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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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