Essential Mountain Bike Gear

Helmet

POC Trabec Race Helmet (Courtesy of POC)
POC Trabec Race Helmet
Talk about reassurance: POC's lightweight (just 12 ounces) Trabec Race helmet is wrapped with a Kevlar-like material called Aramid, which is commonly used in bulletproof vests. $180; www.pocsports.com

Mavic Stratos Shorts Set

Mavic Stratos Shorts Set
Mavic Stratos Shorts Set (Courtesy of Mavic)

Proving that baggies can be as luxurious as a high-end bib, Mavic's Stratos shorts set matches intricately patterned outers with a stretchy mesh inner that's stitched to the best chamois we've seen in mountain shorts. Shorts, $100; liner, $80; mavic.com

Pearl Izumi Elite Gel-Vent Gloves

Pearl Izumi Elite Gel-Vent Gloves

If you struggle with tingling hands, pick up a pair of Pearl Izumi Elite Gel-Vent gloves, with gel padding in the palms that alleviate pressure on the nerves in your forearms. $45; pearlizumi.com

Light & Motion Stella 400 Dual Light

Stella Light and Motion (Courtesy of Stella)

Though Light & Motion's Stella 400 Dual light looks dinky, each of the gumball-size heads throws 200 lumens, one with a broad flood reflector and the other a bright, narrow spot. Between the two, we had ample light for rallying our curvy, cactus-laden winter singletrack circuit. $300; lightandmotion.com

CrankBrothers Candy Pedals

CrankBrothers Candy Pedals
CrankBrothers Candy Pedals
Because they're easy to maintain and light and sturdy, CrankBrothers' Candy pedals have long been our go-tos. Thanks to a redesigned spindle, this year's iteration of the Candy 11s are even tougher. $375; crankbrothers.com

Rapha Wind Jacket

Rapha Wind Jacket
Rapha Wind Jacket (Courtesy of Rapha)

At less than six ounces, Rapha's Wind Jacket is the ideal just-in-case shell. The fact that it looks so stylish and perfectly tailored (almost) justifies the price. $260; rapha.cc

WTB Stryker TCS Cross Country Rims

WTB Stryker TCS Cross Country Rims
WTB Stryker TCS Cross Country Rims
WTB's Stryker TCS Cross Country rims are gossamer (1,470 grams for a 26-inch pair) but are strapping enough for all-mountain riding, and the new deep-set grooves kept the tires' beads firmly in place, so we never burped our tubeless setup. $1,050; wtb.com

Bronson TCS 2.3 Tires

Bronson TCS 2.3 Tires
Bronson TCS 2.3 Tires
We set up our WTB rims their new Bronson TCS 2.3 tires ($70), which, thanks to a chunky, widely spaced lug pattern, burned up almost every trail we rode, from sandy S turns to alpine loam and shale. wtb.com

Sidi Sierra Shoes

Sidi Sierra Shoes
Sidi Sierra Shoes (Photo by Jens Mortensen)

In an effort to lower the price of admission, Sidi's Sierra shoes are made from a cheaper (but still pretty damn tough) upper materialthan you find in its higher-end shoes. But you still get Sidi's trademark aggressive tread pattern, stiff sole, and finely tuned fit. $150; sidiamerica.com

Vaude Cluster Air 10+3 Pack

Vaude Cluster Air 10+3 Pack
Vaude Cluster Air 10+3 Pack
Vaude's Cluster Air 10+3 pack has one of the best suspension systems we've ever tested: a tensioned mesh back panel separates the load from your body, and the foam shoulder straps adjust to fit any length torso. $110; maguradirect.com
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