Years ago when I was in grade school, Old Navy’s performance fleece was literally, the hottest sh*t in the yard. I also remembered it being shockingly cheap both in price, and eventually, the realization of its performance, or the lack thereof. But hey, hype-driven fast fashion at its finest.
Admittedly, I haven’t really given fleece another chance since then. I became smitten with water/windproof shells, a Patagonia down jacket, and an assortment of hoodies to go along with my messenger bag. I guess you can say it’s so damn hip San Francisco.
But I gave fleece another go last November when I saw the Mission Workshop’s Bosun Fleece jacket. While it is not without quirks, it’s darn near close to being the layer for so many reasons.
At first glance, the Portugal-made fleece jacket is reminiscent of those rugged military fleece jackets that were meant to be worn in all-terrain. With its 305 gram per square meter shearling poly fleece construction and a tailored, fitted fit, the Bosun felt substantial in hand. I wouldn’t say it felt like wearing a boat anchor, but its weight was definitely noticeable.
I received mine a few days before a wildfire in Northern California and as I was packing for what turned out to be a week-long assignment, I brought it instead of my down jacket knowing I needed something more heavy duty. I ended up sleeping in it for two days in the back of my car and found myself reaching for it during the mornings and evenings when the temperature dropped to the 40s. I even wore it over my Nomex fire suit a few times in order to stay warm.
Then, along came a trip to Japan weeks later. The fleece on the Bosun is thick and fluffy so it takes up more space in my suitcase, but unlike many low-quality fleece jackets, it stayed fluffy and most importantly warm over time with zero maintenance required. I layered it with Mission Workshop’s lightweight but spectacular Orion waterproof jacket whenever it rained, and it worked out to be a fantastic modular combo. Those nylon shoulder reinforcements? They were great as I was able to trade my camera straps to shouldering a backpack and a Babybjörn all day without worrying about wearing out those areas. I also like the fact that its understated grey color doesn’t garner any attention, and enjoyed the useful zippered rear back pockets to quickly stash maps, baby-wipes, and in one occasion, a can of stone-cold Asahi.
I do wish there was more give to the non-adjustable cuffs, however. They were tight around my tiny wrists which can be quite annoying if you want to check the time or simply roll the sleeves up a little.
At $265, the Bosun is competitively priced against, and arguably more urban-looking than many of the hiking-focused fleece jackets currently on the market. With its robust construction backed with a lifetime warranty, the Bosun is built for the long haul for both urban and rural lifestyles plus anything in between.
The Holidays are in the rearview mirror and now all we have to look forward to is several months of short, dark days and questionable weather.
We can still partake in daydreaming, adventure planning and some good ol’ retail therapy. So in the spirit of the Holidays past we bring you a list of items to occupy your mind, enliven your spirit and thin your wallet.
As we head into 2019, with all the struggles of the Stock Market, the bicycle industry and the confusion over tire size, pressure and compound, we still remain huge fans of all things bicycle. And while we are still confused about all this indoor “bicycling” everyone seems to be doing, we hope this will lead us all to more adventures and miles outdoors.
Giro not only sweats all the little details in striving to make the safest helmet, but the Santa Cruz, California firm also understands the importance of aesthetics. Case in point, that new Aether MIPS. Gone is the oft pesky (but life-saving) MIPS plastic liner that we have all come to love and loathe, depending on who you’re asking, but the function of MIPS remains. How? Giro’s engineers incorporated it between two EPS shells, thus making it pretty much invisible, with no obstruction and more comfort. Besides the nine different stock colors, you can also make a one-of-a-kind custom Aether on their website. How about that for a fashion statement?
Kali’s Strike Knee Armor has you covered when things start to get a little “gnar.” The Strikes stay in place, are comfortable in the riding position and are slim enough to sit nicely under any and all of our fashionable baggie short choices. While we wouldn’t want to do chairlift runs in a pair of these, we found we had a plenty of piece-of-mind riding our local trails and ripping our local drops knowing we had our knees Kali covered.
Just read Outershells “About” page and, if you aren’t completely jaded by the world, you will just want to throw money at them. And I quote, “The ‘Outer Shell Adventure’ embodies our quest towards spiritual harmony with ourselves, nature and other travelers.” I mean. Come on. They make really sweet bags, have a satisfaction guarantee and will basically fix any problem into eternity free of charge. We threw down some coin on their Drawcord Handlebar Bag in hopes it would be the final dollar we would spend on trying to solve our “bikes and cameras…cameras and bikes” problem. And although we loved the construction and detail put into this bag, our hunt for the perfect camera bag continues. The size is perfect for our micro 4:3 camera, mounting is straight ahead and the drawstring allowed seemless access. We just don’t want our camera in a bag. If you are the type of rider who needs a little more room than your jersey pockets allow and you love to stop and take pictures… this might be the perfect bag for you.
Born in 2003 and rebirthed late last year, the Kenda Nevegal 2 Pro is back with all the classic stylings and modern accoutrements todays trail riders are looking for. The newly designed tire is fast rolling, protected with K-Armor and is surprisingly lightweight for a tire with this much enduro worthy pedigree. If you love to get after it, but also don’t mind pedaling to get there, this tire should be on your shopping list. If you are a full on Enduro contender, you might want to look elsewhere for something just a touch beefier.
These Mission Workshop Traverse bloomers are nothing short of amazing. They may lack the neon accents and full on bells and whistles of other shorts in this “segment,” but what they lack in bling they make up for in subtle superiority. The material is ripstopping and confidence inspiring, while remaining in the featherweight division. Two smaller side zipper pockets offer just enough storage for the one or two items you want immediate access to. And the “contoured waist belt” pushes this short from good to great while keeping the short right where we like them even in the trickiest of situations. Bravo, Mission Workshop. Bravo. Now we just need to try the All Mountain version of this short.
Fi’zi:k Aliante Open R1
The Fi’zi:k Aliante has been one very successful saddle since its introduction in the early 2000’s. Its TwinFlex shell is supremely comfortable akin to lounging on a hammock, a heaven for those who prefer to stay seated the majority of the time. The overall concept hasn’t changed much through the years, but Fi’zi;k decided to really shake things up a bit last year. The new Aliante Open R1 retains the gorgeous silhouette of the Aliante family, but adds an anatomical cutout in the center to alleviate unwanted pressure on those sensitive soft tissues. A wider, larger version is also available for those who need additional support. If cutouts are not your thing, Fi’zi:k is also offering a version with its full-length Versus relief channel, or you can always go to the tried-and-true regular Aliante, both also available in two widths.
Mission Workshop has been expanding its lineup of cycling apparel and the latest addition from the San Francisco-based outfitter, the Pavement and Gravel (PNG) Cycling Collection, is more than just some plain black outfit.
As its name suggests, it is designed for mixed-surface cycling and Mission Workshop went to great lengths to find the right fabric for the job, as they have always done for their products. The collection includes a jersey, a bib short, an ultralight jacket, a base layer, and a pair of socks.
Each individual piece of garment varies in its construction. Highlights include the ultralight Japanese weather and water-resistant material on the Interval jacket, incorporation of Dyneema fiber in the bibs for crash resistance, the novel 37.5 fabric that is said to be embedded with microporous particles derived from volcanic sand and activated carbon to keep the wearer’s body core temperature at an ideal 37.5° Celsius and 37.5% humidity for optimal thermoregulation.
There hasn’t been much rain in San Francisco over the past few months and while the first day of summer is only days away, SF weather is as unpredictable like a tweetstorm out of somewhere nowhere. You see, weather in this seven by seven mile city can fluctuate from sunny 70s in Downtown to a depressingly foggy 50s out in the Sunset. And rain? The weather can be so nice that every single hipster would be out lounging in Dolores Park today and then there can be nothing but pouring rain the day after.
Yea, you get my drift. What you need is a dependable, packable waterproof jacket. My latest favorite? The Orion Jacket from the Mission Workshop.
Fittingly designed in San Francisco and made in Portugal, the Orion is monotonous. It doesn’t draw much, if any, attention. It’s black like the original Ford Model T, has minimal branding and some glossy black zippers. That’s about it. Or looks to be it. But no, the Orion is anything but another run of the mill shell that would flock a MUNI train stop on any rainy day.
Its similarity to other black waterproof shell ends there, however. Constructed out of three layers of Toray Entrant fabric, the same Japanese chemical company that supplies carbon fibers to build Pinarellos and Boeing 787s, the Orion is windproof and waterproof against outside elements, yet also permeable to allow moisture from the inside to escape during activities. It’s the jacket one would want to be wearing while dashing to bus stops or riding alongside Karl the Fog. Remember those glossy zippers I mentioned earlier? They are fully taped and waterproof too.
Moving upward, the Orion has a removable hood with a built-in visor. Now, the hood is so exceptionally big that I can fit it over my helmet. I suppose that’s the reason behind its size given its intended usage as a do-it-all activity jacket because no one designs a waterproof jacket for indoor usage. Though large in size, the hood can be adjusted three ways so you won’t look like a total doofus using it without a helmet. The hood is also removable by disconnecting seven non-metallic Pyrm Snap fasteners that have proven to be very secure and easy to use.
Besides having all the major pockets in natural places, the Orion also features a rather useful rear pocket at the lower back. It’s great for stashing gloves, gels, prescriptions from my optometrist, or if you want to go a little extreme, a small first aid kit. Thankfully, there hasn’t been any violent protests around town to cover this year.
That Entrant fabric is pretty amazing, as well. It’s thin, flexible, and not too noisy compared to other shells I’ve owned in the past. The Japanese-made fabric has kept me dry in the rare nasty thunderstorms as well my children’s barrage of juices and milk all throughout this spring. It did get a bit cozy at times, as all waterproof jackets do in some shape or form, but the zippered vents built under each arm were effective and easy to operate one-handedly even when out riding.
The more I wear it, the more I notice the designers’ attention to detail. Its tapered cut fits very nicely, with just the right amount of dovetail to cover my rear while riding. I do wish the angled cuff was a bit stretchier or adjustable to fit my chicken arms better, especially since I am one of those who likes to pull my jacket cuff higher up my arms when I am doing stuff.
It packs down very nicely and weighs like nothing too, which gives me more reason to carry it around town, or when I am travelling. At $445, the Orion is priced toward the higher end of the spectrum amongst notables such as the $419 Noorøna Bitihorn Gore-Tex Shake Dry and the $749 Arc’teryx Alpha SV. Is it worth it? I love mine and it’s a investment I would not hesitate to pull the trigger on.
I live in earthquake country and sadly I am more prepared to run out the door for a chance at some hero dirt than I am for a big shaker. But then again, maybe it just means I have my priorities straight. Because statistically I feel like I am more likely to get invited to a knobby tire adventure, than I am to be around for the “big one.” This might be foolish thinking and in the end I might regret my decisions, but it is much more fun shopping for new knobbies, than shopping for bottled water and C-rations.
Oddly, I have given this a lot of thought. Since I mostly travel with my road bike I am always trying to find some way to get in a little dirt when I am on the road. This means I have to beg, borrow, plead or rent my way onto a mountain bike. Below is the short list of things I try to pack to make sure I am not only able to ride, but am stoked when the opportunity arises.
Rolling over the top of a blind-pitch, headed to god-only-knows where, the last thing going through my mind is whether-or-not the person who designed my helmet knew what they were doing. Luckily, for me I’m wearing a helmet designed by protection nerd, Brad Waldron, at Kali Protectives. The Interceptor is one of many choices in the newish “enduro” helmet market, designed to give more protection than a weight-weenie cross country helmet, but not the no-holds-bar protection of a downhill helmet. The Interceptor has great coverage, style and plenty of ventilation for all day comfort and just the right amount of “holy shit, about to have an epic yard sale” piece-of-mind for your melon.
Sticky feet make for happy trails and the Five Ten reputation defining Freeride Pro is the perfect go-bag shoe. Pull them on, wear them through the airport, out to dinner and onto the gnar from the trailhead. The Freerider Pro is perfect for rolling all over the mountain and honing your mountain biking skills. If you’re not wearing Five Tens, what are you wearing?
Who knew staying hydrated could be so sexy. So very sexy. Mission Workshop’s Hauser hydration pack falls on the pricier size of packs to strap to your back during your shred and we know form is supposed to follow function, but in this case we wanted a Hauser long before we ever figured out if it was any good. Luckily, for us and for you, this is one quality ripping sack.
To start, let’s get the double bummer out of the way. First, the hydration ready bag, even at over 200 clams, does not come with a hydration bag. It seems a little silly to design a backpack specifically for hydration and to not include a bladder. Fortunately, for me I had one of Osprey’s Reservoirs on the way and can now attest it is one of the nicest and easiest to use bladders on the market. Second, this may not be the best backpack to pack on a scorching hot day. Although, we don’t get many of those here in NorCal, but having this in my go-bag as I prepare for a trip to the Arizona desert has me a little concerned. It just does not vent against the back as well as my Camelbak Mule.
Now on to what we did like about the Hauser. We already mentioned how amazing it looks, but with those good looks comes stellar construction. This pack is built to withstand any major yard sales, comes with an additional tool roll, has plenty of pockets for organization, is waterproof and we chose the larger 14 liter version which sits nicely on the back without hindering mobility. And we would remiss if we didn’t mention these beauties are made right here in the ol’ U.S. of A. and comes with a lifetime guarantee.
We like it. And we think it brings out the color in our eyes.
These Shimano flat pedals are not the lightest or the thinnest pedals on the market, but they are reasonably priced and workhorses ready for anything you can huck off of or pedal up. The other nice part about packing these MX80 pedals instead of clipless is they will, arguably, make you a better rider. They will make you find a better balance on the bike, teach you to weight and un-weight more efficiently and will give you more confidence on a strange whip.
The hardest decision I have when putting my go-bag together is which tool, hell how many tools, do I “need” to feel comfortable on the trail with someone else’s bicycle. The first thing I make sure I have is some duct tape. I usually wrap a nice helping around a hand pump I bury deep in my bag. I then pack a giant multitool, with a chain breaker, into my bag. I love the tools from Lezyne, Park and Crank Bros. Which brings us to the DynaPlug Air and our love of all things DynaPlug and CO2. With this little wonder you just find the puncture, push the repair dealie into the punture and twist on the air. The air plugs the hole and fills your knobbies back to pressure at the same time. Of course, this won’t help if you have a side tear, but that is why I carry a tube, extra C02 and duct tape.
I have been using my North Face duffel bag as my catch-all, stuff it full and go-bag for the last couple of years and I have had no complaints. The only problem being that although the duffel swallows everything I can think to throw into it, but that also means I can spend way too much time, sometimes in a panic, digging around in its gluttonous innards in search of this or that.
Along comes Silca’s new Maratona gear bag with a spacious amount of room and ample organizational opportunities. You have the option of three different carrying straps or make the quick conversion to make it a backpack. The Maratona is designed to meet airline carry-on regulations, so whether you are going around the corner or around the globe, your go-bag is ready to go.
Sure they are better when they are fresh, but even an old Clif Bar is better than no Clif bar at all. Sure you could do a gel or a block or another bar, but I’ve been gnawing on Clif Bars so long they feel almost like comfort food. Ok, maybe not like a big bowl of mac-n-cheese, biscuits and gravy or a piece of pumpkin pie, but these bars have gotten me through plenty of oh-crap-I-am-about-to-bonk situations.
Let there be light. With the days shortening, but the weather still within acceptable riding temperatures, it is the time of dawn and dusk patrols. It is also time to break out the blinky lights and headlamps. The Seca 1800 is an excellent choice for these extend the day jaunts. The quad LED array throws enough light to gobble up the dark and make you feel secure in your line choices on any trail you find yourself pedaling. We ran the Seca on our bars and we ran the Seca 1800 (as in 1800 lumens) on our helmet and didn’t feel like we were asking too much of it in either spot. Add in the fact this chubby, but lightweight light is waterproof and it will get you where you need to go, even if you should have gotten there hours earlier.
The cycling rain jacket has come a long way in the last 5 or so years. Not that long ago rain jackets made for cycling were basically fancy garbage bags with zippers stitched in for good measure. You basically pulled it on and let the sweating begin. And lord forbid the rain eased before the ride ended and you had to remove your jacket… you were soaked through and through. The new generation of rain jackets is not only windproof and waterproof, but also “somewhat” breathable. The Monsoon jacket is cut plenty long, with great length on the elastic sleeves, taped seams and packs down to a surprisingly small footprint. I also love my Mission Workshop’s The Orion jacket, the Castelli Tempesta jacket and the Shower Pass Club Pro.
This is the first version of Kitsbow’s Base Shorts and I keep them at the ready for any last minute rides. They are beautifully constructed, bombproof and super cozy. I’ve put them permanently into my go-bag, knowing full well they are ready for anything the trail can throw at me. If my bits are protected and comfortable, I can always ride in a pair of jorts and a flannel shirt, so as long as I have my Kitsbow base shorts I am good to roll.