Monday, December 17, 2007

Cold Weather Gear Product Reviews A Go-Go

Today was my first real cold day of commuting - 17°F, and I got to really try out my newer cold weather gear! Specifically, I'm talking about my two new Pearl Izumi items: the Amfib Lobster Gloves and the Vagabond II Jacket.

I'll start with the gloves, since this was the first time I've worn them, period. Two enthusiastic thumbs up on this one. These things are warm and still dextrous enough to do anything you might need to do while riding. Also, they're simple enough to get on and off that you can do things like re-adjust balaclavas, etc. at stop lights and still not hold up any traffic. Their reflective surfaces help greatly with signaling for turns and the like, especially in this time of limited daylight and dark-sky riding. The key thing is that they are WARM! No issues whatsoever.

The jacket is a slightly different story, but just from the standpoint of a wearer who isn't a recreational cyclist with all the special skintight gear. It's not an item that has a lot of room underneath it for wearing layers of normal clothing, which makes it slightly problematic for commuters who don't want to change clothes completely upon arrival at work. I was able to get a non-cycling-oriented fleece pullover under it with my work shirt and sweater on, but it was tight. Once I got going, though, it wasn't an issue, it just felt a bit tight upon donning the item.

On the plus side, it does a great job of insulating while keeping the wearer just cool enough. The vents do their job in the proper places, so I wasn't too sweaty on arrival at work and wasn't cold during the ride. And the color (mine is the screaming yellow) continues to be fantastic for visibility. I have none of the issues with being seen that many cyclists complain about.

So 1 1/2 thumbs up for the jacket, 2 for the gloves. I'd like to see more high-visibility items for commuters - a baggier Vagabond jacket, for example. But it does the important thing - keeps me visible and comfortable, and that's all that counts.

People, not speed.

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