VT Tested – Josh’s Favorite Gear

Vermont riding conditions can be demanding. Lots of varied terrain, every weather condition you can imagine, and plenty of tech combine for the ideal equipment testing ground. Here are my favorite accessories, in no particular order. First up, shoes. I’ve previously been riding the 5.10 Freerider, but decided to upgrade to the 5.10 Freerider Pro. The extra dollars are worth it. The shoe is just all around better. A stiffer feeling sole helps transfer all the power into the pedal. The shoes are much lighter than the Freerider, and also much more breathable. The Pro versions dry in half the time the Freeriders do. Even the laces seem to have been thought out, and don’t slip or untie easily. 5.10 Freerider Pro.


Moving anatomically upwards, perhaps one of my absolute favorite pieces of equipment, Fuse Alpha Shin/Whip Pads. I know most people prefer knee pads if they ride with any pads, however I HATE shin strikes. I bought these things at the beginning of the year, and they have 115+ days of riding on them at the time of this post. I find them very comfortable. The back of the pads are neoprene like material, and ventilate well. The stirrup strap keeps the guards in place, and they never slip. They shrug off pedal strikes, kicked up stones, and brush with ease. I don’t ride without them anymore. They integrate well with my POC VPD 2.0 DH long knee pads, to make a full set of leg armor. An added benefit, the shin guard plastic and foam are easy to remove, and you can just throw the rest of the pad in the wash. I love these! Fuse Alpha Shin/Whip Pads.


Next up, my favorite fair of both Chamois and Shorts; the Troy Lee Designs’ Ruckus Short. The are breathable, yet I’ve fallen on them while downhilling and they are quite protective against abrasions. They adjust easily with waist cinches, and have multiple zip open vents. They are also quite snappy looking! Troy Lee Designs Ruckus Short.


My current helmet is the Smith Forefront. Vermont’s riding temperatures can be highly fluctuant, from well below freezing to 90°F. I’m a fan of the honeycomb like structure of the helmet, which seems to breathe much better than the foam structure of the helmets of old. This helmet comes with MIPS in addition to a dial in adjustable fit system. The sweatbands channel sweat off your face, and allow sweat to run out the front of the helmet instead, which sounds gross but is actually awesome. They also remove easily to wash. My only complaint is that to mount a POV camera or light, there is a separate 15$ kit you need to buy- at the helmet’s price point, I feel like it should be included. Smith Forefront.


Pedals can be difficult to justify spending good money on, however, this is your interface with your bike. While dropping 100$+ on pedals might seem like a lot, in my experience, it’s worth it. My current favorites are the Spank Spike pedals. They come in a variety of colors, with 20 steel pins per pedal that are all replaceable/pattern adjustable, and have sealed bearings and spindles that are all serviceable and replaceable. They are not the lightest, but are bulletproof; I currently have ~150 days including a lot of downhill. I’ve replaced the bearings once. While they are cosmetically blemished, the pins are in good shape and the color has held fast with zero compromise in function.


And our other interface with the bikes, the grips. This is a cheap, great upgrade. I love ODI grips, particularly the Troy Lee Designs version. For ~35$, you get locking grips that won’t ever fall off with durable plastic endcaps, and a rubber that just sticks. I mostly wear gloves, however if you grab these things with your bare hands after they have warmed up, they feel like glue. Also, comes in a great range of colors! ODI Grips, Troy Lee Design Version.


To go along with those grips, I love to use these Mechanix M-pact gloves. While not a purpose built bike glove, they are reinforced along the knuckles, with super durable palms. They are malleable, yet durable. They don’t breathe as well as a dedicated bike glove, so I tend not to use them during the hottest days. They wash well, and show very few signs of wear. Did I mention that they are durable? Mechanix M-pact gloves.


Last but not least, perhaps my longest lasting piece of equipment, my Osprey Raptor 10 backpack. This pack has ~200 days on it, and has traveled with me all over the US and even to Iceland (pictured above). It holds 3L of water in a hydration bladder (which in itself is awesome, with a great closure mechanism, and an awesome magnetic attachment for the mouthpiece), has 10L of storage, including well place hip pockets, and a dedicated tool holding system in the bottom. If you want to carry layers, there is a 14L version which may be better suited, but the 10L can hold a compact layer or two. This also washes well, and has been through my washing machine countless times. Osprey Raptor 10L.


And that’s it! I hope you try out some of this gear, and let me know if you love some of these accessories too.


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