The last Scandinavian brand that I remember making a major impact on the snowmobile clothing industry on this side of the Atlantic was Reima. That Finnish brand swept into North America with high-tech materials and subdued, classy styling. To me, it seemed to pave the path for the high-end gear niche that Klim soon thereafter claimed.
The Scandinewby now is Tobe (pronounced “Too-Be”). Founded in Sweden, it first made landfall in the U.S. and Canada perhaps a dozen years ago but then seemed to disappear for awhile. But in the last five years, the brand has started pushing hard, with major appearances at snowmobile shows and events, a growing dealer network and a stronger and broader product line.
Last winter, I spent a season with the brand’s Iter V2 Jacket and Iter V2 Bib Pants, a premium-priced set of gear available in a variety of colors.
Tobe Snowmobile Gear
The Iter V2 Jacket is a 3-in-1 system, featuring a durable-feeling outer shell and a separate zip-in/zip-out liner that can be worn as an insulation layer with the shell or separately as a casual jacket. First impressions on both pieces were good – they appeared to be of high quality.
The shell is made of a mid-weight Cordura material that felt sturdy enough to knock down winds and withstand some abuse yet still highly flexible and not overly stiff. It’s coated with a waterproof membrane. Venting options are plentiful, with two, 8-inch-long zippered vents near the arm pits and equal sized exhaust vents in the lower back. The front also features four sizeable pockets – two each located at the chest and waist.
The stylish liner, when installed, adds 170gram Thinsulate insulation in the body and 140gram in the sleeves. When it was zipped into place, though, the user lost the ability to use the shell’s powder skirt and inside pockets.
Because I wear a heat-trapping TekVest when I ride, I spent most of the winter cruising trails and backcountry meadows with just the shell. On sub-zero days, that was a bit of a mistake. The shell was not as windproof as some other jackets I’ve worn and I found myself longing for the zip-in liner. In size large, the cut was somewhat tight for my 5-foot, 11-inch, 190-pound frame with my usual base and mid-layer, TekVest and then the jacket with installed liner. Without the liner installed, though, the jacket moved easily with my various twists and turns, whether burning trails or playing around in powder bowls.
Six narrow and subtle 4-inch strips of reflective material – found on the front and rear of each arm plus in the upper back – added an element of safety at night.
Overall, I really liked the classic look as well as the overall function of the jacket with one small complaint: The main front zipper would regularly grab the material that was directly behind it, particularly at the top. I’d try to unzip, it would move about an inch and get stuck. I’d have to reach into the top of the jacket and try to pull material out of the zipper teeth – something that wasn’t always easy when wearing a helmet. It happened far too frequently, causing frustration.
The Iter V2 Bib Pants were clearly made with durability in mind. The sturdy Cordura exterior has overlays of Armortex Kevlar-reinforced material at the knees, inside calf and base for abrasion protection. Integrated knee pads are also included, as is a bit of extra padding in the seat. Sympatex waterproofing adds further protection from the elements. I rode in a variety of conditions and never had to worry about wetness seeping in from the outside.
The function and fit of the bibs was ideal. The reinforcement on the inside of the calves leads me to believe they also designed these pants with the snowbike crowd in mind. Flexible material in front of the wearer’s belly and in the sides allowed for a comfortable fit and made the upper move easily with the rider, with no binding whatsoever. A pocket in the high chest plus two hand pockets at the hips gave plenty of storage options.
Other than the aforementioned zipper problem, I was overall quite pleased with my season in the Tobe gear, and I had a couple of compliments on its look. This brand appears poised to make an increasingly big impact on the North American snowmobile gear market.
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