I wish I were a tougher man. The kind who sleeps on bare ground when he camps, eats cannibal sandwiches and doesn’t shiver in the cold. Alas, I’m not. My back loves inflatable mattresses, my brain rejects raw hamburger and I often freeze my tookus off in sub-zero weather. When I go looking for a full set of deep-freeze snowmobile gear, I’m willing to go all-out.
In the distant past that’s meant wearing plastic bread bags around my socks, a bulky pair of socks with D-cell-powered heaters and strategically placed hot packs. Lucky for me, I discovered a very warm, stylish set of riding gear last winter that gives me an impervious shield to the coldest temps Mother Nature has up her sleeves.
The Tempo GT Bib ($316) is pretty darned nice, and not overly thick. The liner is made from waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex that’s light and thin – not too heavy, with a rugged Cordura shell. The Velcro and zipper-equipped lower legs work great to help quickly put on boots – like running outside to get the mail or shoot a deer.
The interior has 100 grams of insulation and there is padding on the seat and knees. Inside, the slippery fabric allows aggressive movements. Large, zippered pockets securely store goods, and they’re simple to open with gloves.
With a muted style that matches the bib, the Arctic GT jacket ($370) has more flash with patches of gray, reflective triangles and red paint surrounding the left-arm pocket. Zippers protect large hand pockets near the sides. They’re less accessible to gloved hands than the pants, but they make for a very handy warm-up zone for cold fingers. I like the restrained, simple look, and think it’s appropriate wear for non-riding environs.
The Cordura shell is substantial, with nice zippers, zip-line-adjustable neck and stretchy flanges to protect the wrists from wind. It’s comfortable, effective and feels like it could last many years with minimal aging. Together with the zip-out liner, the jacket has got some heft to it. Combined, the layers offer an impermeable shell that kept me warm on 10-below-zero rides in high wind.
It is the perfect set of gear for a sub-zero morning, but there’s not a vent to speak of. No matter what, even for me, on the coldest and windiest day I can work up a sweat while riding aggressively.
The memorable bread-bag experiment of my childhood taught me well that moisture is the enemy, and it must be wicked away. And, your body has got to breathe. This jacket and bib combo could keep the coldest rider warm, but the lack of breathe-ability means this expensive combo is not nearly as ideal once the day clears 20 degrees, so I bring two sets of gear on ride trips.