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  • Photo: Michael Karsh

    Mountain Biking Essentials

    Our favorite kit for trail riding and racing.
    Aaron Gulley

  • Photo: Michael Karsh

    Leatt 3DF Air Flex elbow and knee pads

    Finally, guards made for all-day wear. The sleeves are so breathable, they feel like warmers, and the six-millimeter-thick gel pads are soft until impact, at which point they turn rigid. Elbow pads for $79 and knee pads for $99,


  • Photo: Michael Karsh

    Sombrio Vagabond Riding shirt

    Though it looks and feels like our trusty old flannel top, this long-sleeve jersey ($99) is cut from a soft, breathable woven synthetic that moved with us on the bike and shrugged off errant branches. The underarm vents dump heat nicely, while the hidden side pockets hold all the essentials.


  • Photo: Michael Karsh

    Zoic Ether shorts

    Everything you want in all-mountain shorts—knee-length inseam, room for pads, two cargo side-zip pockets for a phone and snacks, and a durable face fabric—with a chamois comfortable enough for all-day pedaling. $80,

  • Photo: Michael Karsh

    Bell Super 2R helmet

    The Super’s ($200) clever design crosses a high-coverage trail lid and a full-face downhill helmet with a removable chin piece. Throw the mouth guard in your pack on the way up, then snap it into place for the descents.


  • Photo: Michael Karsh

    CamelBak K.U.D.U. 18 pack

    More than just a hydration pack, the K.U.D.U. ($225) has an integrated foam back panel to protect you in a crash. The bike-tool compartment keeps things organized, while the rear pocket swallows pads and a helmet.


  • Photo: Michael Karsh

    Bontrager TLR Flash Charger pump

    You used to need an air compressor to set up a tubeless wheel. Not anymore. Though it works like a standard pump, the Flash Charger ($120) has a chamber on the shaft that can be filled to 160 psi and then released in a blast of air to seat and fill the rubber.


  • Photo: Michael Karsh

    7mesh S2S shirt

    This midweight nylon-poly jersey ($130) relies on smart tailoring instead of spandex for its trim fit, so it breathes and wicks moisture better. We like the zip side pockets, which keep gear out from under a backpack.

  • Photo: Michael Karsh

    Assos T.rallyShorts_s7 bibs

    These Swiss bibs ($419) have criss-crossed elastic shoulder straps that don’t chafe under a pack; abrasion-resistant fabrics and re-movable hip pads protect against tumbles.


  • Photo: Michael Karsh

    MET Parabellum HES helmet

    This lid ($230) offers the protection of a trail helmet, but at about half a pound it’s light enough for the Lycra set. Its 28 vents breathe better than Todd Wells at nationals, and the visor blocks sun. 


  • Photo: Michael Karsh

    Next Up:The Road Biking Essentials of 2015

    Vittoria Rock MTB shoes

    With a stiff carbon sole and combo ratchet-strap and spin-dial closure, this flashy, lightweight Italian shoe ($399) is built for on-the-bike speed, though sticky rubber on the bottom added enough grip when we had to run.

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