
  • Not a powder
  • Mixes easily, quickly, and cleanly
  • Tastes great – very light and refreshing
  • Great incentive program
  • Did I mention this stuff works?
  • Liquid concentrate in an easy to carry pouch
  • Comparable in price or cheaper than other products
  • Three flavors

Cons:

  • None I have found

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10. Mountainsmith Cyber II Camera Bag

Adventure Racing Gear Reviews - Mountainsmith Camera Bag

Team Virtus has been accused of taking too many photos during a race.  Maybe that’s true.  Could we be a little faster if we didn’t stop for some photos?  Sure.  But that’s not what we’re all about.  We do this for the fun and experience of it all.

Photos help us remember the highs as well as the lows.  Photos also help us tell our stories.  I’d say our race reports would be almost worthless without photos.  I mean let’s face it… Most of you just skim our reports and take a look at the photos, don’t you?

Since photos are such a big part of our team and our experiences, we try to take a camera on all rides and races.  But it’s not enough to just take it.  The camera must be easily accessible to capture those great moments.  So…  How do we carry the camera?  Well, if you’re Bob then you just carry your camera in a pocket and either lose it or break it.  Casey and I both use the Mountainsmith Cyber II Camera Bag.

This thing is nearly indestructible.  Mine still looks brand new after a year of abuse.  My camera fits perfectly in it, and the zipper and velcro closure keep my camera secure.  The best part of this camera bag is you can attach it to your shoulder strap.  It sits comfortably out of the way while still being easy to get into for those Kodak Moments.  It’s also a great everyday camera case – just take it off of your pack and throw it in your car, purse, suitcase, whatever.

The Breakdown:

Pros:

  • Very durable
  • Fits on a backpack strap for quick and easy access
  • Secure zipper and/or velcro flap closure
  • Inexpensive
  • Great for races or everyday use

Cons:

  • Not waterproof (use an aloksak bag for that)
  • May smell like BO after a hot race since it’s so close to your armpit (a quick wash and you’re good to go)

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Bonus – 11. The TRX Suspension Trainer

TRX Suspension Trainer Review

With cold weather approaching, now is a great time to build some strength and shed some fat.  One of the best ways to do that is with a TRX Suspension Trainer.  This thing is amazing!

It can be attached to almost anything, and you can do an almost infinite number of movements on this baby.  From strength to flexibility to conditioning to yoga moves, this thing can do it all.  And if you want to have the best core workout of your life, then you need to get one of these.  There is nothing better.  Seriously, it’s amazing.  To get a small idea of what you can do on the TRX, take a look at a video of me kicking my own ass on this thing (please don’t laugh).

Too many endurance athletes neglect strength training, in my humble opinion.  While I firmly believe in using free weights for all athletes, the TRX is a great first step.  It may seem expensive at first, but it’s literally a gym in a bag.  You can take it anywhere and do anything on it.  I love mine.

Check this out: If you’ve been on the fence, then now is the time to buy one.  If you order between November 24th through November 29th and use the code TRXMAS, you’ll get 25% off plus free shipping! Order between November 30th and December 12th and use the same code to get 20% off plus free shipping.  Use the same code between December 13th and December 16th to get 15% off and free shipping.

The Breakdown:

Pros:

  • Incredibly useful – unlimited number of movements can be done
  • Portable – take it anywhere and attach it to almost anything
  • Great for Conditioning
  • Great for Strength Training
  • Great for Core Training
  • Great for Flexibility Training
  • Indestructible (it can hold my fat ass)

Cons:

  • Somewhat expensive (but worth it)

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Well, that wraps up my top ten (or eleven) picks of the best adventure racing gear for 2010.  What did you think?  Agree?  Disagree?  Have some top picks of your own that we should know about?  Post a comment!

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Full Disclosure:  Most of the links in this post are our affiliate links where we will get a small percentage of the sales (excluding the Mountain FeedBag link).  This doesn’t mean we don’t whole-heartedly believe in the products, because we certainly do.  If you don’t want to buy through these links, that’s cool with us, although we would certainly appreciate it.

 

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About Lukas Lamb

Husband to a wonderful wife, father to 4 incredible kids (3 daughters and 1 son), adventure racer, mountain biker, runner, lifter of weights, reader of books, and lover of life. He can be found on Google+

Posted on November 24, 2010, in Gear and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. That TRX workout is a HELL of a lot harder than it looks on video. I know that’s some real pain right there at 7:23.

  2. Kelly Sumner - Off Road Fixation

    I highly recommend the TRX workout but only after drinking Brawndo!

    • That was hilarious! I now want to switch our name to Team Brawndo. The only question I have is where did they get my photo to use at around the 40 second mark in that video?

  3. That was awesome! Where can I get a case?

  4. Enjoyed your Top Ten write-up. Thanks! I had an idea for a follow-up here or on Facebook. Have people list how they use their AR gear ways other than racing. Might help when, someone says, “You already have a buff,(head lamp, bike, pack, kayak, paddle, race tights, etc.) why do you need another one?!” For example, I was trying to cut some fabric in poor lighting one evening. I was using a ruler and rotary cutter and needed precise cuts. Head lamp to the rescue…it worked great! I would probably put it on this site to get more looks at your affiliate links.

  5. Thanks Susy. Great idea. I’m always looking for ideas for future blog posts or facebook content.

  6. Glad to see your wrist compass thing on there. I actually use one of those little ball compasses attached to my watchband. It is great, I do probably 98% of my navigation using that because it is always at hand, you can use it on the go because it doesn’t have to be level and it points north just like the $60 orienteering compasses. I’m glad to hear other people use similar things because I always get scoffed at when I pull it out for the pre-race gear checks. My teammates think I am too cheap for my own good but I do splurge and go for the Brunton one that you get for $4.99 at Gander Mtn or Bass Pro instead of the cheap $2.99 crap ones they sell at Wal-Mart.

    The other piece of gear that I can’t do without is my rotating handlebar bike map holder. Since I made it out of a notebook cover, bike lock holder and big paper clips I can’t suggest a source other than a few hours in your AR R&D lab (i.e. garage). They sell them for like $80 but mine is almost as good. I used to be notorious for two things; being frugal and missing turns or flat going the wrong way during bike nav. Now I am just known for being a tightwad. Good to talk to you the other week at the cross ride.

    Scott (Forum Dental)

  7. Hey Scott. Really great talking to you, too.

    I used to use the exact Brunton Ball Compass you were talking about. When I got the one for my watch band, I gave my Brunton to Bob (although I think he lost it). The ball compass worked great, too. I still prefer the watch-band compass a little bit, though. It’s always right on my wrist where it’s easy to see when I’m holding the map. I’m surprised more people don’t use one or the other.

    I’ve never tried a rotating bike map holder, but I’ve wanted one forever. I’ve missed too many turns on the bike, but I just can’t see spending that kind of money for one (I’m a tightwad as well). I’ll have to tinker around with a homemade one now.

  8. I didnt lose it, it got a crack and all the water leaked out:)

    I’d like to get a closer look at that map holder. I’m pretty sure I’ve gawked at it before, but didn’t want to look like a creeper. That thing would’ve saved my bacon at berryman

  9. Yeah me too. Scott, could you post a couple of pictures of your creation and a list of what you used to make it, and maybe a little bit on how you made it? I’d like to try building one.

  10. No problem, I will try and take some tonight. It went through a couple of designs, mostly concerning the actual board that holds the map. The first one that I made used a cheap fiberglass clipboard. After a fairly spectacular crash it shattered, all that was left was big jagged artery piercing points everywhere. I’ll try to take some photos and post them. That thing has been a life saver. Since I have been using it, my bike nav has gotten about a hundred times better. A friend of mine just wears his map in a case around his neck and then kind of one hands it while riding. When I try to do that I always make wrong turns or miss turns or have to stop all the time to look at the map. There is nothing worse than busting down a huge hill only to realize at the bottom that the map was oriented wrong. Then comes the “uh guys…..I think we got to go back up….” Man I hate that.

    Oh and Bob…don’t worry I all ready think you’re a creeper, so feel free to gawk at any of my stuff. Are any of you guys doing Castlewood this weekend?

  11. I’m gonna try to be at Castlewood for some volunteering, I just left a voicemail on Elsenraat’s cell. I’m hoping to get a feel for how these things are run “behind the scenes”.

    I’m not sure but i think my next adventure race will either be our non-race, (which is going to completely blow people’s minds), or the Chill.

  12. I’d love to see how you built your map holder as well, Scott!

    I’m not doing Castlewood, unfortunately. Looks like they should have decent weather. I’m not sure what my next race is (other than our upcoming non-race). Bob, who are you doing the Chill with? And Scott, what’s your next race?

  13. I put a post on our blog http://forumdentalar.blogspot.com/ with photos of the map holder, let me know if you have any questions or suggestions. It was pretty easy to make and has saved me more times than I can count.

    I am not sure what my next race will be. My wife (who is also on the team) and I now live in West Virginia, but I come to Missouri for work one week per month. I won’t be at Castlewood but I will probably try to do the Chill if I can work it out to be in MO for work and if I can get a team together. When and where are you planning your non-race? If I am in town I’ll either do it or I’ll help out with it.

    Scott

  14. Sweet! Very cool. Thanks for posting that. I’ll be tinkering with one of my own since I’ve gone down too many monster hills in the wrong direction. Looks easy enough, but I’m sure everyone will end up modifying it depending on the bike and materials available. I’ll let you know how it goes.

    We’re not sure when our non-race will be. Hopefully in the next couple of months, but we might wait until early spring. We’ll keep you posted.

    Thanks again for the post.

  15. By the way where do you get that efuel stuff. It sounds like something I would like to try since I am a crampaholic, I hate gels and love electrolyte drinks but I haven’t seen it anywhere. I would imagine that ordering online the shipping costs are going to make it expensive.

  16. I just looked at the e-Fuel dealers, and there don’t seem to be any in WV. There are a few in MO, though, but none in Jeff City or Rolla. The shipping isn’t too bad actually, and since you have a team you might be able to get a “pro deal discount” like we get. Then it becomes very affordable.

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