Bright kits certainly have a place on the road. But neutral tones shine when discreetly transitioning from saddle to market or playing the role of bicycle tourist. This past fall we had a fantastic opportunity to explore Slovenia’s backroads, dressed head to toe in Mission Workshop’s subtle fall palette.
MW gave us carte blanche to choose the kit we thought would work best across variable climates, on and off the bike. Here’s our picks, with thoughts on what worked for a week of bikepacking and cycle touring…
Mission Workshop’s technically casual cycling gear
For the saddle, we chose a handful of garments made from merino wool, including a merino henley with retro styling that seems to be making a comeback this season. The material is super soft, has natural anti-microbial qualities, and naturally blocks harmful UV rays. The Sector Quick Dry is an ultralight tech tee that’s fitted enough for fast riding, but still looks appropriate off the bike.
Steve: Lately, I’ve found myself wearing almost entirely bib-shorts. They’re super comfortable and support the body for long hours in the saddle. So switching to padded shorts was a bit of a gamble. But we were really pleased with MW’s Parallel padded short. It didn’t suffer from many of the issues I worry about with shorts: gut compression, quad compression… crack drop. And, of course, shorts makes pee breaks less of an obstacle when nature calls.
Tyler: The shorts also worked well over multiple days, with hours often spent both on and off the bike. The padding isn’t so thick they’re awkward to walk in…no diaper-like feeling here. Judgement aside, I wore mine daily with no washings for the whole week, and they never got gross.
Steve: I did. Each night, I rinsed my riding shorts out in the shower, wrung them out between towels, and hung them over the heated towel bars (one of the benefits of “credit card camping”). We both handwashed our T-shirts a couple times, and the wool bounced back and stayed soft and classy throughout the week.
Steve: We paired the padded shorts with the Mission’s Traverse XC short, which looked good both on and off the bike. The shorts are lightweight and have a slim fit and an adjustable waist the dial in the fit without riding down the backside. Two side cargo pockets can each swallow an iPhone XS Max and stay out of the way. The bottoms were a winning combination.
Tyler: I’ve been wearing the standard Traverse mountain bike shorts for years, they’re my go-to shell shorts. The XC version fits a little slimmer, but has all the same features: side-pull waist adjustment, rear-set zipper side pockets, and a lightweight windproof and water-resistant material. And they come in this sweet, muted urban camo color option.
Steve: On the downhill and wet days, we added a splash of color with the Workshop’s bright orange Interval Windshell (actually, Tyler rocked the orange, I went with a light gray, shown further down, since my Bontrager helmet was day-glow yellow). A hood tucks away into the collar. I’m not a fan of wearing a hood while riding, but it’s nice to have for walking the streets. Of course, it’s offered in street camo and black should you want to strut the street look.
Tyler: Our last day finished with the only rain we saw, and the jacket unfortunately ended up soaked through fairly easily. While MW’s Orion and Meridian jackets are properly waterproof, this one is more of a windbreaker. And for that, it’s great. There’s a small zippered side pocket, soft elastic thumb loops, and a comfortable without oversized fit. It also packs easily into a jersey pocket.
Lifestyle gear for off the bike
Steve: Out of the saddle we caught the Slovenian sites with the Workshop’s Dumo Cargo pants and Faroe hoodie. The cotton pants are stretchy, have a slim fit, and are washed in a DWR to shed those storms that frequent the Julian Alps. My pants were a little long, so I had them tailored locally. Tyler (who has a good 4″ on me), wore his pants straight off the rack. We really liked the position of the side zipper pocket, which was large enough to stow the passport or phone.
Tyler: Having had MW’s Traverse shorts for years and rockin’ a size 34, I ordered a 34 for these and their Anaga board shorts and Apoch shorts. Those, and the Dume’s, ended up too big. While a 34 worked great for the Traverse, I could’ve used a 32 in the Dume, and a 33 for the other two shorts. MW will exchange them, but not if you’ve worn or washed them, so be sure to try them on before heading out into the wild.
Steve: I paired the pants with the Faroe Hoodie – a light colored merino wool hoodie that’s both fantastic on the bike and when stuck in the chilled hull on an international flight. The hoodie is offered in lightweight and mid-weight merino, cotton, and wind pro for chilly days.
Tyler: I chose the Perimeter long-sleeve tee because I already owned a Faroe and its torso length is a little short for me. It’s a great piece, but at 6’2″, it shows mid-riff if I raise my arms above my head. Steve’s 5’10 so it worked great for him. The Perimeter (brown, shown in photo directly below) has more length and no hood, but is still available in merino. This is great shirt for on and off the bike. It’s light enough to dry quickly and remain cool, but the long sleeves offer just the right amount of extra warmth when needed. And sun protection.
Packs & Bags for life
The Hauser rolls shut and is sealed with the fat Velcro strap and/or a pair of clips. Three pockets allow quick access to smaller sundries, a wallet, and tools. Riding down the back is a large pocket that billows open to access tools.
We especially love the tool wrap that comes with the Hauser. It keeps your kit tidy and tucks away in the billowed front pocket of the Hauser – it’s a nice touch.
The padded back panel clamshells open all the way, easily swallowing a 3L bladder without seeming to take away from storage space. This allows you to refill the bladder without having to unpack and repack gear, and it keeps gear from getting wet (which happens if you find yourself refilling from a stream).
The strap system is modular, allowing you to really dial in the fit. Plus, the Hauser simply looks stunning. Need more room? The Hauser is also available in a 14L. Tyler loved the Hauser so much that it made his Editor’s Choice list for 2019.
The Axis VX is a waterproof, durable, hip pack with a zipper pouch and key ring on the inside. The VX upgrades from their standard Axis with a tougher material, magnetic Fidlock buckle, and compatibility with their modular Arkiv system. This lets you use it to add storage to their larger packs that’ll pop off and go with you for day trips.
The Axis super comfortable, but in my opinion, at $190, it’s overpriced for what you get. If you don’t need the durable VX diamond ripstop, MW offers the same features in their standard Axis pack for $130. Price aside, I found it just a bit too small to carry the camera equipment I want to have within reach (GoPro and Sony a6000 + a prime lens). At 2.5L, there are larger packs for less coin, but few are made in the USA with as high quality materials. The value equation is up to you.
Steve: All of my gear was packed and shuttled across the continent in Mission Workshop’s Radian Travel Pack. Top loader, front loader, laptop friendly, stow-able shoulder straps, modular friendly…whew! The 42-liter Radian maybe the most thought out travel bag I’ve ever used. Every time I travel with it, I keep discovering new configurations on the Radian.
What makes this bag a standout in my mind is the myriad of accessories and configuration opportunities, including dual access to the main compartment. The front panel zips away wide so you can get all Marie Kondo with your pressed clothes. At the airport or in an Uber, the top of the pack unrolls, giving you quick access to your camera gear or chargers.
The bag is wider than most. But I found this allowed it to stow away even in smaller commuter plane bins. Shouldering the pack outside the airport, I found the Radian to be one of the more comfortable travel bags I’ve worn. The padded shoulder straps have a bit of curve that ergonomically wrap the shoulders. For really heavy loads, the Radian has detachable hip belt with two elastic pouches to keep small items within close reach. And when you don’t need these, all the straps tuck away for a clean travel bag. Need more room? Radian coordinates with the Workshop’s Arkiv modular system, so you can accessorize the bag to match specific needs.
At nearly $600, it’s pricey, but it’s awesome, made in USA, and so durable it maybe the last travel bag you buy.
Tyler: I opted for the Integer camera pack. Steve was shooting the stills and was able to pack a little lighter, but I had the video equipment (GoPro, mounts, etc.), a drone, and my Sony A6000. Plus laptop, charger, phone chargers, backup drive, etc. All but the drone fit in the lower section with customizable partitions, and kept my DSLR in easy reach with the side zip pocket. The drone and snacks went in the top. If you weren’t packin’ all that tech, there’d be room for clothes in the top section, which rolls closed to make the storage volume slightly adjustable. Size wise, it’s a great pack for weekends with a lot of camera work planned. Or hikes with a few layers to play it safe.
Like many of Mission Workshop’s packs, it’s overbuilt. Which means it’s a little on the heavy side, but it’ll probably last a lifetime.
Mission Workshop prices aren’t cheap, but that doesn’t seem to deter devotees of the Mission from quickly snatching up new kit additions. Average sizes and popular items tend to sell out quickly. Colors, too. If you’re into it, get on their email list and act fast if you see something new come out.