Many times Doug and I get asked about our gear and asked what’s good and what’s not. So here’s a quick review of the gear I’ve been using this year, and a quick answer to that question!
Some gear, a bike and a van. All you need in life…
Evoc Freeride 30
This pack was bought specifically for the trip. And I have to say it’s been great. I wasn’t looking forward to wearing a pack weighing 8kg all in, but once on the bike I can honestly say I don’t notice it.
It features a great separate tool section, a separate waterproof jacket pocket, another pocket with a built in rain cover and a generous main compartment. It has an easily accesible bladder compartment which also houses a removable back protector (which I left in at all times!)
Back protector and bladder pouch
Rain jacket in separate pocket – great for keeping other kit dry
Tool section. Aka Ian’s bike shop…
Is it any good?
Yes! Highly recommended for epic trips or guiding where you need all that extra gear. It’s very comfortable and I can fit in all the tools and spares I need, plus a decent sized first aid kit, energy bars, wallet/phone and my knee and elbow pads (and a bocata). I haven’t used the Evoc bladder though as I found it hard to get a decent flow of water through the bite valve, but that may be just me… I’ve been using my trusty 3 litre Camelbak bladder that fits just fine.
Urge Endur-O-Matic Helmet
OK they look a little odd, and I wasn’t sure about it when I bought it, but this helmet has been a great find. Very light, extremely comfortable, and offering great protection. And I now think it looks pretty cool too.
The only downside is it can be a little warm if you’re not actually moving, but the wicking liner and air vents keep you cool when you’re rolling. Having said that it’s never been too hot, even out here where the temperatures have been up in the 30s, and now the season’s changing a bit of warmth won’t go amiss…
One of the big advantages I reckon is the lack of any internal parts to break or wear out. My Giro Xar wore out pretty quickly due to the constant use and taking on and off. I’ve given it a couple of head/rock interface tests and I can attest the strength is good. It’s taken knocks that would have written off the Xar…
Endur-O-Matic and shades. This year’s look!
Stood up well
Is it any good?
Yes – recommended without reservation unless doing a lot of climbing in the tropics!
Shoes – Am41 v Sam Hill
I brought 2 pairs of 5-Tens with me and one pair of Shimano AM41s. The Shimanos have won hands down. I probably wear the AMs 10 times for every one occasion where I wear the 5-Tens… You can probably tell this from the photos! The AM41s were almost new when I came out!
Why? Well comfort really. The AM41s feel like your favourite slippers, and while the 5-Tens may have a little bit more grip, it’s not really that noticeable on the trails we’ve mainly been riding (no giant road-gaps or gassing to flat) which are technical enough for most people. They are lighter and nicer to walk in too.
Where the 5-Tens win is on protection. I generally wear them on faster super rocky terrain where it’s easy to catch your your foot on an unforgiving boulder. And it frikkin hurts! Everywhere else the Shimano wins. They even dry out quicker!
Rather tired AM41s. I reckon they’ll last the final month. Just
Much fresher 5-Tens. Still a good shoe, but a bit heavy and less comfy for pedally trails.
Are they any good?
Both shoes are a great product, but unless you really are a downhill racer, do yourself a favour and get the Shimano shoe.
661 Comp gloves
I don’t think I’ll ever consider another glove. These are available for under a tenner from Chain Reaction and are comfy and reasonably hard wearing. I got 3 months from the first pair, although they pretty much fell apart. But for a tenner? Grippy, comfy and in a range of colours. What’s not to like?
I brought some other more expensive Alpine-Star gloves with me. I wore them once when my 661s were wet…
Available in a range of colours. They even match the bike perfectly! (OK garish colours are cheaper!)
Are they any good!
Yes! They’re 6 quid!
Fox Launch Pads
I used to use Race Face hard pads that also covered the shin and forearm, but I invested in these Fox pads this year. Faultless, comfortable and protective.
I tend to wait until the first descent before putting them on, but then they tend to stay on for the rest of the day, regardless how much more climbing there is. I guess that tells you all you need to know about the comfort levels. I don’t even need to do the Enduro-trendy thing of slipping them down over my shins when pedalling back up…
Quick drying too!
Little and large. Elbow and knee.
…plus they fit in the pack as well…
Are they any good?
Yes – not cheap, but otherwise a great buy unless you’re getting into body-armour territory.
Specialized Air Tool Comp
This is my 3rd track pump of the trip. And by far the best. The first I donated to the BasqueMTB van (a Joe Blow with a slightly dicky pressure gauge and less than grippy valve), the second I left behind in a Spanish town never to be seen again… (a bright orange German thing, difficult to leave behind with such a bright colour).
Ok so a track pump is a track pump? 4 good things about this one:
1 The head fits both types of valve with no fiddling, first time and stays on
2 It has a high volume so pumps from flat really quickly
3 The pressure gauge is huge and easy to read
4 Available in a range of funky colours
Is it any good?
Cracking pump Gromit
Even I can read this gauge!
Decathlon Cheapo Isotonic Drink Powder
Use it! Dirt cheap and just as effective as more expensive brands. Halve the dosage – one scoop per typical sports bottle (500ml)
Van and bike rack and fork-ups
Lots of people have commented on the van and the 5 bike setup in the back. It’s worked really well, and while it may not suit high speed shuttling uplifts due to taking a minute or two to set up each bike, it’s a great way of transporting 5 bikes with no risk of bumping and grinding and subsequent damage.
The rearmost rack is a Delta unit, sourced from James at my local bike shop, Pedal Heaven in Fleet. The 2 bike rack at the other end is the old roof rack off my Clio! The Delta rack easy to fit as it just expands and wedges itself against each side of the van. But I also screwed it down.
Fork-ups are required for 15mm and 20mm axled bikes. these are very expensive for what they are (£40), so I have my good friend Alex knock up something similar in Green for a tenner each!
My lovely van I’ll be keeping it!
The Delta bike rack from Pedal Heaven (and a bolt I need to go and put back in the Transition!)
Happy to take any questions on any of the gear featured here or any other bits you may have noticed!