When it comes to gear for riding gravel, I have used a lot of different products over the years and some I have abandoned while others have become a staple for every ride. Below I will highlight some of my favorite gravel gear.
Garmin Edge 1000
The Garmin Edge 1000 has helped me explore many new gravel routes that I have planned out on RideWithGPS and others that were recommended by friends. Loading GPX and TCX files into the unit is easy and they keep me on course without ever missing a turn. With a long battery life and customized settings, I can set it up the way I like it and not have to worry about it dying in the middle of a ride. The 3-inch high-resolution color touchscreen display is easy to read in a variety of lighting situations. If I don't have a route in mind I can input a distance and choose from up to 3 round-trip ride options while out on the bike. The Garmin Edge 1000 takes out all the worry of navigation and lets you enjoy the ride. Available from Garmin, Penn Cycle and other fine bike shops for $499.99.
SaltStick Caps are new for me but when put to the test at the Almanzo 100 they performed perfectly. They were recommended by a friend to relieve or diminish cramping on long rides with significant elevation gain. They are an electrolyte capsule containing sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium that helps keep balanced electrolyte blood levels. This combination helps minimize cramping, fatigue and heat stress. With all of the wind and climbing at this year's Almanzo 100, I didn't experience any leg cramping which had been a problem for me at previous Almanzo races. Not having to deal with leg cramps on big climbs was a huge plus for me. They definitely work. Available directly from SaltStick in 30 count ($13) and 100 count ($22) bottles, Penn Cycle and other fine bike shops.
Banjo Brothers Large Frame Pack
The Large Frame Pack from Banjo Brothers is a newer addition to their frame pack line. Made from Heavy-duty 1680 Ballistic Fabric it is a tough bag with waterproof zipper access from both sides. This pack is big enough to hold your tool kit, spare tube and food for a long day out on the gravel. It can also accommodate hydration bladders up to 100 fluid ounces (3L) if you prefer to carry water on your bike instead of your back. The easy open zippers provide quick access to food so you can continue your ride without stopping. Available from Banjo Brothers, Penn Cycle and other fine bike shops for $39.99.
GeigerRig Hydration System Packs
The difference between GeigerRig Hydration Systems and other hydration packs is that they provide a pressurized spray to drink. Pressurize the pack before a ride and simply bite on the valve to deliver water. This makes hydrating much easier, especially if you are out of breathe after a sprint or big climb. I have the Rig and Rig 500 and pick the appropriate pack for the distance and conditions of a ride. When I want to travel light and don't need storage in the pack I will use the Rig. For longer rides where I may need a little pack storage to peel off and store layers or extra food, I will use the Rig 500. Staying hydrated is key and I found that I will drink more to replenish lost fluids using the GeigerRig pack because of its convenience more than just water bottles alone. The Rig and Rig 500 both come with a 2L hydration engine and are available direct from GeigerRig for $115 and $135.
Banjo Brothers Cue Sheet Holder
The Banjo Brothers Cue Sheet Holder has long been a favorite of mine and many other gravel cyclists. I used it the last two years at Almanzo and it worked flawlessly. By laminating the cue sheets and rounding off the corners they could be changed to the next one easily while riding. If you don't have a gps device or are doing a ride/race where the course is revealed at check-in with cue sheets for navigation, you're going to want one of these. It mounts to bars and stem quickly using Velcro straps, zip ties or twist ties. Available from Banjo Brothers, Penn Cycle and other fine bike shops for $7.99.
Revelate Designs Mountain Feedbag
I put the Mountain Feedbag from Revelate Designs to the first major test at Almanzo and loved them. I mounted two of them on my stem/bars and filled them with a variety of gels, snacks and SaltStick Caps for a long day in the saddle. The drawcord closure was easy to open one-handed while riding and their convenience made sure I was refueling throughout the day. The mesh side pockets are perfect for stashing empty gel packs and wrappers. The lower tension strap that wraps around the fork crown made sure they stayed in place with very little movement, even when digging into them to grab something to eat. They are even big enough to hold a water bottle. The Mountain Feedbag comes in a variety of colors and is available from Revelate Designs, Penn Cycle and other fine bike shops for $39.
I have been using TOGS thumb grips for almost a year now for Winter fatbiking, mountain biking and gravel riding and they quickly became a favorite. I use them mostly when riding gravel as they provide climbing leverage and an alternate hand position on the bars for those long rides. Unlike drop bars, straight bars don't offer a variety of different hand positions so it's nice to be able to change things up without the use of bar ends. Pictured above is the carbon hinged model which installs quickly without removal of the grips. They are available from TOGS for $35. TOGS also has a Dupont Zytel ring version in a variety of colors for $23.