Chrome sent over their De Haro Windbreaker for review at the end of the summer. At first it didn’t get much use as we had a fairly warm late summer and early fall here in Seattle, but as the days got shorter and the temperatures dropped it has come in quite handy on a number of occasions. The De Haro is a simple and lightweight nylon hooded jacket that packs up nicely into itself by turning the large rear pocket/pouch inside out. Let me start out by saying that I wouldn’t consider this jacket a technical piece, rather it is a “life-style” jacket. It is not waterproof and it does not breath well. “We made the De Haro for bombing hills and crashing parties” claims Chrome’s product description.
When I first put the De Haro into rotation for casual rides and commuting I was pretty disappointed. If you are riding hard you very quickly discover that the jacket does not breath. I arrived at my destinations soaked in sweat under the jacket. Their are three small side vents on both sides of the jacket, but they didn’t seem to do much “venting”. Opening the front two-way zipper is the only effective way of getting air-flow into the jacket. I also quickly found that “water resistant” doesn’t cut it on a rainy Seattle day. If I got on the bike wearing the De Haro and was going to be riding for more than 15 minutes I was committing to being damp at best, possibly sweat-soaked when I got to where ever I was going.
Okay. Below is a review of a product- and it’s taken way too long to make happen. Between using it in the fall of last year, moving back to Alaska, my video review process shitting the bed, then it being summer- the time wasn’t right. But as can happen, fall has arrived once more, and it’s time for folks to start thinking about the rain that comes with it. So here is my review, as originally written, with photos from last week.
A couple months back I got the opportunity to put the Cleverhood Rain cape through a long term review process. I of course jumped on it because rain capes have seemed like a good idea to me since I first saw them in the Rivendell Reader. I have a tendency to run hot- when wearing a waterproof shell I often get to my destination soaked from sweat, not rain; the thought of not needing a waterproof jacket and pants when the clouds open up was like a breath of fresh air.
You may wonder why I haven’t put one through the paces already if it’s been in my mind for so long. In one word: cost. Quality rain gear is expensive and rain capes are no exception. I’d seen Carradice and Brooks rain capes over the years, but they were difficult to source (being from across the pond) and over $250 a pop. That, and they were made of waxed cotton- which though aesthetically pleasing, is fairly bulky, dries slowly once saturated and they take maintenance (more maintenance is needed the more it is used in the rain, the wax being something of a sacrificial element.)
So now that we’ve established that I’m
a cheap bastard frugal, we’ll get on with it.
Cleverhood was born in, and still based in Providence, Rhode Island. They are made in the United States and inspired by the slow bike movement, or in their words: “the simple, elegant way the bike is affecting broad change in our cities.”
It’s hard to beat merino wool. It keeps you warm when wet, doesn’t smell as bad as synthetics can, isn’t made from plastic, and it just feels good. Chrome is offering their merino wool Cobra in three styles: a pullover ($140), a full-zip($150) and a hoodie ($160.) It may seem high priced, but those that wear merino don’t care. They are built with longer sleeves and torso for cycling, have thumb loops to keep them from riding up and has a stash pocket to store your
weed keys. They’ve also got socks and t-shirts made of merino. Where does merino wool come from you might wonder? Merinos are small forest creatures that resemble gnomes. Their diet allows their back hair to grow long and extremely soft. The back hair is shaved by monks, the keepers of the merinos and woven into various garments.
Made in China, available at your LBS or HERE
Last month, I had the opportunity to stop by the 2013 Pedaler’s Fair, hosted this year in Seattle’s Underground Events Space in Belltown.
The first of the cyclist-targeted clothing lines I was drawn to was Telaio Clothing. The line of designer and maker Katherine Andrews, Telaio’s line of handbuilt wool clothing is comes in colors that seem fitting for the northwest – charcoal greys and khakis, in classic pieces for men and women. The wool blazers and riding pants have a unisex, uniform feel to them – the simple colors and cuts could easily be incorporated into any wardrobe and look nondescript on and off a bike. As Katherine, the designer/tailor behind Telaio expressed, Telaio clothes are intended to easily become a uniform, sewn with the care and intention required for a long-wearing investment piece.
I really appreciated clothing designer Babecycle‘s approach to bike wear for its femininity. Designer Sonia McBride’s recent line included a really beautiful skirt that caught my eye, offered in both a dayglo shade of chartreuse, and a bright orchid / fuchsia color. The feminine, A-line cut and textured fabric are intended to look beautiful both on and off the bike, allowing for movement while cycling, but stylish enough to wear to the office or around town. Personally, the chartreuse color is a bit bright for my personal taste, but I’m really drawn to the idea of incorporating a dayglo piece of clothing into my wardrobe that could serve as a more stylish version of a florescent vest. Pieces from Babecycle’s line are available for purchase in Fremont at Hub and Bespoke, or online in their Etsy shop.
Of all the exhibitors at the fair, I was most intrigued by the beautiful fleet of cycles that the guys of Seattle-based Bombus Bikes were showcasing. All custom built, each of the 4 frames displayed were incredibly unique – not just in the more aesthetic decisions of paint colors and accessories – but in frame type and use. It was easy to tell how much thought went into crafting each frame with a specific purpose and type of rider in mind, and then in the selection of accessories that make the final builds look so intentionally beautiful.
For the last two months I have been more or less living in the Torre Merino Wool Hooded Zip-Up Sweater from Mission Workshop. It has been put through a lot both on and off the bike in this relatively short time. I’ve been wearing The Torre in the shop while wrenching on bikes, in a couple of alley cat races, on some urban cyclocross rides, island bike trips and blustery ferry crossings, daily errands in the city, out to the bar and even to a dinner party where Greg’s cat completely covered it in white hair…
Here is what Mission Workshop has to say about it: “The Torre is a classic fitted zip-up sweater made with a unique 380 Gram, 18.9 Micron New Zealand Merino wool reinforced with core filament stretch nylon. This hybrid fabric was developed exclusively for Mission Workshop. Merino Wool is naturally antibacterial, an excellent temperature regulator, and it draws moisture away from the skin. With nylon woven into the fabric, it has added stretch and durability, making this a garment that will be a staple for years to come.”
Here is what I have to say about it: The Torre is an incredibly versatile piece of clothing that feels and wears casual but functions like a technical garment.
The first time I donned the hoodie I was impressed with the quality of the fabric and the fit. It is soft against the skin and instantly comfortable. The body is constructed out of five panels, the fit is slim and long, and it naturally stretches with your body movements. There are two “hidden” zippered pockets, one inside the left hand pocket, and a second under the right arm pit. The zippers feel solid and aren’t visible when closed. The Torre has a very sleek and clean look to it.
After two months of wear it still looks as good as it did when I first put it on. The fabric is proving to be very durable. There are no signs of piling or wear in the usual places. The merino wool breathes extremely well which I found allowed me to wear it at a variety of temperatures. It was warm enough when leaving on a brisk morning ride, and I didn’t overheat a couple hours later when the temperature had risen. It dries quickly and stays relatively warm even when wet. My other favorite part about the Torre is that the fabric doesn’t absorb odors. You can sweat it in, cook in it, sit around a bonfire and the next day you’d never know.
Specifically in regards to riding a bike in the Torre: The slim fit is great for riding as there is not extra fabric flapping around in the wind. The hood is also on the smaller side and stays put pretty well both up or down. The hidden pockets are useful for keeping things in place while riding, and the under arm pocket worked well for stashing an ipod/phone if you like to listen to music while you ride. The only real critique I have about the Torre is the sleeve length proved to be a little on the short side for me while on the bike. I am 6’4″ and have long arms, so this most likely will not be a problem for most people, however I would have liked a couple more inches in sleeve length to cover my wrists when stretched out on the bike.
At $235 retail, the Torre is a few bucks more expensive than other comparable merino wool pieces. But it is made in the USA and the quality of construction is nothing less than impressive. The quality combined with the durability of the Torre definitely point to a piece of clothing that will last for many years.
More footwear to come out of the minds at Chrome, this model sporting a couple options. The 415 Workboot is designed to give you the “stability and protection of a work boot, and the mobility and comfort of a sneaker.” It’s available in canvas (the same 1000 denier Cordura used in their bags) or the Storm 415 Workboot comes in a water resistant, breathable/oiled leather combination. They are not SPD compatible, instead sporting a sole resembling a… wait for it… workboot.
The regular Workboot retails for $120 and the Storm Workboot retails for $150.
Sarah at Vespertine is making good things happen for ladies that like to make a statement and be seen. She’s out of New York, and is blending high fashion with quality fabrics- traditional and modern alike.
Check out her shop HERE
I am loving the design of this vintage Castelli Jacket (seen on eBay HERE). I wonder if there is a full matching kit out there? I have a Castelli hat with the same pattern. Most likely early 90s vintage. Might be worth reproducing…
More and more I’m finding myself wearing clothing designed for, or at the very least inspired by- cycling. It doesn’t matter if I’m running errands all day by bike- if I hop on my bike and ride just one place while still wearing Levis 501 jeans or a Carhartt jacket- the fit and cut just don’t feel right. That said, I can wear cycling inspired clothes all day long- whether camping, road tripping in a car, taking the bus to meet up with friends or running errands all day by bike.
Always on the look out for new cycling brands- sometimes you find a company that has been doing a good thing for many years and they just haven’t been on your radar.
Sombrio is one of those brands.
Dave Watson launched Sombrio in 1998. It began, and still has roots in, the freeride and mountain bike culture found on Vancouver’s North Shore. (that’s Canada for all you folks that are bad at geography.) If you don’t know who Dave Watson is, you should watch this video:
And you can also read THIS about the stunt.
Whether you huck yourself off of 6’ drops in the woods on the daily, hit the trails on your way home from work or ride to meet your friends at the bar, Sombrio has got some nice looking designs blending form and function. Like more than a few Canadian companies, it’s sometimes difficult to find a place to purchase locally. They have an online STORE as well.
Things I’m digging:
- Bramble vest $149
- Vagabond jersey (riding shirt) $90
- Palmares merino jersey $150
- Tarp rain jacket $49
- Vapor jacket $209
Check them out. And then go for a ride.