SportHill makes a bunch of clothing aimed at active outdoor users. They’re Zone3 stuff is aimed at cold weather (0 -40 degrees F) and since it is aimed at active wearers has enough lycra and stuff to be great. You can totally replace multiple layers with clothing like this and be more comfortable. I certainly find them more comfortable than the one bit of cycling specific cold weather tights I have. They’re windproof to 35 mph and are a comfortable 4 way stretch fabric with a waist tie, zipper side pockets, and zippers down by the ankles. The XC Pant made of 3SP. Skiing, Skating, Biking, and not nearly as geeky as cycling clothing. They also make the more “jeans like” (a bit of a stretch thinks I) ATV II. A new favorite company and product.
A bunch of years ago I bought a jacket that looked like wool on the outside and had PrimaLoft insulation. Hailed as a replacement for down, I simply thought the jacket looked nice on me and wasn’t very heavy. Sadly at the time I could almost never wear it because it was too warm. I was a lot heavier then, almost never got cold and didn’t expect this light jacket to be so warm. All these years later where getting cold seems to be a daily affair while I sit, I bought another jacket with PrimaLoft in it, only this time it’s working for me. I have a really nice down jacket called the Sub Zero from Mountain Hardwear it’s the third jacket of theirs that I own. This year I added the Torque since I knew my commute would be changing. Last year I did the train all winter (lots of standing on cold, windy, train platforms and walking to and from stations) this year in order to spend more time with my son at night I’ve been driving. Driving requires a lot less insulation, and I wanted something simpler than the layered (fleece jacket with shell over) to get in and out of. Since this jacket was on the clearance rack it joined the party. It has a lot of nice features for snow activities or commuting and is warm enough to not require a middle layer beneath. I should add that last year there were times when I wore the middle fleece layer, the down jacket, and the shell over it (to protect it and add even more warmth) with the upside being that once I was in the office I wasn’t sitting around swaddled in layer upon layer, but still managed to not freeze waiting for trains at the station platform, which I honestly think is the coldest, windiest place on earth. (If you sit inside with the trains I had to take you were not, repeat *not* getting a seat, because there’s some hard as nails commuters out there. It was either harden up, or stand for close to an hour and a half. I split the difference, and used tech to my benefit). Anyway, from my long removed from the product line Ethereal shell (at least 10 years if not more) to this jacket I can recommend Mountain Hardwear as a great line of hardworking outdoor gear. Two of the pieces use their waterproof, breathable Conduit membrane (which they claim uses “interconnecting molecular conduits to actively draw moisture vapor away from your body”). I’m sure I wouldn’t know, but both pieces are comfortable.
Some last generic bits of whatever this has become… I’ve come to love so called “micro-fleece” tops. I can layer them over t-shirts or wear them as base layers. The brand hasn’t mattered too much… some wear longer than others, but they often cost a lot more. I love stuff from Patagonia, although I can’t afford it until a store clears it out… and I also love the companies focus on taking care of their people and the environment as best they can. Check out Yvon Chouinard’s book. There’s also a free talk on iTunes from him that is well worth checking out.
Why all this? A friend asked…