A modern riding bag is full to the brim with electronic detritus. Batteries, charging cables, voltage converters. Even neatly packed, our digital lives leave little room for the things that can make a ride really special. Hot coffee on a cold mountain ridgeline. A pair of trunks for an impromptu swim on a hot summer day. Our solution? Ditch the tech on your next ride for these analog accessories.
Our Little Black Book
Leave it to the Italians to make a luxury product out of a notebook. The Moleskine Reporter ($13) is a tough little item, perfect for keeping close at hand. We like the vertical format for grabbing quotes and sketches at work, but on the road, there’s nothing better for jotting down ride notes and expert local advice.
Whether airing back up after a dirt section or getting back on the road after a flat, every long ride needs a little air along. The Lezyne Micro Floor Drive Pump ($50) is our pick, cramming the speed and capability of a floor pump into the footprint of a handheld. A few bucks more buys a pump with an in-line pressure gauge. Either option comes with quality machined parts and comfortable ergonomics that make the chore of inflating your tires much more appealing.
There’s a reason NASA trusted Hasselblad for so many early space missions. It’s the same reason you should too. They’re durable, the lenses are bright and sharp, and you’ll never need to replace a battery. Better still, with the advent of digital cameras, high-quality medium-format cameras can be found cheap on Craigslist. Add a few rolls of trusty black-and-white film and document your ride, one satisfying snap at a time.
A Good Mechanical Watch
We love letting time slip away while we’re on the road—but the folks who clock in and out at hotels, restaurants, ferries, and parts stores don’t tend to be as interested in our existential journeys. Seiko’s Automatic dive watches are legendarily tough, a remarkable value, and entirely analog. An homage to the classic “Turtle” of the 1970s, the cushion-cased Prospex SRP775 ($300) is our new favorite of the lot.
Preparation is a good look when it comes to an impromptu summer swim. Nothing feels better than climbing out of your gear and straight into the water. Better still, the right trunks take up next to no room in a bag, and suit an impromptu jog as well as a quick trip to the taco stand.
It keeps hot things hot and cold things cold. The insulating abilities of the old-school thermos are no joke. The trusty 1.1-quart Stanley Vacuum Bottle ($28) dates back to 1913, and it’s still a godsend on chilly mornings or scorching-hot afternoons—but because of its bulk, the thermos seldom makes the cut on riding trips. That’s a shame—there’s no better place to stow a perfectly shaken post-ride cocktail.
A lucky rider can go on a long trip without breaking into their tool kit, but I haven’t met an adventure yet that didn’t require a good little pocketknife. Kershaw makes the appealingly trim Dividend ($40) in Oregon. It fits the bill, opening one-handed with a nudge, and dispatching every daily indignity with a sharp and easily honed edge. Fuel lines, Amazon boxes, itchy tags in T-shirts: Beware.
Riding boots are great for riding, but if your travels include a flight, a hike, a night out, or trying to stick to your fitness routine, throw a set of sneakers in your bag. The latest mesh-upper running shoes weigh next to nothing and pack almost flat. Some, such as these Nike Free RN Flyknits ($150), are customizable, a killer perk if you love to rep your favorite livery.
Have you ever scoped out a beautiful section of twisties, only to find that it was unpaved? Or behind a locked gate? Or straight through the middle of a fresh set of tract homes? We have. Now when we want to get right into the good stuff, we bring along a Butler Map ($15). The color-coded maps are water- and tear-resistant, and packed with details oriented just toward motorcyclists.