In May, depending on the weather, you can hike, bike, trail run or paddle. We’ve got the gear for any day.
In Portland, Ore. (where they know inclement weather), a small company with the wishful name Showers Pass has been perfecting the perfect cycling jacket for days when you might otherwise decide to leave the bike at home. The third iteration of its Elite 2.1 ($249) jacket, made with eVent, another GoreTex alternative, is incredibly effective at keeping riders dry and well ventilated. (It’s got a long tail and a lot of strategically placed zippers, too.) We rode twenty-three miles through a windy rainstorm in a Showers Pass Elite jacket and by the end our hands were soaked, our feet were soaked, our heads were soaked, and our warm, unsoggy torso was singing praises to Showers Pass.
With such a low snow year, many of the mountain bike trails are already open and riding well, which brings up another dilemma: what bike to throw on the car rack? As its name implies Rocky Mount’s Switch Hitter ($189.95) doesn’t care what kind of bike (road, MTB, gravel grinder or fat bike fork) you are using. Out of the box, it works with the standard 9mm quick release forks. But it also has three easily interchangeable 12×100, 15×100 and “Boost 110” (15×110) sized axles. It also doesn’t care what brand of cross bars you use. We tried two cars, four bikes and they all worked. The Switch Hitter may well live up to its claim as “the most versatile bike rack ever created.” Oh, and it comes in 8 colors too.
Mountain bikers should not even consider buying any peanut butter until you try Vermont Peanut Butter’s newest flavor, Trail Rider, ($9.99.) VPT’s founder, Chris Kaiser is an avid mountain biker and the new flavor, made with Vermont raw honey, organic sunflower seeds, organic pumpkin seeds and organic oats, was launched to help raise money for the Vermont Mountain Bike Association. For every jar sold, VTP gives a quarter to VMBA.
If there was a fat bike of trail running shoes, it would Hoka One’s Speedgoat ($140), named for and developed by, Karl Meltzer, the winningest 100-mile trail runner ever. With many welcome updates on the old Rapa Nui (which used the same last) The Speedgoat is, in all senses of the term, a “floaty” shoe: it’s light, with a ton of cushioning but also a roomy fit that’s best for high volume feet. It’s 4 mm Vibram lugs grip the rocky terrain of mountain trails and lets you roll over rocks and roots like you were on giant tires.
We’re trying to get over the fact that we still associate compression socks with grandma’s varicose veins. But ever since a few studies began showing some benefits, most notably for runners. A 2012 study in South Africa followed athletes in the Two Oceans Ultra-Race and found that those wearing compression socks had less muscle damage and were able to recover faster than those who didn’t. CEP, the German company that specializes in compression garments of all kinds for athletes as well as others, recently came out with a new CEP Progressive + Night Compression Calf Sleeves ($40) —we prefer the versatility of a sleeve versus a sock— that come in men’s and women’s colors so bright you won’t be missed on the road (neon green, orange and pink – as well as black) and reflective strips that make you more visible at night.
Last, with the weather warming up, it’s time to get out on the water. But for many us, it’s a pain to store and cart around a stand-up paddleboard. Enter The Red Paddle 11’ Sport SUP ($1449). This is not a bathtub toy but a high-end inflatable with the narrow nose of a touring board that lets it cut through the water with dispatch and battens to keep it rigid. Off the water, deflate, stuff (into its backpack), and head for the lakes.