The kind folks at Stio shared a few products for us to preview for our “What to Wear” series here at Fat-Bike.com. To be clear, there is no series called, “What to Wear”, but I might have to fix that. The Stio brand is better known west of the Rockies for their mountain forward style serving the alpine crew. Hailing from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Stio excels in making performance outerwear for all seasons. While most of their gear is focused on skiing and other mountain activities, they do have a few items that cross over nicely into the fat-bike category. They sent me a pair of pants called The Pinedale ($159), a technical fleece hoody they call the Kita Fleece Hooded Jacket ($199), and a totally amazing ¾ length insulated mid-layer knicker they call the Fernos ($199). Let’s see if they play nice on the bike.
Let’s start with the Kita. The first thing that caught my attention about the Kita is the thumbholes. This feature is not an afterthought cleverly utilizing overlapping fabric that conceals the thumbhole when not being employed. They also use a totally different fabric for this feature.
I’ve had a few rides with the Stio ensemble in varying temperatures. The Karuishi Hard Fleece exterior finish found on the Kita is able to take a beating. During a recent stomp through the woods on my trusty Krampus, it proved able to handle some buckthorn or prickly ash whips without snagging. The inside finish of the jacket features a smooth and soft inner fleece I found super comfortable and warm while the external finish is smooth to the touch. The jacket is designed as a mid-layer designed to offer a full range of movement under a shell. Earlier this month I took the jacket for a test run partnered with the Pinedale pants and Fernos Knicker. I layered up with a long sleeve base layer, and wool jersey wearing the Kita as my final layer. I was comfortable in 20F/-7C weather but riding into a headwind revealed its only weakness. Note that there is no wind blocker in this jacket, so layer accordingly if you wear this as a stand-alone jacket without a shell. I would’ve had the “What to Wear” formula dialed with a light vest. I don’t consider a lack of wind blocker to be a deal-breaker for this jacket. After all, it is intended as a light jacket or mid-layer. Due to its style and versatility, I find myself reaching for this jacket daily for running errands, hiking, riding, and other outdoor efforts. I like having the option of using the hood for additional heat retention when needed. As for the fit, I would not describe the fit as “slim” or “athletic cut”. I think the sizing is true to the description on their website. I find myself going back and forth between a medium and large depending on the cut and manufacturer. The Kita in a large is a good fit for my 6 foot/165lb frame. The test jacket came in black, which I like, but they have a nice variety of colors to choose from if you don’t like to evoke images of darkness.
The Pinedale pant lands firmly in the “outdoor adventure” pant category for me as a capable garment for stomping out miles of groomed single-track on the bike, snowshoe adventures, or a hike in the woods. To be clear, the Pinedale is not a winter-specific item, but when you layer it with a base layer like the Fernos Knicker (or your favorite long undergarment), you’ve got a winning combination for any outdoor winter adventure. I’ve had these pants for about a month now and, like the Kita, I find myself reaching for them for nearly any occasion. The brushed polyester-nylon blend is designed for movement and is one of the most comfortable pants I’ve worn. Specifically, the pants are made of Stio’s Everlight Softshell material, a 63% Nylon, 26% Polyester, 11% Spandex blend. This combination moved well on the bike and felt like it belonged there. The legs are not severely tapered like a biking specific pant, but it also was in no danger of the chainring, though I did roll it up a bit to make sure. If I offered the designers any critical feedback it would relate to pocket zippers. The Pinedale features zippered front pockets that my giant paws struggled to get in and out of. While it is nice to zip your keys and stash away, my big hands were bothered by the zippers. If you have smaller hands, this won’t be an issue.
The back pockets also feature zippers, so be careful if you have leather seats in your car… Closure at the waist is a single snap with a removable belt made of nylon webbing which I really liked for a custom fit. The belt integrates well with the waistband so you barely know its there. I foresee the Pinedale on many winter rides this season due to its comfort, fit, and adaptability.
The Stio ensemble included a new product this season called the Fernos Knicker. I’ve tried to wear knickers over the years and don’t have a strong affinity for them. With that said, this product is incredible. At $199, it might be a turn off for some. It is originally designed to add a layer of warmth and comfort for the downhill skier where chairlifts can be a chilly affair. However, it felt right at home on the bike. The 40g Primaloft Gold Active fill is super warm and lightweight. I was a little concerned that I would overheat while riding, but I found the highly breathable, wicking material to regulate my body temperature without overcooking the engine. In short, the Fernos is a unique item that will integrate well with your winter setup. The ¾ length won’t interfere with boots and the soft finish of the articulated material means you can move freely on the bike. I was dubious about wearing this at first, but I really like them. Apparently, I’m not alone because they are totally sold out in this product and the season is barely underway.
Make no mistake, Stio is a premium brand. But if you can afford their offerings, you will not be disappointed. Pedal on!