Now that we’ve covered the directly wearable items, it’s on to the things we wear that aren’t clothes—so what are they, apparel? Not quite, but equally important, and following below are the standouts from southwest Utah’s 2019 Bible of Bike Tests. To peep the first Bible softgoods winners, click here.

Camelbak | Flow Hip Pack | $45

As of the publish date of this post, Camelbak’s new Flow bum bag isn’t available yet, but it’s worth waiting for its January 2019 release date. It comes with a Camelbak Podium 21-ounce bottle—the new 3.0 version, which features better bottle cage compatibility over the previous version. The bottle is held on the right side of the pack, on an angle that makes it easier to get in and out. The Flow Hip Pack has 2.5 liters of storage space, which is enough for all my essentials, plus a lightweight jacket. Internal organizers keep tools and supplies in order, and there’s a key clip as well. There’s an outer pocket as well, but if the main compartment is full, you won’t be able to fit much more than a credit card and I.D. in it. I blew the zipper on the outer pocket apart on one of our sample packs trying to squeeze my iPhone SE in while the rest of the bag was at capacity. It’s a pretty vulnerable spot for a phone anyway, though, so it wasn’t the best idea to try in the first place. All in all, the Flow Hip Pack is really well done. Since the bottle is off to one side, it can feel lopsided if you’re not carrying much, but if you’re carrying what you should be carrying when you head out in the woods with your bike, it’s easy to balance the weight so it doesn’t feel funky.

 

 

Osprey | Raptor/Raven 10 | $140

The Raptor and Raven (Women’s) 10 has been a mainstay of Osprey’s hydration packs for a while, and one of our go-to packs for long days in the saddle. It has everything you need to keep your stuff organized and easily accessible, including a separate lower pocket that holds a removable tool roll. The Raptor/Raven 10 also features easily accessible hip belt pockets, plenty of internal organizers, an external kangaroo stash pouch and a highly effective helmet clip. Osprey made some updates for 2019, including redesigned shoulder straps for better fit and stability, a more stable hip belt, a one-handed sternum buckle, as well as a few other touches. The Raptor/Raven comes with Osprey’s excellent lifetime “All Mighty Guarantee,” and the 2.5-liter Hydrapak-made bladder carries its own lifetime warranty as well. The new Raptor/Raven will be available early 2019.

Learn more here.

Bontrager | Rhythm Mountain Shoe | $180

I’ll be perfectly honest, I’ve never gotten along with Bontrager shoes. Whether it be fit, function, looks or all of the above, I just haven’t dug a pair of Bontrager kicks enough to wear them for a whole season. I have a feeling the current Rhythm shoes will be a different story. The fit is size-appropriate, with medium width and volume, plus a flex rating of 7 out of 14. They’re stiff enough for long rides but flexible enough to be walkable in. Large rubber lugs have good grip on most surfaces, as well. The Rhythm shoes are built to last, with a reinforced heel cup and a unique “GnarGuard” coating bedazzling the entire toe section and beyond. Closure is done by a top-mounted Boa dial, out of the way of side impacts that usually take Boa systems out. Finally, the Rhythm features a high inner cuff for ankle protection—a feature I’ve really come to love on other shoes. I only have a couple rides on them so far, but these things have all the makings of an excellent trail shoe.

 

Learn more here.

Pearl Izumi | X-ALP Launch SPD | $160

For an analog mountain bike shoe—that is, one with shoelaces—the Pearl Izumi X-Alp Launch clipless shoes are actually pretty cool. Cool enough that I, a guy who despises lace-up mountain bike shoes, would willingly take a pair home from Bible testing. I find lace-up shoes to be unnecessary examples of fashion over function. But then again, I wear baggy shorts, which is the exact same thing. Anyway, I dig these shoes because they’re nice and light, are reasonably stiff, use a seamless-upper construction that’s both clean and durable, have Vibram soles with a design that plays well with Shimano pedals and most importantly, they look rad.

Learn more here.

Troy Lee Designs | A2 Helmet | $170

The construction of the Troy Lee A2, like most TLD helmets, is next-level. It has a look and feel that make other helmets seem like toys—from its shape, refined hardware, clean straps and high-quality liner pads. The A2 liner is made with EPP and EPS, to help protect against both high- and low-speed impacts. It’s also equipped with MIPS. The A2 has slightly less coverage than the A1, but has far better ventilation, plays nicer with glasses, has better straps and weighs considerably less, at 350 grams.

Learn more here.

Bell | Spark MIPS Helmet | $70

Bell’s new Spark helmet is much more basic than the TLD A2, but for a helmet that’s less than half the price, it’s pretty dang good. The visor is there mostly for looks, and isn’t adjustable, but it does sit high enough that it doesn’t restrict your view. The Spark handles glasses or goggles well, has a comfy fit, easy-to-use retention system, simple strap adjustment and has a MIPS liner to boot. It’s got sufficient ventilation and comes in at a reasonable 365 grams.

Learn more here.

Camelbak | Chute Mag 32-ounce Vacuum Insulated Stainless Bottle | $36

It’s always nice to have a nice cold (or hot) drink waiting for you in the car. There are tons of options for stainless insulated bottles these days—they’re so hot right now—but the Chute Mag has really good drinkability, with its wide, threaded spout. It’s wide enough to get lots of liquid down your gullet but isn’t a true wide mouth, so you can still drink out of it in a moving vehicle. Also, most dangling lids wind up hitting you in the face, but this one is held out of the way with a magnet. Pretty neat.

Learn more here.

Muc-Off | Luxury Chamois Cream | 250ml: $30; 100ml: $15

I don’t know a lot of mountain bikers these days who use chamois cream. I don’t always use it either, but it sure does come in handy during Bible, when I’m in the saddle all day, every day, for nearly 3 weeks. I wound up digging into Muc-Off’s new Luxury Chamois Cream a few days in, and it kept my undercarriage unscathed for the remainder of the trip.

Learn more here.