Pal Ruth is heading out on an epic three bicycle tour (launching in Pueblo, Colorado, and motoring west to San Francisco). Lastely, she’s been loading up on cool, made in USA gear. Since she will be pedaling over mountains on a fully loaded touring rig, she’s looking for gear that is lighweight, functional, and built to last.
During our ride today, Ruth showed off her latest find: a new ultralight sleeping quilt by Enlightened Equipment. Designed and made in Winona, Minnesota, the sleeping quilt combines the down fill warmth of a sleeping bag with the flexibility and ventilating properties of a quilt blanket. You can order a shelf ready product or wait a bit longer and customize your creation, selecting down count, color and weather stripping.
Pal Ruth (adventurejunky on IG) and her new, balsa-weight sleeping quilt (and optional accessory sleeping cap).
In 2012, we reviewed the Freeman Jacket, an impressive, made in Seattle, rain jacket sized for ladies and gents. Freeman is the perfect alternative for folks seeking a well styled, classic jacket made from more technical fabrics. Freeman now sells a range of jackets and appearel in a new brick and mortar shop located on the west side of Capital Hill in Seattle. We’re pleased to say that Freeman now sells a few of our favorite AC bags including the Archival Rolltop, the Flap Musette and Dopp Kit. I stopped by on Friday to say hello and take a few snaps.
Archival Rolltop in cinnamon canvas duck plus Freeman waterbottles by Liberty
Freeman branded cap
Classic range of Freeman jackets
Pointer Brand Chore Coat and Freeman Shirting
Of of my favorite Freeman offerings – the Freeman/Tellason Denim Vest
Given that I spent the day cycling through a heat advisory, it’s odd that I’m fixating on a Fall layering piece – the Patagonia Nano Puff Hybrid. I first spotted the NPH in a Patagonia catalog – one of the last print catalogs worth browsing. As photographed, I love the NPH’s blend of fabric types: wind blocking primaloft above with with better venting fleece below. For real outdoor use, I prefer wool to fleece, but this garment – especially in what the catalog calls “paintbrush orange” – is a visual stunner. I’ve emailed Patagonia to request a version for women. I was told that a model is in the works for Fall 2013. Let’s hope they offer it in the same colorway as the gents. And if Patagonia is taking requests, they might consider offering the jacket with a two way zip for better fit and venting.
Check out the FYi Design blog to read about the development of the NPF and to see detailed views of the garment.
If you’re a devotee of wool, but you like the look of the Nano Puff Hybrid, track down one of the original Filson Outdoorsman sweaters knit from worsted wool with reinforced, waxed cotton shoulders.
Tom’s report: I love thrifting because there’s no common denominator of quality like you see at fancy vintage stores or high end (and high priced) flea markets. Usually when I go through the outerwear at the thrift stores in Eugene, it’s just a fuzzy cake of cheap polar fleece. But when I was in town last month, a sliver of hunter green caught my eye between the day-glo layers, and I pulled out a immaculate condition HuntingWorld jacket.
Though the jacket looks waxy, it’s actually made with a 60/40 fabric treated with a polyamid finish.
Both collar and cuffs are lined in best quality corduroy.
Raglan sleeve construction – ostensibly for freedom of movement in the field.
Deep bellows pockets. Not wild about the velcro, although I admit to liking the elastic gathering.
Heavy duty, two way YKK zipper.
Partial wool lining with internal drip strip (ala Barbour Bedale).
The kind folks at Freeman sent us a jacket to try out. They’re based in Seattle, and make the jacket out of their house – an impressive feat, since it’s sewn as professionally as anyone could ask.
It’s made of a two-layer waterproof breathable, which, for those who didn’t memorize Patagonia catalogs as a child, is an outer nylon shell with a laminate underneath – a laminate that’s very fragile and must be lined. The Freeman feels like a Patagonia or Sierra Designs jacket from the late 80s – it’s light, but not so light that it feels insubstantial.
Flapped pockets with logo debossed snaps. This type of spring clasp jingles a bit when it’s unfastened, so if you’re OCD about jingly hardware, keep it snapped!
Nice soft cotton flannel lining which is a joy to wear and is pleasing to behold. Ideal for the “sidewalk socialite,” as Freeman puts it. I don’t know if this would be my first choice for backpacking or skiing due to the cotton lining and lack of pit zips, but that’s no deal breaker.
The fit is outstanding, and that’s the main difference between this jacket and something vintage. I ended up with a size or two too small, but it’s still nice and trim and the hood fits really well. I love the red drawcord and cord locks.
Recommended as a nice, clean, simple rain shell, made in Seattle by a super friendly crew. Classic synthetics don’t come much better than this. Go check ’em out!
Jackson & Gibbens got going in Archival’s hometown – Eugene, Oregon – in the 1970s when Mark Jackson couldn’t find a good bicycling jacket for a good price. They’re still going strong, and everything is still made in Oregon.
We’re thinking about carrying the J&G cyclist’s rain cape, which, as long as you have fenders on your bike, is a highly underrated garment.
I don’t hunt but I love the purpose-built features of a well made shooting jacket. Juliette, owner of Hub & Bespoke, recommends the Barbour quilted nylon Keeperwear, a jacket that has been in the Barbour product line for over a decade. The Keeperwear resembles the classic Liddesdale but comes with features that make it handy for both hunting and bike commuting: a rear carrying pocket, snap closures, raglan sleeves for ease of movement, protective shoulder patches to prevent bag abrasion, large hand warmer pockets and rear snap gussets. Barbour wax jackets can be too warm for cycling. The Keeperwear quilt, on the other hand, provides rain repellency while remaining highly breathable. I buy my quilts a size up so I can layer them over multiple sweaters and vests.
Updated Barbour Keeperwear (2011)
Stud fastening rear game pouch
Discontinued Keeperwear jacket for women via Sierra Trading Post
We’re dedicated to natural fibers, but every now and again we’ll allow a synthetic exception. The Patagonia Retro-X vest is one of my favorites, ideal for backpacking and casual cycling. However, the longest-lived synthetic exception in my wardrobe is the Chaco Z-1.
Somewhere on the Oregon coast, 2002
I know the sandal-haters will have a fit, but for summer hiking, fishing, scrambling, gardening, biking, picnicking, etc, the Chaco cannot be beat. I love my old Quoddy moccasins, but they can’t go from soaked to dry in 10 minutes…
I bought my first pair of Chacos when I was 13, way back when they were still made in the USA. They were re-soled twice and were my only footwear for a month in Morocco, performing admirably hiking in the Rif and cruising through the Casbah. After 12 years of loyal service, they vanished off of a commune’s front porch. I’ve since replaced them with a new pair (now made in China).
Hiking above Chefchaouen, Morocco, 2009
Most Chaco offerings are horrendously ugly, so I recommend sticking to the Z/1 in black.
Framebuilder Dan Boxer wearing a discontinued wool Ibex vest in June
Standard issue, safety yellow, synthetic vest worn by Audrey A.
Karl, Eugene Tweed Ride participant, sporting wool Filson liner as cycling vest. Recommended for low speed cycling or cyclo-commuting only.
Use value of wind vest declines at rest
When shopping from the present, I try to source products that are made in their traditional country of origin from materials that are durable, all natural and will wear evenly with use. In most cases, I’m able to find something that I would categorize as archival.
For my sport of randonneuring, or long distance cycling, I’ve had to compromise on some of my purchasing decisions. Most performance oriented cycling gear is produced offshore out of synthetics fabrics. For short distance commutes, I’m fine wearing everyday, non-sport specific clothing on my bike. Here, one can easily default to wearing vests and jackets made from wool, moleskin or cotton duck. But for ultra distance rides, I always wear a synthetic vest over my wool kit to block wind, regulate temperature and prevent chill. While many cyclists prefer full sleeved jackets, the synthetic wind vest provides a protective barrier without causing overheating. Alas, I’ve never found a wool or natural fabric version of a vest that performs better than its synthetic counterpart.
That being said, here’s what I caught and released from a recent shopping project.
Boure Pro Wind Vest. Best in class. Still made in Colorado. Customization possible. Unisex sizing. Supplex nylon front, mesh back. Ideally, Boure would add a two-way zip for maximum ventilation.
Sugoi Zap Vest. Shaped body panels on this one make the fit a little strange. Although I hate brightly colored fabrics, I almost always default to bright yellow for my wind vests for maximum visibility. If you’re going with a bright yellow material, why not add more bold reflective striping?
Louis Garneau Vent 2 Vest. Garneau is one of my favorite cycling brands. They produce well thought out, well structured cycling garments at a reasonable, non premium pricepoint. I love that this vest includes a two-way zipper, an essential feature on any vest or jacket. Reflective striping could be maximized. Pearl Izumi vest (discontinued model). My old standby. As with most synthetic garments, the material on this vest does not age well with use. Dirt and grime cannot be removed. Alp-X Zip Off jacket. Interesting option from Gore Bike Wear, another favorite brand. If I didn’t have to pay an extra $99 for the sleeves, I’d keep this jacket and use it exclusively as a vest. The vest/jacket has two front pockets, a two way zip and fits perfectly. Gore makes a wind vest for women but color availability is currently limited to white and black–unacceptable colors for a cycling vest.
Not pictured is my dream vest, not available, which would be manufactured by Showers Pass, a Portland Oregon company. I wear the Elite 2.0 jacket throughout the winter and wish there were a vest equivalent. It would be made of the same breathable, durable eVENT fabric and have a two way zipper and a mesh back.
Tom and I often chatter about creating an Archival wind vest that would incorporate waxed fabrics, archival design details, but also make use of some modern synthetics. Stay tuned for future developments.
Add the Mont-Bell thermawrap skirt to my list of synthetic exceptions. I love the multi-functional design of this skirt as garment, survival wrap or cushion. Use notes from the Mont-Bell site: “Throw it on over your long underwear after a day of skiing or wear it alone when it is just too cold for a traditional skirt. It also makes a perfect ultra light backcountry pillow.” As a bag junky, I’m doubly drawn to the idea of a garment that comes with its own supplemental stuff sack.
On the subject of women’s outdoor clothing–the most recent Patagonia catalog included some terrific vintage photographs of female rock climbers from the 1970s (under the heading “Women’s Lifestyle”). Sadly, the catalog featured clothing for women that showed little in the way of a heritage design influence. Let’s hope Patagonia mines the content of historical photographs–and their own clothing archives–for a true “Women’s Lifestyle” collection.
Mari Gingery in a plaid shirt not available the Spring 2010 Patagonia catalog