As Mother Nature makes up her mind whether it’s going to be cold or not this winter (for us in North Carolina, anyway), I’ve found a few pieces that work well in a range of temps. That includes a dip down to 40ºF and below, depending on how they’re layered.
Tested here are Showers Pass’ Body-Mapped Baselayer, Defeet’s new Dickadee neck gaiter and Morvelo’s ThermoActive jersey and Stormshield bib knickers. The latter pair has been on test for a while and are last season’s colorways, but the pieces remain in the line with the same features, just new patterns…
UK brand Morvelo’s collections offer plenty of fashion to go along with function, worth a look if you’re tired of the usual reds, blacks and blues. I originally reached out to them because I was looking for a pair of bib knickers that had some water repellency, which is a rare feature to find without going to a thicker waterproof membrane and full length tights. Their Stormshield feature is a DWR treatment that beads water up and rolls it off before it can saturate the material. This not only helps keep you dry, but allows the material to wick as intended. And, if/when it wears off, you can reapply your favorite DWR treatment. Sure, you could do this to any pair of shorts, but it sure is convenient to have it already on…and it’s lasted through a number of washings. Oh, and Morvelo’s stuff is very competitively priced, so you’re getting a great pair of shorts with the bonus of water repellency.
The ThermoActive jersey looks and feels like a basic long sleeve polyester jersey with fleeced inside, but it’s more than the sum of its parts. The material is just wind proof enough to block most of the wind, but a little comes through to help dissipate moisture vapor. So, depending on the base layer, I could control how much cold air hit my body, allowing a sort of customized temperature regulation. By itself, it seemed perfect for over 55º degrees, with a short sleeve or tank top base layer for 48º-55º, and long sleeves of varying thickness took it on down in to about 39º before a vest or jacket came along for the ride.
The pockets are deep and hold plenty of stuff. The pics above show them with a bar, tool/tube/CO2 pouch, iPhone 6, Chapstick and ID/cash, and there was room for plenty more. A zippered fourth pocket sits along the seam of the right side pocket, sized for a billfold.
A stretch waist band on the back of the jersey keeps it snug, and rubberized grip keeps it from sliding around if your pockets are overloaded or riding up when they’re empty.
For this season, the bib straps have gone to a mesh front panel starting about half way up. The waist sits just above my belly button to block more air without making it difficult to bend over and, um, water the roadside foliage.
The inside of the knickers are similarly fleecy and warm, good on their own down into the low 40’s. The leg openings use a wide, flat rubber gripper that holds tight and remains comfortable. The stitched panel pattern has changed slightly for 2016 also, putting a separate panel on the backs of the knees to enhance mobility. I never had a problem with flexibility or anything, but progress is progress. The chamois is also very comfortable.
As any good fashion-forward brand would, they offer matching cycling caps and other accessories for some of their kits. Most cycling caps end up giving me a headache because they’re too small, but this one fits well and provided just the right amount of sunblocking to prevent harsh glares on my shades in the low winter sun.
I’m 6’2″ and 187lb and wore XL in both pieces. Standard retail is £89 for the jersey and £100 for the knickers, available at Morvelo.com.
We got an early look at Defeet’s Dickadee neck gaiter, where our tester said it was best reserved for rides under 40ºF, and after riding it myself, I’d agree. The tubular knit piece is very warm thanks to its hollow-core Thermolite fabric, and it’s made long enough to be worn in several different ways. Leave it loose around your neck like a scarf, pull it up over mouth and nose, or pull the rear all the way up and over to (sort of) form a balaclava. Either way, the front chest flap blocks air from sneaking past the jersey’s zipper. It’s available in two sizes for $25 and will likely become one of your new cold weather favorites. Grab it at Defeet.com.
For layering underneath your favorite jersey is the Showers Pass Body-Mapped Baselayer. The “body mapping” refers to the particular placement of different woven patterns designed to enhance moisture evaporation where the brand’s jackets have their vents.
Fortunately, it works great under any jersey or jacket, too. It’s a blend of merino wool, modal, nylon and Spandex, so it’s soft and stretchy. And very snug. When I first pulled it out of the bag, it looked so small I thought they sent the wrong size. But it stretches a lot and fits tight without being restrictive…totally what Batman would wear under his costume.
Considering how small it looks before pulling it on, it’s surprising how well it stays tucked in, too. I’ve been wearing it for running and working out, too, and it just about the perfect active base layer. It’s available in only two sizes (S/M and L/XL), and I’m wearing the larger of the two. Check it out at ShowersPass.com for $69.
While not performance cycling specific, finding something that works great for commuting that’s comfy, workplace-appropriate and has sleeves long enough for me is often a challenge. Showers Pass’ Bamboo-Merino henley checks all those boxes because it’s designed for people that are actually muscular and fit, not the average Joe. Along with the base layer, this has quickly become one of my favorites! Sweetie says its very flattering, and I say it’s supremely comfortable. And it’s great for active pursuits and riding, too, because the material resists smelling like sweat (or worse) and mesh back and underarm panels help vent body heat. Retail is $95.