Hannah brings you the clothing and hardware that keeps her spinning through the long winter evenings.
Words Hannah Photography Amanda
Night riding… it’s something of a necessary evil in the UK. Or a bonding activity to set you up for the contrasting joy of ‘summer’. It all depends on your outlook. In the absence of winter sports options, or very flexible working hours, many a UK mountain biker will have to dig out their night riding gear in order to ride midweek. And I think it’s perhaps the most important gear you can own. Great gear for the cold and dark (and often wet) can add a whole load more pleasure (or, at least reduce a lot of suffering) than I think you’ll ever get out of lightweight summer gear, when an old band T-shirt would probably do just fine. There are a few extra bits also I like to pack just in case. As the nights draw in and the ground gets sloppy, here’s what I’ll be packing.
This 7Mesh Copilot jacket is my current favourite, although I’m often to be found testing yet another jacket. My latest test project is a Patagonia Dirt Roamer Storm, which is my first foray into a half-zip jacket and I’m interested to see how it performs. My general jacket demands are: waterproof and must have a hood. Everything after that is fine tuning, although I do like a bright colour for when my imagination tells me mountain rescue might need to come looking for me.
I’m not an ‘overshorts’ rider – I’m going to wear my waterproof bottoms from start to finish of the ride. Consequently I’m still rocking the 7Mesh Revo shorts because they’re the ones that have outlasted all others. In my opinion, waterproof dungarees are a very
practical riding option. POC’s first run on them didn’t have the longevity I wanted, but they’ve made a change to the design. There’s now a flurry of waterproof dungaree options coming from other manufacturers, so I’ll be hoping to try some of them out.
Waterproof socks & gloves
DexShell Ultrathin Crew socks, £25, DexShell Thermfit Neo, £35, upgradebikes.co.uk
I prefer these slim fitting Ultrathin Crew socks from DexShell. They fit in my normal shoes (I like my Hi-top Ride Concepts Vice for a touch of extra protection in winter) and while they’re not as warm as a thick sock, they certainly take the edge of that first cold puddle.
If it’s too wet for standard bike gloves, I’ll reach for these waterproof Thermfit Neo DexShells. If the problem is not wet but cold, I’ll wear something bulkier, but with a thin liner glove for extra warmth.
Extra packable layer
A packable extra jacket has many uses. It can be loaned to someone forgetful, it can be put on as a second layer if you find yourself having to stand around for ages. You can put it on if the zip on your main jacket fails, or you rip a great hole in it. It can be sat on in the pub if they’ve got posh chairs. It can be put on in the pub as a fresh and dry outer layer. Now that I’ve got the fantastic Rab Cinder Phantom, that’s what I’ll be carrying. Previously I took a teeny tiny Santini Guard Nimbus Gilet, or my ancient, but packable, Gore PacLite®. Anything that’s small and light enough to not resent carrying is ideal.
100% S3, £169.99, freewheel.co.uk
I try to put my contact lenses in because I don’t want to scratch my prescription glasses, but I don’t always remember. But I make sure I’m wearing glasses of some sort to protect my eyes. These 100% S3 glasses offer almost as much coverage as goggles without all the sweaty steaming up-ness.
The mainstay of the night ride. Personally I favour a bar and helmet mounted combo, to help with depth perception and cornering. I find the twin front light sources to be more important to my confidence than outright lumen power, or even the much vaunted ‘spread’. Not knowing what’s off to the side has had me ride many a trail in the dark that I’d have been nervous about in the daylight. Is it better to ride well in ignorance, or badly in fear? Exposure Lights remain the gold standard here – decent battery life, integrated batteries with no annoying cables, and good warranty support. I’ve not actually had the pleasure of using them yet, but the rest of the STW team have them and love them. I have tried a bunch of other lights though… I don’t like proprietary charging cables, separate battery packs, and complicated settings. I do like big rubbery strap bar mount fittings, simple button-to-cycle-functions operation, and a visual battery level warning. This Magicshine ALLTY 1500 offers all those things. It is my back-up light for getting me home, or a stand-in in case of failure – or, as is more often the case, failure to plan and charge something bigger. It can mount on my helmet too, making it a versatile Plan B.
At the rear, I favour something small and secure. Small, because when you’re using a dropper there’s not always a whole lot of seat post to attach something to. Secure, because inevitably you’re going to be bouncing around and shaking it all about. I want something that’s not too eye-hurtingly bright, for the sake of the rider behind me, and also that doesn’t always flash. This little Magicshine Seemee 20 has survived a plenty of soakings and mud coatings.
Drybag for spare layers
This little drybag of extra layers gives me something to put on in the pub, and also serves as emergency gear if there’s a calamity on the trail. A buff, a merino base layer and spare gloves are lightweight, not too bulky, but give tons of warmth when needed.
First Aid Drybag
It’s a pretty basic kit, but it’s enough to do a trailside patch job in a variety of circumstances and the drybag means it can stay in my pack from ride to ride without going mouldy or tape losing its stick. Not in my drybag (because I often end up eating it) is a snack. You can’t get warm if you’re cold and bonking.
I have a tool roll for all the bits I hope I won’t need – cable ties, emergency whistle and blanket, tubeless plugs, quick link. The shock pump, patch kit and ratchet tool stay at home in the winter. But a pump for your tyres is an essential in my opinion – the Topeak Mountain Twin Turbo is quick to reinflate your tyres, easy to use, and has no teeny fiddly bits to lose on the trail. A tube gets stored on my frame. If I wasn’t such a serial bike swapper, I might opt for on-frame tool storage too, but instead I have a Synchros tool, with all important chain breaker, in an easy to access pocket on my pack. Incidentally, all this fits in my 8 litre Camelbak Chase Protector Vest.
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|Tested:||by Hannah for Singletrack World Magazine Issue 151|