This story is part of the GP100, our annual roundup of the best products of the year. To see the full list of winners, grab the latest issue of Gear Patrol Magazine.
Fitness isn’t always what you’d call fun. Which is why we love any product that brings us one step closer to that elusive feeling. Shining examples from 2019 include a record-breaking running shoe for the everyman, an ultralight gravel bike that goes really fast and a vibrating myofascial release ball that does all the hard work for you.
Products are listed alphabetically.
Allied Cycle Works Able
Allied Cycle Works sought to build something that maintained the feel of a road bike while possessing “the ability to take on much rougher terrain,” according to Sam Pickman, Allied’s director of product and engineering turned CEO. That might sound like the pitch for any gravel bike — and the Able sits near the middle of the increasingly crowded spectrum between road and mountain bikes. Yet with an innovative design that includes a raised chainstay, it’s uncommonly capable going off-road, despite its drop bars and lack of shocks.
Frame Weight: 3.75 pounds
Bike Weight: 17.85 – 18.96 pounds
Production: Made in Arkansas
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Protein shakes are the quickest route to post- workout muscle recovery, but finding a clean protein source you love isn’t easy. Among the plethora of powders that launch each year, Care/of is a clear winner. A five-minute quiz personalizes the protein you need based on your workouts and goals — and pea, pumpkin seed and hemp- or whey protein isolate-based powder arrives within roughly a week. Mix with milk, almond milk or water and feel the fuel go to work.
Quantity: 18 grams of protein per serving
Flavors: Vanilla, chocolate, unflavored
Personal Touch: Literally has your name on it
Price: $28/15-serving tub; $15/5-serving packets
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Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Solar
Yes, it has a traditional power supply too, but the ridiculously long battery life of 21 days in smartwatch mode extends to an even more ridiculous 24 days when your watch sunbathes. The vast majority of the juice comes from what resembles a simple design accent — a thin strip around the inside edge of the bezel. The Fenix 6X Pro Solar also comes preloaded with topographic and ski maps for more than 2,000 resorts and 41,000 golf courses around the world — just in case you need another excuse to hang out in the sun.
Bezel Material: Titanium
Water Rating: 10 ATM (good for everything but scuba diving)
Battery Life in GPS + Music Mode: Up to 16 hours
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Hoka One One Carbon X
Studies show lighter shoes can mean faster times, and at under nine ounces, the Carbon X is considerably lighter than your normal everyday training shoe, while still delivering that all-important stable ride. And the beauty of the Carbon X is that it isn’t designed for elites on race day; it’s an all-inclusive, everyday shoe that’s bouncy and fun and probably the brand’s best iteration of rocker tech yet. It just might be the most democratic high-performance running shoe ever made.
Heel-Toe Drop: 5mm
Weight: 8.7 ounces
Use Case: Road running and racing
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Hyperice Hypersphere Mini
Vibration therapy has taken over the recovery space, and this whimsical wonder will make you a believer. It’s small enough to toss into your gym bag or carry-on (yes, it’s TSA-approved), yet plenty effective: just 30 seconds of use will have you feeling the benefits of myofascial release. Grappling with plantar fasciitis, tight hip flexors, lower-back issues or sore pectorals? Three levels of pulsation ensure you’ll find the right degree of tension-relieving vibration for every muscle group. Smaller and yet more powerful than a traditional foam roller, the Mini will soon be your new go-to for everything from a foot roll-out to a deep-tissue total-body massage.
Diameter: 3.9 inches
Exterior: Silicone blended with a dense shell
Battery Life: Over 2 hours per charge
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Jaybird’s Vista earbuds are lighter and smaller than comparable wireless sport headphones, and they have a superior IPX7 waterproof rating, meaning they can withstand submersion in up to three feet of water. Three sizes of rubber inserts mean the Vistas cling inside the ear in a way that helps block outside noise, and the Jaybird app has a nifty feature that lets you customize the equalizer. But what cements the Vista’s case is, well, the Vista’s case. It’s tiny, so you can easily carry it in your pocket without it becoming obtrusive, even when exercising.
Driver Size: 6mm
Weight: 6 grams each
Fast Charge: 1 hour of playback after 5 minutes
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On Running Weather Vest
Getting a running vest right is a tricky proposition. They can often be too bulky, awkwardly pocketed or just not warm enough. Then there’s this lightweight, streamlined gem. Its blend of thin yet insulating fabric suits crisp fall days, but it can also slip under or over another layer in winter. A water-repellent front protects you from spring showers, and the vented back spares you the wrath of the summer sun. Yes, Goldilocks, it’s just right — all year long.
Weight: 2.98 ounces
Key Material: Ultra-light Japanese stretch fabric
Storage: Waterproof pockets on chest and back
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Reebok Nano 9
Reebok makes a point of ruling CrossFit, and its latest signature sneaker shows the brand at its best. The Nano 9 boasts ample breathability and cushioning, plus burly protective wraps that stabilize your feet for explosive lifts. A two-piece outsole encourages heel-to-toe movement, making it more run-friendly than earlier iterations. Those features add up to a shoe that craves punishing routines — an ideal scenario when you’re busting your 50th burpee of the day.
Key Material: Flexweave upper
Use Case: CrossFit WODs and HIIT workouts
Variety: Available in 21 colorways
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Watch former British track champ Rick Beardsell show off his revolutionary shaker bottle on QVC and you may raise an eyebrow. Can this simple, capsule-shaped tumbler with no internal corners really use centrifugal force to purée fruit, skirting the hassle and mess of blending? But toss some bananas, powdered peanut butter, milk and whey protein into the mix — and be wowed by how the ShakeSphere makes post-workout recovery easier and tastier than ever.
Material: BPA-free plastic
Capacity: 700 milliliters
Shake Time: 60 seconds or less
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Velocio Concept Bib Short
More than anything, the everyday rider’s cycling apparel should be comfortable — aerodynamically close-fitting, yes, but comfy above all. It often comes down to the chamois, the oh-so-critical protective bit of padding that sits where rider meets saddle. Velocio’s new approach involves the use of high-density foam and anti-vibration inserts integrated into the bib, enabling it to “float,” which minimizes seams and chafing. The result: quite possibly the most luxurious cycling shorts you’ll ever wear.
Composition: 70% polyamide, 30% elastene
Breathability: Laser-cut perforated ventilation
Production: Made in Italy
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