Traveling along a mixture of quiet dirt roads and bucolic byways, the Cross New Hampshire Adventure Trail (XNHAT) takes cyclists from the New Hampshire/Vermont border across the Granite State and into the ski town of Bethel, Maine. The appeal of the XNHAT is its accessibility, which helps it attract everyone from day trippers riding small sections of the trail to bikepackers pedaling multiple days on the route. While a day spent on the XNHAT is a gift for any cyclist, a few key pieces of gear can make the trip even more pleasurable.

Bike equipped for the XNHAT
Credit: Tim Peck

10 Gifts Your Loved One Needs to Bike the XNHAT

A bike, a helmet, strong legs, and a little knowledge are technically all the rider in your life needs to tackle the XNHAT. That said, the right gear can make the difference between sleighing the ride and a ho-ho-horrible trip.

1. Present-ing the Beta

goEast’s Alpha Guide: Biking the Cross New Hampshire Adventure Trail (XNHAT) is perfect for inspiring the cyclist on your list to ride this route and contains valuable information including a detailed trip description and the lowdown on where to eat, sleep, and resupply. Best of all, it’s at a price everyone can afford: free ninety-nine.

2. The Gift of Safety

In general, it’s always a good idea to wear a helmet when riding your bike. This is especially true when traveling on inconsistent surfaces like the dirt and gravel bike paths and roads found on the XNHAT. The Smith Persist bike helmet provides protection in the event of an accident and thanks to its lightweight, comfortable fit, and abundance of vents, the rider on your list won’t even know they’re wearing it.

Gifts for the XNHAT
Credit: Tim Peck

3. Look at the Lights, Twinkling Bright

A good pair of sunglasses like the Smith Wildcat provides maximum protection against the sun as well as against debris kicked up by the knobby tires of gravel bikes. The Wildcats have a huge field of vision and a super-nice lens, which is ideal for letting the rider on your list take in the stunning scenery found along the XNHAT. Looking for a combination gift? Smith Wildcat sunglasses pair perfectly with the Persist helmet mentioned above—the helmet is designed to prevent the fogging of sunglasses and features pass-through channels for storing sunnies.

4. Lend a Hand this Holiday

The dirt, gravel, and occasional washboard of the XNHAT create a lot of vibration, which is tough on the hands—especially for riders spending long days in the saddle. A pair of padded gloves, like the Giro Bravo Gel and Women’s Tessa Gel, have strategically placed padding that cushions the hands and keeps the rider on your list comfortable when cranking out big miles. Bonus, the gloves are super packable and easily stashed away for when riders feel like going au natural.

Cycling the Cross New Hampshire Adventure Trail
Credit: Tim Peck

5. Toy Bag

Those bikepacking the XNHAT will need to carry a fair bit of gear. Depending on their style—whether staying in hotels or camping—they may need to haul along everything from a change of clothes to a tent and sleeping bag. A frame bag like the Blackburn Outpost (medium/large) provides plenty of room for essentials and features an expandable bottom for bikepackers who need even more space.

6. Make the Season Bright

Although the XNHAT travels extensively on bike paths, riders still spend a fair bit of time on the road, including logging some miles on busy Route 116. A front and rear light combo, like the Blackburn Click USB Light Set, can help make the cyclist on your list more visible to drivers and other riders, and ultimately safer—helping ensure they’ll be home for Christmas for years to come. The lights are easily rechargeable, making them a great companion for those spending multiple days on the route.

Gear for the XNHAT
Credit: Tim Peck

7. Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

Riding on gravel and dirt bike paths kicks up a lot of grime, especially on bottles positioned low on the bike. A bike bottle like the CamelBak Podium Dirt Chill features a cap to keep gunk on the trail and out of the mouth of the rider on your list. While you’re at it, spruce up their hydration with NUUN hydration tablets and gift them some easily digestible calories with Honey Stinger Energy Waffles.

8. Do You Hear What I Hear?

From grinding gears to the snap of a chain to an explosion of air, mechanical issues happen when riding a bike. This is particularly true when traveling long distances on a variety of terrain like riders do on the XNHAT. Prepare the person on your list to take care of whatever bike issues they encounter on the trail with a multitool like the Blackburn Bike Tradesman and a pump like the Mammoth Flip.

Cross New Hampshire Adventure Trail Gravel Grinding
Credit: Tim Peck

9. All I Want for Christmas…

If there’s one thing the person on your list needs, it’s socks (they just might not know it). Socks might not be the “big” present that cycling someone on your list dreams of, but they’re the gift that keeps giving. Smartwool’s Bike Zero Cushion Crew Socks (men’s/women’s) are adaptable to a variety of conditions and are equally at home providing warmth on chilly fall rides on the XNHAT as they are dumping heat in the summer.

10. Tell Them, “Treat Yo’ Elf”

Not sure what the cyclist on your list needs? Don’t know what size to get them? Make them Santa’s little helper and give them an EMS gift card—ensuring they get what they want/need and you get to wrap up your shopping.

Biking the XNHAT

The XNHAT provides cyclists with an awesome adventure across the northern part of New Hampshire—passing through cute towns, pristine wildlife areas, beautiful parks, and under some of the region’s most recognizable mountains. Put this awesome trail on the bucket list of the rider in your life this holiday season. Even better, give them a gift of a key piece of gear for embarking on an epic trip.