Gear Guy

Will fatter tires on my road bike prevent the spokes from breaking?

Will fatter tires on my road bike prevent the spokes from breaking?

Last year I completed the 340-mile-long Trondheim-Oslo bike ride. I was in great shape but broke no less than four spokes on my fairly new Trek 1200 road bike. This left me concerned about weight and now I'm considering dropping the rear rack and rack-top bag in favor of a lighter hydration system like the CelBak M.U.L.E. I think I'll also switch to 28-millimeter tires to spare the rims, but is this worth the extra weight and drag? Jarle Bergen, Norway

What's the lightest, most comfortable sleeping pad?

What's the lightest, most comfortable sleeping pad?

My wife and I love snow-camping in the Teanaway in spring, and would like to reduce the bulk and weight of packing both a self-inflated and closed-cell mattress. I have heard about new, Primaloft-equipped products from the likes of Therm-a-Rest, Big Agnes, and InsulMat that insulate with Primaloft, and they all seem much lighter and less bulky. But would they do the job without also having to carry closed-cell foam? Scott Maple Valley, Washington

Can a soft shell provide heavy-duty warmth?

Can a soft shell provide heavy-duty warmth?

I love the athletic look of soft shells and would love to buy one. The only problem is I've heard they're just that: shells, meant more for layering than for providing a single layer of protection. In your opinion, are there any soft shells that can provide both heavy-duty warmth and stand up to the rain and snow? I'll use this shell more for "getting around town" than I would for aerobic activities, so I want something that would keep me very warm in cold temperatures. Megan Spokane, Washington

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