The otherwise stylishly-muted FXR Renegade XC jacket proudly proclaims “Mountain” on the left chest and again on the right sleeve. The matching black Vertical Attack bib pants have similar logos just above each knee. Maybe it’s a nod and a wink to the area where riders can almost always depend on snow or there’s some other marketing twist. But the set of gear I tested is middle-America tough, warm and comfortable.
It starts with a durable, windproof and waterproof shell made of 300 Denier Kordura, featuring sealed, taped and laminated seems and reinforcement at the shoulders, knees, instep and hem. This makes the jacket and bibs heavier than some of the other high-tech gear I’ve worn in recent years, but it feels very tough while still being flexible and comfortable.
The jacket shell itself has limited insulation, but it comes with a zip-out liner featuring 200 grams of insulation. As a TekVest wearer, I pulled the liner out the first time I wore it and never put it back in — the jacket proved so windproof that getting cold was not a problem.
Neither was getting too warm. Huge 15-inch vents run diagonally from in front of the armpit to the beltline on each side. The small zippers and their location aren’t easy to reach, but once opened they move air through the jacket in a hurry. Four pockets (two at the hips; two more in the chest) are found on the outside of the jacket, while inside are four more places to squirrel stuff away.
I got an XL jacket to cover my nearly 6-foot, 190-pound frame, and it left me with plenty of room but was not oversized. A draw-string at the base and a wind skirt at the waist allows the owner to customize the fit. I also appreciated the nylon cuff extensions when wearing short gloves.
The Vertical Attack bib pants are also lightly insulated, but with proper layering I never was cold wearing them. If cold legs are an issue for you, opt for the virtually identical Renegade XC pant ($339.99) instead, and you’ll receive a removable liner with 175-gram insulation. The Vertical Attack bib pants came up to the bottom of my rib cage, with removable suspenders reaching over the shoulder. The pants are cut rather long — my size Large got caught under the heels of my boots when walking. Short and tall sizes are available for the vertically challenged or endowed.
High-quality, full-length zippers run all the way down each side, allowing for easy on-and-off, and an integrated belt using hook-and-loop fastener material at the waist allows for adjustment. Storm cuffs at the base allow the user to snap the pants onto bootlaces to keep the snow out when wading into the powder to help dig out your untalented brother-in-law. The fit is roomy and comfortable. Four pockets are in the thighs; the higher pockets can double as vents.
Overall, the set of gear kept me happy. It’s been comfortable, warm, adaptable and very durable — I’ve abused it, run it through the wash multiple times and it still looks good.
My only complaint WAS that I thought the kneepads that FXR claims were removable really weren’t — UNTIL I received some clarification from the fine folks at FXR after the season, and after this article appeared in the Spring issue of Snow Goer magazine. It turns out that there is an access panel toward the bottom of the leg, hidden behind the storm cuffs, that allows the owner to reach up into the leg and remove the pads. Those crafty Canadians fooled me again!! I apologize for the error and any confusion I may have caused. — John Prusak