This is the first installment of Gnome-Proof Gear (GPG). GPG will feature gear that any/all of our testing staff have used and abused and came out shining. The products that we’ll feature will earn the GPG – seal of approval, which means that they’ve gone through a full season of rides, campouts, bonfires, and adventures. Some of the items that we feature, we’ve purchased with our own dineros and some have been provided by the manufacturer and we’ll let you know that for each item. So without further adieu, lets talk about the first 3 products. Since this is the first article in this series, we’re getting things started with three products that I (tio Gomez) personally tested.
Keen Neve Winter Boots ($200)
I purchased a set of these Keen Boots from Zappos last November. After reading feedback on their site about sizing and speaking with their customer service folks, I ordered a size larger than I normally wear. That turned out to be the right decision, because the boots fit me very well. One of the first things, that I noticed, was extra cushioning in the heel area on the insole. I have plantar fasciitis in my left foot (heel pain), and the extra cushion was a welcome bonus.
Keen is known for their large toe-box and the Neve’s stay true to that formula. I ran these boots through a full season of rides, races, slush, ice, snow and temperatures from 0-45 degrees F. I studded the bottoms with Grip Studs during ice season and I ran every sock combination (in my rather large arsenal of socks) through these boots and they have performed admirably. I’d say these boots are officially gnome-proof.
Outdoor Research Foray Jacket ($215)
I spied this Jacket at my local outdoor store and the thing that made me pull the trigger and buy this particular jacket was the hem to pit zippers. I had seen a jacket that vented like that on one of the trips that I took to Alaska. The combination of a shell and my big hot sweaty engine requires that kind of – turn your jacket into a poncho – venting that the double zipper hem to pit zippers allow. So this jacket was my go-to every day winter shell over the last winter season. The venting works incredibly well. I’m a foul weather freak. So if its snowing outside, I’m grabbing my bike and riding. When you’re riding in a storm and the snow is pelting you from the left – you can seal up the vent on that side and adjust the vent open on the opposite side to vent all of that steam that riding produces.
In addition to the vents, this jacket’s hood fits and adjusts very well. The hood is just large enough to fit over my Lazer helmet and adjusts with shock cords at the temples and the medulla oblongata to fit presumably, just about any human head. This hood with a baseball cap is like a gore tex ninja cowl. When it’s 45 degrees and the wind is coming off of a 39 degree lake, it really makes you appreciate the details.
I spent a very wet weekend at the Decorah Time Trails this spring, where I spent a whole day out in the rain taking pictures and riding around town. When I was standing out in the rain, taking pictures of folks racing, I was able to keep my camera ready under one side of my jacket, through the side vent, shielded from the steadily falling rain, yet instantly accessible to take shots of the action.
The Foray is a solid functional – no frills – reasonably priced and now GPG Approved Waterproof Breathable Shell.
Surly Merino Wool Long Sleeve Jersey ($140)
I purchased my Surly Wool Cycling cardigan two years ago and it’s still going strong and remains one of my favorite insulating layers from 48 degrees south. This particular jersey has been washed scores of times and worn many times that. The piece is functional and generously sized. Woven with medium weight merino wool with a rear zippered pocket and wristlets with thumb holes to keep everything sealed up tight. I keep this in my travel bag every month of the year. I’ve worn lots of other merino wool layers and I rate this as number one – Ichiban – Simple – Functional – Luxurious – Gnome-Proof Gear.
That’s all for this episode of Gnome-Proof Gear. To view all of our GPG posts click here. We’ll have more for you somewhere down the trail. Adios Amigos!