WINTER GUIDE 18/19 - CLOTHING
7MESH OUTFLOW PRIMALOFT HOODY - $330
We’ve been fans of the Outflow since its release. Originally we praised the warmth to weight ratio and slim fit. This season 7Mesh is offering a hooded version and it’s awesome. As usual 7Mesh gets it right with fit and materials, making this one of the lighter synthetic insulation pieces we’ve tried. The outer fabric is 20d double weave ripstop. The insulation is Primaloft Gold Active+ 100g in the body and 80g in the sleeves. The big reason to get a synthetic piece like this in your outerwear quiver is their ability to breathe - to dump heat and not soak out when you sweat. The feeling of wearing this piece needs to be experienced to be believed - you’re enveloped in a cloud of warmth and the jacket practically disappears on your body. Need a bit more wind blocking? Throw a shell over the top and keep moving. The Outflow hoody is a supremely comfortable and functional piece that you’ll wear indoors and out. Understated good looks mean you’ll wear it for city use and out in the field. Layers nicely with the new Guardian jacket (see below). Highly recommended.
ARC’TERYX ARGUS JACKET - $199
Arc’teryx have built the Argus for trail running and cross country skiing - what they call “high output, cold weather activities”, but we think it will be a hit with bikepackers as well. We’ve already talked about the benefits of synthetic insulation, with its ability to breathe well and keep you warm when damp. We also appreciate the emphasis on creating a jacket that moves with you. The sizing is a bit roomy for a layering piece, and I could almost size down to a small. Almost. I don’t use the thumb loops at all on the cuffs, but they’re there if that works for you. The rear pockets are a great, functional touch. I’m impressed with the perforated inner fabric. It seems to wick sweat away from the skin and has a very nice feel next to skin. The outer shell is a thin nylon that works well to block a bit of wind and shed a bit of rain. I read reviews of folks complaining about how delicate the nylon outer fabric is, but I realize the concept is a lightweight layering piece and not a necessarily a sturdy work jacket. The Argus is a very comfortable and functional piece that will be a hit with trail runners and cyclists alike. Recommended.
ARC’TERYX PROTON AR HOODY JACKET- $349
Arc’teryx make brilliant insulating layers as well as shells. We asked Arc’teryx for their best mid layer for high output winter activity - something that dumps excess heat quickly - and this is what we got. We’ve been banging the drum about versatile pieces that work well in a range of conditions and environments and we believe the Proton AR will be just that. So much about how we feel about our clothing layers is intuitive. Is it comfortable to wear? Does it fit well? How does it layer with other pieces? The nicest thing about the Proton AR is that it’s fairly slim cut and layers well. I can’t overstate the importance of a good fit. The hood is nicely shaped and not oversized. The cinch cord works well and gives you good peripheral vision. The exterior fabric is a bit more durable and perhaps a bit more weather shedding than other pieces, so on days that aren’t soakers, I feel good about this being my outer layer and will just put a shell in my bag in case a blast of rain comes in. At 15 oz. the weight isn’t hyper light, but we don’t want everything we have to be ultralight. It’s nice to have a bit of cozy warmth and feeling that your pieces are built to last. The weight of this piece is defintely skewed more towards proper cold winter and will be great for any hiking, fatbiking, or cross country skiing we get up to. This will pair well with the Beta LT shell.
7MESH GUARDIAN JACKET - $400
7Mesh seem to live and breathe outerwear and it’s been a treat to watch them evolve and move with new fabric technology. The Guardian uses a new Gore C-knit backer 3-layer fabric, which is measurably softer, lighter, more breathable, and as result more comfortable. It simply moves with you. It’s still slim fit by traditional outdoor gear standards, but clearly cut with room for layering - sort of a middle ground if you will. The dream is to have truly functional weatherproof outerwear that seems to disappear on the body. You don’t notice it’s ever there and it doesn’t get in your way at all. It’s packable enough to always have in your pack. The hood is roomy enough to go over your helmet. Much like the Arc’teryx Norvan jacket that we raved about last year, the Guardian does away with velcro cuffs at the sleeves in the interest of simplicity and weight savings. The pockets are what 7Mesh calls “torso pockets”, which means they’re tucked back a bit towards your armpits and you have to get into the left pocket with your right hand. On a recent windy ride, I loved being able to pull the hood up around my face. Loving the fiery red color as well, which will keep you visible when riding in traffic. It’s designed to be a mountain bike jacket, but we think you should be able to ride it around town as well. It’s still early in our testing, but the first impressions are excellent and we look forward to really testing it’s weather-shedding abilities. On a recent rainy hike, water beaded up like a shake dry jacket. I can see this jacket being a hit with thru hikers and world travelers or anyone who needs maximum versatility and protection out of their outerwear. This is a killer jacket. Definitely next generation outerwear.
7MESH WOMEN’S GUARDIAN JACKET - $375
(Review by Tori Bortman) I’ve worn plenty of shells over my years of riding, and over time they have gotten more waterproof, a bit lighter and more breathable (a big plus for my ultra-perspiring self), none have done all three so well as the Guardian Jacket from 7Mesh. Usually you’d sacrifice either breathability or water shedding ability when the jackets got light, but the Guardian is the complete package, which is truly a huge step forward for outerwear. The sizing is generous enough that you can easily layer underneath while still fitting well with less layers-- while the fabric being more soft and less stiff than a typical shell. Somehow 7Mesh has found a color that veers towards pink but stays in the orange camp enough that it feels like a unisex color-- and makes me extra visible when riding. The pocket configuration takes some getting used to, but your things feel a bit more protected and are still easily accessible, even while wearing a backpack. I really like the cuff and hood details as well. The smooth cuffs are a bit longer on top of your wrist, but slightly elastic on the bottom so you can easily pull your sleeves over gloves without a struggle. Droopy hoods that sink over your eyes are a thing of the past because the over-the-helmet designed hood has a rear draw string that allows you to adapt the fit for when you’re helmet-free. The Guardian stays with me, watching over but never obtrusive, waiting for the moment the weather turns. It packs down so small and light there’s never a question of if I’ll have it with me: foul weather or long bikebpacking trips, there’s simply no penalty for it tagging along on my adventures. I simply love this jacket.
ARC’TERYX BETA LT JACKET - $525
Arc’teryx make excellent outerwear that’s made to last for years. The Beta LT isn’t the lightest jacket ever built - weighing in at 12 ounces, which is heavy compared to a jacket like 7Mesh’s Guardian, but what you get with the Beta LT is the performance of Gore Tex PRO and a very high level of weather protection…and velcro cuffs. The chest pockets are minimal, but functional. I can put a bar in one and my phone in the other. I like having that storage. The hood is plenty roomy and will fit a mountain biking helmet. I’ve heard folks complain about the lack of pit zips on this jacket, but supposedly the breathability of the Gore Tex Pro is so great that you don’t need pit zips. Time will tell on that. The fit is worth mentioning in that it’s a full cut and will allow room for any kind of insulated piece, including down jackets, so we’d say it’s suitable for a full range of winter activities depending on how you layer up. Another similar jacket worth looking at is their Alpha FL, (fast and light) which costs $100 less, weighs an ounce less, but only has one exterior pocket. But if you’re a fan of light and minimal outwear, that’s another top contender. Regardless, we’re excited about the Beta LT and are excited to see what this jacket will allow us to do this winter - from cycling in the rain to snowier pursuits. So far, everything we’ve seen from this jacket indicates that it’s a cut above average hard shells.
7MESH REBELLION JACKET - $350
Just like the Guardian, the Rebellion jacket uses a new Gore C-knit backer 3-layer fabric, which is measurably softer, lighter, more breathable, and as result more comfortable. It simply moves with you. The fit is still streamlined road jacket, but for me, I have enough room underneath to layer a fleece like their Mission Jersey over a base layer. The cuff features moto-style zippers that reveal a mesh triangle when you zip them open. So much of staying comfortable on winter rides is heat management and you want multiple ways to dump heat. So, we like the option of zipping those cuffs open to allow more airflow. We also like the “passthrough vents” that allow us to access our jersey pockets below. I’ll admit, I have a hard time finding them when I have winter gloves on, but that’s not the jacket’s fault. It will just take some fumbling and some practice. I think it’s a combination of the breathability of the new GORE 3-layer fabric and the smart venting that allows me to keep the jacket on and stay focused on my ride, rather than overheating and stopping to stash the jacket in a jersey pocket. I’d much rather keep it on for the entire ride. Finally, we’ve loved their brilliant shakedry Oro jacket, but we really hate wearing all black on roads in the winter. All you have to do is ride behind a group of 5 cyclists to realize that those in all black are practically invisible, and anyone wearing fluo or bright white jacket really pops out on the horizon. So kudos to 7Mesh for making a bomber rain jacket in a beautiful sulphur yellow color that’s highly visible and really works the way high end outerwear should. This is one of those jackets that makes me feel like I want go for a ride, no matter the weather. An essential piece for any dedicated road or gravel cyclist that aspires to ride more this winter. Layer up and head out!
WOOL & PRINCE SPREAD COLLAR DRESS SHIRT - $128
If you’re like me, you grow tired of disposable clothing. Personally, I fantasize about being able to go back in time, just to go clothes shopping. We first reviewed a merino top in our Summer gear guide, which is a lovely tee, but the real reason to track down Portland-based Wool & Prince is their merino button-downs, or “dress shirts” in this case. Wool & Prince is an idealistic young company that espouses a minimalist ethic - encouraging us to buy fewer, but well made things. We firmly believe in this concept. Do you actually get more use out of a $128 shirt? In this case, I would say yes, since this has become my favorite meeting and travel shirt. Without an ironing, it’s casual shirt; with an iron, it’s meeting-worthy. You may hesitate to wear such an expensive shirt bikepacking, but it will perform well in cool weather. Their dress shirts are available in normal and “slim fit” I think most folks will prefer the look of the slim fit, but if you’re looking for more volume in your shirt, it’s there as an option. Pick up a Wool & Prince shirt and see if it doesn’t quickly become your favorite button up. It comes back to versatility - we want clothing that is easy to care for and looks good wherever it goes.
PEARL IZUMI PERFORMANCE T - $50
At this point you know about sport casual. Aside from the diehard roadies (yes, I still dress up in stretchy sport clothing) everyone else seems to want to look like they’re wearing streetwear. What does this accomplish? Well, I think comfort is the biggest thing. Second, I think is the ability to do cafe stops and blend in a bit more, without looking like Superman just walked in. Sometimes you just want to blend in. Pearl launched its Versa collection last year and this T seems to be a result of that thinking. We like the Pearl Performance T for it's understated good looks. We like the heather grey and dark blue panel and the subtle v-neck. It’s just a simple, wicking polyester t-shirt and it doesn’t claim to be anything else. I feel like it stays dry better than most poly tees that I’ve tried and the weight is a bit heavier, so it hangs well. It does have a reflective strip to help you be seen and a bit of drop tail, so you don’t flash anyone with your bum on the bike. Suitable for gym trips as well. Pairs well with the Boardwalk shorts. File under: solid basics.
PEARL IZUMI BOARDWALK SHORT - $80
Pearl’s Boardwalk shorts aren’t exactly winter gear, but we just got them, so we’re excited to share them with you. The fabric is on the thin side, so I think they’ll make a great choice for summer bikepacking, or over your chamois. For now, they look stylish in the gym. The legs are bit longer than their Versa shorts, which have also been great in the gym. It seems silly to praise a company for making gear that is restrained and has good functional pockets, but we’re going to do just that. The button is held on by webbing, which feels a bit flimsy, but time will tell on that one. Aesthetically, these shorts look like casual shorts that you can wear around town without looking like you’re out sports-ing, so pair them with you fave t-shirt and you’ll be casual cool. My only real complaint is a lack of color options on these. You can have the neutral grey or the midnight blue. I understand the thinking that sporty, techy shorts get the bright moto-inspired colors and the city stuff should be neutral or understated, but I think the Boardwalks would look great in some fun colors. Maybe Pearl will read this and offer those in the spring. Maybe they’re already working on that. Maybe
PEARL IZUMI SUMMIT AMFIB LITE PANT - $150
There is a phenomenon in Portland where folks try to show they’re immune to cold weather by wearing shorts all winter. These are the same folks that wear a cotton hoodie in a downpour. If you’re going out the mountains to ride in cool or cold weather, may I suggest some long pants such as these? These pants are so stretchy comfortable that they might become your post-ride lounge pants as well. You may want to hike in them. We tried an older version of these and they were just okay. The older version weren’t very weather-proof, so they were really just sporty-looking sweats. These AmFIB lite pants use what Pearl calls its “PI DRY® technology” Yes, that’s an R-ball in there. Registered trademark, so don’t copy! You won’t confuse these for a rain shell, but they do shed a good deal of spray and block a fair amount of wind. The pants offer some excellent fleece-backed warmth and I reckon you’ll pull them out for cross country skiing and/or fatbiking as well. They only bummer is the odd-shaped shallow zipper top pockets. I tried stashing keys in there and that’s about all that fits. I’ve worn them so much I’ve caused some pulls and pilling (velcro rub?) also, which is too bad, but I love these MTB moto pants so much I’ll likely wear them ‘til they die. Also if you like the concept, but want a heavier weight version, check out their AmFIB pant (minus the word “lite”). Recommended.
PEARL IZUMI VERSA SOFTSHELL HOODIE - $175
(Review by Tori Bortman) After getting the Versa Quilted Hoodie last season, I was excited to check out Pearl’s new, paired-down version without the quilting. They came through again with a hoodie that is comfortable and looks great on and off the bike, but with an even more layerable ability that finds me sporting it more on the bike than off. Slightly thinner than the quilted hoodie but with similar fit and features, I’m happy to report that the front pockets are infinitely more usable than on the quilted version. Both hoodies are great, but if you’re looking for a regular, everyday hoodie, I’d stick with the quilted version. If you’re looking for a more versatile, layerable, version that will give you an added bit of warmth while riding, is thin enough you can easily add a shell on top without being bulky, yet still makes a pretty good daily hoodie, this is the pick for you. Do note, the sizing of the Versa Softshell seems to run larger than the quilted one, so you might need to size down.
100% BRISKER GLOVES - $29.50
100% HYDROMATIC BRISKER GLOVES - $39.50
We’re a bit obsessed about comfort on the bike for winter riding. Cold hands are one of the things that will cause you to start whimpering and call it a day. You want to keep riding, right? Enter the 100% Brisker and their water-shedding model the “Hydromatic Brisker” Both models are excellent. If it’s not raining, I reach for the Brisker, since the “clarion” palm is fairly thin and provides great grip. The snot wiper thumb is comfortable and works well. The Brisker has both neoprene and an adjustable Velcro strap, while the hydromatic Brisker has a snug neoprene cuff to keep the junk out and the warmth in. I don’t think the golf ball dimples actually do anything, but they look cool. The bold 100% graphic is said to be reflective, which is a nice touch. I’m also a fan of large blocky typography and it adds to the uniqueness of the gloves. We’re also big fans of the fluo colors, which are aid in your visibility. Remember to call out those turns! Both are said to have a conductive touch point to use your touch screen device, but I always rip my gloves off anyway. The Brisker sports the company tagline on the palm - you know, the one about giving 100%, which is maybe a bit much, but hey…branding. The Brisker also has a moisture-wicking microfiber interior which seems to work quite well to keep interior moisture build up at bay. The Hydromatic model has a water resistant membrane that keeps the water out and we love that they’re warm and protective without being bulky. Overall, they both seem to be good values for the $ and should work well in cool weather. Both models are recommended.
100% COGNITO GLOVE - $39.50
We like mountain bike gloves that have a bit of protection in them. Tree branches have a way of encroaching on the trail and if you hit one at speed, your hands are going to suffer. You don’t need to suffer on the bike, just wear the appropriate, gear. The added protection for the Cognito glove is the D30 material in the knuckles. I’d like to see a bit on the fingers as well, but maybe that’s an upcoming glove. The 4-way stretch material is said to increase abrasion resistance. The D30 material is a flexible material that hardens on impact. D30 is a British company that makes this miracle material for protective gear with a wide range of applications. Ventilation is good on the glove and should make a great spring and summer glove. The textured wrist cuff just plain looks cool and should do a good job keeping out the grime. We’ll talk more about these gloves soon. 100% also has some very cool minimal knee pads coming out next season. We’re keen to test those as well.
PEARL IZUMI WOMEN’S CYCLONE GEL GLOVE - $40
(Review by Tori Bortman) These aren’t new to Pearl Izumi, in fact, they might be even called an old-faithful since they’re the company’s best-selling women’s winter glove. But “hands” down, this is my favorite fall and winter cycling glove to wear in Pacific Northwest Winters. To clarify, it doesn’t get much below 30 degrees here, but our winters are extremely humid, which instead of making it seem warmer, it just becomes a damp type of cold that creeps into your bones until your permanently chilled. For the average winter temps here are 35- 47, but often feel colder do to the wet. These gloves work for me from 30- 60 degrees, keep me warm enough without getting too sweaty, stay reasonably dry if it’s not raining very hard, and fit great. I really can’t speak highly enough about them, just know I’ve been getting a new pair every winter for the past 10 years. Not that I haven’t tried others, I just always come back to these out performing them all.