Does a made-in-USA, fairly priced, high quality brand without any visible logos appeal to you? We’ve highlighted some of Ornot’s soft-goods in the past, including their Winter line and they sent us a few well timed items to put through the paces over the winter. In a very competitive field where many companies follow a traditional business model, Ornot wanted to stand out by standing out less with their high quality brand’less soft goods.
Check out why I think this concept is as fantastic as the products themselves, and why I was a little hot around the collar…
I’m from the great state of Texas (it’s law we say it like that), and other than broccoli, there are not many things I cringe at more than winter (the trainer is a very close second). I can adapt to it pretty well if I “ride” into it so to speak, but due to a pretty un-glorious injury, I had to tiptoe back on the bike when temps and motivation started dipping. However, when a package filled with high-end American made fleece lined gear shows up, curiosity, if nothing else, gets you out there. Though not near the arctic fat bike climate that Zach gets to roll around in, we have a few months of a decent Winter in the Southeast, and having good winter gear on standby can be the difference between staying in and enjoying some beautiful rides.
Based in San Francisco, Ornot puts out well constructed items using high-tech materials with style, but has absolutely no visible branding on the outside. All items are made in Southern CA and at a pretty decent price given its level of quality and that it’s made in the good ol’ U.S. of A. To keep their customers looking their best, all items come with a one year warranty against defects, and a rare crash replacement discount should your Ornot piece get damaged.
Over the years I’ve been impressed with winter jackets fitting better, producing more results with less (material), and being flexible so you’re not in a situation where you’re about to suffocate from getting over heated. I never had a problem with my comparable jacket… until I put on the Ornot Thermal Jacket 2.0 ($175). The Ornot has a slightly snugger fit, but was easier to move in. I have slightly broad shoulders & long arms, and tend to ride in a more stretched out position, (on the edge of the hoods). Because only the side panels in my other jacket had some stretch, it was limiting on how much give it had when moving around, causing my sleeves or back to rise up a little.
The Ornot Thermal Jacket is made with a 3-layer water-resistant, windproof, material that has some slight stretch pretty much all over with side panels that have even more give to let those post-holiday dinners really hang out there. The arms have a touch of extra length, but I never felt like they bunched up. The size large fit my 6’1″ frame perfectly and I never felt like the jacket was restricting or baggy. Holding it up and seeing how much light passed through it, it’s hard to believe it stays as warm as it does. It breathes quite nicely, but kept me more than toasty with minimal layers. Oh, and IT’S NOT BLACK! The Grayskull color, (do you have the power?), isn’t bright, but not boring. The pocket area is a sort of high-vis blue that stands out a little more and is trimmed with reflective material giving you a little more visibility.
Inside the Thermal Jacket, (oh look, there’s the logo!), is a soft fleece like lining that is comfortable on the skin (although I almost always wear a thin wicking base layer).
My beef with any winter jacket is being imprisoned within its thermal layers when things heat up. Ornot rates the Thermal Jacket to be worn from 55º down to 20°F however I personally rate this jacket between 40º and 15° as I get hot as soon as I’m warmed up and due to a slight bit more humidity here in Atlanta than out in Cali, it’s an expected variation. There are not many flat areas where I ride, so as soon as I start climbing, the engine gets hot and if I can’t easily vent and un-vent the jacket, it and I are not going to get along. My first ride was in the mid 20’s and I actually burned up due to very slightly over layering (Arm-warmers and my Craft longsleve base layer with a windstopper front panel had me cooking on climbs).
The zipper on the Ornot jacket was on the money. When I easily un-zipped and re-zipped both upper and lower zippers one handed with ease without having to bite the collor, I knew this jacket wasn’t going to let me down. During spring/fall, I’ll layer so I can shed and pack, but when temps are staying sub 50º, the jacket needs to stay on, but easily adjust to my needs. Being able to work the zipper sorta like a dropper post (next big invention?), a split second upward adjustment at the start of the climb to open up the lower half kept me comfortable, and just another flick of the zipper downward to protect my fragile figure on the descent was a nice treat.
When wearing this jacket, you’re wearing gloves. The two can not exist without the other given the temps they’re designed for. That said, when you want to reach for
a frozen energy bar (keep those warm and chew-able within the jacket’s confines) something in your back pockets, its nice Ornot paid attention to the fact that a gloved hand is often too bulky to reach in making it difficult to grasp things. The jacket’s slightly over-sized pockets with an easy to penetrate edge a were a nice treat.
The collar comes up high and is snug which is a good thing… mostly. It does keep every single bit of cold at bay but I felt it was a little snug for being as high as it was. When in a riding position, though, I mostly forgot about it and only needed an occasional tug or t0 loosen the zipper a little.
To top things off, the Cap ($25) adds a nice touch that is as functional as it is fashionable. It’s a simple, well constructed 100% cotton cap that just fit perfect. It comes down low enough for good coverage and the elastic band is a little over an inch tall giving it a sort of “fitted” cap feel to my 7-1/4 noggin. The true test to a cap, (if it’s for more than just looking cool as hell), is that you can’t feel the seams when under the helmet and the brim is functional when down, but can be flipped up if you need to see better or your glasses begin to fog without having to adjust your helmet. Whether Ornot you like bright colors, I thought the playful colors complimented my charming smile (it comes in black as well).
Moving on down, are Ornot’s fleece lined bib knickers ($165). Though I like having the ability to shed clothing, my legs don’t get near as overheated as my core, and leg/knee-warmers are usually either too tight or they start slipping under constant pedaling. I use them, but hate having to think about or stop to adjust them every single time.
Keeping with the subtle no-logo theme, the knickers did just what they were supposed to do. The interior was warm and fuzzy, and the compression was excellent. The construction, like the rest of their line was top notch. No matter how hard you tug on these, years from now, those industrial seams aren’t going to give up. The Cytech chamois was lovely. It has the right amount of minimal padding and though it’s hard to see in the picture (and no one wants to see those close ups), the chamois’ material extends a little forward past where the padding is and provides a bit of a “junk-shield”. Bravo Ornot… bravo.
Winter wear lasts longer than most of my gear as it doesn’t get used as often and is usually a little more substantially built thus making it more of an investment. Overall, I enjoyed these items and am very impressed with the construction, fit and function all while looking the business. The folks at Ornot are every bit as helpful and it seems they’ve developed a loyal following by simply listening to what people want. A locally, well made line that looks good without any un-paid sponsorship logos plastered on it for a fair price.