Carmona Bike Park Trails



As we leave the craziness of the festive holiday season behind, we’ve been given some time to reflect back on an awesome year and the things that have stood out along the way. We reached out to the other members of our team to get some insight into their standouts from 2023, and found the variety pretty damn interesting.

We recently published full time Loam Wolfers Drew, Robert and Sourpatch Sean’s 12 favorite things about 2023, but we also wanted to share a few of the items that stood out most to our contributors as well!

In case you missed our features, check them out here:

Drew’s Dirty Dozen

Robert’s Delightful Dozen

Sean’s Dirty Dozen


Carmona Trails | Bike Park

At the end of October, The Loam Wolf crew flew down to Guatemala to ride and immerse themselves in the culture of Central America. On day one we rode at the Carmona Trails bike park outside of Antigua, just 1.5 hours from Guatemala City. We were treated to flowy, steep trails and perfect, loamy dirt. At the park entrance riders will find multiple jump lines, pump tracks, dual slalom courses, and even an airbag. In addition, there is a small retail space and restaurant with some delicious pizza! Carmona Trails has built a great asset for the community and the future only looks brighter for riding in Guatemala. I hope to get back there soon!

LowePro PhotoSport 15L AW III Review


Over the years I have owned many camera backpacks. I was skeptical that the LowePro Photosport 15L bag was ever going to be a permanent fixture in my bag quiver, but it truly is a great little pack and I still find myself reaching for it. Its smaller size makes it more than manageable while mountain biking, and the ActivZone harness system makes for a comfortable experience. It’s certainly not meant to replace a larger camera bag, but for those days where riding takes priority but photos are still on the menu, the LowePro PhotoSport 15L AW III is perfect.

DJI Mics

DJI Wireless Mics

It takes a lot of camera equipment to bring video content to the masses, and one piece of gear that has made life easy this year has been the DJI Mics. I received a set of these mics and right away I was overjoyed by the packaging and attention to detail. The two mics and transmitter come in a sleek case that doubles as a charger. The case itself is charged by USB-C, however, over the past year I have only charged it twice…. maybe. The mics are always charged and ready to go. Learning the menus and the various settings takes a minute, but there are plenty of YouTube videos that will walk you through the process. The sound quality is exceptional which is why the DJI wireless mics have become a staple in my camera bag.

evoc bag

EVOC Bike Travel Bag Pro

In 2023 I traveled with a bike more than I have in the past, with two international trips and many nationally. Packing a bike is the most stressful part of these trips for me. Making sure that it is adequately protected and secure so that it can endure airlines and TSA is no easy task. At least, it was until I started using the EVOC Bike Travel Bag Pro. All that needs to be done is remove both wheels and the handlebar, mount the bike to stand, and throw the wheels in their designated slots on the outside of the bag. Each wheel slot has protection for the rotors and cassette, so no worries there. The bag isn’t cheap, retailing for $795, but protecting a multi-thousand-dollar bike is worth it, plus the cost of the bag depreciates with every use.

Yeti SB140


Early on in 2023 I had the opportunity to spend time on both the Yeti SB120 and SB140. Even though I got along well with both bikes the SB140 really stole the show for me. The pedaling efficiency and energetic nature of the SB140 is what made it so fun. It was great on climbs and flowy, low-grade trails, and didn’t seem to lose out much to the SB120. The additional suspension travel allowed the bike to keep its composure while descending down steeper, rougher terrain. It’s not quite the SB160, so the bike has a limit, but not one that I found myself hitting often or at all. The Yeti SB140 definitely earned a spot on my list of favorite mid-travel 29ers.

Yeti SB140


Bikes and good company

It is often easy to overlook why we are into all this sweet new gear. For most of us, it’s simply to make getting outside behind a set of bars more enjoyable and desirable, letting you leave everything else behind you for a reset and refresher on the trails. That’s it. I often get caught up in the next new thing and wanting more, which is only natural, but taking a step back to think about all the rides I had this year, I’ve realized that the gear is not the most important piece of the equation. With my girlfriend becoming increasingly shreddy on a bike, we were able to ride new zones and progress on the bike and in our relationship, which has been incredible. Sure one bike might be entry-level or not have a nice suspension option, but it allows you to accomplish more or less the same thing as the nicest bike out there. I think it is always good to strive for more, but not to forget the real reason we do what we do. Go enjoy the ride!

Evoc Hydro 3L

Evoc Hydro Pro

I spent most of the year using hydration backpacks. I switched between a USWE and the Evoc Hydra Pro 3L. While the USWE option was the most secure, it was also uncomfortable for my body shape. The Evoc offered nearly the same amount of stability and lack of movement with loads more options for storage. Having my phone in one of the two chest pockets made getting clips or checking directions while pedaling very easy. All around I just really enjoyed using it. For me having plenty of water and snacks on the trail is super important! Backpacks have come a long way in function for bikes and if you are still on the hip pack bandwagon I would urge you to give this thing a try!

Limar CRUZ

Having used a ton of different riding glasses I really fell in love with the Limar CRUZ riding glasses. While I was not so hot on how dark the tinted lens was, the clear option has become my everyday option. They are very lightweight, sit tight to your face, and resist fogging very well. I also really enjoyed the clear frame option and frameless lower lens design. You can check out my full review here to learn more!


Liv Sylvia Saddle

As one of the least glamorous parts on bikes that can cost thousands of dollars, the saddle is one of the most underrated upgrades a mountain biker can make. Saddles, like everything else bike-related, are rider-specific and are dependent upon your sit bones and preferences. You can order free at-home measurement kits (SQ Lab), use online calculators to estimate (Ergon), get fitted at a bike shop, or use a few basic supplies at home to measure your sit bone width. Although I’ve experienced plenty of issues on long climbs, I never prioritized finding a new saddle until I spent a summer on Liv’s Sylvia SL saddle. The Sylvia uses high-elastic particle technology to deliver the feel of a custom fit and provides some much-needed pressure relief with the strategically placed extra-soft foam. The base is flexible and the surface is sleek, but not slick enough to add another challenge to climbing. The saddle eliminated all the pinch points that had been causing me trouble. If you’re going to be doing any uphill riding, consider your saddle first when deciding on your new season upgrades.

Sturdy Dirty enduro race

Whether you’re a competitive racer or a professional fun-haver, the Sturdy Dirty Enduro is an inclusive race meant for any woman who loves riding bikes outside. It’s an epic annual event that brings the women’s mountain bike community together, gives back to the trails, and is a straight-up party in the woods. This year’s race, held at Raging River in North Bend, WA, featured a petting zoo with mini ponies, men in jorts serving drinks, and the Canyon Creek Down Hill – a blue trail spicier than the Gatorade margarita I downed before dropping into the last stage. Categories ranged from Enduro Lite – including one stage and less than 1000 feet of climbing – to Pro, which had the racers completing six timed stages and climbing roughly 4,200 feet over the course of the day. Even if you skipped on the cardio and enjoyed the chair lift bike parks a little too much, there’s a category for everyone. Aid stations hosted by event sponsors were scattered across the mountain to support the women. Fellow Loam Wolf reviewer Cole Gregg was tasked with providing mimosas, delicate sandwich triangles, and guiding racers to SRAM’s masseuse or bike repair station. Other volunteers dressed up in costumes reminiscent of your sweet ol’ grandma to cheer you on. Racers donned tutus, party shirts, and even a slug. Win or lose, everyone celebrated all the sturdy women who showed up and raced their hearts out.

At first, faced with the massive group of 300 women racers, I felt intimidated – but it quickly morphed into a feeling of inspiration. My mountain bike community at home has a distortedly small ratio of women to men, even fewer women that show up to race, and to see and be surrounded by so many like-minded women who are passionate about bikes, racing, and caring for our communities was an intense feeling. With a warmed heart (might’ve been from the aid station with the whiskey and candied bacon), I did my best to bring my inspiration home to Spokane, where I hosted women’s-only enduro prep rides leading up to the Eastoberfest Enduro race at Beacon Hill. We shared laughs, ate dirt, borrowed bike tools, tackled gnarly features, and we did it all alongside each other. There was a unanimous consensus among the group, which consisted of all levels of skills and competitiveness – racing with friends is FUN! So here’s my shout-out to the ladies: whether you’re enduro-curious, love the thrill of competition, looking to grow your skills, or you’re searching for new bike buddies, the Sturdy Dirty Enduro is the race for you. And if you don’t live in the Northwest, I encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone, host women’s rides, and create your own bike community! Seeing other women shredding, proving to be resilient, and being down-right STURDY inspires us to do more than we ever thought possible. We need more of us out there doing the impossible.

Fox Union flats and clipless shoes.

After a full season of riding, testing, and racing, the Fox Union flats still stand ready for round two. I had been on the hunt for stiff yet comfortable, sticky but not glued-to-the-pedal flats. And, perhaps most importantly, I needed shoes that weren’t the stereotypical Lunch Lady style. The Union flats have exceeded my standards, especially in the looks department. The Ultratac outsole proved to be durable and grippy. The molded, reinforced toe cap fended off several rock strikes and the EVA midsole delivered all-day, everyday comfort. While these aren’t hiking shoes, the flats still had enough flexibility for me to navigate hike-a-bike sections without sacrificing the stiffness needed to connect with my pedals on the trail. All this confirms that my favorite piece of advice is probably pretty good – “If you really like the shoes, buy two pairs.”

USA Contributor

The Entiat Forest 

Just North of Winachee, Washington sits the Entiat and Chelan Forests, which offer some of the best backcountry riding in the world. The trails are some of the highest elevation rides in North America and every ridge feels like you are in the most vast wilderness. The climbs are brutal but the descents are worth the pain. Pack a full day pack and take a week to ride everything you can.

1620 Slim Fit Foundation Work Pant

Between fixing a fleet of mostly working vehicles, riding bikes, trail work, and generally finding ways to break down at inopportune moments, I have been on the continual search for a pair of pants that hold up for years to constant abuse. The 1620 foundation pant checks all the boxes, lasts longer than Carhart, won’t melt when welding, fits well, and can pull duty as moto pants. They also have a lifetime warranty, so buy a set and then buy another when you see how good they are.

Abus Cliffhanger MIPS Helmet

When we received this helmet from a lock company this year, I did not expect great things. But it made my list because of how surprised I was. It has the best fit of any helmet I tested this year, huge amount of coverage, while maintaining really decent airflow. The visor has a huge range and the chin strap has a Fidlock connection, which should be the industry standard. Amazing job Abus, you all should give one a try.



Me and my partner Cait finally purchased an eBike together this year. We went for a Specialized Levo Alloy Comp during the sales in January. It’s proven to be such a useful tool throughout the year and overall a fantastic bike for the two of us. It has allowed us to rush out with the tow rope to snap some review photos, or cram in some laps when time was short, and it has proven to be more than just another bike for us.

I’m still not a full time eMTB convert for now, but it’s a machine I’ve grown to love having to hand!

MTB films

This year a few really awesome short mtb films dropped, but one standout for me was Ride Or Die’s “ROADKILLS” which dropped in August and is available to watch for FREE on YouTube. I enjoyed this one so much I would have paid for it, so in the end I grabbed some of the Ride Or Die crew’s merch to compensate. Check it out over the holidays and get stoked for the season ahead!

Small First Steps

I guess a big thing for me in 2023 was finally taking a leap and putting my little design projects out there in the wild, which I had been working on behind the scenes for some time. I launched my first small product in October, and really enjoyed the challenge of manufacturing the first batch. So then I was shocked by the response and positive feedback when said components sold out! None of this would have been possible without the support of some awesome people, and I’m excited to carry on with more in 2024!


Progressive Flow Trails In Scotland

To be honest I was super skeptical when I heard about the opening of our new flowy trail centre, but it turns out I spent a lot of time there this summer. Quite literally to the point that I temporarily forgot how to ride technical trails! It’s awesome to see a totally new trail option for all abilities, whether it’s beginners just starting out or more advanced riders simply enjoying some less rough and rugged terrain than the typical granite-ridden gnar we have around here. Kieran’s line is a new freeride line at Bike Glenlivet with some serious size jumps, and whilst it’s out of my ability at the moment, it’s seriously ace to see people of all ages shredding some proper jumps. I’ve now got something to work up to, so it’s time to get out of some bad jumping habits, get over my fear and learn to jump in 2024.

Camel Chops Gravel Blimp X 2.0 Bike Bag

 Camel Chops is super cool, and lets you customize your own bag for your gravel bike. For me the Blimp X 2.0 handlebar bag really changed my life, because let’s be real, who wants to carry a backpack for keys and your phone long distance. It’s a great size for snacks, a cheeky red bull, or even a whole jet boil setup. The Blimp bag stays in place well, and it’s made of X-Pac technical fabric so you’ll be sure to keep your wallet, phone and camera dry during downpours. The bag is made locally to me in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, and their excellent customer service leaves you excited to receive it. Although I still haven’t cleaned out the duck feed I spilled in mine, oops!

Apple Mac Studio:

Something that really stood out to me this year was the purchase of an M2 Apple Mac Studio. I’m also a bit of a tech nerd and I set up my own photography business after ten years of being too scared to. Working hard this year, I was able to purchase my very own Mac Studio, and it has made my workflow so much faster without any hiccups along the way. I can get my photos out to The Loam Wolf in a quicker turnaround without memory being full or any of those shenanigans. Apple you’ve done it again, well done.


Want to win some free schwag? Leave a comment and vote up the most thoughtful comments and each month we’ll pick a winner. The person with the smartest and most helpful replies will earn some sweet new gear. Join the Pack and get the latest news and read the latest reviews on the top mountain and electric mountain bikes.