18 November, 2014

Initial Impressions: Kast Steelhead Gloves

These past few years I've been finding that keeping warm hands has become a challenge. Cold hands while skiing are no issue other than discomfort. Cold hands while Winter steelhead fishing are a problem. Can't tie knots properly. You drop stuff. And God forbid you actually hook something...

As a result, I've been paying more attention to gloves. In the past year or so, I've heard a lot of buzz about Kast's Steelhead Gloves. Most give them very high marks. I'd been looking at them, but they were pretty spendy for an experiment. Plus, I've been pretty happy with my Simms Windstoppers (I have both the fingerless and full-finger models). But when I stumbled upon a good deal on a pair of Kasts, I picked them up.

One quick caution - many reviewers I read made comments that they ran large and to size down. I have to vehemently disagree. I wear an XL in nearly every glove I've ever bought (except, curiously the aforementioned Simms Windstoppers...). And the Kast Steelhead was a perfect fit in size XL. So, try 'em before you buy 'em.

Last weekend I spent both days floating the Pere Marquette river chasing chrome. Not very successful, but saw some new water, and got to try out my new gloves.

My conclusions were a bit surprising to me. Almost immediately, I noticed that my Simms gloves felt warmer. Maybe it's just the fleecy interior, or some other factor, but they feel a good bit warmer. I've got three days in NY on the Cattaraugus Creek swinging flies so I'll have some more solid experiences coming. But my first impression is that they're not as warm.


They're waterproof. Like as in submersible. That's really never been an issue for me previously as I've not found much need for this quality. Until the drift boat. So - where does the anchor go? That's right - in the water. And what attaches the anchor to the boat? Correct again - the anchor rope. So the anchor rope gets - anyone? Anyone? Bueller? That's right - soaking friggin' wet. When you're hauling the anchor up after every stop, your hands end up soaked. This is where the Kast's shine. Of course, it took me until the second day to figure that out (after I soaked my Simms on the first).

First impression? Great glove -- extremely well made. Excellent fit. Roomy but not bulky. Surprisingly good tactile qualities. But not quite as warm.

More to come as I get in some additional time on the water with these. But for now, I think these will be my rowing gloves and my fingerless Simms Windstoppers will be my fishing glove. Perfect combo!


03 November, 2014

Product Review: Louis Garneau Enduro 3 Cycling Bib Knickers

In my quest to extend the outdoor riding season, I recently add the Louis Garneau Enduro 3 cycling bib knickers to my cold(er) weather arsenal. In the past couple of seasons I've really become a convert to bibs. I've found them much more comfortable, supportive, and generally functional than conventional shorts and tights.

I already have a set of Pearl Izumi thermal tights, but a recent ride on a 65 degree day in them (well, I thought it was colder...) had me thinking I needed something in between the tights and shorts.

I've now gotten in two solid rides in these and they've already become a favorite. A few reasons:

Sizing for cycling clothing is bizarre at best. This is especially true of the European brands. I'm a straight-up XL top in nearly shirt or jacket. Yet I own Euro jerseys ranging from L to XXL. These Canadians (Garneau) get it. In Garneau I wear an XL jersey and L shorts/tights. Period. Every time. this is beginning to make Garneau my go-to. These bibs are no exception. They fit perfectly.

Technology really has come to sports garments. By using compression, and strategically placed panels of differing materials you can now get a garment that's comfortable and improves performance. Louis Garneau has done this perfectly in these bibs. My occasionally tweaky right knee gets some extra love in these - especially appreciated in cold weather.

Tights with chamois? Or no chamois? Long time debate that I've finally settled. On your lower half, more layers equals more opportunities for chaos. And chaos equals chafing. Not good. So a tight with a chamois is a must. And Garneau's are the industry-standard for me. Even at lower price points, they're consistently excellent. If you doubt that importance of this on a 40-miler, try something with a poor or weird chamois. I have a pair of Castelli shorts that DO NOT get along well with my tender parts. Enough said. Garneau gets it right.

It's really easy to look like an overstuffed sausage in lycra. For me, that's the sign of bad fit, or someone who doesn't belong in lycra. But well-styled garments can make even the less svelte among us look better. In these bib knickers I look like the streamlined, chiseled cyclist I like to think of myself as. And thought I originally thought knickers were a little goofy, I've gotten over it quickly. these just look cool.

Man, some cycling clothing is spendy. And I just can't see why. A $250 pair of Assos shorts? Seriously? Louis Garneau clothing is in the upper-mid range. I think they're products are consistently better than other similarly priced gear. The bibs are no exception. I think I paid $105. Not bad at all for a thermal bib tight with a first rate chamois.

In short...
If you need something to keep your legs warm and happy, this is the ticket. My rides thus far would suggest that they're comfortable 40-55 degrees or so. Wind is a factor, but even though they don't have a true windproof layer, they seem to do a pretty good job cutting wind.