I wrote about the Fix it Sticks and Back Bottle last year in our Holiday Gift Guide, and since then, I’ve spent a bit more time with some other products that have come out of Brian Davis’ workshop. I said it before and I’ll say it again: not only are these items pretty useful, but there’s a 99% chance that people don’t already have them, so they all make for great gift ideas.
Fix It Sticks
Blister’s Measured Weight
- Tool: 54 g (original version)
- Bottle mount: 8 g
Version Tested: Original / Standard Set B with Mounting Bracket, Replaceable Version
MSRP as tested: $24.99 – $29.99
These things are beautifully simple and unquestionably handy. I started with the “original” version of the tool in a “Standard B” configuration — the main body is aluminum, and it has a 4 mm, 5 mm, 6 mm, and a #2 Philips. I’ve also started using the “Replaceables” version, which has a steel main body and interchangeable bits held in with magnets. With both of them, it’s basically all the benefits of a three-way wrench, but it has a 4th tool and it fits into my pocket better.
The two sides of the tool slot together to form a T-handle of sorts:
There’s an available bracket so the tools can be bolted onto a water bottle mount if you want to take them with you. And there’s also an available pouch that holds the tools and a bunch of extra bits for the Replaceables version. I will note, however, that while they are light and handy, I personally mostly use them in the shop. On any longer ride, I want a few more tools to cover any eventuality.
The Fix It Sticks are available in a bunch of different configurations. The aluminum ones have 6 different iterations, each with different tools (the “mountain” version with a 4, 5, and 6 mm wrench along with a T25 Torx looks attractive). And there are tools beyond just basic screwdrivers and hex bits for the Replaceables version – there are tire levers and some open end wrenches as well. The bits are just standard ¼” hex, so if you lose some, they’re easy to replace.
Personally, I prefer the steel replaceables option. I’m not too concerned about the extra weight, and they’re more versatile. Plus, the steel can take a higher torque, so it works better on things like pedals. But either way about it, pretty much anytime I’m working in the shop, these things are close by.
The Back Bottle
Volume: 18 oz (530 mL)
LDPE plastic (BPA free)
This is another novel idea from Mr. Davis. It’s pretty much just a normal water bottle, except it’s flat on one side and tapered at the bottom. The taper makes it easier to shove in a back jersey pocket, and the flat side means it sits against your back a little better.
At 18 oz (530 mL), it’s a little smaller than a normal “short” water bottle (which is usually about 21 oz). And at the risk of stating the obvious, it won’t fit in a bottle cage.
I find that the worst thing about it (which is also one of its features) is the lack of a flat bottom. It’s good for jamming in a pocket, but it means the bottle won’t stand up on a shelf.
For quick rides where I don’t need a ton of water, and especially when I’m riding one of any number of stupid enduro bikes that don’t have any damn bottle mounts (that’s a rant for another day), the back bottle is nice. I also like it for longer rides where I have a bottle or two on my frame, but I want a bit extra water.
It’s made out of LDPE, which according to the internet won’t give me cancer. It’s BPA free, it’s dishwasher safe, and somewhat surprisingly for something made out of plastic, it’s made in the USA. At the end of the day, it’s only $12, which is in the same ballpark as any other water bottle, and it does exactly what it’s intended to do.
The Weatherneck is essentially a cross between a balaclava and a handkerchief — the face mask attaches to a hat via magnets to provide protection from the cold. I should also note that the system looks a little funny in pictures, but wearing it, especially with a helmet on, looks considerably more normal in person.
My winter endeavors consist primarily of downhill skiing and touring in pursuit of powder. We had a particularly cold winter, so I wore the Weatherneck on a cold day of alpine skiing in January when it was about -20F (-29C). My first thought was that the face mask breathes really well — it doesn’t feel stuffy in there. But that same breathability also means that it doesn’t do much to block the wind when cruising a groomer at 50mph, and I found it to be too cold once up to speed.
So I handed the Weatherneck off to Marti Bruce, who spends a lot more time nordic skiing and fat biking than I do. Here’s her take…
Marti: I found the Weatherneck’s mesh front, which goes over your neck and nose, helps the balaclava breathe well. Like any face mask, it does eventually get wet if you’re breathing hard, but the lightweight material prevents that feeling like you’re being smothered with a wet blanket. I don’t usually have a problem with sunglasses fogging in the winter, so I can’t say whether or not this system helps with fogging.
The Weatherneck face mask has magnets sewn into the ends of the face mask, while the hat has three metal pieces to attach the balaclava to. For a small fit, criss-cross the magnets. For medium overlap the magnets in the middle, and for a large fit, you use the magnets on either end. I don’t have a particularly large head, and the middle option worked fine for me.
The magnetic pieces on the face mask also work together on their own, in case you want to just use the mask, which I sometimes did. To tighten the mask, you then roll up the ends and re-secure the magnets, or move the ends higher up on your head. The magnets are small and flat, so the Weatherneck fits well under a bike helmet. If your face gets warm, you can always ditch the balaclava and use the hat to keep your ears warm.
The Weatherneck system works well for both fat biking and Nordic skiing. These are my two major aerobic activities in the winter, but I think this system would work well for any cold-weather activity where you work up a sweat.