I hate to be the one to say it, but winter is approaching. And in the time it took me to type that, it’s probably arrived. But let’s not see this as a negative – it’s cold, so layer up and get excited for a bubble bath after your ride. It’s wet, take some spare socks and look forward to a hot chocolate by the fire. I LOVE winter riding and all the rewards that follow. Yes, dry trails and not needing to wash your bike after every ride are nice, but sloppy mud turning the trail into a slip ‘n’ slide produces more smiles than dust in your eyes does – FACT.
So to share my love of the colder, darker, wetter months I have compiled a handy list of pre and post-ride comfort items. A little something to help get you out the door in the first place… and a little something more to welcome you back through it.
1. Drysure Active Shoe Dryers
- Price: £24.99
- From: Drysure
These neat little shoe dryers are more of an aid than a cure, but let’s be honest, with a pair of wet FiveTens we need all the help we can get. Claiming to air dry shoes twelve times faster than normal air drying, using no heat or electricity, you’ve really got nothing to lose in trying them. The rigid outer shell houses a fabric worm filled with silica gel beads to absorb moisture. Not only that, they also help to reduce fungal growth (eww) and bacteria (eeewwwww) which in turn will reduce smells (yey).
I feel that a UK mountain biker putting these to the test is quite unfair, however I can honestly say I notice a difference. If my shoes are just damp, they dry out quicker for sure. These have become a reflex after riding – if my shoes don’t have feet in them, they have these in. And for the niche market of people who are stupid enough to leave their brand new camera in a soggy backpack overnight, take the silica worms out and pop them in a bag with your camera to draw the condensation out.
2. ION Universal Utility Bag
- Price: £19.95
- From: ION Products
Upgrade your blue Ikea bags with this ION utility bag. A convenient ‘all-in’ bag with a zip to stop your slushy kit falling out in the car. The bag is made of 80% polyethylene to resist water, has two sets of handles (one short set, one longer set for over the shoulder), and a velcro pocket either side with padded material for your dry items, or scratchable ones. It’s a great size for throwing everything in to transport it home, and keeps all the muck away from your vehicle.
3. ION Universal Shoe Bag
- Price: £14.95
- From: ION Products
This is an item that I could live without, but I don’t want to. A neat waterproof bag that holds it’s shoebox shape quite well, includes a ventilation hole and zips either side that are held together with a handle for when your hands are too cold to function properly. Never again will you get back to the car, caked in mud, only to discover you forgot to take a carrier bag for your shoes. It wipes clean/dry and seems to be spacious enough for the bulkiest of riding shoes. My only issue with this bag is the lack of air flow, which has left me with some very damp stinky shoes after wet rides if I forget to take them out when I get home. Use it for transport, not for storage.
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