Bauer Vehicle Gear Back Road II Pro $349
WHY IT RULES: Being on top isn't always best. Here's a rugged, functional, anddare we say it?elegant rack that totes gear behind your vehicle. » Finally, a hitch-mounted rack that doesn't ask you to correctly sequence a half-dozen knobs when you want to get inside your car. Forget a water bottle in back? Spin a single lockI did it with my footand watch the slightly angled, gas-assisted bar politely swing out of your way. » The two bike arms have soft rubber cradles and locking tabs on either side, making it easy to secure any top tube. They also accommodate funky frame shapes. » Once it's loaded, an anti- wobble arm keeps up to four bikes from clanging around on rough roads. » The Back Road packs in loads of featureslike an integrated cable-lock systemand the simple design works incredibly well. HMMM...The bike cradles are a bit narrow; be tender when loading steeds with dangling cables.
Red Oxx PR5 Safari-Beano's Bag $175
WHY IT RULES: The Red Oxx guys, former military parachute riggers, are as intolerant of weakness in their duffels as they were with their chutes. To wit, this 2,400-cubic-inch bag is built to extreme specsthe fabric is 1,000-denier Cordura, the titanium of the bag biz. The oversize webbed-nylon handles aren't just double- box-stitched to the bag; they wrap around it. Overkill? Probably. But I'll take it. » The zippers are the industry's biggest, hence strongest. And the swiveling shoulder-strap clipsplus the V-rings they snap intoare stainless-steel sailboat hardware. » The contact section of the shoulder strap is slip-proof injection-molded rubber. » Beano is the nickname of an Oxx owner's neighbor in Billings, Montana, who loves pockets, so this bag has 'em on all four sides of the main hold. HMMM...Though I wouldn't trade it for plastic, that boat hardware is pretty clanky.