I purchased some new gear to bring on this last trip to help with the weather. While we didn't face any seriously terrible weather, it was cold-ish (definitely cold for a Los Angelean). Mornings were brisk in the 40s, nights may have dipped into the 30s and daytime highs were probably in the 50s-60s. So here's what I thought of the new stuff.
IBEX Leg Warmers
Construction-wise, these leg warmers are top notch. The grippers are fairly grippy, the wool is thin enough for free movement but definitely has some thickness in it to keep you warm. There are zippers around the ankle area to facilitate removal. The wool is smooth and non-itchy.
Now, I'm not a spandex wearing kind of person usually, so when I first rode with these on without bike shorts I was a bit disappointed. They worked themselves loose and after a few miles the thighs were around my ankles. I was bummed. Then, I tried them with bike shorts, which I am assuming is how these things were intended to be used. I wore them so they were layered beneath the shorts and they didn't fall down. So with shorts they're great, without shorts (for me) they didn't work so hot. Highly recommend (with shorts).
North Face Apex Glove
I purchased these after a week of rain here in LA. I wanted something waterproof and wind proof to keep my hands dry and warm. Perusing through my local REI, these seemed to fit the bill. They were waterproof and not overly bulky. They have a thin fleece lining in them for warmth.
In use, I'm having mixed feelings. They seem to be waterproof and windproof, but don't provide much warmth. My hands are still cold (though not as cold without of course) and I think that is due to the fleece. I'm going to try to combine it with some wool glove liners to see if this improves its performance. Not quite sure what I think yet.
Marmot Zeus Down Jacket
I didn't have too much of problem keeping warm when climbing hills, but at camp...brrrr. That is when this jacket came in handy. I purchased this during an REI member sale knocking off a few dollars. Down jackets are said to have the highest warmth to weight ratio. The trade off being their complete failure if they get wet.
This particular one is said to have a water-resistant covering, which probably more or less translates to "don't get it wet," which I didn't. One neat feature of this jacket is that the left pocket doubles as a stuff sack! You turn it inside out and stuff the jacket into itself (sort of like its own personal vortex) and it turns into a neat squarish down pillow of warmth which fit easily into a pannier.
In practice, the jacket worked as advertised and provided good warmth. While I wouldn't wear this to the arctic, it did keep me from shivering when combined with a few wool layers underneath. Recommend.
Purchased off the Riv site, I wanted something that provided some foot retention but could be used with regular shoes. I've tried toe-clips and half toe-clips and they work well with regular shoes, they don't work well with Keen sandals. Keens just have big honking toe boxes. Unfortunately, Keens are my footwear of choice for touring.
So I ordered some PGs. Installation was fairly straight forward and hardware seemed OK. I'd carry some spare hardware and maybe an extra strap if I were going on an extended tour in remote country.
With the Keens, the straps are nearly attached to its end to accommodate the large toe box. So if you have Keens and want to try PGs, get the extra long version! This shortness made it a bit tricky to get into. To be honest, I was getting pretty frustrated the first few days of use. However, by the third day I was able to get in and out with more regularity.
They provided good retention and I got to test them in the rain a little, where they were invaluable. Overall, I'm pleased with them, but I do plan on ordering an extra long version to work with my Keens. I won't say anything conclusive about these, but they feel like they're on the right track. Recommend.
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