SOL Escape bivvy
Being prepared in the backcountry is something many riders often neglect, despite the fact that one wrong move on a sketchy section of trail could leave them injured and far from civilization. However, there are some small items can help make a night stranded in the wilderness survivable, and possibly even comfortable. The SOL (Survive Outdoors Longer) Escape bivvy is a great lightweight piece of survival gear that can be stashed discretely at the bottom of your pack, ready to be pulled out when things go from bad to worse. SOL says that its proprietary ultralight fabric traps heat in but also allows moisture to escape, while the shell shields you from rain, snow, and wind. Waterproof seams paired with a drawstring hood closure and side zip system mean you can seal out the elements entirely. The high-visibility orange exterior makes it easy for rescuers to spot you, even in areas with dense tree cover, thereby drastically increasing your chance of survival. At 241 grams, the Escape bivvy is light enough to live in your pack while being relatively unnoticeable on a daily basis. And although it's not something you hopefully need to use often, it could be the one piece of equipment that will make a survival situation much more feasible. MSRP: $50 USD www.adventuremedicalkits.com
The Escape bivvy packs down to a size a little larger than a water bottle. The reflective interior throws back one's body heat inward while expelling moisture outward away from the body.
| No, it's not a glamorous piece of equipment, but the SOL Escape bivvy is an item that could make a miserable survival situation much more tolerable. After hundreds of big rides, we can say that we've rarely been stranded on the trail. But our preparedness and rarely used survival kit are two key items that allowed for a calm, relatively comfortable night sleeping in the dirt. Rolling up to the size of a soda can, the Escape's ultra light weight makes it a great addition to any backcountry enthusiast's pack, and it's nearly unnoticeable once packed. Having said that, we usually reserve it for big rides that take us far from home, rather than carry it with our everyday gear. Being prepared for the worst could be the difference between life and death, and the SOL Escape will keep you warm and dry even in the worst of conditions. - Jordan Carr|
Boombotix Boombot Rex speaker
For some, music is a required part of any activity, and having a portable speaker that can go along almost anywhere is what makes the Boombotix Boombot Rex portable speaker a nice addition to the gear bag. Pairing with nearly any electronic audio device, the Boombotix Rex can be used with either Bluetooth or hardwired in using the included audio cable. Recharging is done via a simple USB cable, and it charges completely within about one hour from a standard laptop. A sleek clip on the rear of the speaker allows it to be fastened to almost anything; pockets, packs, vehicle sun visors, you name it. Boombotix also offers a 1-year no questions asked warranty, just to make sure you use the speakers along with every activity you do. Additional accessories include a $40 USD bike mount that sits on the handlebar. Colors include limited edition tigerwood (shown), brushed aluminum, white, green, blue, and pitch black. MSRP: $120 USD www.boombotix.com
The Boombot Rex's small size make it super portable for great sound quality no matter where you are. It offers full compatibility via Bluetooth and audio outputs, and volume and tracks can be adjusted via your device or on the speaker itself.
| Probably not a riding accessory for everyone, the Boombot Rex is a speaker we found ourselves using a lot around the house and traveling rather than when actually riding - do you know any mountain bikers who would mount it to their handlebar? Us neither. Pairing the Rex with our phone or laptop provides much higher quality sound than the built-in speakers in either device, and we found the Bluetooth technology to be easy to connect to any device and consistent, even when we moved the speaker or device twenty meters away. Using the Boombot Rex while traveling gave us great quality sound in almost any space. We used it everywhere from hotel rooms to hut trips, and it has survived many travels when stuffed in the bottom of a bag. This ultra portable speaker is also extremely resilient - it survived a few accidental drops on concrete and trips into snow banks with no damage to the speaker's functionality. If you are a music junkie and need decent quality sound wherever you are, the Boombotix Boombot Rex is a great purchase. - Jordan Carr|
iXS Carve knee guards
iXS's Carve knee guards are part of the Swiss company's gravity collection, intended for any time there's the chance of a solid impact with the ground, a tree, or some other unforgiving object. They extend slightly below the knee, with the bulk of the protection provided by iXS's X-Matter slow rebounding open cell foam, which is designed to provide a high level of impact absorption while still remaining flexible enough for unencumbered pedaling. There is also padding on each side of the knee, although this padding is made from the more traditional foam rather than X-Matter. The Carve is a slide on type guard, with a hook and loop strap at the top and bottom to secure each one into place. A silicone strip at the top is intended to keep them from slipping down, and a stretchy mesh back panel helps with ventilation. Sizes: S, M, L, XL. MSRP: $95.95 USD. www.ixs-sportsdivision.com
iXS's Carve knee guards worked best for bike park and shuttle assisted riding.
|Most of our time with the Carve knee guards was spent in the bike park or on shuttle rides, and in these situations the pads worked well, remaining securely in place and offering enough protection for all but the most brutal of wrecks. Luckily, we didn't have too many hard bails while wearing them, but they definitely saved our skin more then once. Whether it was coming in a little too hot and laying it down in a corner, or slipping a pedal and smacking the stem or bars, the Carve knee guards certainly earned their keep. We did take them out for a few rides that had longer, seated pedalling sections in between the downhills, but found that they would occasionally chafe at the back of the knee due to the back panel material bunching up and rubbing. For this reason, and due to their slightly bulkier cut, they work best on rides with minimal seated pedaling, or you could always slide them down or stash them in a pack until the next downhill portion of trail. As far as overall durability goes, the knee guards have held up well, without any major rips or blowouts. There is some abrasion at the top section, just above the the main pad, where the lower portion of the hook and loop closure has been rubbing the fabric below it. It's a minor detail, but if the closure's material was less rigid this abrasion and wear wouldn't happen. It would also be nice if there was a way to take the pads on and off without removing our shoes, but since they seemed to be best suited for bike park laps this isn't as much of an issue as it would be for a more trail riding oriented knee guard. - Mike Kazimer|