Get ready to banish those Winter Riding Blues.
As we start to get into the colder months down here in the Southern Hemisphere, I start to ponder my choice of riding gear.
Coming from Wales, I’m used to riding in cold conditions. But unlike Wales, where the temperature remains stable throughout the day from freezing cold to not so cold, Australian temperatures (during Winter) can be quite nippy in the mornings, to sweltering heat in a couple of hours. So, choosing the right gear can be a balancing act.
Who Are Warmfront?
So we were very interested to hear about a Colorado based company hand making specific products to solving this problem. The brand is called Warmfront and they have created an ingenious little product of the same name.
The idea came about from a frustration of trying to stay warm but not overheat with normal riding clothing and where space and weight is also key. Warmfront say that inspiration was drawn from “arm warmers made out of cheap tube socks, and seeing Tour De France riders grab newspapers from the fans and stuff them down their jerseys for mountain descents.” From this, the Warmfront was born.
Their first prototype was a thermal undershirt. Their second prototype was a fleece jacket cut to ribbons and put back together. Testing over 25 different fabric weights in all weather conditions resulted in a what you see today.
Look and Feel
There is no denying that the Warmfront looks like some sort of bib. It features a high collar, which fits around your neck with a velcro tab, while a soft waffle fleece flap covers the front of your chest.
The business end is all up front whereas the rear is open, well, non-existent really, to reduce any overheating and to focus all its efforts onto your core. It’s incredibly light and soft to the touch. It’s very simple and there’s actually not a lot to say about the look of it, it’s so minimalistic.
Construction & Fit
The main section of the garment is made from an insulating, moisture-wicking waffle fleece body (try saying that quickly). This is designed to manage moisture in the garment by wicking it through the fabric, then evaporating off the outside. This reduces a build up of excessive moisture in the garment. A dry piece of fabric will always be warmer than a wet piece.
The collar has a no snag velcro design, just like baby bibs do, to help with getting it on and off easily. You simply attach the collar, then tuck the bib like section under your base layer, so it sits next to your skin.
If you’re concerned about adding extra weight to your pack or don’t have much room to spare, then fear not as the entire garment rolls down to the size of a pair of socks and weighs only 51grams!
Out On The Trails
We decided to head down to the Thredbo Mountain Bike Park, where the temperature had started to drop. It was the one of the last weekends of the mountain bike season before they switch over to ski season. The previous week they actually had snow on the top section of the trails, so this was going to be the perfect testing ground.
On really cold mornings (for Australia) I will usually don a light water resistant top that I can scrunch down into my pack and pull out when needed but usually after ten minutes of riding in it, I start to resemble a boil in a bag meal. So I usually just suffer for the first few minutes until I warm up.
I wore the Warmfront next to my skin, then a long sleeved riding jersey as my base layer over the top, one that I would wear pretty much all year round, and then a very lightweight shell as my outer. I didn’t want too many layers because I wanted to be on the edge of uncomfortable to see how effective the Warmfront was going to be.
The Warmfront Comes to Life
We jumped on the chairlift at the bottom of the village where it was sheltered and warm in the sun, but as we got higher and higher it started to become bitterly cold, as expected. The very last section on the chairlift is wide open to the elements and climbs to 1937m, (600m above the resort) and drops you off interestingly at Australias highest restaurant.
I got the “why the hell didn’t you put more clothes on” look from my wife, but hey, it’s all in the name of science. Although my arms, legs and face felt cold, my chest felt fine and this was probably why I wasn’t shivering or feeling the cold as much as my wife. It really works, I thought.
However, that was only the chairlift, I knew we had another test coming up in the form of the newly opened section of trail that starts even higher up than the lift station.
Took It For Granted
As soon as we got off the lift we all headed towards what looked like a sheltered spot. As we huddled together and made some last minute bike checks, I looked around at my riding buddies and they were all shivering, whereas I actually felt pretty good. I decided against sharing that information with the group. No need to be a total dick about these things is there.
As I rode, my body started to warm up naturally through excursion and I totally forgot about the Warmfront. In my mind it had already done its job on the chairlift, but what I didn’t notice was how it was still doing it’s job on the descent.
When we got to the bottom of the run I spoke with the others and they mentioned how cold they felt on the way down with the wind buffeting their chest and neck. I honestly didn’t notice this and just took it for granted that it wasn’t that cold. But I was wrong. It was cold, it was bloody cold, as I was kindly reminded by the others in the group. I had totally taken the Warmfront for granted.
We’re big fans of the KISS (Keep it Simple, Stupid) principle and Warmfront are master practitioners of this principle. It works, trust us. We wouldn’t recommend a product that we have not either tested ourselves or trust 100%. This has ticked both of those boxes. The Warmfront is one of the best combinations of warmth, compact size and flexibility you’ll find out there.
Although we only tested it for biking, we can see it’s applications in other outdoor sports such as running, skiing, boarding, hiking sailing, kayaking…the list goes on really.
The beauty of the Warmfront is that is does about 80% of the work needed to keep you warm with about 20% of the material of a standard piece of clothing and because it sits underneath layers, you can still access all of your pockets without having to de-layer each time.
The Warmfront is simple piece of equipment that can make the difference between being uncomfortably cold or toasty warm, weighs next to nothing and packs down to the size of your fist. What are you waiting for? Just go grab one and add it to your winter riding kit. Bish, bash bosh…job done!
- Lightweight, flexible warmth for unpredictable weather.
- Insulating, moisture-wicking waffle fleece body
- Sublimated jersey collar
- Elastic stretch binding
- Velcro collar
- 2 oz / 51g
- Body dimensions: 10 in. wide x 17 in. tall (25.4cm x 43 cm)
- Fits neck sizes 16″ to 20″
- Rolls up small
- Handmade in Colorado
Where to Buy
The nice people over at FullBeam Australia stock both men and womens versions.
Price: from $29.90