As 2023 comes to a close, Hailey Moore shares the gear that she turned to again and again this year. Read on for the products that have become indispensable in her bike-touring setup, a couple of apparel recommendations, an off-the-bike surprise, and her 2023 Ride Playlist.
My partner, Tony, and I had been kicking around the idea of buying a dedicated ultra-light tent for bikepacking for almost a year. But whenever we would revisit the conversation, it would inevitably spiral when we would start digging into all the available options and try to make decisions about the major variables (free-standing vs. staked; tent shape; wall construction, etc.,). We weren’t any closer to making a purchasing decision than when we first began to entertain the idea when we found ourselves freezing our butts off earlier this year during a February tour of the Monumental Loop. We’ve weathered some pretty chilly nights in our usual setups (for me, that’s an Ultimate Direction FKT Bivy, Sea to Summit Ultralight Air Sleeping Mat, Sierra Designs 28F Women’s Sleeping Bag, Patagonia Down Pants over Smartwool Merino leggings, merino long sleeve and puffy jacket up top). But after our first two nights out dipped into the high 20s, with colder lows promised for later in the week, we started looking for alternatives. Fortunately, as many readers may know, the Monumental Loop creates a figure eight, with the city of Las Cruces being the centerpoint, so riding the route essentially entails riding two loops. This is highly convenient for resupplying and, in our case, allowed for an easy trip by the local outdoor shop, Outdoor Adventures. They had one tent in stock and that is the tent we bought: Nemo Equipment’s Hornet OSMO Ultralight Backpacking 2-Person Tent. It’s turned out to be a good one.
The Hornet features a rectangular footprint, a pronged, three-ended pole, and guy-outs for the staked design. It is made from a proprietary OSMO™ poly-nylon ripstop fabric that, according to Nemo’s website “has 4x better water repellency and 3x less stretch when wet. OSMO fabric is made from 100% recycled yarns that are PFAS-free and meet flame retardancy standards without the use of added chemicals.” Although I’ve spent a dozen nights in the tent this year, I can’t yet speak to its performance in soaking wet conditions, but I can speak to the material’s flame retardant qualities. On our very first night with the tent, a faulty fuel canister caused our JetBoil to burst into flames just inches from the tent vestibule where we had it sitting to boil water for ramen. Being the desert, we were camping on a bed of sand so it was easy to smother the flames. Still, in the seconds it took for me to bolt from the tent, run around to the far side to kick sand on the fire, those flames definitely had time to taste the side of our precious just-purchased tent; but they didn’t catch.
Thus far, the Hornet’s reliance on being staked hasn’t proved limiting. As compared to the other, similar tents I’ve used—Sea to Summit’s Alto TR1 and REI’s now-retired Spark—the Hornet is faster to set up and more intuitive. The No-See-Um Mesh canopy paired with the OSMO rainfly seems to do an above-average job of managing moisture and excessive condensation, but again, I’ve only used the tent in dry to (very) humid conditions, not in the pouring rain. Other notable features include the Nightlight Pocket™ (an overhead shelf at the tent’s apex), two internal pockets, and a two-sided vestibule. Best of all, the Hornet weighs an airy 2 lb 8 oz (packed) which is barely heavier than what I’ve seen for many one-person tents—to go significantly lighter, you’d probably have to pay nearly twice as much for a Dyneema® option.
While it certainly wasn’t ideal to drop over $400 on a piece of equipment mid-tour, the Hornet has proved to be a worthwhile purchase. Thanks to Outdoor Adventures for making the hard decision for us!
Senchi Designs Alpha 90 Crewneck Half-Zip – $80
The simple act of getting dressed to go outside is one of the great banes of winter in Colorado. Especially during these early weeks of the coldest months of the year, it always takes me a few under, or over, dressed outings to remember my preferred layering systems from past seasons. Still, once I’m actually out the door, I have to stay vigilant about dumping or donning layers to keep chill-inducing sweat at bay. While I try to ride my bike a couple days a week if the roads are clear, once the first few snows have fallen I more readily reach for my running shoes, or ski-touring equipment, for my daily recreation. And this year, no matter the activity, I’ve also found myself constantly reaching for the Senchi Alpha 90 Crewneck w/ Half-Zip.
Made from Polartec® Alpha Direct 90, this layer has lived up to its promise of offering active insulation in a very light (85 grams for the unisex size XS) package. Polartec hype’s the construction material as being designed to eliminate the need for a backing fabric. This reduces weight and bulk while also allowing body heat to readily escape before the fabric becomes damp during high-output activities. When you hold the Alpha 90 up to the light, you can see the loose matrix of the knit construction. When I first got it, I had my doubts that it would actually provide any warmth, but thus far I’ve been pleasantly surprised. On chilly runs, or ski tours, I’ve been wearing the Alpha 90 over a very thin long-sleeve baselayer and have been impressed with how well it seems to regulate my body temp. Given the non-cycling specific fit, I’ve just worn the Alpha 90 on a few one-to-two-hour casual rides but have found the same cozy-over-clammy benefits. I would caution against wearing it as an outerlayer on trail rides, as the fabric seems easy to snag.
For years I have thought the outdoor industry’s promulgation of the Mid Layer has been a marketing ploy to get me to buy seemingly useful ‘tweener jackets or fleeces. Historically, these have ended up sitting in my closet only to get pulled out a few times a year as a Top Layer, or simply because I feel like I should wear them if I own them. On all but the absolute coldest days, if I’m out running, riding, or uphill skiing, my three-layer system—at most—extends to a light baselayer, mid-weight outerlayer/jersey, and a vest (this, of course, excludes the descending portion of skiing or riding). There are only a handful of days per year where I really feel the warmth of a longsleeve-over-longsleeve-over-baselayer is warranted and we all know how annoying it is to get too many layers going up top. And while I’ve primarily used the Alpha 90 as a top layer so far, I can say that the thin cut of the fabric does pair well underneath a heavier jacket. In addition to its welcome versatility and packability, it’s giving me renewed faith in the promise of the Mid Layer.
Rapha Women’s Explore Shorts – $145
Ok let’s get one thing out of the way: these are a pricey pair of shorts. But, honestly, I spent most of the summer in them and they’re exactly what I’d been looking for in a casual-yet-technical short—and I’ve tried quite a few other options! I’ve written about my feelings on cycling attire, and while I still prefer the standard bibs + jersey for performance applications like daily training rides or races, the Rapha Women’s Explore Shorts cross-over applications compliment my everyday warm-weather tendencies.
One of the reasons that I’m about ready to sell a kidney so that I can keep living in Boulder, Colorado is that it is a place that makes life-by-bike amazingly accessible. There’s a fantastic network of bike paths not only through town, but extending to the neighboring cities Denver and Longmont, too. In the late 60s, the city established a Green Belt perimeter of open space so that Boulder’s footprint couldn’t be expanded outward, or infringed upon by outside sprawl. This means that from almost anywhere in town, you’re less than five miles from escaping traffic and jumping on dirt, or heading up one of the many canyon climbs that grant access to the western foothills. For a cyclist, this is an unparalleled proposition. But for a person with multi-sport proclivities like myself, it gets even better: there are several climbing crags within easy riding distance from my house and numerous trailheads for reaching the summits of any of the five skyline peaks, or for scrambling in the city’s distinctive Flatirons.
When the weather turns nice, my ideal weekend day is a bike-to-climb mission, or ride to a nearby trailhead to run up (and by run, I mean mostly hike) one of the skyline peaks—either outing being followed by a coffee shop stop, of course. The Explore Shorts are well-suited for all of the above: for my 5′ 7″ frame, the 7.5″-inseam is comfortable on the bike, long enough to wear under a climbing harness, but not too long to feel annoying while hiking/running. They’ve got the goldilocks amount of stretch, and are proving to be impressively abrasion resistant. And, they blend in for the post-outing patio hang.
For cycling-exclusive applications, I most prefer the Explore Shorts for trail-heavy rides, or multi-day casual bike tours. Because I’m in and out of the saddle so much on technical terrain, I don’t feel the need for a chamois. When bike touring, or competing in a bikepacking race, my hygiene threshold for bibs is about three days. The Explore Shorts have proven a nice option for the longer stuff; I took them on a two-week bike tour in Italy to double as my riding shorts and for strolling through the city streets on sightseeing days.
I’m not a Rapha diehard; I appreciate their design elements but I find the fit of their apparel to be somewhat hit-or-miss for me. But I can say unequivocally that they nailed the Explore Short. I sized down to XS as I don’t plan to wear them over a liner, but they’re light enough that you could layer them if you want to. My one nitpick is that thicker waistband holds onto moisture much more than the rest of the quick-drying fabric—but, this is a small inconvenience compared to their long list of multi-functional applications. I know that once the birds start to chirp next spring and we get a taste of summer, they’ll be the first shorts I slip on.
Garmin Edge 1040 Solar – $749.99
After over two years of riding with the Wahoo Fitness ELEMNT ROAM—and being let down on several, consequential occasions—I was in the market for a new bike computer. My top priorities all centered around adventure riding/bikepacking/bike touring: long battery life and reliable, clear navigation. That’s really about it. With its larger display and solar charging-battery, the Garmin Edge 1040 Solar was the obvious choice.
I bought the 1040 Solar in January 2023 and have since used it on countless day rides and nearly a dozen bike tours this year. The spectrum of features is too broad to fully dive into here but I’ll touch on a few. The unit’s solar-charging lens boasts extending battery life by 42 minutes for every hour of full sun exposure. Furthermore, Garmin claims that the 1040 Solar will provide up to 45 hours of battery life in normal use mode and up to 100 hours in power-saving mode. While I haven’t measured this exactly, anecdotally, I can usually get through a whole weekend tour in Colorado (where we have a lot of sun) without thinking twice about having to charge it.
Another handy feature is being able to customize your screens and create unique activity profiles in the unit itself; for instance, you could create a “Race” activity profile that shows different screens and metrics than a “Touring” profile. Like many head units these days, the Edge can sync with your phone to allow notifications to come through the computer’s display. Perhaps my favorite feature is the ClimbPro function which auto-alerts you to upcoming climbs and then tracks your progress through them; back in the spring, this feature became available even when riding without a set course. My one nitpick with the 1040 Solar is about the charging port guard; this was a little, hard-plastic piece that slotted in to cover the charging port. It was secured to the computer by one rubberized nipple that, when slightly pulled out, acted like a hinge for you to swing the guard out of the way and charge the device without completely removing it. Turns out, it’s near-impossible to re-insert the nipple if you’ve accidentally removed it, so I eventually gave up on trying to do so. I’ve been using the unit without the guard for more time than I did with it and, so far, water/dirt/grit hasn’t really impacted that port.
Like most of my electronics, I’ve barely realized the full capabilities of the 1040 Solar. It has a full suite of features—like Climb Explore that shows an overview of all climbs on a designated route, and new auto-routing functions—that I’ve yet to tap into. For now though, the peace of mind of having one less thing to charge has made this an indispensable piece of gear for all of my rides.
Retold Recycling – $14.50 (and up)
A single sock, ripped bibs, or a t-shirt that’s been too loved to donate—what should you do with your worn-out textiles? Usually when I have some clothes that have run their course turning them into bike rags is my first M.O., but after a certain point, the bin is overflowing, and it feels so weird to just throw clothes in the trash. This summer, a friend turned me onto the recycling service Retold and it’s been a great resource to turn to a couple times a year when I clean out my closet.
Retold is a clothing recycling service that has a “no landfills” mission. The model involves buying one, or a package, of their bio-degradable bags that are pre-paid and labeled for shipping, then filling it with your clean discards. Their site claims to take anything from wedding dresses to chewed up, fabric dog toys (so long as they’re freshly-washed).
After you’ve stuffed your bag, drop it with USPS and once it reaches Retold, their team will sort all of your items and distribute them to thrift stores, donation centers, fabric recyclers, and upcyclers. Items that can’t be repurposed as traditional fabric get shredded down for use as things like insulation or car upholstery.
A single bag costs $14.50, labeled for 5 lb and is about the size of a standard pillow case. The price per bag drops if you go for a quarterly subscription (six bags), or another annual bundle, and there’s also a $15-dollar refer-a-friend discount. In short, it may take a mental shift to get behind paying for a recycling service for your threadbare items but with the pre-paid shipping aspect of the bag, it’s hardly different than rolling your bin of crushed La Croixs to the curb every week. At some point, we have to be responsible for our own consumption and this is an easy, cost-effective way to do so. I yield the soap box.
SimWorks Getaround Handlebar – $82
I love commuting. Something about the people-watching-in-motion mixed with the problem-solving element of finding the most-efficient path makes my brain happy. I find tootling around on errands at the end of the day, or raging to some tunes on a lunch mission, both endlessly enjoyable. Commuting means you always get front-row parking and some bonus miles. I recently converted my Crust Bombora to singlespeed using Velo Orange’s eccentric bottom bracket. Adding Sim Works’ Getaround Bar paired with a Wald front basket has turned this neo-tourer into my favorite kind of townie.
At 700 mm wide with 10 mm of rise and 20º of sweep, the playful ergonomics of the Getaround makes piloting my new SS Bombie an everyday joy. Made from CrMo Steel, they’re definitely not light but I don’t get hung up on gram counting on a just-for-fun build. Paired with the 25.4 mm Tomboy stem and DMR Brendog Death Grips Gum grips, and rolling on a 42-19 gear, it’s the bike I’ve been having the most fun on lately.
Smithey Ironware Cast Iron – $110
Cooking is one of my favorite off-the-bike activities and a few years ago I was gifted a gorgeous 10-inch cast-iron pan from the MUSA company Smithey Ironware. Before getting the Smithey, my personal experience with cast iron was limited to the poorly-seasoned pans of roommates where you lost half your eggs to stick when trying to make a scramble and I never understood what the hype was about. But since getting my own—which came pre-seasoned with a satin-smooth finish—I’ve become converted. The 10-inch Smithey is a utilitarian ornament that permanently rests on my stovetop and the only exception to saying that I don’t use it every-damn-day is that I travel quite a bit.
After several years of growing to regularly use my 10-inch pan, I decided it was time to treat myself to a smaller counterpart. I recently picked up the No. 8 Chef Skillet to have as a more nimble option, from flipping omelets to packing in our Tacoma for weekend trip use on the ‘ol Coleman. It’s a beautiful, functional addition to my kitchen and while I’m not much for collecting I’d by lying if I said I didn’t want to fully stock my kitchen with all of Smithey’s stunning wares.
While not too many 2023 albums caught my interest this year, I’ll piggyback on John’s music recommendations with a ride playlist based on my most-listened-to tunes of 2023, along with some forever favorites. It’s spans from pop to post punk to whatever-the-hell “freak folk” is, according to Spotify. Hope you enjoy!