Preparing for a destination mountain biking trip? Jenn Bast, SCHEELS Associate Outdoor Activity Expert, recently traveled to Kauai, HI, with a team of Trek Pro and Amateur riders. As an Amateur Ambassador herself, Jenn was able to traverse trails with an experienced team, giving her the chance to test out longstanding favorite gear as well as some new pieces.
Now back from her trip, Jenn gives us insight on how to pack, what gear to bring and where she loved biking on the island of Kauai!
RENTING VS. SHIPPING YOUR BIKE
For this trip, we had bikes flown from the Trek headquarters to Hawaii. For most customers, travel bike cases can be costly ($400 and higher), and the chance of bikes being damaged or not make the destination may come at a price of not being able to ride. I’ve found great luck with bike rentals all over the country and believe this to be the best way to ride a different part of the world. Most bike rentals and guide services offer quality bikes and have them ready to go when you wish to ride. This also may eliminate the need to pack extra gear (tubes, pumps, hydration packs, etc.) which take up space and add extra weight to your luggage. The other huge benefit of going through a guide or rental service is the guided direction of where and how to ride that region. We are partnering up with Bike Doctor who will guide us around the island of trails. They will give us local insight on history, local tales and facts about the area. After the ride, guides also have the best recommendations for local restaurants and places to visit.
PREPARING FOR YOUR TRIP
When I fly to new locations, I always make sure to pack enough clothes in my carry-on so I can ride everyday if my luggage gets lost. Most airlines allow a carry-on bag in addition to a personal item like a backpack or purse. I fill my backpack full of clothes, and I pack my other necessary gear such as a helmet, snorkel equipment or beach games (like Spikeball) into my carry-on bag.
I always prepare for bugs by prepping and carrying certain types of bug repellent. For most bug sprays there are two types: permithren and deet. I prepare all my gear and apparel before the trip by spraying it with permithren-based bug spray. Permethrin is odorless once dried and lasts up to five washes, perfect for hunters and tourists! It will kill ticks that find their way to any gear or clothing as well.
As far as packing bug repellent, I bring a small bottle of deet-based spray. Deet is the active ingredient in most mosquito sprays and is safe for skin-use. This ingredient can actually damage types of gear such as plastic, spandex and vinyl, which is why I prep my gear before a trip with permethrin. Different companies will use different percentages of deet, varying from the most commonly used 30 percent to the high concentration of 100 percent. You can decide the strength of your repellent based off the destination.
By using a mix of both types of spray, you will be better protected. See all of our options online here.
MUST-HAVE GEAR FOR TRAVELING
Best travel backpack: Osprey Talon 33
This is a super lightweight backpack and is small enough to fit under most airline seats. It is designed with a large main compartment which works great for packing essential clothing. It also has small compartments with quick access to headphones and other travel necessities. Finally, it includes hidden, zippered storage for those important documents or money, allowing you to keep important items safe while traveling.
This pack is also one of my favorite day hiking packs and can double as such during my trip. It’s large enough to hold food, clothing and other essential hiking equipment but light enough for a day’s worth of hiking.
Best travel backpack: Women’s CamelBak L.U.X.E. Bike Hydration Pack
This pack is another great day pack option. It carries enough gear for a full day of mountain biking, with a narrow-gauge design that lets your focus on the ride, not your pack. The 3-liter reservoir holds enough water for rides of up to three hours, and the pack offers extra storage for anything the trail might throw at you (or your bike): keys, helmet, a layer, lunch and bike tools. The ventilated back panels keep air moving over your back, and the removable waist belt keeps everything in place during bumpy rides. The women’s-specific design features contoured shoulder straps that fit comfortably on your chest without chafing, and the shorter pack length offers a great ergonomic fit.
Favorite mountain biking helmets (especially for traveling):
- Bontrager Rally MIPS Mountain Bike Helmet
- Bontrager Quantum MIPS Bike Helmet
- Bontrager Lithos (available in-store): This helmet has an attachment on the top for either a Bontrager light or a GoPro so you can relive all of your memories. It gives the best complete protection for those “oops moments” if you tumble.
Favorite new travel gear: Head Sea Vu Dry Snorkeling Mask
This is my favorite snorkeling mask to-date. It was the first time I used a full face mask compared to the traditional goggle and snorkel. After using it, I will never go back to the traditional style. With this mask, breathing became much easier and felt more natural. It was so easy to use, I didn’t have to focus on breathing like I do with other masks. The fog-free lens has a massive panoramic view which opened up my peripheral view, whereas traditional masks tend to limit sight. One important note is that this mask will work for men who have mustaches. Although it does not come with fins, it took up much less space in my luggage and is overall my favorite new product of 2017. I highly recommend this to all skill levels of snorkelers and all types of water, including lakes and oceans.
Other things to pack for your adventure:
- A hammock (ENO – for those great views where your body can have a rest)
- A GoPro with accessories to attach to the bike or helmet
- Extra cleats for pedals you plan to ride
- Bike tool (Topeak Hexius II is my favorite)
- Snorkel gear (most come in a carry case, which travels great on an airplanes). I was able to fit two sets of gear in one bag plus swimsuits.
- Quick dry towel
- Post recovery shakes (so your body can recover and you can ride as far and long as you wish)
MOUNTAIN BIKING IN KAUAI
This place is single track heaven! The mountain biking scene has developed largely from the abundant surf culture that is present throughout the entire island. It has a perfect mix of flat single track with overlooking vistas to the incredible views of the ocean! My favorite place we got to ride was in Anahola. The riding was short single track trails with a mix of forest, open flats and sharp technical spots near the coast. We rode one part of the forest where a local Hawaiian has placed thousands of buoys he has cleaned off the shores. He lines the trail to create this incredible jungle of color and personality while you ride (see my image below of this interesting trail). I loved how the trails were friendly enough for beginners but had features for more expert riders to still enjoy the incredible view.