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Over The Bars

By MBT Staff

Stylish and Functional

A quick search on Google will reveal the simple reality that there is no shortage of companies producing gear for mountain bikers these days. While this is definitely a good thing in measuring success by the growth of the industry, let’s just say that not all products are created equal. That brings us to DaKine, one of the originators of what we consider the perfect combination of style and function. When they asked us to take a look at some of their latest offerings for 2008, we jumped at the opportunity. While there may be many options for a potential mountain bike purchaser on the market today, there are few, if any that deliver quality, fit, finish, and longevity like DaKine. Here’s what we took a look at and what you can see at Dakine.com.
The Apex Pack


Imagine if Dakine took all of its tireless attention to detail and applied it to the technical world of hydration packs... Now, imagine no longer because the Apex Pack delivers this exact partnership and then some. We’ll cut right to the chase on this one: After spending two weeks with the Apex, we’re going to have a hard time going back to anything else. Yes, it’s really that good.

Let’s begin by telling you a little bit about the bladder. Like all of DaKine’s product, cleanliness takes president and an internal Nalgene system gets the nod here. With an internal Aquaguard system, this pack prevents against growth of bacteria and mold, keeps the water taste and odor-free, and internally cleans itself by the motion of suction. It works! About the only type of bacteria is cannot destroy are those based on food so cleaning the tubes and components that come in contact with your lips is strongly encouraged.

The pack itself is made of 630D Nylon and at 19 x 10.5 x 8 inches, fits very securely across the back. The Nalgene reservoir holds 100 ounces of fluid as well. What’s really unique about this pack in particular are the external features DaKine thought to include. Among them are straps designed to carry a full face helmet and knee pads, sleeves for carrying an air pump, goggle-specific pocket, additional easy access pockets for sunglasses and digital camera, and even a padded/ fleece lined pocket for the MP3 player. All of the pockets contain internal organizers as well and the back-panel and shoulder straps are made of Dri-mesh compound which is both breathable and extremely comfortable.

It’s downright impossible to suggest that a single aspect of this hydration pack seals the deal but rather try to think of this product as the result of serious attention to detail. Ours arrived in unique logger flannel trim and received its fair share of compliments from fellow riders out on the trail. To put into perspective the charms of the Apex, let us conclude with this: One of our testers who long ago swore off the entire concept of the hydration pack do to complexity, bulkiness, and required maintenance has actually reconsidered his stubbornness by saying “Had the DaKine Apex pack been my first foray into the world of hydration packs, I would have been sporting one all along”.

Men’s Cross X Glove


As the name suggests, these are DaKine’s all day/ every day riding gloves and to be completely honest- one of the finest performing gloves we’ve had the pleasure of fighting over. They come equipped with all of the bells and whistles of the above Highwire gloves but feel surprisingly different in action thanks to serious venting (Nylon mesh) on each of the fingers and across the wrist. Everything we liked about the Highwire; the padded palm, silicone gripper fingertips, Neoprene knuckle protection, and velcro closure, are all present here with the addition of a rubber wrist overlay.

On the bike, the gloves fit a bight tighter than the Highwire and seem to more closely form to the hand. All of the little amenities such as a rubber stripped pull on tab affirm the fact that this glove was designed by someone who understands what riding mountain bikes is all about. We realize that gloves are a personal thing (what works for one doesn’t always work for all) but it isn’t hard to suggest the Cross X for anyone seeking a do-it-all glove.

Men’s Highwire Glove


Worn in perfect match with our Step Down jersey, the Highwire glove quickly became a staff favorite. About the main selling point to our well-callused mitts was the neoprene knuckle panels which, while light and flexible, offer serious protection from trail side foliage and airborne debris from the bike in front of you. With a breathable Nylon mesh back panel and Clarino synthetic suede palms (no killing of real cows to make these gloves), the material selection is truly top notch. The cuffs too are stretchy Neoprene which keeps the glove snug on the wrist without ever feeling overly tight or restrictive. Terrycloth thumb panels, silicone gripper fingertips, and padded palm-area round out the features.

What can we say besides whoever designed this glove must have been tired of getting blisters from long days spent behind bars. We used this glove on downhill runs, tight flowing singletrack, and everything in between and not a single tester came back with complaints. How often can that be said about anything?

Men’s Step Down Jersey


3/4 sleeves and AEGIS Microbe Shield technology equals a do-it-all jersey that never smells like sweat even when you do. The patented bonded technology controls odor, staining, and deterioration, all factors of any good ride.

Ours arrived in a very cool green and brown color scheme and try as we may, went back without staining or discoloration. We found it works best for down hill/ freeride applications thanks to a loose fit and ample body coverage. Best of all, this one is subtle enough to keep on during the post-ride meal at the local diner. Even after a week unwashed and stuffed into a gear bag, it still smelled fresh. Now if only our shoes did the same...

Men’s Treeline Jersey


But another winner. How do we know? This one disappeared immediately after arrival and took some serious tracking down just so we could photograph it for the article. Like the Step Down (reviewed above) the Treeline offers the AEGIS Microbe Shield technology and protects against odor, staining and deterioration caused by bacteria, fungus, and other microorganisms (all of which we know are present in CG’s gear bag). The jersey’s name is derived from its low-key graphical treatment, which portrays a lovely line of pine trees across the chest region of the garment. Ours arrived in olive colored trim, which really works well with the whole calm and collected theme of this piece. Did we mention the jersey’s greatest attribute? If not let us summarize in a single word: Breathable! Not only is this jersey short sleeve, it is well vented from the shoulder, across the underarms, right on down to the termination of the sleeves themselves. For hot summer riding, this jersey is a no-brainer and explains perhaps why we had such a hard time locating it when it came time to snap some photos.

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