Editor’s Dozen: Logan’s 2018 Gear Picks
With the 2018 Bikepacking Gear of the Year Awards behind us, there are still several great products left on the table that are worth mentioning. Here are a dozen of Logan’s favorites that in his opinion could have easily made the list…
After our team hashed out the hotly debated 2018 Gear of The Year Awards, there were a lot of things I had on my list that I thought deserved a mention. With that, here’s a quick list of a dozen products from the past year that I used quite a bit and really like:
Leatt DBX Helmets
Although the rest of the products aren’t in any particular order, this one’s at the top for a reason. In fact, it almost got a spot in the Gear of the Year awards. We tried a few helmets this year while planning a roundup sequel to this post [link]. However, it didn’t quite pan out. A couple of the helmets I was interested didn’t show up, one broke, and a couple more were just ho-hum. However, we tried the Leatt DBX 2.0 and DBX 3.0, which were both quite impressive. They fit very well and are quite comfortable. They’re not too shabby to look at, either, and the visor on the 3.0 is nice and large for keeping the sun out of your eyes. Learn more at Leatt.com.
Quoc Tech Wool Socks
Merino socks are a must for bikepacking and cycling in general. They keep the funk at bay and add insulation, even when wet. I have a few favorites, but recently wore this pair from Quoc for six straight days on a bikepacking trip. They fit well and have a little extra padding at the heel and toes, which I like. They also stayed relatively un-funky compared to other socks I’ve worn. Find the details over at Quoc.cc.
On long international bikepacking trips, I like to pack a single, lightweight, long-sleeve button-down to serve multiple purposes: a bug deterrent, an extra layer for chilly mornings, and a wear anytime look to hide the dirtbag during off-the-bike activities such as eating out and sightseeing. For a decade, my go-to was a thrift store polyester shirt. Once it bit the dust, I picked up the Civic Jack, a merino button down that’s on the thinner side, lightweight, packs down very small, and fits extremely well. Being merino, it’s good for riding in, too; it breathes well, wicks moisture, and doesn’t stink. After taking it along to Ethiopia, it’s my new favorite shirt. Learn more over at WearCivic.com.
45NRTH Digit Protection
I was just going to include the 45NRTH Ragnarok shoes in this list, but I’ve been wearing all three of these things on a regular basis for the past few months. The two pairs of 45NRTH gloves – the Sturmfirst 5 and the Nokken – are excellent. I can alternate them based on how cold it is: the Sturmfist 5 when it’s around freezing, and the Nokken works great in temps between 40-50°F. On late afternoon rides, I often roll out with the Nokken and toss the Sturmfist in my frame bag for when the temps drop. And the Ragnaroks are killer. They’ve become my go-to shoes for gravel riding on clipless pedals. If you missed it, you can read more about them in this review.
Maxxis Rekon 29 x 2.6” tires
It wasn’t until 2017 that 29 x 2.6” wide trail tires really became a thing. The Maxxis Rekon 2.6 was a little late to the party, but I finally got my hands on a pair this past spring. They stayed on my Timberjack all summer long—across Armenia, on the Vapor Trail, and on countless trail rides in between. They roll well, they’re durable, and they have just the right grip and corner tread for ribbony singletrack.
Ergon GA3 grips
The big and flat Egon GS1 has been my preferred grip for extended bikepacking trips for a couple years, but now it has some competition. The GA3 is a slightly toned down, minimal version that Ergon claims is “the best of both worlds.” It’s still really comfortable, but it has a much smaller palm fin, which many trail mountain bikers will likely appreciate, including me. Learn more over at Ergon-Bike.com.
Lezyne KTV Drive Pro
The Lezyne KTV Pro rear light basically lived on whatever bike I was riding this year. It’s nice and bright, and in flash mode 2, it has a super long battery life—Lezyne claims 13+ hours. All I know is that I don’t charge it much and it can fit on a seatpost or chainstay if I am running a seat pack. It’s a great little light. Learn more over at Lezyne.com.
WTB Koda Saddle
I’ve found comfort in several of Specialized’s women’s specific saddles over the years, so I was pretty stoked when WTB released the “female-focused” Koda saddle that’s designed for everyone. Bikepacking sometimes means epic days in the saddle, and this one seems just about right for me. With a wide center channel, short nose-to-tail length, and medium padding thickness, it seems to take the pressure off the important places. It’s been out for a while now, but I just started using it in 2018 and it’s been my full-suspension trail bike saddle of choice this year. Read more on our press release here.
Search and State Merino Jersey
If you’ve detected a pattern here, it’s clear that I’m a hoarder of good merino wool clothing. Once I find a piece I really like, I wear it a lot, grow rather attached, and fear the day it gets destroyed. Search and State’s Long Sleeve Merino Jersey has earned its prized place in my wardrobe. I got this at the tail end of 2017 and wear it on trail rides, fall and winter overnighters, and recently on the Appalachian Gravel Growler. It has very usable rear pockets, a nice cut, and the Surplus Green color looks great. Learn more over at SearchAndState.com.
Bedrock Custom Frame bag
I can confidently say that this is one of my all-time favorite frame bags. It lives on my trail bike and has gotten a ton of use this year. Like other Bedrock bags, it’s built to be bombproof, fits perfectly, and looks great. Plus, the burly zip feels solid and works really well. Learn more about full-suspension frame bags in this article.
OneUp Alloy pedals
OneUp’s composite pedals won a Gear of the Year award, but I must mention the Alloy version as well, as I’ve been using them on my full-suspension trail bike for several months. With the same cage shape and internals, they’re the perfect size and seem to be invincible. And the colors pop as well. Learn more at OneUpComponents.com
The Kona Libre DL
While my review on this bike was mixed, and it had its share of cons, I really liked Kona’s Libre DL, and miss it now that it’s gravel season in the south. I wish it was still in my possession so I could try it with a pair of 650B wheels and 27.5 x 2.1” tires. Looking back, it had a lot of really good things going for it: tire clearance, a stiff frame, a very generous stack height, and a MTB-esque geometry. Read the full review here.