Review: Get the Gear

Your ride is only as good as the gear that gets you from A to B. Here's a rundown of the season's best.

Smith Optics Forefront Helmet
Smith is a lot more than just optics these days, and the Forefront helmet is proof of that. While it doesn’t have the full-face coverage necessary for a downhill-only day, its wrap-around protection keeps your noggin safe in anything but the most technical terrain. Feather light and surprisingly comfortable for a trail helmet, the Forefront vents so well on climbs you’ll forget you’re wearing it. Available at Chalet Sports, Round House, and Grizzly Outfitters. $220;

Smith Optics PivLock Overdrive Shades
A good pair of sunglasses is maybe the most important piece of gear in my kit—other than my helmet. The pros at Smith have done it again with the PivLock Overdrives. They fit great, weigh just enough to remind me that I’m wearing them but not so much that they’re a distraction, and come with three lens shades you can swap out depending on the weather. They're also designed to click into the Forefront helmet when you're taking a break from the trail. I've also stored them on the helmet during shaded climbs and they don't fall off. Available at Chalet Sports, Round House, and Grizzly Outfitters. $240;

Dakine Apex 26L Pack
For a long time, my ski pack doubled as a bike pack come summer. This system worked fine, but once I started riding more downhill, the pack was a little undersized for all my gear. Enter the Apex 26L pack from Dakine. While it doesn’t look spacious enough at first, the pack’s multiple sections keep gear organized and maximize space surprisingly well. There’s a helmet-specific pocket if you plan on riding with a full-face and a trail helmet, and a fleece-lined pocket for goggles or shades. It comes with a 3-liter bladder that seems heavy, but the pack does a great job of handling the weight. Available at Chalet Sports, Round House, and Grizzly Outfitters. $150;

Pearl iZumi Divide Short
When buying mountain-bike shorts, I’m always faced with a dilemma over fit. Usually, brands geared more toward freeride apparel oversize their shorts, making them too baggy. Cross-county-focused models are too slim and lack features. The Divide Short from Pearl Izumi expertly walks that fine line. They’re loose enough to be comfortable but short enough to be shorts. They have enough pockets for the essentials, Velcro waist cinches to dial in fit, and mesh panels along the thigh to shed heat on summer days. A built-in padded liner makes them the perfect short for all-day downhill pursuits. Available at Grizzly Outfitters. $120;