Mountain biking can be an expensive sport to get into. However, once you commit to a decent bike, it’s a pretty fun way to buzz around the mountains until the snow flies. Considering the most expensive part of the sport is the ride, important accessories can sometimes fly by the wayside as you figure out how to resupply the winter fund. Below are a couple upgrades produced by ski brands that will keep your kit looking and feeling fresh—all for less than $150.
The Axion Spin Helmet from POC checks all the boxes when seeking a fresh and affordable mountain bike helmet. It’s light, fits and ventilates super well, as well as has the ability to protect your dome from rocks and trees. Designed for trail and enduro, it was well ventilated when riding during the heat of the day yet it had plenty of safety features to complement its breathability.
POC uses their patented SPIN (Shearing Pad INside) technology to diffuse impact. SPIN is a silicon membrane inside the helmet padding, which is similar to MIPS and protects the brain from rotational impacts associated with a crash. It also features a visor that shears off with head on impact—designed to eliminate forces to the back of the head and neck.
The unibody shell is also reinforced along the temples and back of the head, with an EPS liner. It’s all pretty impressive for its price point, especially given how well it fits using the micro adjustments, and how well it integrates with POC shades.
On the trails the Axion Spin hardly felt like it was there, yet I had piece of mind considering POC’s heritage in ski racing—i.e. protecting a skier slamming themselves on an icy rock hard Super G course. It’s super slick, taking the features of some of their higher end models, while making it affordable and attractive.
The Garrett shirt from Flylow adds some technical steeze to your mountain bike kit. Women, check out the Flylow Jessi shirt for a similar option. The Garrett fits a little looser than a technical t-shirt for trail running. Constructed with two types of mesh panels that blend polyester and spandex it had exceptional breathability and airflow on hot rides, and felt like I was in front of the air conditioner as the wind blew.
It’s also durable, feeling a bit more like a lightweight bike jersey, as the spandex elements provided a good range of uninhibited movement. It’s ideal for summer trail riding – drying quickly from sweat or after tossing cold water on your head (a routine for me after a summer ride). It’s also treated with Polygiene to avoid the summer sweat stench—allowing you to wear it a few times before each wash, making it perfect for camping bike trips.
The Dakin Hot Laps 5L lumber pack is like a fanny pack on steroids. Constructed with 600D and 200D nylon ripstop, the burly fabric can handle heavy abuse much like a ski pack. However it sits seamlessly on your lower back as you pedal around the mountains. The mesh backing kept back sweat to a minimum, and the pack had two pockets (one with organizing sleeves) to stash gear and snacks.
The two-liter hydration system, located in the main compartment is pretty cool. The hose uses a magnetic snap onto the belt buckle, and made snagging a drink of water very easy while pedaling. It also eliminated the hydration hose from dangling along my shoulder, typical in a camelback system.
As someone who previously biked with a backpack, I’m now fully onboard the lumbar pack program—it decreases overall heat and feels much more natural while biking. I’m sure I will also be reaching for this pack for closing day shenanigans in the future, since it stashes everything discretely.
After spending all winter in a downsized ski boot clicked into bindings, and much of the summer on a road bike, the last thing I want when I’m having fun mountain biking is to be clipped into another piece of gear. The Scott MTB AR shoe fits perfectly into that equation. The affordable flat shoe has a sticky rubber outsole that mates well with flat pedal pins, is stiff underfoot to keep pedaling efficient, and can easily stroll to the bar after riding.
The outer of the shoe is constructed of 3D airmesh with a breathable synthetic polyurethane. It was well ventilated while biking in the heat, however its ability to keep me dry while riding through a downpour was even more impressive.
Designed for enduro radness, I found the POC Enduro Shorts to be just as suitable for trail riding. Yes, the fit and design works well when donning knee pads but the stretch nylon and mesh fabrics that comprise this short make it ideal for zipping around cross country trails too.
The fabric combines durability with breathability, and the cut seemed about perfect for me. The elastic waist in the rear was comfortable and the velcro tabs, that adjusted the waist fit, did so without an overly crimping tight feel. They just fit and pedal super well, with a sleek design that isn’t boxy. Check out our favorite women’s shorts, the POC Essential MTB Short here.