Tour de France riders once rode tank-heavy, steel-frame machines. They carried several spare tires around their necks. They drank from bulky, conspicuously positioned metal water bottles, the designs of which weren't too far removed from canteens.
It also wasn't too many years ago that beefy Nike waffle stompers and those bulky, crumpled fitness leg warmers were en vogue. And how many triathletes have you seen lately wearing oversize Oakley goggles that once were all the rage?
With an ever-increasing hoarder's paradise of newfangled or bespoke products available for cyclists, runners and fitness club devotees, exercise enthusiasts could easily use one of everything and impersonate their weighted-down counterparts of yesteryear.
But nano weight, efficiency and minimalist products that still carry their figurative weight are what matter today.
Which is why a neoprene wrist wallet that stores an iPhone and a bunch of other essentials was invented. And how about seamless socks, and sunglasses that not only block ultraviolet rays but are nearly as flexible as Silly Putty?
Here are 10 products that help define current trends in fitness gear:
Burley Travoy trailer
Perhaps your lifestyle includes riding a bike to work and going to a grocery store for a week's shopping on the way home. Maybe you commute with your bike on public transportation and with large files in tow. Both are doable with this fold-up contraption that redefines engineering efficiency.
The Travoy is a travel trailer that expands, folds and has detachable wheels and plenty of latches that may lead you to invent other uses for it. The Travoy weighs less than 10 pounds and carries loads up to 60 pounds. It folds into thirds. It fits into its own cargo bag. It makes design engineers look clever.
$15 a pair
There's a trend among some endurance athletes not to wear socks. That's fine. Good luck with that. Wearing socks makes more sense. But bad socks cause blisters, and blisters can abruptly end races or training.
DarnTough socks are seamless, made by a family-owned company in Northfield, Vt., for more than 30 years. They're available in various styles and for myriad sports cycling to skiing, hiking to tennis. They come in plenty of colors, including fall shades often viewed in Vermont. The "darning socks" wordplay name is cool, too.
KoKi fashion bike bags
Function meets fashion with KoKi (pronounced COOK-ee). They're bike bags suitable for wearing to a dinner party and don't conform to utilitarian functionality standards.
Still, KoKi products have lots of compartments and zippers. And while available with floral and various other designs, they're also available in black for traditionalists. KoKi's motto: "We make the gear to keep you moving at the speed of bike. We live to ride and we ride to live. Decide to ride, to work, to play, every day. It's a sweet life in the bike lane." Riding with a functional fashion statement is fine, too.
Noggs sport glasses
Sunglasses break. There goes a $200 pair of Oakleys or a stylish pair of Ray-Bans. Noggs are here to help.
Short for "noggin," Noggs emerged from its 20-year-old parent company less than two years ago. They're a keen alternative to better known, high-priced status-symbol sunglasses. The lenses exceed ANSI standards. The clarity and colors are crisp. Frames are lightweight and fit well and Noggs are bendable to a surprising extreme. Noggs come in a cylinder-style case with a push-button opening top and well-cushioned interior.
Nuun energy wafers
$24 buys four Nuun tubes, 12 tablets in each.
The comparison to Alka-Seltzer is inevitable. Like the pain relief tablet, Nuun (pronounced NOON) tabs dissolve in 16 ounces of water. Alka-Seltzer alleviates headache pain. Nuun has plenty of potassium, sodium, calcium, vitamin C and vitamin B2 to prevent dehydration, the symptoms of which can also include a headache.
Why is the product called Nuun? It's a secret, but rumors include that it's the name of the company founder's dog or the name of an unexplored Pacific island. More important, Nuun tablets come in tubes of 12 and in about a dozen flavors. All options fit well in fanny packs.
$35.75 (case of 18 packs)
Nearly 40 years ago, Charlton Heston and Edward G. Robinson starred in "Soylent Green," the futuristic sci-fi film set in the now not-so-distant 2022. The planet is a mess. The populace eats rations of stuff called soylent green. It's advertised as nutritious and contains "high-energy plankton."
Shot Bloks aren't too dissimilar, minus the rationing and plankton. Energy gels sometimes get stuck in their containers. Energy bars can be the consistency of miniature bricks. Shot Bloks are chewable energy cubes.
On the ShotBlok blog, readers often describe the cubes as "gummy blobs." Other users let the squares dry out and use them during exercise as time-release energy.
"Most people just call the ones with caffeine (black cherry, orange, and tropical punch) their 'secret weapon' when competing or playing their sport of choice," said Trina Oberlander, spokeswoman for ClifBar, the manufacturer of Shot Bloks.
Shot Bloks have no fat, no waste, 33 calories each and plenty of carbohydrates, electrolytes and sugars. Six cubes or two servings per package. Think square gummy bears or soylent green, just for laughs.
Sugoi Versa jacket
Dressing in layers is nothing new, but an easy way to remove layers is to just pull apart magnets. Tug on a sleeve of the Versa jacket, which uses magnet technology not a zipper or snaps and the detaching task is complete. Falling on a gnarly corner or a steep descent while undoing magnet fasteners is less likely than while negotiating with an uncooperative zipper.
The Versa also features Scotchlite reflective fabric, a large back vent, shock-corded hem and three zip pockets. It's made from Argon, a feathery light, weather-protectant and breathable polyester.
TwistLit LED bicycle light
No wires or tools necessary. Instead, get a small, cool, lightweight (1 ounce) light that gets 20 hours of glow time and 25 hours of flashing glow. Push the light's outer case once, it's on. Push it twice, it flashes. Push it again, it's off.
The TwistLit is promoted for use with bicycles and scooters. With its two 7-inch twisting rubber ties, the 2-inch light can be securely attached to a seatpost or handlebars. But it's versatile. Tie it to a running stroller, cap, hydration system or whatever you wish to be more visible.
An Urban Sak holds onto things for people on the move. Slip one on your wrist, and there's plenty of room for a cellphone, money, coins, credit cards, driver's license, etc.
Giselle Frixione, founder and owner of Urban Sak, can thank the crowded subways of her native Buenos Aires for triggering her invention. Several years ago on a return trip to Argentina, she needed a safe place for her money and identification.
"I saw it was practical because I would wear it under my sleeve," said Frixione. "I didn't have to worry constantly about guarding my pockets or purse."
While runners, cyclists and fitness club members like its convenience, Urban Sak's versatility has become a favorite among mothers who don't want their children to misplace their money.
"It's interesting to see how it started out from one idea and is used in many other situations that make life more convenient for the user," Frixione said.
It's a personal neoprene sustainability assist for children and adults in four sizes and in black, lemon-green, magenta and royal blue.
Hydrapak Woolly Mammoth water bottle
There's not much worse than drinking warm liquids while exercising on a hot day. The exception might be dropping a slippery bottle.
The Woolly Mammoth helps alleviate both potential problems. The 20-ounce water bottle features Prima-Loft insulation inside double-wall construction. Liquids remain at a consistent temperature for an estimated three hours. The outside of the bottle doesn't sweat, promoting a more secure grip. The bottle is chemical-free and dishwasher-safe.
Why a water bottle called Woolly Mammoth?
Hydrapak adopts areas of California as product names, as with its Soquel and Big Sur hydration packs.
"We went with Mammoth for our version of this bottle that has an air barrier rather than insulation, and the Woolly was the natural addition," said company sales coordinator Gabriel Heilig-Yochim.