GearJunkie – Sea Otter Classic 2022 – Yakima EXO

From GearJunkie.com By Seiji Ishii

Sea Otter Classic 2022: The 5 Coolest Things According to a Cycling Lifer

The Sea Otter Classic is America’s largest cycling industry gathering. After years of cancellations and delays, the 2022 edition, April 7-10, was one of the largest ever.

Over a thousand brands presented countless wares at the Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey County, Calif. This made deciding what was worthy of GearJunkie’s attention difficult.

But after plenty of deliberations and discussions, here are our top five coolest things at the 2022 Sea Otter Classic.

Yakima EXO OpenRange Kitchen Sneak Peek

Overlanding is so hot right now. But many don’t want or have the resources to join van life. Products that allow outdoor enthusiasts to overland (wasn’t this just car camping a while ago?) with their daily drivers catch my attention.

Yakima bet on cyclists thinking the same, as it allowed a sneak peek of its soon-to-be-released OpenRange Kitchen at the 2022 Sea Otter Classic.

Mimicking the DYI chuck box, the Open Range houses all the required kitchen elements in a compact and transformable form factor. It interfaces with Yakima’s EXO Swing Base or EXO Top Shelf for no-hassle cooking and clean-up at the next race or ride.

The EXO compatibility means the Open Range will always have a solid base of operations at the campsite, and it doesn’t take up valuable storage space inside the vehicle. Yakima will sell optional legs ($199) for use independent of the EXO system.

The box holds 85 L of kitchen gear, and it had a stout-looking rubber seal and locking latches to shelter contents from weather, dust, thieves, and critters. The lid folds down and functions as a table surface. The Basic version ($749) will include the box, SKS (same key system), locking latches, backboard organizer (think spice and utensil rack), and lantern hook.

The more desirable Deluxe package ($1,199) will include two side tables. The wood one houses an optional sink, drain, and cutting board. The metal table is perfect for a stove, including a new optional Yakima-branded two-burner stove dubbed the CookOut ($149).

Every accouterment on the Deluxe version is available separately, except for the sink.

The kitchen box isn’t a new idea, but Yakima showed how slick it could be at Sea Otter. Look for it in June.

Click here for the rest of GearJunkie’s list.

Basecamp in a box: New Yakima EXO Open Range Camp Kitchen connects to your bike rack

From BikeRumor.com by Jordan Villella

Want to live the #vanlife without actually buying a van? Or maybe you just want to have a pro cooking station at your next outdoor event? Whatever the reason, Yakima’s newest EXO accessory turned a lot of heads at the Sea Otter Classic. That standout piece at the Yakima booth was the new EXO Open Range Camp Kitchen — a full kitchen that works with the Yakima EXO modular hitch system.

Essentially a basecamp in a box, the new Open Range Camp Kitchen comes in two main options with many accessories available for purchase. The US-made toto-molded box is designed to be mounted to an EXO SwingBase or EXO TopShelf rack setup using the EXO cleat system. If you don’t have an EXO rack, you can also just store the box in your trunk or truck bed.

If you’re using the EXO TopShelf mount, the box will already be at the right height and you can just open the front of the sealed box, fold out the accessory side tables, and get to cooking.

If you’re using the lower SwingBase position (we believe this should allow you to use the TopShelf position for two bikes), you’ll need to remove the box from the rack and mount it to the accessory four-leg stand. This is also how you would use the system without an EXO rack.

The OpenRange Leg Kit is available separately for $199.99 and the telescoping legs adjust the height from 20-33″.

Yakima EXO Open Range Camp Kitchen models

The Yakima Open Range Camp Kitchen comes in a base model, including the OpenRange Camp box with a lantern hook and organizing shelf (pictured inside) for $750.

For those looking for the whole experience, the Yakima EXO Open Range Camp Kitchen is also available in a deluxe version. The deluxe version comes with a wood side table with cutting board, collapsible wash basin with drain hose, metal cook side table with flexible fuel hose, a hanging fuel canister pouch, and the CookOut 2-Burner stove.

The whole Open Range Camp Kitchen Deluxe experience comes in at $1,199 — excluding stemware, plates, and cutlery. If you don’t go for the Deluxe version, many of the accessories can still be purchased separately with the OpenRange Wood and Metal Side Tables and CookOut Camp stove going for $149 each.

Yakima EXO Open Range Camp Kitchen pricing

  • Yakima Open Range Kitchen Base: $749
  • Yakima Open Range Kitchen Deluxe: $1,199
  • Bamboo table: $149
  • Metal table: $149
  • Double burner stove: $149

Yakima EXO Open Range Camp Kitchen details

  • Connects to the EXO SwingBase or EXO TopShelf in seconds using the included EXO cleat system
  • A durable roto-molded enclosure with a rubber door seal keeps your gear fully protected from weather, dust, and critters
  • Fold-down front door allows easy access to your gear and can be used as a prep surface
  • Internal shelf and integrated utensil drawer help to organize your cooking and camp gear
  • 85 liters (90 quarts) of internal storage space
  • Includes SKS locking latches to secure your gear
  • Tool-free, locking SpeedKnobs attach and lock EXO OpenRange to EXO SwingBase or EXO TopShelf
  • Includes a lantern hook, backboard organizer, and handheld bottle opener
  • Full suite of accessories available to expand your EXO OpenRange
  • EXO SwingBase and EXO TopShelf are recommended but not required for transport
  • Made in the USA with a 2-year warranty

Yakima EXO Open Range Camp Kitchen availability

Though the actual release date is uncertain, Yakima assured us it would be available for your late spring camping and cookout adventures. One thing is for sure, after laying hands on the new Yakima Open Range Camp Kitchen were excited to put it through the family camping gauntlet and long mountain bike race trips — hopefully we can get one in for a full review.

Outside Journal – Best Gear of Fall/Winter ’22 – Yakima EXO OpenRange Deluxe

From Outside By Justin and Patrice La Vigne

Combing through 243 submissions for the coolest gear of Fall/Winter ’22 is not unlike postholing through unconsolidated snow: We spent weeks slogging through specs, photos, videos, and emails with PR reps.

Here’s what we noticed: Gear just keeps getting more innovative—and, often, more expensive. Inflation is rising at its fastest pace in a generation, after all. Prices ranged from $2.99 for a hydration mix to $14,500 for a bike. Some categories had a plethora of submissions (we’re looking at you, shoes and apparel), while others had a dearth (where’s the ski and snowboard equipment this year?).

With submissions up this year, we needed help making final decisions. We combed through mountains of entries, winnowed the list to 64, and then tapped the opinions of internal editorial staff, a panel of trusted gear testers, and consumers drawn from the pool of Outside+ members. Each voter ranked the products on a scale from 1 (zero interest) to 10 (high stoke), and then we tallied the totals to come up with the top 50 picks. To provide some transparency, we’ve indicated the top three picks (according to average scores) among each voting group.

Bottom line: There’s a ton of exciting new stuff launching this season. For the full list of the 50 most coveted products, ranked CLICK HERE.

#14 On the list – Yakima EXO OpenRange Deluxe

Yakima EXO OpenRange Deluxe

MSRP: $1,199

The promise: This roadworthy storage box unfolds into a camp kitchen.

The deets: Made of impact-resistant plastic, the box can live inside a vehicle or attach to your trailer hitch via Yakima’s EXO connector system. The all-in-one design will fit your whole cooking kit, and deploys into a fully functional kitchen with tables, a cutting board, a collapsible water station, and lantern hooks.

Stay tuned for more on the EXO OpenRange coming soon!

GearJunkie – The Best Hitch Bike Racks of 2022

From GearJunkie By Billy Brown & Austin Beck-Doss

Whether you’re riding solo or bringing along the whole crew, these are the best hitch bike racks to haul your bike to the trailhead.

Besides taking a header over your handlebars, wrestling your bike onto a rack (and compulsively checking your rearview mirror to make sure your bike isn’t cartwheeling down the highway) is probably your least favorite part of cycling.

Luckily, there are a host of options for conveniently and safely getting your bike to where you want to go, especially if you have a tow hitch. With features like ratcheting arms, integrated cable locks, and swing-away arms, it’s easy to find the perfect way to load and unload your bike, securely hold it, and hit the trail without worry.

We looked around for the best hitch bike rack of 2022, and we found some very solid contenders in a wide range of price points.

See some of the picks below and for the full list check out GearJunkie.com.

The Best Hitch Bike Racks of 2022

Best E-Bike Rack: Yakima OnRamp

Electric bikes are great for taking up some of the load when a ride gets tough, or if you just want to get outside but don’t necessarily want a workout that day. Unfortunately, the added weight makes a mini-weightlifting session out of putting it on a hitch rack. As one of the most well-respected rack companies on the market, Yakima had this in mind when designing the OnRamp ($699).

Not only does it have the heaviest carry rating that we’ve seen at 66 pounds per bike, but it also sports a handy roll-on feature. The cradle tilts down to the floor, letting you roll your bike up onto it and into position. As anyone who’s ever had to muscle a heavy bike onto a rack will attest, this is one of those features you’ll wonder how you ever lived without.

It’s not just for e-bikes, either. The wide cradles can handle everything up to and including fat bike tires and wheelbases up to 50 inches. And the expanding and height-adjusting frame attachments allow you to carry everything from e-bikes to BMX bikes to kids’ bikes with equal security. Speaking of security, it sports a hitch lock and integrated cable lock to keep your bikes safe.

Specs:
  • Bonus: The hitch and cable locks use the same key, so you won’t have that annoying trial-and-error process every time you lock and unlock your bikes
  • Weight: 43 lbs.
  • Number of bikes: 2
  • Type: Platform
Pros:
  • Convenient loading system
  • Most versatile rack on this list
Cons:
  • Low for on-ramping systems
  • The $500-plus price may be out of range for some riders

Best 4-Bike Hitch Rack: Yakima RidgeBack 4

We’ve often felt that the best features are the ones you don’t notice, and Yakima’s RidgeBack 4 ($399) is an excellent example of this. It strikes a perfect blend of features and simplicity. It comes assembled right out of the box, and the locking, tool-free SpeedKnob lets you mount it in minutes.

The two arms sport a set of eight anti-sway cradles that prevent your bikes from banging into each other during transport, and the zip strip ratcheting straps are fast, easy to use, and removable.

The rack tilts away from your car via an easy-to-use UpperHand lever, and the whole rack folds flat for easy storage when not in use. All the adjustments on the main joints are via button or lever, which makes adjusting it a breeze.

We also appreciate the add-ons that give the rack a little more versatility and security. You can add a bike frame adapter that will allow it to accommodate kids’ bikes, BMX bikes, and other unconventional bikes (like step-throughs).

Then there’s the Handcuff lock ($49), a proprietary cable lock designed to work specifically with the RidgeBack (as well as Yakima’s SwingDaddy rack).

Specs:
  • Bonus: Yakima’s signature bottle opener on the end of the swing arm is always handy for post-ride celebrations
  • Weight: 35 lbs.
  • Number of bikes: 4
  • Type: Hanging
Pros:
  • Security features
  • Ease of use
  • Bottle opener
Cons:
  • Cable lock and frame adapter are separate purchases

Best of the Rest

Yakima HangOver 6

If you roll deep, the Yakima HangOver 6 ($949) is the best way to haul your crew’s bikes around. Great for big families, group rides, or tour guides, Yakima’s beastly bike rack loads up to six bikes at up to 37.5 pounds each in a very cool vertical carry system. It’s a great SUV bike rack for hauling your bikes and gear.

The bikes are secured by the rear tire and fork base, with the front tire pointing toward the sky. The HangOver manages to carry half a dozen bikes while taking up minimal space.

The vertical tower has two adjustable tilt angles that are operated via a pedal at the base. This allows you to adjust the bikes’ distance from your car (the tires may bump the rear windows of Sprinter vans at the vertical setting) and to access the rear of your vehicle without taking the bikes off the rack.

Soft padding in the cups protects the forks’ finish, keeping them clean until you and your buddies thrash them on the trails, and they’re adjustable enough to accommodate fat bike suspension forks. The hitch lock is included, an integrated lock loop lets you secure your bikes and, of course, the built-in bottle openers are a plus.

Specs:
  • Weight: 73 lbs.
  • Number of bikes: 6
  • Type: Unique rear wheel and rear fork cradle syatem
Pros:
  • Huge carrying capacity
  • Innovative design
Cons:
  • Only works with suspension forks

Yakima HoldUp 2

This lightweight entry from Yakima ($549) is the easiest way to load bikes that doesn’t involve a ramp. A huge front-wheel cradle pairs with a ratcheting security hook, while a smaller cradle for the rear tire locks down the other end. The result is a rack that punches above its weight, providing the security you would expect from a much bigger, more overbuilt rack.

When not in use, the rack is small and unassuming, folding flat against the vehicle. It fits a wide range of bikes, accommodating wheels from 20 to 27.5 inches with tires up to 3 inches wide, and 29ers with tires up to 2.5 inches wide. The hook-and-cradle design also allows you to rack bikes with disc brakes, thru-axles, and full-suspension bikes with no issue.

Side-to-side adjustability ensures a safe distance between bikes so they don’t bump against each other during transit. And the rack can tilt down to allow access to your vehicle’s rear compartment, even fully loaded.

In addition to the model-specific features, the HoldUp also sports the welcome details we’ve come to expect from Yakima — locks included for the hitch and bikes, and an integrated bottle opener, which comes in handy when you need to replace some calories post-ride.

Specs:
  • Weight: 49 lbs.
  • Number of bikes: 2
  • Type: Hook and cradle (zero frame contact)
Pros:
  • No frame contact
  • Very secure hold
Cons:
  • Slight wobbles during highway travel

For the rack buyers guide and other picks check out the full list at GearJunkie.com.

Yakima – Your Ticket To Ride – StageTwo and HangTight

You first hear it in the grinding of your gears. The noise of the gravel and mud as you push yourself to go faster, and dig deeper. It’s the loud rally cry that first starts as background noise—growing and growing, until it becomes heavy metal thunder to drown out everything else. It’s the sound that says, don’t wait, ride now, and don’t let anything hold you back. This moment is the perfect place to start. The time to gain new momentum. To climb a little higher. To go a little faster. To live a little wilder. To fire everything all at once. Finally, you have your ticket to ride.

StageTwo

Get ready to take the stage. Designed with spacious stadium style trays and SpeedKnob tech, the new StageTwo bike rack transports your bikes safely, with no handlebar rub and no wobble.

HangTight

Bring the whole crew, whether the crew has full-suspension bikes, kids bikes, or road bikes, there’s room for everyone. The new HangTight loads up to six bikes on the fly. Smartly designed with tough steel construction, each bike is vertically and securely held in place, making it the ultimate ticket to ride.

BikeRumor.com – Yakima Goes Premium w/ New StageTwo Tray Rack

From BikeRumor.com by Zach Overholt

Yakima StageTwo

It’s taken a while, but it seems like bike racks in the U.S. are catching up to their European counterparts. Well, at least in terms of lighting, that is. That’s probably because having lights and a license plate holder isn’t a requirement in many parts of the U.S.—or it is a requirement, but generally isn’t enforced. However, to improve vehicle safety when carrying bikes, and give police one less reason to potentially pull you over, more brands stateside are offering racks with integrated lighting—like the new Yakima StageTwo with the optional SafetyMate package.

Yakima is taking an interesting route here, as the lights aren’t included in the base model StageTwo. Instead, they’re offered as an additional accessory package that sells for $219. That package includes full rear lighting with tail, brake, and turn signal lights along with a rear license plate light for the external license plate bracket. We’ve seen new racks with lights from Kuat and Saris recently, but both of those omit the rear license plate holder which may or may not be needed. The whole point to any of this is that a bike on a bike rack can block your taillights and license plate. Repositioning them keeps them visible, and keeps you legal depending on the local laws.

The SafetyMate uses a standard flat 4-way connector, and the wiring harness routes through the frame of the rack.

Due to the positioning of the lights, Yakima designed them to rotate 90° so that they’re still visible when the rack is folded up.

For those that don’t want the lights, the new StageTwo tray style rack will be sold without the SafetyMate package and starts at $749. The rack gets a premium Anthracite or Vapor Grey finish, and a few updates that position it at the top of the Yakima range.

A new tilt lever offers access on either side of the handle for easy access in either position.

There’s also an updated speed knob that tightens the rack down in the hitch and locks it to the vehicle with their SKS (Single Key System).

Locking is also available for each bike with SKS cable locks at each upright, and there’s an additional lock loop on the body of the rack to add a burly chain lock for secure storage when you need it.

Each tray is positioned with ‘stadium tiering’ and staggered trays to make loading multiple bikes easier. The trays have a 52″ maximum wheelbase, and will fit up to 3.25″ tires before you’ll need the additional fat bike strap for bigger tires. In terms of the weight limit, Yakima has the StageTwo for two levels of use: there is a 60lb per bike maximum tray capability or a maximum of 36lb per bike if using the rack for RV or off-road use. A two bike add-on will be offered in each color for another $549.

There will also be a Ramp Up accessory offered for $99. This ramp connects to the tray and allows you to push your bike up the ramp into the rack for easier loading. It does not store on the rack, so you’ll need to install and remove this every time you want to use it while storing it inside the vehicle between use.

Do It Yourself – Install a Yakima Roof Rack Without Attachment Points

From GearJunkie By Nicole Qualtieri

You can install your own roof rack even if, like me, you have a smooth roof with zero attachment points for a Yakima Roof Rack System. Here’s how it went.

I have two things we need to talk about. The first is the limited size of a Chevrolet Silverado 1500 with a topper. And the second is way too many hobbies. If I were to accurately organize and travel with all my gear — let’s be real here — I’d need a semi-truck with two of those trailers. But that seems unreasonable.

So, I’m currently working on solutions. The first big addition for me is putting a Yakima roof rack with a DoubleHaul fly rod carrier onto my truck topper. The small footprint of the DoubleHaul will also leave room for more storage or carrying solutions should I need them.

It also gives me the option to leave rods strung up for easy fishing when on the road. This is what I’m most excited about.

But I was certainly intimidated when I looked at the smooth top of my truck’s topper. Initially, I thought about getting it done professionally.

After watching a few videos and reminding myself that I’m consistently capable of a lot of strange things, I decided to dig in and try it. After all, I’d only ruin a very expensive truck topper.

Anyway, here’s how I DIY’d my Yakima rack prior to adding my DoubleHaul to the system. Here’s the before pic, and enjoy my instructions.

The before pic of my rig, starring Bob the Boykin

Installing Your Yakima Rack, Tracks First

The Custom-Fit Yakima SkyLine System

I’ll note that the rack that I installed is the SkyLine system, but most of these instructions will work if you need to install tracks, landing pads, and more for your Yakima rack. Yakima has a few different systems and depending on your specific vehicle, you’ll need the one that fits best.

I will say, this was one of the tougher installations because of the smooth exterior of my topper. But if I can do it, most people can.

I needed the following components to build my custom SkyLine System rack:

  • Yakima 60″ Tracks for Custom Fiberglass Installation — There are multiple options for tracks if your rig doesn’t have tracks or built-in rails, side rails, or connection points. Reach out to Yakima to figure out what’s most suitable for your vehicle.
  • Yakima Landing Pads — These connect to the tracks in order to create a platform for your rack. One box contains a set of four, which is all you need.
  • SkyLine Tower Set of Four — The towers then build the setup for your cross bars. Four are included with the set.
  • JetStream Cross Bars — Cross bars make the rack happen.
  • Power Drill — With a 1/8-inch drill bit and ¼-inch drill bit.
  • Pocket Knife — For cutting rubber. More on this to come.
  • Measuring Tape — Really gotta get this stuff (mostly) perfect.

Installing the Tracks

First, I decided that it would be easiest to fully remove the truck topper and work on all of this stuff from the ground. I was mostly right. I don’t like ladders, and I wanted to adjust the fit of my topper anyway. So, I pulled the four clamps and asked for help to get the topper to ground level.

The most nerve-wracking part of laying the tracks is that you must drill holes to make the connections from track to topper. But it’s fairly straightforward.

You simply lay the tracks down, measure with the measuring tape for equidistance on both tracks, and straighten them as much as you can. Use a permanent marker to mark every other hole; there should be six holes in total for each track. Then, you drill each hole with the 1/8-inch bit, followed by opening the hole with the ¼-inch bit.

I was worried I’d get this wrong. But I didn’t. It was pretty easy. You do have to add silicone to the holes prior to installing the screw/washer system, so it can get a bit messy.

Read more of this post

GearJunkie – Double-Decker Hitch Rack Hauls It All: Yakima Exo Review

From GearJunkie.com By Berne Broudy

Mounting Yakima’s EXO modular hitch rack is like moving from a studio apartment to a house with a garage.

I do a lot of sports and multi-activity adventures that require a lot of gear. So when I head out for the weekend, my Toyota Rav 4 Prime is loaded so full I can’t see out the back window. What’s more, my dogs have to sit uncomfortably atop duffel bags, bike shoes, climbing ropes, a cooler, toolbox, and more.

Thankfully, that all changed since I mounted Yakima’s EXO rack on my hitch. The fully modular rack has dry, secure storage; bike and ski racks; a burly basket that holds coolers and duffel bags (and also converts to a handy wheeled wagon); a bamboo table — the list goes on.

The EXO is a unique rack that fits any 2-inch hitch receiver. It offers one or two levels of carriage: the EXO SwingBase serves as a kind of lower deck that can be paired with the EXO TopShelf that sits above. Both decks both hold any of the EXO storage baskets, boxes, or racks.

Yakima EXO Modular Hitch Race: Setup

It all starts with the SwingBase, built on a swing-away that connects to a hitch receiver with a locking screw-in pin. Its two folding arms have tracks for any of the EXO system accessories (more below).

With the SwingBase installed, storage and mounts slide into tracks on the arms and tighten down with locking screw knobs. The rack rotates away from the vehicle for hatch access hatch. And a burly, overbuilt screw handle secures the closed SwingBase when it’s closed.

When it’s open with loaded racks or storage, a quick-install leg supports the open rack.

Next, the SwingBase has a receptacle for EXO’s TopShelf, the upper deck storage and rack holder. It locks to the base. It also rotates independently of the base when the two aren’t locked together.

Yakima EXO Accessories

DoubleUp Bike Rack & GearLocker

Most of the summer, I’ve used EXO’s DoubleUp bike rack on the upper deck, and its GearLocker on the lower deck. I keep all my riding gear in the dry, locked storage box. That keeps dirt and stink out of my car, and keeps all my gear where I can grab it fast at the trailhead.

The DoubleUp bike rack is the only mount that has to be installed on the TopShelf if you’re running both upper and lower decks. Every other mount can be used on whichever level you prefer.

In the setup I’ve been running, the GearLocker box won’t open unless I rotate the upper deck with the bike rack away from the lower deck. While it’s a minor annoyance, having the extra storage has proven worth it.

So when I use a GearLocker on the lower deck, instead of using the locking bolt to secure the top level to bottom level, I secure the two levels to each other with a quick-to-remove pin and a knob.

GearWarrior Basket

When I didn’t need locked, dry, dustproof storage for my gear, I slid the GearWarrior basket into the lower deck mount.

Yakima sells wheels and a handle that can convert the GearWarrior into a wagon. If you’ve ever hauled heavy coolers, six-person tents, firewood, and other camping gear for any distance, you’ll understand the value of this system.

The WarriorWheels install in minutes tool-free, and they can support up to 110 pounds. So not only was the basket spacious and easy to load and unload, but it also helped me get my gear to camp when I couldn’t drive to my site.

BackDeck

One of the mounts I was unsure I’d use was the EXO’s BackDeck. The bamboo tabletop, which comes in a protective carry case and must be stored inside the vehicle for transport, ended up being one of my favorite EXO accessories.

Post-ride beers were even more awesome served on this table. It had space for a cooler, snacks, a Bluetooth speaker, and gear. I also used the BackDeck as a work stand to hold tools, chain lube, rags, and more for field repairs.

And, when I parked to catch a sunset over Lake Champlain, I set it up on the EXO’s lower level where it was the perfect camp chair height to set drinks and food while kicking back.

Exo LitKit

Because the rack will block your taillights and your license plate, Yakima also makes the LitKit, a license plate holder with taillights that mounts on the rack where it’s visible to other drivers.  Note: You will need a wiring harness.

If you’re installing this rack on a vehicle other than a pickup, which likely came with a wiring harness, you’ll probably need to have one installed by a mechanic.

All of the parts and pieces of the EXO system lock to the EXO SwingBase and TopShelf. The GearLocker and bike and ski racks also lock, and the SwingBase and TopShelf lock to each other.

Yakima EXO Review

The biggest downside to the rack is that it’s heavy. And when I’m using both upper and lower decks, it’s hard to see out my rear window. On many vehicles, the system also blocks the backup camera.

Of course, the big downside is the price. The SwingBase and TopShelf are around $930, and that’s before adding the GearLocker ($419), GearWarrior ($349), DoubleUp bike rack ($499), or BackDeck tabletop ($129). All mounts are specific to the EXO base rack, which can be installed on a 2-inch hitch only.

From my perspective, even if I get all the mounts and storage options, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than buying a new car with more space. As an incurable gearhead who wants to be ready for any adventure that presents itself, this system has been invaluable to me.

And my dogs say that hitting the trailhead, crag, and put-in has become a lot more comfortable since I mounted the Exo on our hitch.

The EXO systems isn’t perfect, but it’s user-friendly, easy to operate, and gives me space I’ve only dreamed of. And because it’s modular, I’ve added mounts as I need them and as the budget allows.

So, I’m building a customized system that meets all my needs that can also be transferred to another vehicle if I’m traveling with a friend, or when it’s time to trade in my wheels for something new.

Yakima Rack Pack – Meet Rachel Strait

Meet Rachel Strait

IT RIDES…IN THE FAMILY

Growing up with a motorcycle racing dad, Rachel Strait didn’t have to go far to discover a love of two-wheeled speed. When she was young, her family followed the race calendar and all participated. After each race, dad would pin their number plates on their travel trailer door and have the kids write down their place, how they did, and their goals for the next race. Twenty years later, the same thoughtful approach defines Rachel’s way of training, racing, and living. She’s created an approach that allows her to take a holistic view of time on and off the bike.  

A BALANCED PROGRAM

“I used to be all-in on racing cross-country, but as I get older I want to try new things,” says Strait, “At first, I focused on Enduro, but I’m branching out and trying other areas as well: Dual Slalom, Pump Track, Air DH.” Her newfound embrace of a broader range of riding has allowed her to put energy into one of her favorite things: progress. “I love the challenge of bringing my mental state in-line with my ability on the bike, and vice versa,” she says, “So often we hold ourselves back in our head when really, our bodies can achieve what we’re aiming for.” 

Strait is no stranger to pushing herself to perform. But as she’s gotten a little older, her attitude has evolved as well, “I’m fortunate that my sponsorship relations are not all based on my results,” says Strait, “I have clear goals that I want to achieve, and I want to be stoked on how I ride my races, but not get overly worried about my exact placings. Inside, though, I want to make the podium every time I line up.”  

HangOver 4 Vertical Bike Rack + BackSwing

REAL LIFE=REAL GEAR

Living a life around bikes means taking them places. For Strait, that’s even more true, given travel for training, racing, and just plain old playtime. “For daily use, it’s the Dr. Tray. I love that rack. It makes traveling with bikes so easy and convenient,” she says. When it’s time to load up for more extended road time, Strait and her husband, professional rider and two-time Red Bull Rampage champion Kyle Strait, kit out the vehicle to make things smoother.

“Longer trips call for a more detailed set-up,” she says, “When we travel, we’ve got the HangOver, the SkyRise HD, and the SlimShady. They make being on the road super easy. We did two Baja trips last year and brought boards and bikes. Having a mobile base camp makes it super fun,” says Strait, “And when we go to Whistler, we bring so many bikes that on the way home we always make a couple stops, just to ride and have some adventures. It’s so convenient to have the tent on top and just be able to pick your spot.”

Dr Tray Bike Rack

IMPROVISING

2020 was on track to bring more of this to life, with another season competing on the CrankWorx tour. But then everything changed. Everywhere. For everyone. With the global impact of COVID-19, Strait’s schedule for the year went on hold.  “The CrankWorx events were pushed up a bit. We had less time to prepare and were a little bummed initially, but now in the scope of things we’re thankful for that. It meant we were lucky to get to do the first stop of CrankWorx in New Zealand, before everything shut down.”

As for what’s next, Strait is in the same spot as all of us: waiting. “For now, I have the same schedule planned, just a little postponed,” she says. For anyone who’s active, the current situation can take its toll. Being inside, staying away from favorite spots to ride and taking extra precautions is hard, but necessary. It’s no different for the Straits, “It’s been pretty hard. We’re making sure we’re really cautious any time we do ride. We live on 10 acres and can ride on the property,” says Strait, ”We’re trying to eat really healthy as well, to keep our immune system strong, and just trying to lessen our trips out.”

Off the bike, Strait’s also trying new things, “I’ve been tapping into my crafty side,” she says, “Which I didn’t know I had! I started to macramé, which is pretty cool. I don’t think of myself as creative, but it appeals to my analytical side.”

RIDE HARD, BE NICE

Now more than ever, Strait is spending time and energy on mental health, ”It’s easy to get down and feel depressed,” she says, “Riding is such a great way to keep your endorphins up and your system strong. Getting into some sort of routine makes such a difference, keeping up those connections however you can.”

Last, but most, she’s emphasizing something we can all rally behind in uncertain times, “Most importantly: Be kind. Even when you’re scared,” she says. For someone used to managing her fears as part of her profession, those are important words. 

Rachel Strait | Yakima Rackpack’r | @rachelstrait1

Yakima Racks Camping Weekend Getaway: Big Bear, CA

Andrew Villablanca is a Los Angeles based outdoors enthusiast. If he isn’t mountain biking, he’s out on an adventure in his truck to explore the Southwest. His 2006 Dodge Ram 2500 is equipped with a Yakima SkyRise HD rooftop tent, SlimShady Awning, and OutPost HD rack.

LA Weekend Road Trip

Leave the Home Office Behind

For a lot of us, the past year has been anything but what we expected. With all semblance of a routine gone, it’s been hard to keep track of the little things, like working out or grocery shopping, much less trips or getaways. While I had planned countless trips, each month has come and gone without me leaving the office, aka home. After months of staying put, my girlfriend and I decided it was finally time to get out. While flying was obviously out of the cards, we figured why not take the social distancing thing to the woods, to get outdoors and enjoy some fresh air.

Living in Los Angeles means that we have a laundry list of interesting places to explore, but this time we set a two-hour perimeter for ourselves to keep things a little more manageable. We set our sights to the north east of the city looking for a mountain escape.

Just a couple of hours from LA, Big Bear, CA is a mountain oasis that feels far removed from the bustle of the concrete jungle. The winter months are perfect for desert trips to Joshua Tree, Mojave or Anza-Borrego, but the heat of the summer makes the mountains east of Los Angeles the perfect getaway. Big Bear is one of my favorite day or weekend trips to get out and enjoy some elevation. While the main drag of town gets crowded during the summer, hundreds of miles of forest, single track hiking, and dirt roads await those willing to go a little farther. It’s always nice to trade the noise of the city for the gentle whir of the wind through the pines.

Camping In The Skyrise Rooftop Tent: Ready For Rain Or Shine

We left early in the morning, hoping to set up camp by midday so we could get out and take in the scenery. The hot day and humid conditions gave us a welcome thunderstorm as we rolled into town. As we drove over to Holcomb Valley to find a spot to set up camp, the rain intensified. It seemed like our day of hiking was going to be cut short, but we decided to truck on in search of the perfect camp site. Eventually after a few miles of driving we found a spot protected by tall pines and nestled up against a large rock feature. Like magic, the rain subsided to a gentle drizzle as we rolled up to camp and started to open the tent and get out our gear. It only took a few minutes to open the tent, set up the rainfly, and unfurl the awning to provide protection from the drizzle. When you’ve got the right gear, you’re never unprepared, which means a little rain isn’t the end of a camping weekend!

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