2016 Winter Gear Review - Part One

Dec 3, 2016 at 20:32
by Colin Meagher  
Nikki Hollatz and Justin Fernandes putting Scott s winter clothing to the test with a November float in the Hood River.
2016 WINTER GEAR REVIEW
Part One

BY: Colin Meagher & Nikki Hollatz
IMAGES: Colin Meagher
Nikki Hollatz and Justin Fernandes putting some winter clothing to the test with a November float on the Hood River.


Extending our riding season beyond summer is all that most of us have in mind when searching for winter gear. Sure, there are people out there who want gear suitable for hunting the abominable snowman on his home turf - in January. But, that’s kind of an extreme. While some of the gear here will work fine for pursuing the elusive yeti, this review is about finding that sweet spot that makes winter mountain biking a fine and pleasant misery when temperatures range from 28 to 42F (-2 to 7C), and there is a healthy dose of the wet stuff coming down. After all, those are the conditions most of us are willing to venture out into during the dark months.



About the Reviewers

Nikki Hollatz and Colin Meagher reside in Hood River, Oregon, in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge - a mecca for mountain biking, as well as kiteboarding and windsurfing. During the summer months, it’s warm with winds that can rifle through the gorge with serious velocity - gusts topping out at 50mph (80K) are common. We don’t often get winds like that in the cooler months, but the winds we do get can bring temperatures down to the single digits in a hurry.

Colin Portrait
Colin Meagher has a size 40 chest, a 32-inch waist, EU-44 shoes, size large hands, and wears a size medium helmet. He stands five foot, nine inches and weighs 167 pounds.
Nikki Portrait
Nikki Hollatz has a 35-inch chest, a 27.5-inch waist, 37-inch hips, and wears a size small helmet. Gloves are medium, shoes are EU-41, She stands five foot, five inches, and weighs 130 pounds.


Typically, from November through March, the temperatures and conditions are pleasant misery. It’s an extreme, but we can receive up to two inches of rain in a single day. Snow isn’t unusual, although it’s unlikely to stay on the ground for long - and there’s always at least one freezing rain storm to spice things up. Translation? This is the right place to test fall and winter gear. From October through April, we experience nearly everything Mother Nature can throw at you.


What You Need to Know

This year, Nikki and Colin (along with Justin Fernandes, who stepped in for the photo sessions), reviewed a range of gear, from hard shells to soft shells, to provide riders the greatest flexibility to build clothing systems for staying warm and dry in cold and dry weather, as well as in conditions that might register a yeti sighting or two. We primarily focused on outer layers for this review; but we want to emphasize that getting rowdy in the wet and nasty should be approached from the skin out, with a base layer, mid layer, and an outer layer - and we also touched on some specialty gear for those who are truly dedicated to riding 365.

Base layer: The foundation of staying warm and dry (even if it’s just autumn chill outside) begins with a decent base layer to wick sweat from your skin to the mid layer. Once your core gets wet, if you stop moving, you’ll start freezing. Typical base layers are thin, are worn next to skin, and are made from either a polyester blend of some kind, Merino wool, or a blend of the two. Merino wool or wool blends rule, as they don’t get body odor funk very easily, but polyester tends to have a slightly superior wicking capacity.

Baselayer pieces
Base layer pieces typically fit next to skin. Stitching is normally flat to prevent chafing or hot spots.


Mid layer: We reviewed shell jackets and shorts because you can wear whatever the weather and temperatures dictate as an insulating layer underneath them. It's an outer layer, so you can shed excess clothing or add more as needed to stay warm. For cooler temps, that may mean a long sleeve jersey over that base layer, but as it gets colder, it could mean a fleece mid-layer or a vest, or both.

Midlayer pieces
Most mid layer pieces are flat on the outside to move easily against the inner surface of the outer layer. Waffle type patterns trap heat as well as aid in wicking.


Outer Layer: If you plan on riding in cooler, but not really wet conditions, think about a soft shell. Surprisingly, a soft shell is also a good option for venturing out in temperatures well below freezing. In that kind of weather, the snow is dry and generally won’t stick to your clothing - even if you crash a few times. Make certain that the cut of the clothing allows for layering up. If you plan on riding in temps hovering around freezing and don't care whether it’s raining or sleeting, then a hard shell is definitely the way to go. Basically, it's all about keeping in that Goldilocks zone of not too hot and not too cold, so you can focus on enjoying the ride, instead of being miserable.

Pinkbike Fall Winter clothing review 2016 studio shots
Soft shell vs. Hard shell. Soft shells (left) are rarely waterproof. Typically, they are water resistant and won't shed water as well as a hard shell. Hard shells (right) are usually 100% waterproof, and they also maintain a high level of breathability by utilizing ePTFE membranes. Hard shells rule in rain, sleet, and wet snow conditions.



Extremities and feet: There are a number of good gloves out there for riding in chilly to downright frigid conditions. Go to your local shop - they should have a selection available, based on your local riding conditions. For feet, it’s a bit trickier. You’ve got to keep enough room in your shoes so that blood will circulate readily and keep your feet from turning into ice blocks. And, you’ve got to keep your feet dry. Options for that include waterproof socks of some kind, an over-boot, or a dedicated waterproof, insulated shoe for winter riding.
Winter shoes are not exactly like your regular old SPD compatible shoes. They are designed for pedaling in comfort in the worst conditions that mother nature can throw at you.
Winter shoes are heavier, insulated, and most are water-resistant, for comfortable pedaling in the worst conditions.

About Technical Fabrics

Breathability is the key for cold and wet-weather gear. If waterproof was all we needed, then we’d all be wearing designer garbage bags. Trash bags are definitely waterproof, but five minutes into your ride, you will be stewing in your own juices. Consequently, most of the gear reviewed here comes with a breathable waterproof barrier of some kind that is incorporated into the fabric. Typically, this barrier is created by using an ePTFE (expanded Polytetrafluoroethylene) membrane, sandwiched between the face fabric (the outer fabric of your garment) and an inner lining. The ePTFE membrane is littered with micro pores that won’t allow water droplets to penetrate, but will allow water vapor - your sweat - to move through it.

Fabric without a DWR will saturate and wet out impairing breathability vs fabric with an intact DWR forcing water to bead up and roll off the fabric as well as preserving breathability.
Fabric without a DWR coating (left) will saturate and wet out, impairing breathability. Fabric with an intact DWR coating (right) will force water to bead up and roll off the fabric, and help to preserve breathability.


A waterproof - breathable rating of 10,000mm/10,000g/m2 of vapor movement in 24-hours is considered the benchmark for a waterproof - breathable fabric. The first number is the waterproof rating. The second is the breathability rating. Fabrics with a higher rating will resist more abusive environments and keep breathing under heavy exercise better. You generally get what you pay for when it comes to waterproof-breathable materials. A jacket with a Gore-Tex type of membrane, for example, is definitely going to function better than a no-name jacket with a cheap laminate or a simple DWR coating, and it should give years of service.


Care and Feeding of Winter Gear

The ePTFE membrane used in most waterproof fabrics is delicate. The face fabric keeps it protected from outside hazards, like dirt, and the inner liner protects it from oils from your skin - both of which can clog the pores in the membrane. The face fabric is also coated with a DWR (Durable Waterproof Repellency) treatment to prevent it from getting saturated with water. If the face fabric wets out, or if the pores get clogged with dirt or oils from your skin, even though your garment is still waterproof, it won’t feel like it because the breathability will be gone. As a result, you’ll start getting wet from the inside out.

Winter riding generally involves mud at some point, which can coat your clothing and reduce breathability,
Nikwax Techwash
Nikwax makes some of the most easily found tech wash and waterproofing treatments.
or eliminate it entirely if it's a particularly epic day. So, just give it a good wash when it gets dirty, right? Um, not that simple. Ordinary detergents leave residues that will attract both dirt and water. They’ll also eventually strip off the DWR coating. Also not good.

Use a non-detergent cleaner like Nikwax, Tech Wash, or McNett’s Revivex Pro to keep your waterproof, breathable anything clean and functioning properly. Just keep in mind that the DWR on the face fabric is a coating. It will wear off at some point, even with proper cleaning. When that happens, you can refresh the DWR with Nikwax TX-Direct, or McNett’s Revivex Water Repellant. One simple treatment will renew the waterproofing for a decent amount of time, although the length of time will vary with how much you abuse it.



Post Canyon in the Autumn is hard to beat. Nikki Hollatz with the lactose blue Resistance Mid WO Jacket and uranium black Resistance Mid WO Shorts from POC.
POC
Post Canyon in the autumn is hard to beat. Nikki with the Lactose Blue Resistance Mid WO jacket and Uranium Black Resistance Mid WO shorts from POC.


We threw four European brands into the fall testing mix this year. POC is a Swedish company that got its start in the ski racing industry and, somewhere around 2014, started making cycling gear. They have a reputation for well-designed functional gear and I have been a loyal fan of the Joint VPD 2.0 knee guards for years. We were looking forward to seeing what POC had to offer on the apparel side of their range.


POC Resistance Mid WO Jacket: $150

Poc s Resistance Mid WO Jacket and Resistance Mid WO Short. Accessories include Giro s new Mips Cartelle helmet Smith Pivlock Asana shades POC Index Flow Gloves Giro Winter Merino wool sock and Shimano s MW7 Winter shoes.
Poc's Resistance Mid WO jacket and Resistance Mid WO short. Accessories include Giro's new Mips Cartelle helmet, Smith Pivlock Asana shades, POC Index Flow gloves, Giro Winter Merino wool sock, and Shimano's MW7 winter shoes.


“Made from DWR treated ripstop nylon fabric, the women’s specific Resistance Mid WO jacket is a lightweight MTB jacket developed for use in changing conditions." Wind resistant, yet breathable, this jacket has many technical features that will make those of us searching for the ultimate take anywhere and everywhere jacket happy. Aside from the DWR-treated ripstop nylon fabric, the jacket has abrasion-resistant reinforced elbows for durability and protection, articulated sleeves, mesh inserts under the arms for ventilation, and a helmet-compatible hood with adjustments that provide a close fit. The jacket is available in Lactose Blue or Uranium Black. Sizing is X-small to large.

I tested a size-small Resistance Mid WO jacket in Lactose Blue. The jacket had a loose cut and easily fit over the long-sleeve base layer and vest that I wore during testing. The jacket is designed to fit with body armor underneath, so no need to size up. In fact, take a close look at the sizing chart and note that the POC apparel runs a little large. I typically fall squarely between a medium and small, and with this jacket, the small was perfect.

Details on the POC Resistance Mid WO Jacket the sleeve has an elastic band at the cuff to keep it in place DWR coating on the main shell fabric on the sleeves and detail of the elbow fabric.
POC Resistance Mid WO jacket: (clockwise) Sleeves have elastic bands at the cuffs; DWR coating on the main shell; a closeup of the elbow fabric; and construction details.


This is the style of jacket I pack in my riding bag most of the year. The Resistance jacket is very similar to my go-to everyday jacket - a Patagonia Houdini - but with some cycling-specific design features. It is extremely lightweight and easily packs down into its own pocket. The reinforced elbows provide a little extra rip protection and the hood fits over a helmet. What the jacket is not designed for, is riding in torrential downpours and sub-freezing temperatures. Although it is somewhat water repellent, it is not water resistant and eventually, I would be soaked through if I spent enough time in direct rain.

With a competitive price tag, props to POC for creating a women’s jacket that is visually indistinguishable in quality and features from the men’s version. This is one I to plan keep around for spring, summer and fall adventures and can’t wait to see how it holds up in the long run.


POC Resistance Mid WO Shorts: $110

Details on POC s women s specific Resistance Mid WO Shorts include zippered side pockets and adjustable waist tabs dual snap and velcro re-inforced waist closure. Also note the subtle knuckle guards on their Index Flow gloves.
POC's women's specific Resistance Mid WO shorts include zippered side pockets and adjustable waist tabs, and a dual-snap and Velcro-reinforced waist closure. Also note the subtle knuckle guards on the Index Flow gloves.


“Designed for all-day riding, the women's specific Resistance Mid WO shorts are constructed from durable, lightweight and comfortable stretch nylon fabrics with a quick-drying front and a water-repellent back.” The shorts feature an ergonomic design, with an articulated fit that allows for full flexibility, added inseam length to cover the top of your knee guards, a Velcro waist adjustment, two front zip pockets, and a raised back yoke to guard your chamois from exposure to the elements. It comes in Uranium Black and Amine Grey, and Sizes X-small to large

I tested the size small Resistance Mid WO Short in Uranium Black. The shorts were snug in the waist and a barely there loose in the hips – spot on with the POC sizing chart. The Velcro waist adjusters allow easy adjustment to tighten if you do size up and need to cinch down and for those of you with a little extra junk in the trunk and a smaller waist, these shorts will suit you well.

These were surprisingly one of my favorite shorts of this review. A simple sleek design, the shorts were comfortable when pedaling in all types of terrain, fit over my knee guards, had minimal branding, and didn’t play the gender game with shades of pink and teal. Like the jacket, the shorts are not necessarily designed for torrential rain but they do have a water repellent rear panel that will keep the bum dry. I think POC hit the nail on the head with a solid design and a reasonable price tag.


POC Index Flow Gloves: $55

Detail on POC s Index Flow Glove.
"Index flow is a bike glove for downhill and trail riders seeking a versatile glove with plenty of control and a direct feel."



Justin Fernandes working over some of the local trails with the TLD gear.






















TROY LEE DESIGNS
Justin working over some of the local trails with TLD gear.


Motocross brands bring years of design and technology into play for their mountain bike clothing, and that’s a good thing. TLD has been making clothing for demanding riders for several years now, and their Ruckus gear continues that reputation.

Troy Lee Designs The Ruckus Jacket and Ruckus Ripstop Shorts. Accessories TLD D3 Carbon Helmet TLD Ace Cold Weather Glove Smith Fuel V.1 FGoggle TLD Speed Knee Sleeve Ace Wool Socks Shimano MW7 WInter shoes.
Troy Lee Designs Ruckus jacket and Ruckus Ripstop shorts. Accessories: TLD D3 Carbon helmet, TLD Ace cold weather glove Smith Fuel V.1 F goggle, TLD Speed knee sleeve, Ace wool socks, Shimano MW7 winter shoes.


TLD Ruckus Jacket: $155

The Ruckus Jacket is a well-designed nylon shell with a TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane, a waterproof laminate) on the interior for water resistance. Technically, it is not considered a waterproof jacket, so there is no waterproof - breathability rating for it. It has a simple back vent across the shoulders (inside there’s some mesh to prevent a potentially clammy interior). It’s got a somewhat roomy rear cargo pocket on the small of the back and two medium-sized cargo pockets at the waist. The hood is both removable and helmet compatible. There are hook-and-loop type adjusters on the cuffs, and a shock-cord adjuster at the waist. A media port for riding with tunes rounds out the features. It comes in black and sizes small through X-large.

Details on the Ruckus Jacket. The fit of the hood is bang on over the helmet but not in the way when not deployed. The TPU definitely offers waterproof protection and with the venting across the back it breathes reasonably well. The rear zippered pocket is decently sized and isn t noticeable when wearing a hydration pack.
Ruckus Jacket: (clockwise) The fit of the hood is bang on - over the helmet, but never in the way when not deployed. The TPU laminate fabric definitely offers waterproof protection and with the venting across the back, it breathes reasonably well. The rear zippered pocket is decently sized and isn't noticeable when wearing a hydration pack.


This is a very workman like jacket. During the review process it impressed with its “get the job done” functionality. It fit well. As in really, really well. Sleeve length, shoulder, and torso were all just right. The drawstring adjuster on the waist was functional, as were the Velcro tabs on the cuffs. I tested this jacket during on again/off again rain in temperatures hovering around 40 degrees F. It kept me dry and it repelled water just fine. It also breathed reasonably well with the shoulder vents. Helmet compatibility was the best of the lot. I’m typically not a hood wearer, though, so I was stoked that removing the hood via a simple zipper was an option. Accessibility of the stash pocket across the small of the back was OK - I didn’t have one on any other jacket for comparison, but it was easy to access when stopped.


TLD Ruckus Ripstop Shorts: $135

Detail of the Ace Cold weather Glove and the Ruckus Ripstop shorts. The cold weather glove was reasonably warm and touch screen sensitive. The shorts are securely fastened with a single snap.
Ace cold-weather gloves and Ruckus ripstop shorts. TLD's cold-weather glove is reasonably warm, and touch-screen sensitive. The shorts are securely fastened by a single snap.


The Ruckus ripstop shorts are a premium offering and the price reflects this. It is ergonomically designed and comprised of a two-way stretch polyester fabric with a touch of Spandex for stretch. It comes with a removable (via scissors) chamois-lined short of decent quality, although the liner itself was a bit roomier than I like. From there it’s loaded with all the bells and whistles you’d expect at this price point: waist-height adjusters for dialing in a perfect fit, zippered thigh vents on the inseam, one zipped hip pocket for extra security, one open access hip pocket with a “content security panel,”a cell-phone friendly pocket on the side of the right leg, and a rear pocket with mesh padding. There is a single, button-type waist closure, and you can choose from red, green, or black, in size 30, 32, 34, and 38.

Out of the gate, the fit is incredibly comfortable. When pedaling, the Ruckus short is almost unnoticeable: it rides on the hips, just the way it should, and moves with you when you’re riding. There’s just enough stretch to be comfortable and no excess fabric to hook on your saddle. I’ve always claimed that the best gear is the gear that you don’t notice because it’s working so well. This short fits that bill to a tee. But, this is not a waterproof short, or even a water resistant short. A ride in the rain will soak right into your under layers pretty much instantly. That’s not a cut on the quality of the short or its design at all: it’s a great short for cool to cold, dry to damp riding conditions in the fall and winter. It is not, however, the short to pack for Squamish, BC, in December - unless you have no other option.


TLD Speed Knee Sleeve: $54

Detail of the TLD Speed Knee Sleeve.
TLD's Speed knee sleeves are like warm sweaters for your knees, but with a four-millimeter-thick D3O protection layer to keep them safe. Color option is black with red highlights the pads are right and left specific, in sizes XS/S, M/L, XL/XXL.


TLD Ace Cold Weather Glove: $40

TLD Gloves
The Ace is a good mid-weight winter glove - windproof exterior, touch-screen compatible, and with a bit of extra length to cover the wrist. Zero complaints. Available in black and black/red, and in sizes small through XX-large.



Bontrager s Lithos Softshell jacket and Stormshell Short seeing the local sights with Justin Fernandes in Hood River s Post Canyon trail system.
s
BONTRAGER
Bontrager Lithos soft-shell jacket and Stormshell short: Justin on the Post Canyon trails.


Bontrager clothing is quality stuff, and the designers there obviously know cycling. Rather than offering a jacket or some shorts as an afterthought, their people have crafted a comprehensive clothing system for foul-weather riding that includes base layers, winter riding shoes, skull caps, and gloves.

Bontrager s Lithos Soft-shell Jacket and Stormshell Short. Accessories include Bontrager s Lithos Mips Helmet Smith Arena Pivlock shades Bontrager Stormshell Glove Bontrager 5 Thermal Wool Sock Bontrager Stormshell Oversock and Bontrager Cambion Mountain shoes.
Lithos soft-shell jacket and Stormshell short. Accessories include a Bontrager Lithos Mips helmet, Smith Arena Pivlock shades, Bontrager Stormshell gloves, Bontrager five-inch thermal wool socks, Bontrager Stormshell oversocks, and Bontrager Cambion Mountain shoes.


Bontrager Lithos Softshell Jacket: $174.95

The Lithos soft shell sits right in the midst of this winter clothing system. It’s a piece that’s perfect for cool to downright cold riding, although with a 5000k/5000k water proof-breathability rating, it’s maybe not the jacket for mucking about in a hurricane. There are two zippered pockets on either side of the waist, and one chest pocket that doubles as a vent. There’s also a vent that runs diagonally from the waist to the bottom of the chest pocket. There are elastic cuffs to keep the sleeves from riding up, a semi-fitted torso, and a three-way adjustable, helmet-compatible hood. It also has a drop tail to help ward off trail debris. It comes in blue and black. Sizes X-small through XX-large.

Details on Bontrager s Lithos softshell hood Stormshell glove MSRP 99.99 chest pocket and torso vent and water resistant softshell fabric.
Lithos softshell: (clockwise) hood, Stormshell glove, water-resistant soft shell fabric, and chest pocket vent.


For a semi-fitted torso, the fit was surprisingly roomy - similar to the Alpinestars All Mountain 2 jacket. The Lithos jacket breathed well - better I’d say, than the 5k breathability rating on the Trek website. But, it is a soft shell and, while it repelled a couple rain squalls well enough, it definitely didn’t offer the reassurance of a hard shell jacket when the weather really took a turn. But, it moved well and kept me toasty warm when I wasn’t exercising. The drop tail did as it should, too, keeping trail debris from easily penetrating into my dry layers, but also staying out of the way when I was moving around on the bike. The fit over a helmet was excellent, and the adjustability made customizing the fit very easy to do. This may not be an ideal item for monsoon weather or December in Squamish, BC, but it is perfect for mostly dry, cool to cold-weather riding. Pinkbike's Mike Levy did a more in-depth review if you'd like the full story.


Bontrager Evoke Stormshell Short: $149.95

Evoke Stormshell short is Bontrager’s under-the-radar foul-weather short. It’s constructed of Bontrager’s Profila 3L Stormshell fabric - a waterproof, breathable fabric with a 20k/20k rating. It features three generous pockets, waist tab adjusters, and adjusters on the knees of the short to help keep spray from going up your legs. It comes in black only and is available in sizes X-small through XX-large.

Details on the Bontrager Stormshell Short. Note the velcro adjuster at the cuff of the knee the velcro backed dual snap waist closure and the DWR treatment of the face fabric.
Stormshell short: Velcro adjuster at the cuff of the knee, the Velcro-backed dual-snap waist closure, and the DWR treatment of the face fabric.


What’s not to like about this short? It’s semi-fitted, so it moves well with the body, and there was never a fear of hooking a saddle or snagging the short anywhere. The waterproof-breathability is excellent. It’s not an overshort, either; this is a daily driver. The opening at the knee is generous enough to accommodate knee guards, but can easily be cinched down with the adjusters to minimize the gap there. During my test period, it breathed well despite the heavier than summer weight of the short, and it also worked well to shed water. Last year’s version of this short saw long term testing (and a recent review) from Vernon Felton.

Overall, it’s a great piece from Bontrager that integrates well into their foul weather gear system. It won’t keep you as dry as a pair of their Stormshell pants, as your legs will still be exposed, but for anything short of winter fat biking, they’re perfect.


Bontrager Stormshell Oversock: $49

If your riding plans are going to include wet days, but not so gnarly that you need a specialty winter shoe, then consider a pair of Bontrager Stormshell oversocks. These thin socks are made from Bontrager’s Stormshell fabric and have a bit of elastic on the cuff to keep them in place above the ankle. The concept is that you wear them over your own socks, but inside your shoes, keeping your feet warm and dry. Available in size X-small through XX-large, and retailing for a fraction of the cost of a winter shoe, these will see you pedaling in fairly miserable weather with a grin on.

Bontrager s Stormshell Oversock and Cambion Mountain Shoes.
Stormshell oversock and Cambion Mountain shoes.


The size large oversocks I tested pulled on easily over my own socks, and the elastic cuff kept them in place without exposing them. They were thin enough that my feet still fit into size-44 shoes without creating any hot spots (I was wearing thin socks). The Stormshell fabric breathed reasonably well and, although my shoes were dripping after roosting some deep puddles, my feet stayed dry. These are a great choice when a full-blown winter shoe isn’t an option for you.

Bontrager Stormshell Glove: $99.99

Palm detail on the Bontrager Stormshell Glove.
Stormshell gloves: Warm, touch-screen compatible, with a suede palm for a secure grip on wet bars, pull-on tabs, adjustable wrist closures and a Stormshell fabric outer. Comes in black, with reflective highlights for visibility at night. Sizes X-small through XX-large.


Bontrager B2 Short Sleeve Base Layer: $69.99

This is a Polyester/Merino wool blend jersey with a semi-fitted cut. It moves well next to the skin, wicks well, and has just enough wool to ward off body funk - I’ve worn it for three rides without developing a noticeable odor. It’s also has a three-inch drop tail for warding off crack attack. It works well enough and fits well enough that I now consider it a staple base layer for me. It’s available in a long-sleeve version for $84.99. Black only, in sizes X-small through XX-large.




Nikki putting Foxhead s Diffuse Jacket and Lynx shorts to the test on some of the Hood River area trails.
FOX RACING
Nikki putting Fox's Diffuse jacket and Lynx shorts to the test.


Fox Racing (AKA Fox Head) was one of the first Motocross companies to delve into mountain bike clothing. Initially, their cycling designs seemed to be afterthoughts from their MX division, but the gear they’ve put out the past few years has been a big step up in fit and function. Take the time to look over some of their MX gear, and you will definitely see the MX DNA in their mountain bike gear, but the cycling division has definitely come into its own. In fact, MTB clothing and gear now make up 30-percent of Fox Racing's sales.

Fox Clothing s Women s Diffuse Jacket and Lynx Shorts. Accessories shown include Smith Forefront helmet Foxhead s Sidewinder Polar Gloves Foxhead s Merino Wool 6 socks and Shimano MW7 Winter shoes.
Fox women's Diffuse jacket and Lynx shorts. Accessories shown include Smith Forefront helmet, Fox Sidewinder Polar gloves, Fox Merino Wool six-inch socks, and Shimano MW7 winter shoes.


Fox Racing Women’s Lynx Short: $129.95

“The Lynx short fuses the extreme comfort and performance qualities from our new Trumotion four-way-stretch fabric with an athletic look and fit that is decidedly feminine. The high-quality chamois is cut specifically for women and provides comfort that keeps you in the saddle all day every day.” The short has an interior-adjustable waistband, a 21-inch outseam, and a detachable, lightweight mesh liner with a women's specific pro chamois. Lynx shorts have no side pockets, but do have one mid back zippered stash pocket that is big enough to put a small bar or set of keys in. The Lynx is available in Flo Yellow, Blue/Grey, Black/White and Heather/Black, in sizes small through x-large.


Nikki Hollatz in the Fox Head Women s Lynx short and Diffuse Jacket.
Nikki wearing Fox's women's Lynx short and Diffuse Jacket.


I tested the size medium Lynx short in Flo Yellow. With the adjustable Velcro waistband cinched, the shorts were a bit big in the waist on me. Technically, with a 27.5-inch waist, I should have asked for size small, but I'm a "between sizer," and they fit decently enough to stay put during my rides. The 21-inch outseam length was on the longer end of all the shorts I have tested and, as such, they easily fit over my knee guards.

Lynx shorts are not described as waterproof or water resistant and there is no DWR coating, but the Trudri fabric is designed to wick sweat away from the body to keep you dry and comfortable.. So, while you might want to avoid epic all day adventures in the rain in these shorts, they are a super comfortable, good looking, and an extremely lightweight basic riding short. The one complaint I have is that I find the small back zippered stash pocket fairly useless due to its size, and I would love to see Fox add side pockets to these shorts for those of us who feel naked without them.

Fox offers the Lynx in four different color patterns and it is the only short that came with a detachable, lightweight chamois. The included chamois is super comfortable to pedal in, and a very nice addition that makes the short a more-affordable option when you take into consideration the stand-alone cost of a liner chamois. I'd be stoked to unwrap a pair of these shorts in Heather Black this holiday season (wink wink)!


Fox Racing Women's Diffuse Jacket: $129.95

“At Fox we know that women ride every bit as hard as men do and our Spring '16 Women's MTB apparel offering is designed by women who ride for women who ride.” The Diffuse jacket features a DWR treated wind-resistant upper body, an adjustable hood, reflective details, and two side pockets.The Diffuse comes in Black and Blue and in sizes small, through large.

I tested the size medium Diffuse jacket in blue and it had a near-perfect fit. I would describe the design as a lightweight, form-fitted puffy style coat. It kept me warm during the colder test rides and held up in the drizzle surprisingly well for a jacket with only a DWR treated fabric on the main upper body panel. The material on the lower arms did get a little damp in the rain, at which point, I put a waterproof shell on over the jacket in an attempt to stay warm and dry, which turned out to be the perfect layering for those wet damp conditions we all love so much.

The Diffuse has an attractive look, with two color panels and minimal branding by Fox apparel standards. I really liked that the hood stashes away in the neck collar with a simple Velcro tab. Having a hood flap around while riding can be obnoxious here in the windy Columbia River Gorge. Overall, I was super happy with this jacket and, in my humble opinion, it is a superb mid-layer option for riding in the cold that easily fits under a shell when the weather takes a turn for the worse. For a price tag that is comparable to a fancy date night, Fox hit the mark with this unique jacket - most definitely designed by women for women.


Fox Racing Sidewinder Polar Gloves $44.95

Detail of the Sidewinder Polar glove.

"Some of the best days on the trail are those chilly rides, just days after a storm. The Sidewinder Polar glove will ensure you’re ready to shred with fingers that stay nice and warm. We took all of the leading features of the Sidewinder glove and added polar fleece insulation and wind resistant TPU finger gussets to make it work on all but the most frigid of days.”

Justin Fernandes grinding on the Fox head Downpour Pro Jacket and Downpour shorts.
Justin wearing the Fox Downpour Pro jacket and Downpour shorts.


Fox Racing Downpour Pro Jacket: $249.95

The Fox Head Downpour Pro Jacket and Downpour short. Shown with Giro s Mips Chronicle helmet Smith Pivlock Arena eyewear Sidewinder Polar gloves Fox Head Launch Enduro Knee Pads Foxhead s 6 Merino Wool socks and Northwave Celsius 2 GTX Winter boot.
Fox Racing Downpour Pro jacket and Downpour short. Shown with Giro's MIPS Chronicle helmet, Smith Pivlock Arena eyewear, Sidewinder Polar gloves, Fox Launch Enduro knee pads, Fox six-inch Merino wool socks, and Northwave Celsius 2 GTX winter boot.


Fox has been designing MX gear for 42 years, and they’ve been happy to apply a lot of what they’ve learned behind a twist throttle to their mountain bike apparel line. This, the Downpour Pro jacket, is the flagship offering of that line. It’s a waterproof/windproof shell jacket constructed with a four-way-stretch 3L fabric called Trumotion that utilizes Truseal, a 10k/10k rated membrane, layered inside the polyester/spandex weave. The exterior of the jacket has a DWR treatment. There are two torso vents high on the chest, adjustable cuffs, two waist pockets, and a nice drop seat to help keep crud from the rear tire out. There are also Cordura abrasion resistant patches on the outside of the elbow and forearms. There is no hood. All pocket zippers are water resistant. It comes in red and blue, in sizes small through X-large.

Detail imagery of the Downpour Pro Jacket note the Cordura abrasion guard the zippered chest vent and the DWR coating on the arms.
Downpour Pro jacket: Cordura abrasion guard, zippered chest vent, and DWR coating on the arms.

This is another tough as nails jacket. My first impression was that it was a bit snug in the shoulders, but that vanished once I was riding. The breathability was good, too, although on one particularly sustained climb, I wished it offered just a wee bit more venting on the torso without needing to open the main zipper. I was unable to test it in heavy rain, but what rain I did get was sneered at by the DWR on the fabric. Fox obviously sweated the details on this one: the fit is spot on - not too tight, and not too loose. All the seams are welded and taped, the cuff adjusters are easy to use, and the reflective bits offer welcome visibility if you’re pedaling about after dark. The drop tail was the Goldilocks length, too - just enough to keep mud at bay, but not so much as to be noticeable when seated.

Overall, the thing that impressed me the most was how well the jacket moved with me, despite the burly construction. It’s not so light that you could stuff it into a pack, as a just-in-case item, but you can definitely pedal in it all day if need be. It is a solidly constructed jacket. So, while it’s pedal friendly, it’s also a good choice for shuttle days in the rain.


Fox Racing Downpour Short: $149.95

Just like the Downpour jacket, the matching short is also constructed of Trumotion 3L fabric with a Truseal 10k/10k membrane sandwiched inside the polyester/Spandex weave. It has the same contoured and semi-adjustable waist as the Attack Pro short we reviewed last spring (there are three snaps, allowing a modicum of adjustment at the waist, but no waist tabs or belt loops), a half fly, and water-resistant zippered pockets on either side of the waist. As with the Downpour Pro jacket, all seams are welded and taped, and the face fabric has a DWR treatment to repel monsoons. A slight rise in the back works to help keep debris off the rear tire from dropping into places where it doesn’t really belong. There is no chamois liner short included, and the Downpour short It comes in red and blue, in sizes 30, 32, 34, 36, and 38.

Details of the Downpour Short DWR coating for water proof breathability semi fitted opening at the knee that permits the use of knee guards and the 3 snap adjustable waist.
Downpour short: DWR coating, semi-fitted opening at the knee that permits the use of knee guards, and the three-snap adjustable waist.

Either the fit is a bit better on these shorts, compared to the Pro Attack short we reviewed last spring, or I’ve been drinking too much beer. This time, the size-32 waist was pretty much spot on (with the Pro Attacks I needed to size down to a 30 to get the right fit). The short is semi-fitted in the hips, so it contours to your body pretty well. Consequently, it was extremely comfortable, had zero excess bulk or fabric to hook the saddle, but still moved well. The half fly on the short is still kind of an oddity, but it works well for trail-side relief, so I’m not complaining. As important as the fit, though, was how waterproof this short was. I’m happy to state that I had no water penetrate the short during testing. On the breathability side, too, I had no complaints. The fabric feels impermeable, but the Downpour seemed to breathe just as well as the Pro Attack short that we tested last summer. And, despite the semi-fitted nature, it also played well with knee guards. Overall, these are a premium offering, well worth considering as a daily-driver foul-weather short, for anything from shuttle days to protracted death marches in sleeting conditions.


Fox Racing Sidewinder Polar Glove: $44.95

The Sidewinder Polar glove.
Sidewinder Polar Glove: Great fitting, warm, and now water resistant, with the addition of TPU-lined finger gussets. It's basically the sidewinder glove with Polar fleece and the TPU material added to it. Colors are black and black/red, in sizes small to X-large.


Fox Racing Launch Enduro Knee Pads: $59.95

Fox Head Downpour Short and the Launch Enduro Knee Pads .
Launch Enduro knee pads: Minimalist protection for your knee in a slip-on sleeve. It comes in black and black/red, in sizes small, through X-large.



The Raceface Scout Softshell and DIY shorts working to keep Nikki Hollatz warm and dry on a fall mission in Post Canyon.
RACE FACE
Race Face Scout soft shell and DIY shorts working to keep Nikki warm and dry on a fall mission.


Race Face has been killing it with leading edge, rider-inspired gear since back in the day - and they’ve never let up. Given their location at the bottom of the North Shore of Vancouver, BC, it’s safe to say that they know a thing or two about designing gear for both challenging weather and terrain.

Nikki Hollatz with Raceface s Scout Softshell Jacket and DIY shorts. Accessories include Smith Forefront non Mips helmet Raceface Khyber Glove Charge Subzero Knee guards Raceface Trigger 4 socks and Shimano MW7 Winter shoes.
Nikki with a Race Face Scout soft shell jacket and DIY shorts. Accessories include Smith Forefront helmet, Race Face Khyber glove, Charge Subzero knee guards, Race Face Trigger four-inch socks, and Shimano MW7 winter shoes.


Race Face Scout Soft Shell Jacket: $149.99

“The Scout soft shell blurs the lines between technical and casual; keeping you dry on the trails and stylish on the street, with 8,000mm;3,000g/m, 2.3-ply, soft hand Polyester fabric DWR treated on the outer face and laminated to a waterproof breathable membrane.” The Scout jacket features a full front zip hidden by placket, laser perforated underarms, back bar-tacked venting, a welded stash pocket, Lycra sleeve cuffs with thumb holes, and two front hand-warmer pockets. It comes in black and grape, in sizes X-small, through X-large.

I tested a size small Scout soft shell in grape. The jacket was true to Race Face sizing, with a slim style fit on my frame, and good torso and arm length. The soft shell fabric offered a heavier, yet stretchy feel that allowed unrestricted movement of my upper body despite the slim fit. My favorite added feature to this jacket was the Lycra sleeve cuffs with thumb holes, as they let me show off my famous whimsical thumbs at the local pub..

Details on Raceface s Scout Softshell jacket Main zipper pull tab hood and back vent laser cut vents in the arm pit back pocket and DWR treatment.
Scout soft shell jacket: (clockwise) Main zipper pull tab, hood and back vent, laser-cut vents in the armpit, wind stopper, DWR treatment, and back pocket.


I tested the Scout in cold, drizzly weather - riding and mushroom hunting - and I was surprised at how water resistant the jacket was. At 8K, it is right about where rain-proof categorized jackets begin, and although you will eventually get wet in torrential rain, it held up pretty dang well. That said, it is a bit more affordable than truly waterproof jackets, and while the breathability rating of the fabric is on the lower range, the jacket makes up for that with its vented underarms and back bar. On prolonged climbs I never felt any overheating or excessive sweating and I stayed dry through the duration of my rides.

While I would avoid full squalls in this stylish jacket, it is an affordable option and designed to hold up to the majority of the fall riding weather that we encounter here in the Pacific Northwest. I am also happy to see that, after last year's review, where I had to wear a men's winter jacket, that Race Face stepped up their game and came out with a competitive and functional women's specific riding jacket.


Race Face DIY Shorts: $89.99

Hard-wearing and great looking, DIY short's woven stretch fabric has a heathered outer face similar to the Tweedster fabric used on the Khyber short. Unlike the Khyber, though, the DIY short is lighter weight and uses two-way stretch for added mobility. The DIY shrugs off water, thanks to the DWR treatment. The DIY is a new pattern offered by Race Face - one that offers a wide Lycra waistband, which they state is designed to eliminate "muffin top" and to accommodate curvier body shapes. The short has a 14-inch (36cm) inseam, and is designed to fit over knee guards. It is available in black, Flame Red, and Navy Blue, in sizes X-small, through X-large.

Detail on the Raceface women s offering touch screen sensitive but not insulated Khyber gloves in grape the Charge Subzero abrasion knee guards and the buttons on the cuff offer a bit more room for bulkier knee guards.
Race Face: Touch-screen-sensitive (but not insulated) Khyber gloves in grape. Charge Subzero abrasion knee guards. Buttons on the DIY short's cuff offer a bit more room for bulkier knee guards.

I tested the size-small DIY short in black. I normally would wear a medium in Race Face's Khyber short, but based on feedback and their design philosophy, I felt a small was the better testing option. The Lycra waistband made up for any snugness I might have felt on a traditional button short in the waist, and the hips and leg openings fit me comfortably. I did use the lower hem buttons to pull my knee guards on and they are a nice added feature. The shorts come to the top of my knee and even thought they narrow up a bit, they fit comfortably over the Race Face Charge Subzero guards I wore during testing.

The short offers some protection from the rain with the DWR coating, but it doesn’t have an ePTF membrane to make it true waterproof/breathable garment. Knowing what conditions you like, or are forced to ride in, will guide you to determine what material and technology will work best for you. While we didn’t execute long-term testing during these reviews, I did stay dry in the drizzle and puddles I encountered during the five-plus hours I spent in this kit.

To sum it up: this is a rad short. It is stylish, affordable, and it beats almost any other short in the comfort category - primarily due to the Lycra waistband. For those of you looking for a short that adapts to curvier body shapes, this is it.


Race Face Agent Jacket and Stage shorts seeing some mileage in Post Canyon.
Race Face Agent jacket and Stage shorts getting some mileage in Post Canyon.


Race Face Agent Jacket: $169.99

Raceface s Agent Jacket and DWR treated Stage Short. Accessories include Giro s new Chronicle Mips Helmet Giro s Blaze Gloves Raceface Charge Subzero Knee guards Raceface Trigger 4 socks and Northwave Celsius 2 GTX Winter Boots.
Race Face Agent jacket and DWR treated Stage short: Accessories include Giro's new Chronicle Mips helmet, Giro's Blaze gloves, Race Face Charge Subzero knee guards, Race Face Trigger four-inch socks, and Northwave Celsius 2 GTX winter boots.


The Agent jacket features a 2.5 layer fabric with a 10k/10k water proof-breathability rating. The body of the jacket features two intake vents on the front of the torso, as well as a vented strip across the shoulders to boost the breathability. There are two mesh-lined hand pockets that double as extra vents for stashing essentials. The Agent also has a three-point-adjustable hood that remains anchored in place with magnetic fasteners when not in use, and it features a high, fleece-lined collar for comfort when the jacket is zipped all the way up. There are shock cords at the waist, and hook-and-loop adjusters at the wrists. It comes in black, blue, and red, and is available in sizes small, through XX-large.

Detail on the Agent Soft-shell Jacket dual chest vents vent across the shoulders YKK zippers the massive main zipper pull tab wrist closure and DWR treated face fabric.
Agent soft-shell jacket: (clockwise) Dual chest vents, vent across the shoulders, YKK zippers, DWR treated face fabric, wrist closure, and the massive main zipper pull tab.


The Agent is a great alternative to the Race Face Team Chute jacket reviewed last year. Like the Team Chute, the Agent jacket is capable of all-day shuttle adventures, but unlike the Team Chute, it’s made of a much lighter weight fabric, making it something you can readily stash in your pack as a “just in case” item. It’s touted as a soft shell, but given the 10k/10k waterproof/breathability rating, it’s just the thing for long rides in the fall with threatening weather on the horizon, as well as lunch rides when it’s cats and dogs outside.

I tested this jacket on a steep, 45-minute climb, followed by a 15-minute descent on a rainy, late-October day. It was cold and wet - pretty much the definition of misery, although not quite hell. Despite that, I stayed dry (although I definitely needed to open the vents wide to blow off steam near the end of the climb). During the descent down a flow trail, I remained warm and dry. Overall, the Agent is not as breathable as some jackets tested here, but under the circumstances, I’ve no complaints about its waterproofness or breathability. The fit was not too tight, and not too loose, however, I do have a bone to pick about the hood design. It’s almost impossible to zip up when worn over the helmet and, consequently, it makes head movements a bit restricted. Placing it under the helmet doesn't help, either; there's too much fabric for it to fit easily under a helmet. Despite that failing, overall, this is a solid choice for anyone mixing it up between pedaling and shuttling in the kind of weather that will keep most riders indoors.


Race Face Stage Short: $99.99

The mid-length Stage short may not be as winter riding specific as the Agent Winter short we reviewed last season (the Agent Winter short is a daily driver for days when it's absolutely miserable out) , but it’s just the ticket for riding in the high country late into the fall and early winter. It’s made from a DWR-coated nylon/polyester blend, with a touch of Lycra for better movement while riding. Other details include a seamless Cordura crotch gusset for mobility and durability, a 15-inch inseam, an adjustable waist via internal hook-and-loop tabs, bar-tacked belt loops, double-reinforced seams, and three YKK zippered pockets - one on either hip, and one in the back. There’s a raised back panel in the that doubles as a hanger hook to help keep out trail debris when you’re out loam hunting.

Details on the Stage shorts zippered rear and thigh pockets dual snap velcro reinforced waist closure and DWR treated Cordura crotch gusset.
Stage shorts: Zippered rear and thigh pockets, dual snap, Velcro-reinforced waist closure and DWR treated Cordura crotch gusset.


In Race Face’s semi-crowded line-up of shorts, the Stage is perfect for long missions on those cool, potentially wet autumn days, where some water resistance is key, but it’s not getting so nasty out that you need full-blown winter shorts. The Stage short ticks all the boxes: it’s lightweight, fits well, doesn’t bind at all when riding, and breathes well, too. The addition of a DWR coating ensures some water resistance, too. the lighter weight of the Stage Short makes for a much more pedal friendly garment as it moves better with the body on extended backcountry missions. Will it keep you dry in the gnar? Not so much as a true waterproof breathable short, but it will keep the elements at bay at an acceptable level. If your ride plans regularly involve monsoon weather, then I’d either consider the Agent Winter shorts or another pair of shorts from this review.


Visit the review gallery for full-size images and come back for part two



MENTIONS: @raceface / @troyleedesigns / @Fox-Head-Inc




206 Comments

  • + 65
 What about Endura? They are the origin of weatherproof riding stuff.
  • + 12
 they are in a diffrent category all together...
  • + 14
 Indeed! And also Gore Bike Wear. I've been rocking my Gore bike jacket for 4 years, and it's incredible.
  • + 5
 This is a part one, so maybe there are on the part 2.
  • + 1
 In the article they say they threw four European brands into the fall testing so I could imagine they are in part 2. Let's hope they are better value than what we have seen in part 1.
  • + 10
 Returned all my Raceface softgoods for a full refund.. I could no longer bear to ride in a $250 jacket that soaked both from inside and outside...
Replaced it with an Outdoor Research jacket that is lighter, tougher and way more breathable.
  • + 8
 We did Endura in last years Fall/Winter review. Still some of the best gear I've tested but we needed different items this year. @dukesofhazzard Gore was done last year but I am doing some newer pieces in Part 2 for women only.
  • + 1
 @nkrohan: Thanks for the heads up!
  • + 4
 @denomerdano: Try Marmot precip, $100 and had some good usage out of mine
  • + 2
 I would like to hear more about waterproof/ breathable pants, because shorts are just too cold sometimes, I know endura makes some, but who else makes some? Are there any that are non mtb specific but work well for bikes?
  • + 1
 @gunners1:
i like the marmot stuff in general. so far the OR Toray fits all my requirements, including a full side zippers for ventilation. WIN.
  • + 1
 Everything we just read about is contracted for out-sourced manufacturing, mostly in Taiwan. And, what I have found time and time over is that the contracted manufacturer makes a similar clone knock-off out of the same materials and stitch design, though the look will be slightly different. So I buy from the contract manufacturers as I will generally only spend about a 1/4 of the price for the same gear, minus the logo.

I understand that these manufactures will spend some of that money for events and promos. Yet it's hard to care about such things when my POC knee-pads stitching comes unraveled during the third ride. Those were $68 and I could not get a replacement because they had been sweated in.

However, I do buy Troy Lee as their products have taken a beating with me. My FOX winter gloves have held up for two seasons now.

@will54869 Showers Pass
  • + 1
 Madison.
  • + 1
 Dakine stuff?
  • + 1
 @bigbear: we did Dakine the last two clothing reviews so skipped them this winter. You can look back at the Spring/Summer 16' or Fall 15' to see those. Dakine has some new stuff in the works so expect them again in the not to distant future.
  • + 1
 @nkrohan: yes I remember reading the review on the endura items. I've been wanting after ever since. There doesn't seem to be anything from these other companies that's even comparable to their stuff. BTW 10,000 g/l2 isn't really breathable. It is if you're simply walking the dog and what not. As soon as you get on a bike with something with those numbers your soaked on the inside of the jacket from sweat condensate. Endura's MT 500 raincoat is rated at 64,000 g/l2 quite a difference from the baseline. Thanks for the tips on cleaning and re-coating products. I didn't know about those.
  • + 2
 @denomerdano: same problem: all the seam tape peeled off after a dozen rides.
  • + 1
 @fattyheadshok: you are correct. These are the lighter options -- part 2 has the "more" water repellent gear.
  • + 1
 @frenchyroast and @denomerdano: I had the same problem with my Chute. Unfortunately I bought it off of eBay, new with tags, and since it wasn't from an "authorized retailer" I had no luck returning it for replacement under warranty.

Stinks to not have a jacket that works right, but I learned a good lesson about internet purchases.
  • + 2
 @XCMark: on the poc thing, that's unusual for the brand. I've had one pair of poc knee pads, and they have been used hard for the last 5 years...one seam is now starting to unravel. All my friends and customers have had similar luck. I think you just got a shit pair, and I can't believe they didn't take care of you....bad on poc. But I still feel they are one of the only high price points that's are worth it....sorry man...maybe give em another look..
  • + 1
 @takeiteasyridehard: I decided to go with some 7-Idp "Control Knee" as I could get them at discount at the time. I put them on and forget I'm wearing them, they are that nice. I really like that I can adjust the amount of protection at any time. The stitching on the Control Knee pads is far burlier then that of the POC VPD 1.
  • + 1
 @will54869: try the endura pants we reviewed last year or....wait for it: the alpinestars pants due to be reviewed in part 2.
  • + 1
 Got the whole Endura MT500 Waterproof II set (jacket, pants, shorts) and never looked back. Amazing stuff. Just as waterproof as Gore but more breathable.
  • + 26
 Doesn't look like winter gear at all to me. It's more like fall gear. Here, winter is lots of snow and -20C to -45C.
  • + 8
 Came to post the same thing.

I get that seasonal temps vary in different locations, so call the article "Cool, wet weather gear" or something other than "winter"... "winter" is relative.
  • + 9
 Yeah this looks like "Winter Gear for Southern California".
  • + 2
 Totally. But the article does say "part 1" so maybe they will show the more full on winter gear in part 2?
The challenge I find with good gear for true winter is keeping it breathable enough during hard efforts to not get wet from the inside out. Layering can be difficult to get right, and can have as much to do with your effort as it does with the temperature. But you still need a good level of water resistance, and a great level of wind resistance. Water resistance become less crucial the colder it is, and wind resistance and breathability becomes ever more paramount for riding in the bitter ass cold.
  • + 2
 Below -20C, breathable isn't even usefull. You're better with a winter coat with holes under the arms that you can zip open/close whenever you need it. The lower body doesn't really get hot enough for this.
  • + 2
 @axleworthington: This is definitely typical western WA winter gear, not michigan or other places that get more cold temps and snow. We just had our first snow in two years last night.

The good thing about this review is that its done in the most wet and miserable weather place on the planet, the (otherwise gorgeous) Pacific Northwest. May not apply to other areas in the same way.
  • + 4
 @lRaphl: I totally disagree, but everyone's needs are different. I've spent a good number of long night rides and daytime rides in temps as low as -15F, and have found its still very easy to get hot and sweaty and soak your base layers from moisture accumulating on the inside of a non-breathable shell during really hard efforts. And that is a recipe for a really bad night if you have a mechanical or an injury and end up sitting down in the wind and snow for a long ass time. Light and breathable wicking layers for your torso, two glove options for your hands with liners, and a very warm fallback if something goes wrong has been my strategy.
I have a very nice gore-tex-pro shell that I use in the winter, and on cold-as-shit rain rides, but that still doesnt breath as well as I'd like even with very long pit zippers. I think a good windstopper fleece is one of my favorite layers for cold, and my gore jacket or even a light down shell as a packable breathable shell if it starts to snow hard or I start getting cold or there is an emergency. I've found I stay warmer if I dress a bit lighter with more breathable stuff that really keeps me as dry as possible.
  • + 4
 @axleworthington: More like winter gear (really 3 seasons gear...) for the Pacific North West. SoCal? You'd be roasting in this stuff. But we're talking gear for mountain biking - unless you are thinking of fat biking, there's not a lot of mountain biking happening in snowy places at -20 to -45 C, is there?
  • + 1
 @g-42: theres a middle ground that is often ignored - the -3 to -10C or so. Late Fall (now, we're still 2 weeks from winter in the north) and early Spring can have cold temps without a lot of snow on the ground, trails are firm... But much of the gear listed above would only suffice as part of a layer system. And there are a number of riders who do brave the very cold to hammer out gravel road rides for training. I think the review is awesome, just think PB could recognize its reach and not title the article as "winter gear"
  • + 1
 @robwhynot: I agree, that -3 to (i'd even put -15, wind can be a nightmare) is an under appreciated category, that ground that most people used to real cold (read -20 or worse) aren't ready to break out a heavy jacket, but want something warmer. I've got a pair of "winter" gloves that i had picked up at Costco...that I regret on truly cold days, as they're virtually useless for anything colder than -10
  • + 0
 Maybe it doesn't exactly match with what you identify as winter, but jesus, so many triggered Canadians and North Trumpians. Is pinkbike now tumblr?
  • + 7
 The temps you're calling out, @lRaphl are more in line with fat biking; I'll wager that you also have enough snow on the ground that anything but fat biking is impossible at those temperatures.

The majority of the people who are doing what we think of as mountain biking (vs. fat biking) in the winter months are typically riding in the range of conditions and temps mentioned at the start of the article. So we picked gear that will fit that range. But we also picked shell jackets that would allow people to layer up according to their local riding conditions; so some of the gear we reviewed here will work just fine; although admittedly not the shorts, no matter how water resistant they are.
  • + 3
 @Metacomet: I hear ya on the breathability. Layering correctly can be tricky. We picked shell jackets that offer a fair degree of breathability and venting, but layering up correctly makes all the difference. It's the same for any activity in the cold and wet.
  • + 3
 @boxxerace: Right now, as I write this, the PNW is iced over. This gear would get you hypothermia!
  • + 2
 @meagerdude: Yeah, for sure. I've found my own successful layering approach for scary-cold rides shares a good bit in common with how I would approach packing and dressing for snowshoeing into the backcountry, and ice climbing in a past life, as your body temp can swing wildly depending on what you are doing at the moment and where you are on the mountain. And although "winter" is definitely relative, the one thing in common at any winter temperature is the need to stay dry and protected from the wind.
  • + 4
 @axleworthington:
The Columbia Gorge is not AT ALL like Southern California.
  • + 2
 Alas, I should have known better than to get excited about reading another article about "winter riding" gear...fool me once, shame on me..winter riding pictures and there is green grass and leaves on the trees in the background?

Yes, the term Winter is relative. Unfortunately, I am a commuter in Calgary and my winter riding means I want to read about gloves that keep my fingers warm below -15C, pogies/bar mitts, insulated shoe covers or winter riding shoes and balaclavas that allow me to breath without fogging up my glasses or goggles.

Hopefully part two is that and not more wet weather riding gear.
  • + 1
 @meagerdude: I understand your point. Winter isn't the same everywhere. Also, lots of snow doesn't equal fatbiking. I've been riding my 26er all winter long in the past years without any problems and we're getting lots of snow here...like near 1 meter in the past 3 weeks.

@slish: I was expecting the same kind of gear as you. Lets hope part 2 will be more snow oriented.
  • + 1
 @axleworthington: sorry no. Winter gear for California is a slightly thicker T-shirt and high socks. Thats about it
  • + 1
 @g-42: "SoCal? You'd be roasting in this stuff."

It.

Was.

A.

JOKE.
  • + 3
 Exactly my thoughts; who the f*ck wears shorts in winter? Either you have more body hair than a grizzly or you don't know what winter is.
  • + 3
 @meagerdude ; "The temps you're calling out, @lRaphl are more in line with fat biking; I'll wager that you also have enough snow on the ground that anything but fat biking is impossible at those temperatures" Not true, for years we have ridden trails on our regular bikes with studded tires just fine. I did buy a fat bike last year but I don't differentiate riding that bike as any different, I'm riding alot of the same trails. The winter gear I do use I borrow liberally from decades of backcountry skiing.I won't use clipless as the cleats clog up & are almost impossible to stay warm. I do wear shorts with a long underwear layer(yeah, it looks geeky but I stay warm & my range of movement isn't limited) even at -20C. Gloves are dependant on temperature, for cold (-10 & below) I'll use an older pair of light ski gloves. The rest of the time I use a good pair of motoX gloves. The only thing I would stress to anyone riding in any winter condition, wet cold to dry cold, tell someone where you are going, use a good winter pack that will keep water unfrozen & carry a decent survival kit as even a minor incident can get ugly very fast. In freezing temperatures a persons window of opportunity shrinks considerably when they have an accident.
  • + 1
 @wideload46: good tips on the survival bits, etc. I have my layering education from years of back country snowboarding and use a lot of the same gear for base and mid layers.

My calling out fat biking is not that I'm opposed to it but rather that typically in temps that where we live, the snow is heavy and wet. Snow deeper than 15cm pretty much closes our trails down--riding becomes a keystone cops routine. We need the kind of temps that @lRaphi was stating because then the snow is firm enough for us to ride but only really on a fat bike. Otherwise the snow is just too deep, even though it's firmed up.

Gloves are tricky. Everyone has a different tolerance for the cold. I know some people who can go down to freezing temps in a pair of summer gloves. Personally, I need something a bit more insulated. Feet are also tricky. The trick there is not stuffing your feet into the shoes--as a few other people have noted, that can actually cut circulation down and make your feet freeze in short order. There are a number of SPD compatible winter shoes that will work well. We're reviewing 3 pair in the second installment. For the kind of cold you're talking about, Lake and Bontrager are both making something that should hold up and allow you to use clips, although without having tested them, I have no idea if the clip area will clog with snow or not.
  • + 1
 @lRaphl: where we are located when the snow exceeds 15cm depth it's a complete shit show to try and ride; it's heavy, wet stuff that equates to riding in deep mud. When it's more than 15cm it's pure misery to try and ride. The sweet news there is that the skiing conditions are primo, so we switch gears until things melt back out--typically a week or so. Although we got 50cm last Thursday and more is forecast for this coming week so Nikki & I may be shredding on Mt Hood for a while.
  • + 22
 That TLD jacket seems more about profit than anything, its a bin bag with a few pockets, been using one from sports direct that folds into its own pocket for a year now oh and it was only £15, come on guys its not a fashion show..
  • + 5
 like stuff from decathlon you can have the same one for 15€ ... and now they do good stuff too you can have have a base layer , a jacket and a short for 130€ it's the cost of one of this jacket...
  • + 1
 I didn't try TLD, but I did try Decathlon as well as reputable brands such as Endura, Fox and Bontrager. What I can say is that Decathlon is not necessarily that bad (their bikes are though), but it's nowhere near as good as stuff from proper reputable brands. After riding in proper gear I never used my Decathlon stuff again (unless everything else is dirty or in the washing machine) and would never buy it again either. You get a lot more product if you're willing to spend the extra money for cycling brands that are based quality instead of a company that's based on low prices.
  • + 18
 I dunno what most people think here but I all too often find that MTB specific clothing is expensive for what it is (or should be). I use the same gear for winter MTB'ing as I use for trail running/hiking (e.g. goretex hardshell, softshell jackets, trail running long shorts) and so far have yet to find a MTB specific alternative that betters this kit. I'd be interested to hear if anyone else has views to counter this, plus what kit you do use if it is MTB specific...
  • + 18
 Shorts are the only mtb specific clothing I'm willing to pay for. Everything else is better and cheaper if you just use regular outdoor gear. One tip, off road moto gloves are way cheaper than mtb stuff and usually better.
  • + 4
 @WestwardHo:
Same here. Shorts are the only mtb clothes I buy. MTB Jerseys/shirts are the biggest rip off. You can find alternatives at Target for a quarter of the price and just as good.
  • + 3
 I think the main issue is how far the tail of the hem drops down, and how the arms articulate. For people with short torsos and arms (relative to their height), all purpose outdoor gear will work great; for people with a more ape-like build (I have that issue), it's hard to find general outdoor gear that fits the bill. I think the bike specific cut, though, makes this stuff less attractive to non-riders - so you're looking at lower numbers/niche market, driving up cost per unit.

Example - windproof(ish) softshells. That's a great all-around outer layer for most riding in fall/spring (or fall/winter/spring here in the PNW) when it's not raining cats and dogs. Outdoor companies make these for climbers who have similar need (needs to be abrasion resistant, needs to allow good reach of the arms, needs to resist plumber's crack) - but to a lesser extent. The only one I found that's remotely long enough was a Marmot ROM (others in a similar setup, by Marmot, Patagonia, etc. were just a bit too short to cover the back from wheel spray/mud).

Same with rain shells - tons of 2.5 layer shells out there that are a bit stretchy, breathe well, etc. But they're all just a bit too short in the back (Patagonia Torrentshell, Marmot Precip, etc.). So I ended up with a RF Agent for those rainier days, and to keep it in the pack just in case. $50 more than the other guys, because it's a niche item.
  • + 2
 mud messes up Gore-tex fast. I have a bike specific outer layer so I don't ruin my rain jacket and ski jacket.
  • + 1
 @g-42: I have similar issues and look for outdoor gear that comes in Tall sizes. Works great when you can find it!
  • + 2
 One thing that @g-42 hit on is that clothing that's specifically cut for the activity functions so much better than clothing that's not. There's been a general trend in mtb clothing to wear semi-fitted clothing vs the massively baggy free ride gear of a decade ago. As I noted in a couple of my reviews, some of the jackets felt tight in the shoulders when I first put them on. But as soon as I got on my bike and started riding, the fit was just dialed.

I've worn a Patagonia Alpine Houdini as a go light and fast just in case shell and that was a mistake! It's cut to be worn over a light weight puffy jacket; I needed to size down to get the fit I needed for cycling. Even then, there was a bit of bag in the body that flapped annoyingly in the wind.
  • + 2
 @iantmcg: definitely. Typically I just hose my stuff off after a ride and let it drip dry until I can really tell that the breathability has gone to hell or I can see that the fabric is wetting out. If the DWR is still intact, the mud will spray off easily. If it's really sticking, then I know it's time to use tech wash to refresh it. If it's still not breathing properly, I'll use T-X Direct to reapply the DWR.
  • + 1
 @iantmcg: That's interesting to hear. I used issued Gore Tex in the army for years (granted, it was an older generation of Gore Tex and much heavier/less breathable than my current Gore Tex Pro jacket) however, I never had any issues with mud or abrasion damage of any sorts. I haven't had any issues with my current jacket either although granted, I only really use it when it's monsoon like outside! What level or Gore Tex is it that you're using? E.G. Active, Pro?
  • + 1
 @g-42: Fellow ape like person here Smile I use Patagonia and Haglofs jackets/shells mainly. I agree with you about the Patagonia fit being short at the back. Haglofs however - definitely a different story altogether. The only issue with Haglofs is the brand is kinda pricey (almost Arcterx territory...which sort of undermine's the initial point I made higher up in the comments section. The advantage I found however was that their gear works well for a broader range of outdoor pursuits than just cycling. Not sure what distribution is like in the US though!
  • + 1
 Shorts and shoes are worth it the rest of it is really only fashion. There is definitely some cool stuff out there and if people want it and like its sweet geart, but it's not nessecary and it's generally no better than any other outdoor gear which is often cheaper
  • + 1
 @WestwardHo: I don't even do that. I found these stretchy shorts by a brand called Gerry and bought like 6 pairs. I mtb in them, powerlift in them, hike, fish, basically everything. If I'm going on a long ride and need cushion, I wear a road cycling bib, they are warm in the winter anyway.
  • + 11
 Why is everything in these reviews "awesome". It would be alot more believable if there was a single line about anything that was not super positive. At least give us your favorites from the tested gear, or that is in a following part? From this I get no help on what winter gear i should choose.
  • + 3
 There really weren't any stinkers in this year's crop of test clothing, @timmy1701; fit and function were pretty bang on with everything we reviewed. There was a sizing discrepancy in footwear (coming in part 2) but that was requesting samples based on the sizing of the shoes (Giro and Shimano) that both Nikki and I wear.

I don't live in your neighborhood, either. I'd say choose what looks good to you and will perform the way you want it to for the conditions you typically ride in. All the jackets and shorts are shells that will allow you to layer up underneath for the conditions that you like to ride in.
  • - 1
 Raceface jacket's hood won't work while zipped up...pretty big FAIL pointed out there.
  • + 0
 @jrocksdh: Lol that's the whole point; once zipped up the hood can't fly off your head, and you don't have to use those old school annoying strings that you have to put way too tight to work (and won't fit your helmet). Many bike jackets have that on purpose.
  • + 1
 @Mattin: per the review, it wont zip up with a helmet on, unable to move head side to side.
  • + 10
 I really like the Bontrager stuff, so I need abut $550 USD to get that gear. There's something wrong there. I got a Columbia waterproof outershell jacket for $45 and I'll guarantee it is just as good as a $175 jacket from Bontrager. Oh wait it doesn't have that nifty chest vent! Dear me, whatever shall do without that!?!?

MTB clothing is f$%^ing stupidly priced for what it is. There's not THAT much tech and research that goes into a few pieces of fabric to justify that kind of pricing.
  • - 1
 I find it kinda hard to compare a top-shelf jacket to a fashion line of jackets. The functionality difference *is* massive.
  • + 1
 The MSRP is one thing, @HappyJack, but if you cruise the inter webs, there are some deals out there to be had. Some retailers still have last year's Lithos Softshell, for example--same design just different color) for $80.
  • + 1
 No chest vent? Better find someone with a laser to poke a few holes!
  • + 2
 @allix2456: No, HappyJack is entirely right. The difference between a 50 dollar water resistant Columbia jacket and a $200 dollar specialized mountain biking jacket is marginal, as long as you find something that fits alright for riding. Especially of note is the ease with which you can destroy an expensive water resistant jacket with a couple mild falls/brushes with trees.
  • - 3
 @allix2456: " I find it kinda hard to compare a top-shelf jacket to a fashion line of jackets. The functionality difference *is* massive."

I believe the appropriate phrase on that side of the Atlantic is "you've really drunk the Koolaid, haven't you?"

Something like that...
  • + 10
 Cold weather + shorts = Darwin Award !!!
  • + 11
 my thought. I think their cold weather definition is different to mine.
  • + 9
 You shouldnt shave your legs.
  • + 12
 Shorts + long kneepads + sealsskinz = pants
  • + 7
 @beerandbikes: Wind will enter the pant legs, can't beat long tights combined with baggy shorts and kneepads IMO, or long trousers for DH.
  • + 9
 @Manx Not really. I (and a lot of other people I see on the trails) ride in shorts in cold weather. I appreciate that you may live somewhere colder than the -2 to 7 degrees they are talking about in the article but as someone who rides regularly in these sorts of temps in winter in the UK, I have absolutely no issues riding in shorts. I don't get cold just because my shins are out??? I just make sure I'm adequately clothed on my torso/upper body.
  • + 7
 I ride in shorts all year around when I go trailriding, weather it's +30° or -25° (+86/-13°F).

And I have to say that wet weather when it's around the freezing point is by far the coldest to be out in.
  • - 2
 If your riding in shorts at -25 your actually a retard lol Its like just because your riding a bike shorts are all the sudden the only choice. I guess its to hard for people to pedal a bike with pants on lol
  • + 2
 @nismo325: "If your riding in shorts at -25 your actually a retard"

I'll fix that for you:

"If you're riding in shorts at -25 you're actually a retard"

Calling someone else a retard and you can't even spell?
  • + 1
 and ditch the 4" socks..they're not cute on u bros.
  • + 5
 Reading comment sections I always see one thing that's a constant.

People complaining about price and how things in the mtb world is over priced. Keep in mind if you walk into a name brand store you'll see their current in season fashion items around the same price. Go visit your local Nike, Adidas, North Face, Arc'teryx etc etc stores. Again, match these with the current in season stuff and you'll see that they all are around the same price range.

Sure you can buy last years style discounted. You can buy lower cost name brand items all the time but again it's not going to have the "latest" features much like when you buy a bike from last year. It's gunna be cheaper.

Pinkbike isn't forcing anyone here to buy anything. They are advertising because they want to make their sponsors happy so we the audience can get news and reviews. Don't take it personal it's business.

The MTB world is getting more and more expensive but that doesn't mean anyone really NEEDS all of this stuff to have fun on 2 wheels. Keep in mind, these items are for those who are interested and for those who have the money.
  • + 2
 These products are made in China with cheap labor, working conditions even sadder. I agree, it's just business all about profit making. Thank you PB for giving us this forum to keep us sane when not riding.
  • + 1
 @drivereight: Not all items but yes you're right. It's scary to know that labor conditions in other countries are inhuman and unjust.

So much wrong in the world, at times I feel it's hopeless. Frown
  • + 1
 @LiquidSpin hit the nail on the head, @drivereight; However, this is all quality clothing, and the companies represented here are utilizing skilled labor to make it, not child labor. The wage they are paid for their work may be less than what we would pay for that same degree of skilled labor in the US, Canada, or in Europe, but it's considered a fair wage in the countries of origin.
  • + 2
 The difference is this stuff costs as much as name brand ski/snowboard gear but is nowhere in the same league in terms of quality and warmth, they are literally selling half a jacket because most MTB jackets dont have an interior of any kind. I don't necessarily want insulation in a MTB jacket but wtf is with not having a liner at these prices? It makes wearing one in a tshirt really uncomfortable and it just looks like cheap crap.
  • + 2
 @aharris: Can't speak for all the other stuff, but I own that Raceface Agent jacket. That's a 2.5 layer stretch shell rated at 10k/10k, with an MSRP of $150. If you compare that to technical outdoor brands, you're looking at Patagonia Torrentshell (MSRP at $129) or a Marmot Precip (MSRP at $100). Both of those are also 2.5 layer membranes - but aren't stretchy, which is a problem when riding. They also don't have as pronounced a drop hem, so you're more exposed to wheel splatter. If you're short of torso, and don't care about the stretch bit, those will do great, although the vents are classic pit zips, so they're hard to get to when riding (the Raceface jacket has pretty easily accessible front vents).

The big price difference, then, is not in quality and features (the Raceface jacket is well made for sure) - you pay a little more (on an MSRP basis) for biking specific features and get a jacket that will do well in general use as well. But, because the general outdoor stuff sells in MUCH larger numbers, you have a lot more opportunity to get last year's on close out - so you can pick up last year's Torrentshells and Precips for around 1/2 of current MSRP with a bit of bargain hunting. That's what I did for my middle-layer (or outer layer for when it's not pissing rain) - I got myself a closeout Marmot ROM softshell - windproof, stretchy, very breathable, and a bit longer in the tail than the biking specific stuff. Arms are a bit short for riding, but other than that, it's pretty close to what you'd look for in a bike specific fit.

Whatever you get, the most important piece is the outer layer - and then you're probably best off to just stack up base and middle layers underneath to adjust for cold. Those, for sure, you're better off with the general outdoor stuff. Midweight REI baselayers wick great, fit well, and are reasonably long - and half price compared to the bike specific baselayers, which is a small price to pay for not having the same amount of drop tail hem.
  • + 2
 @meagerdude: The idea that they are fair wages assumes that "fair" and "normal" are the same thing. All of these companies and many others are exploiting the terrible conditions that exist in those countries, and ripping us off in the process.
  • + 4
 I also place a hand on my hip, and pop my booty in front of the camera when caught in my water beading shell. Nothing like looking around at green grass confused by the reality of my snow covered winter.
  • + 1
 That's western WA for you. Just wet, green and more wet...
  • + 2
 I prefer to get all my cold weather bike gear on and go tubing in a river.
  • + 1
 Good one, @AdustytrunkMonkey; we had pretty mild weather when shooting the static and some of the action imagery in late October. The colors were coming on but no rain or snow. We had a fair bit of the wet stuff during testing, though, although temps were still warmer by far than they were during testing last Autumn.
  • + 3
 I have tried on endless amounts of MTB gear, from shorts to pants, jersey's to jackets, gloves to socks. I can't find one MTB company that host big & tall jackets. NO MTB jacket fits my insane arm reach. When I stretch to the bars, on every MTB jacket I've tried, sleeves come up past my wrist. SO, I switched to snowboarding shells for MTB and when stretched to the bars, my sleeves still stay down over my gloves. Snowboard jackets are always a little on the "standard" size, so I have to find ones that are "fitting" so the chest and stomach don't bunch up when I have a backpack on.

Otherwise, for my tall ass, I've found snowboard jackets do support my long reach; and they don't bunch on the shoulders when in attack mode.
  • + 2
 I have the same problem with my legs, none of the shorts are long enough for my 32" waist and 34" inseam. I almost always have to size up to get the right length, but then the fit ends up not being ideal.
  • + 2
 Wow...breathability ratings on all the waterproof stuff is really terrible and cost is up there with brands using proper fabrics from Gore, eVent, etc... I'd be soaked from the inside in that stuff just hiking. I can't imagine biking in it at any sort of reasonable effort level. These brands are putting one over on people. Really a shame that they can't come up with proper rain kit at those prices.
  • + 1
 "I can't imagine biking in it at any sort of reasonable effort level."

Breathability is a lie, really - you need adjustable vents.
  • + 1
 @KeithReeder: breathability is actually pretty good but when you're really moving and generating heat, yes, you do need vents.
  • + 6
 What is this winter you speak of?
  • + 1
 haha! I tried to explain winter and snow to my uncle and cousins in Jamaica last I was there... best I could come up with was opening the freezer and scraping off the ice/snow on the side, but still no real concept of what it is we suffer through!

Tonight/tomorrow we are supposed to get 10cm (4") of the fluffy white stuff... oh joy...
  • + 1
 @osteo: Enjoy your snowboarding for now! I did get some snow when travelling to Europe, but nothing like 10 cm...
  • + 2
 I enjoyed reading the review, I have been loving the Team Chute and Agent Winter shirts from RF. Once I start pedaling, I don't feel the cold, damp winter season.

A rule of thumb that I go by for dressing for winter riding, is to dress as if it's 20 degrees warmer than it is outside. The heat I put out from the effort makes up the difference within a degree or two, mostly perfectly. I then use a hat and/or pit zips to make micro adjustments.
  • + 2
 It's funny the main article's photo is of two people tubing in the river while drinking beer. Looks like fun! But seriously, they're both decked out in Scott biking gear. Yet, this whole article doesn't even review any of Scott's gear. Too bad Scott has some nice, functional and durable gear and just like the rest of the products reviewed here they too come with an expensive price tag.
  • + 3
 Scott will be reviewed in Part 2.
  • + 2
 @nkrohan: Awesome~ I just hope the stuff actually makes it to the US. Scott's gear mostly is sold out in Europe/over seas.
  • + 3
 I want to toss out a major thumbs up for the 7Mesh gear I've been trying out. That stuff is warm, moves well, and holds up well too. Plus, I like supporting businesses in my favorite towns and yay for Squamish.
  • + 2
 7Mesh is in part 2.
  • + 1
 @meagerdude: when will part 2 be available?
  • + 2
 @JoaoAM: Should drop tomorrow or Friday.
  • + 2
 It's quite difficult to get it ride ruining wrong with most things apart from gloves. If you're out in the pissing rain with the wrong glove on than it can ruin it completely. I didn't see anything in article that inspired me to buy any of the gloves. So Pinkbikers, has anyone any suggestions for the most waterproof, breathable glove out there that's suitable for MTBing. I've wasted money a couple of times buying crap that claims to be waterproof and leaves the hands sodden in no time at all.
  • + 2
 Endura Men's FS260 Pro Nemo Glove. This will be my 2nd winter using them. Work really well, on road and mtb.
  • + 1
 @dukesofhazzard: Do you wear those in full on rain? and how much do your hands sweat, if at all?
  • + 2
 @dglobulator: NO, haven't worn them in the rain. Honestly, if it's raining, it's too warm to rock them. These gloves are for below freezing temps. Yes, hands can get sweaty (i sweat a lot though), but the gloves keep your fingers warm! If you reserve them for the correct, cold temps, sweating will be minor.
  • + 2
 @dukesofhazzard: I have the Altura Thermastretc, which I think are similar, but as you advise I haven't tried them yet as I'm waiting for the right conditions so I don't sweat.
  • + 2
 Gloves for mountain biking in cold and really wet conditions are nearly impossible to make for the simple reason that there are too many seams. To make it water/proof breathable would require a Gore-Tex type membrane in the fabric and then taping the seams; otherwise each seam will allow water in. Given how small spaces are in the fingers, that would be an insanely expensive process, as you'd need really specialized machines to fit in and stitch the insides. Your best bet would be using pogos--a waterproof over glove that stays mounted to your handlebars. That way you can wear a more breathable glove and still have enough dexterity to manipulate gears, dropper, and brakes.
  • + 2
 Just bought the Showers Pass gloves, they are great. Warm, breathable and highly water resistant.
  • + 2
 I started trail running this year, and stumbled upon these via recommendations from other runners. You could wear these over your summer gloves perhaps....

REI Minimalist Waterproof Mittens
www.rei.com/product/100626/rei-minimalist-waterproof-mittens
  • + 2
 @dukesofhazzard: Hey nice one, they'd be really worth a go if they had the forefinger seperated out also for one finger braking. As Meagredude pointed out, the less seams the better, and if you wore them loose that would help with breathability.
  • + 2
 @dglobulator: Ohhhhh yeah, braking.....forgot about that little gem, haha!
  • + 2
 Winters cold and clipless pedals freeze your feet. Flats, woolly socks and sticky rubber are much warmer and good for skills. ...If you are clipped in on ice, clip out with both feet at once. My Endura singletrack trousers have provided a layer to slide on for maybe five winters. Up close they have been through hell. Cordura where it counts.
  • + 1
 Winter shoes are in part 2.
  • + 2
 Winter sure is a relative term, I wish I had this kind of winter! Do a proper "winter" clothing review for -10c -> -30c, that is one range I'm not 100% sure how to dress for.
  • + 1
 The problem you're experiencing @kingsoup is with your insulating mid layers; all the jackets in this review and in the forthcoming part 2 will work fine in those temps because they are blocking the outside from getting in. But your mid layers are where you're hating it. That's why I talk about layering for winter riding. This approach will only work while you're moving. If you stop you'll get cold, so bring a warmer jacket for mid ride stops. A down jacket will pack up nicely.

Actual layers: For the kind of temps you're talking about up top I'd wear a light weight Merino wool/poly blend short sleeve base layer and then a mid weigh long sleeve merino base layer over that. Then I'd likely add something like Patagonia's R2 mid layer, and then a light weight vest like Patagonia's nano puff vest. Then a hard shell or soft shell outer layer. The vest would be my layer piece that I'd likely remove. Down below I'd likely run some lycra chamois liners next to skin to start off with, then a thermal layer long underwear or winter tights that have a micro fleece lining. Then some pants--not shorts. In temps that cold you'll want to minimize exposed skin. Alpinestars, Bontrager, and Endura all make good winter riding pants.


After that I'd step up to a skull cap that will also cover my ears, but a lighter weight one like an endura sport baa-baa merino skull cap. Gloves--I'd go with a combo of poagies and a good mid weight glove like the Giro ambient or fox polar paw. The bulk of the insulating work should be done by the poagies. And I'd invest in a real set of winter MTB boots. Something like the Lake MMXZ400 should do the trick for brutal cold but there are 3 other winter boots by Lake designed for slightly warmer conditions; MMXZ 303, MX 145 and CX 145. Also there are Bontrager's OMW winter boots.

Last, as some riders have suggested, if you're in temps like that, bring an "Oh SHIT!" emergency kit: a good puffy coat, some thick gloves for walking out, and a thicker hat or balacava.
  • + 1
 I've got two winter gear hacks to add: First, I use my snowboard helmet as my winter (even fall) riding helmet. It's got the ear flaps and it's awesome to not have to set up goofy layers under my helmet. Second, I have a $20 pair of utility gloves that are so good .. I ride on some frosty days, and they do a great job keeping me warm without restricting my control on the brakes/shifters (yeah, plural shifters - what, did you think the "hack" guy was up to date with single speed drivetrains?)
  • + 1
 A skull cap will allow you to use your regular bike helmet, @mattmovesmountains; your snowboard helmet isn't really designed to protect your head for the kind of impacts a bike crash can dish out. A skull cap will easily fit under your helmet and will also cover your ears. As to gloves, I can't wear those kind without freezing my fingers off. I need some insulation.
  • + 1
 I sometimes look at that technical clothing thinking it would be great to not get wet from rain and puddles and not get wet from sweat as well. But considering the price, I'd be so concerned to damage it on a ride that I wouldn't wear it then. I'm not saying I'm incredibly fast and am doing big hucks in those muddy conditions. But you can crash on the silliest stuff in the wet and a thorn or branch can cut through your clothes just as well. And I feel my body does a pretty good job maintaining itself when it is unprotected against the elements (I usually ride in baggy shorts and a T-shirt with cut-off sleeves until it drops below 5degC) than when it is being fooled by a jacket which seeps wind and water through the seams, cuts and zipper. I've got a sleeveless windstopper which, when I wear it, put under an MX shirt. Or course my stuff is getting soaked and I'm getting cold so that's why I should indeed be looking at something technical. But only if it is up to some minor scrapes and crashes and that cuts can easily be fixed. So yeah, I'd really be interested to see it being tested against that (if it is designed to survive, that is).

One hint here could be to just wear a cap under your helmet. You're losing a lot of heat through your skull so it would be silly not to cover that (and your ears). I usually use a bandana to tame my hair to be able to fit my helmet so maybe I'm already covered there better than some others. Also, a separate skarf/Buff around your neck will help you as well and give you more freedom than a high collar on your jacket.
  • + 2
 Technical gear designed for proper mountain biking will hold up to crashes fairly well, @vinay; but being cognizant that shit can happen is a realistic view. The tip about wearing a cap is good. A skull cap will run you $25-30, cover your ears, and fit seamlessly under your helmet.
  • + 1
 @meagerdude: Do you have experience with Gore Bike Wear? I got one of their GoreTex jackets cheap at a local bikeshop. I use it directly over a base layer to ride to work on a rainy day. I've got to say, I'm impressed I'm indeed staying dry! Does this stuff qualify as technical gear for proper mountainbiking as well? If so I could give it a shot. Luckily Gore Bike Wear stands behind their products in that they also repair you clothes if need be.
  • + 1
 @vinay: Gore does make some killer gear. I like a lot of their gear.
  • + 1
 @meagerdude: Cool, glad to hear. I have the jacket so I'll take it with me on an mtb ride sometime. Thanks!
  • + 1
 Floated down a river in Thailand with the family, each in a raft with a spare one carrying a refrigerated chest full of beer and munchies. Got proper drunk , daughter got attacked by monster spiders and i almost drowned, happy days. Love that Patrol, and nice pics, but seriously bike kit is ott pricey ,
  • + 1
 The best shell I have ever had is a North Face Summit Series Oroshi thing. 'sans hood'
Its like textured lycra with a soft liner. Was $100 at NF three years ago. I thrash it here in the Oregon clay/mud that we get and it always washes out bran spanking new. Use it to sit on too when my 9yo Royal shorts are caked in the car!

It gets very warm on long climbs with a fatbike but thats what the zipper is for.

Would like some thin, warm knee guards tho and some nice gloves. 30yo joints starting to feel it after 15 years of riding/wrenching.
  • + 1
 Merino wool as a base layer.....nope, not for me as a sweaty sweaty soul, wets out, never dries and is cold, oh and that is with Patagonia/smartwool/icebreaker/;ME/enudra/ and a few others that I bought based on the magazine's / media rave reviews.......
  • + 2
 I wear Merino wool as a base layer when riding to work on my road bike. I used to ride in the winter with my Under armor compression jersey with a windstopper cycling jersey/jacket. It did keep me warm but the Merino wool kept me even warmer.
  • + 2
 Merino wool will wick and will stay funk free. But if you're sweating that much @slippeddisc , likely you need a more breathable outer layer or to vent, sooner, before your base layer wets out.
  • + 1
 @meagerdude: not in my experience, I hear what you say, but I tend to use only a windproof shell, at the moment a hagloft but in the past Patagonia/ Lowe/ buffalo, something that is high breathable, even then under strenuous exercise I produce so much sweat the wool is unable to cope
  • + 2
 Would be good to state the "comfortable" temperature range of each outfit. Especially with shorts and those breathable knee pads which can be ok till >15 Celsius. Otherwise you will end on a wheelchair.
  • + 1
 The comfortable range is entirely dependable on how you choose to layer up, @semanuel; that's the beauty of using a shell and a layering system. You can layer up for precisely the conditions that you typically ride in. 3C? Base layer and medium weight mid layer. Below freezing? Add a skull cap or a mid light vest. It all depends on your personal preference.
  • + 1
 "Would be good to state the "comfortable" temperature range of each outfit"

My "comfortable" isn't necessarily your "comfortable" - so how would that work?
  • + 1
 @KeithReeder: Comfortable is warm and dry. The idea is to have a set up that breathes well enough/vents well enough that you're not creating a jungle inside your clothing. What exactly that is will depend heavily on what you're wearing, how cold it is, and how hard you are riding. If you're not used to riding regularly in cold and miserable conditions, that might take some trial and error to dial in. Just start with a good base layer and a good shell, and experiment a bit with the mid layer.
  • + 1
 I read all these, then I buy the north face jacket I saw on clearance, so there goes all my research.

Winter gear as it should be:

Wool socks, bought by the ass load from Costco

Some sort of pull over, I have everything from cheap Adidas to fleecy wool pullovers

Two pairs of riding shoes so you can rotate and avoid riding in wet shoes

Gloves of some sort, I buy cold weather gloves at Costco for like 14$

Something to keep your ears warm

Windbreaker that will get too hot within two miles that you will stuff in your pack.

Literally none of my cold weather gear is from a ccling brand, screw that.
  • + 1
 No pants? Winter gear fail.
Exposed calves = cold feet regardless of winter boots or seal skins.
No pants on a wet ride = water running down your calves inside your sealskins and means wet feet.
Pants mean you can hose yourself down when you spray your bike off, pull your pants and be ready to make the trek through the house to the shower.
  • + 1
 I have more of a question really or your opinion regarding shoes. I ride flat and h a couple of 510s with my winter ones being the vxi elements, don't get me wrong they are awesome for every thing even in the summer (although can boil sometimes) but when the temp gets below zero my feet turn to ice no matter what I do, tried standard merino socks, merino socks + another thin, plastic bag + merino (cold sweat fest), ski socks etc. So I have a set of Salomon quest hiking boots which are killer, keep feet warm and dry no matter what condition. So my question is do you have any "home recipes" that work or have to tried riding in hiking boots and what was the outcome?
  • + 2
 I ride in a pair of Karrimor hiking boots but only when the weather is absolutely dire. I wear long running bottoms under full lightweight waterproof pants with the boots for when it pissing down all day and I get back home warm and dry no matter what. You've not got the same feeling on the pedals obviously as you would have with the five tens. But it's a reasonible compromise to make for warmth and being able to stay out longer. It's just my hands that suffer hence the glove question above.
  • + 1
 @dglobulator: thanks mate, I'm gonna try it out this weekend with the hiking boots even though the temp is not as Baltic as it has been, I used to suffer with the hands too however I've been using a thermal liner from my snowboard gloves and a size larger waterproof campagnolo glove which are really thin, the problem I now suffer with is halfway through a ride I have sweetie hands, but it's a nice problem as I just take the liners off and carry on as the warmth has built up.
  • + 2
 @bootlegpegasus: You could try wearing some SealSkinz waterproof socks, and perhaps thick socks over the top, or underneath, whatever. SealSkins will stop getting wet feet, and thick socks will help stay warm.
  • + 1
 @Jack-McLovin: thanks mate, I've got some and tried it, trouble is that when I double bag it's too tight and circulation goes when they get cold anyway.
  • + 2
 I ride clips, @bootlegpegasus, so no suggestions for flat pedals, but if you check Lake and Bontrager, they make some pretty burly cold stuff that might work for you. The Bontrager OMW shoe is spd compatible but looks like a bulky enough sole that it'd do for flat pedals, too.
  • + 1
 This is North Vancouver "winter" gear and/or perhaps other places in the PNW or California - only. You couldn't get away with this stuff in Squamish either - home to Pink Bike.
  • + 2
 Actually you can wear all of this in Squamish, @laminar; 7Mesh is based there and those guys ride year round, too. It's all just a matter of layering up properly. Of course when the trails get buried, though, all bets are off.
  • + 1
 @meagerdude: I'm well aware of how to layer, but virtually every one of these kits involves shorts which IMO are not winter cycling apparel. All I'm saying is there's a small pocket of riders who would dress this way for winter riding - you wouldn't be getting away with shorts in Alberta. I lived in Vancouver for 15 years and yes, shorts and light layers are fine on the north shore, but that place is a Canadian anomaly.
  • + 1
 Winter in Alberta means -30c. Just go to Costco and buy up a whole bunch of wool and synthetic layers and you are good to go...all for less then the price of one super technical jacket.
  • + 1
 I wish I could post pictures in the comment section... I'd show you what winter riding in Canada really looks like.

Hint: it's a lot less green most places east of Vancouver.
  • + 1
 Yup. But is the snow shallow enough you can mountain bike or is it so deep that you need to fat bike? Not that that really matters, @ChrisNorfolk; we chose gear that you can layer up, so it will work in 5 degree C temps or -5 degree C. Not so much the gloves, though; gloves that you can actually shift and use your brakes easily are typically only good down to -3C.After that your best bet are poagies.
  • + 1
 Maybe if you have a flip phone the pockets on the Ruckus shorts will work. However, I've found that the pockets are anything but useful and wish they would have the same pockets they have on their Moto shorts.
  • + 1
 I rode for a couple hours in the Ruckus shorts with an iPhone 5 in the left pocket and had no worries.
  • + 2
 Avoid wearing any cotton, even cotton blends. Cotton has high conductivity. When it's cold and wet it stays cold unlike wool and polyester.
  • + 1
 I noticed the title is "winter gear review" bbuutt they are in shorts and in a river...... Me? I wear long pants in the winder
  • + 1
 I wish pb would give actual ratings out of 10, or developed some other rubric. Why does every company get a trophy? This isn't little league...
  • + 1
 All the gear we tested fit well and performed well. There really weren't any dogs in the bunch (unlike last year). Some of this gear and the gear in part 2 might fail in long term testing but we deliberately chose quality clothing to review.
  • + 2
 That's no Winter Gear! I m wearing 20 layers Just so i don't frost bite. (Edmonton -29C)
  • + 1
 Come visit then and get in some good, muddy ride time in our 'hood. You'll love it. Or head to Sedona, AZ and get in some desert riding time.
  • + 1
 I buy most of my riding gear from Wallmart or Target. Cheap and works just the same, no guilt to chuck after a muddy session during winter rides.
  • + 4
 I actually cruised Walmart looking to build a kit for winter riding, @drivereight, and found it to be a massive step down in fit, function, and general quality. We just never had a chance to shoot it before we started assembling this review. I could build a kit for $50, but it was neither wind nor water proof or even wind or water resistant. Fit wise, the jacket was excessively roomy and flapped in the wind. The rain pants hooked the saddle and snagged my chain. The gloves were useless and seemed to just absorb water. They were more like a sponge, actually.

The Endura kit I tested last winter held up all winter long. No tossing that away after an excessively muddy ride to end up in a land fill somewhere, either.
  • + 1
 @meagerdude: MT500 is where it's at. Top bit of kit that jacket!
  • + 1
 @Garpur44: It's a great jacket, that's for sure. A bit too heavy to just toss into pack as a just in case item in the early fall, though. But it is bullet proof in the wet.
  • + 2
 Winter gear? Where is the snow?!?
  • + 2
 Also, how'd they get so clean?
  • + 1
 We had pretty mild temperatures and weather when we shot the gear, @frankmajesty; we had to shoot everything before we started abusing it. But we tested it in a good mix of weather. Not super cold, we had a surprisingly mild autumn in Hood River this year until this past week: snow and freezing rain.
  • + 2
 What kind of winter do you have to wear those plastic bags.
  • + 2
 Looking forward to the next installment. Thanks.
  • + 1
 why do mountainbikers always pulp their socks uplooks goofy. rsprcipoy in thwt pic eith the shimano shoes
  • + 1
 all very cool apparel,but I thought there was going to be cold weather gear reviewed
  • + 2
 is pinkbike a canadian site?!...

sorry... this is just part one
  • + 2
 So Nikki has a 27.5 inch waist.... :-)
  • + 3
 yeah better than a 29" waist but not as good as a 26":-)
  • + 2
 Ha! I guess I need to slim down if I want to keep the 26 crowd happy
  • + 3
 36-24-36? Ha ha, only if she's 5'3...
  • + 1
 Cold weather riding means get out there and get it done so you can get back know in to dry out and stay warm.....
  • + 1
 Most of the trails in my area don't allow wet weather MTB... What's the point?!
  • + 1
 That's a shame; wet weather riding is great. Properly built and maintained trails are just fine in the wet.
  • + 1
 Not gonna lie, that pic of floating in the hood river with the snowline in the background resulted in shrinkage.
  • + 1
 if you're gonna go riding in mud n rain n shit, you're going get wet no matter what. that's the rules
  • + 1
 If you CAN'T SKATE on your river《Winnipeg》, you have no clue what winter is.
  • + 2
 Let`s say fall gear !
  • + 3
 Well done - you get the award for being the millionth whiny Canuck on the thread who thinks that only you know what "cold" means.
  • + 1
 Loving the PitVipers in the river float.
  • + 1
 Bontrager bright blue jacket for $175 ! Hahahaha no thanks!!
  • + 1
 Endura MT500II Jacket...the only one better than Gore Bike Wear.
  • + 1
 Did we need 100 pictures of a Transition Patrol? Hmmm...
  • + 1
 We may be able to switch clothing for the shoots, but not the bikes.
  • + 2
 @meagerdude: how could you possibly photograph clothing without holding a bike?
  • + 5
 @LemonadeMoney: complaining about bikes on a bike related website...
  • + 1
 @meagerdude: C'mon surely for the sake of fairness you should have taken at least 100 bikes with you made sure that you had swung a leg over a different frame before each pic was taken. Meh, call yourself journalists
  • + 1
 @Garpur44: good one!
  • + 1
 Why is this stuff so expensive?
  • + 0
 For the love of god put that TLD visor up!
  • + 1
 no Dakine?
  • + 1
 We reviewed Dakine last year and they didn't have anything new in this year's line up. Although they have something in the works, I hear.
  • + 1
 @meagerdude: That is right, forgot you guys had done a review last year.

Thanks!
  • + 1
 @meagerdude: guess that was the same reason Endura didn't make it in then
  • - 1
 Tl;dr

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