Baby, it’s Cold Outside
Last year, Jane Hayes, founder of c2 by Janeware asked if I wanted to review a few articles of her cold weather apparel.
“Sweet” I thought.
But then I said “Wait, what, me? What do I know? I don’t know anything? Do you really want to send me some clothes?”.
And Jane said “Yes”.
So I said “Cool”.
I have to admit though, I was a little uncomfortable with the proposition. Honestly, aside from what industry insiders call a “total lack of credibility” (yup, that’s me), I’m a pretty low-key rider. I don’t really dial my bikes (if it’s a new part on my bike, it’s because the old one broke), I TRY to stay away from biking fads, and I have a philosophy that the best way to ruin a good ride is the feeling that you spent too much money on anything you’re riding or wearing.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not el cheapo. My feet buckle up in Sidi, my melon dons a Smith MIPS, and I’ve got some pretty sweet rides and togs, but I try to only buy the things I need. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that I ALWAYS get a great price at my LBS (Cycle Solutions).
So who am I to tell anyone how to spend their hard earned money?
I’m a rider, that’s who. I ride. Like, a lot.
I’m partial to a sweet sunny ride, but where’s the fun in that? Rain, snow, sleet, hail, whatever. If I can get out on my bike and Mother Nature happens to be angry that day, I’m going to kick at the darkness ’til it bleeds daylight (thank you Bruce Cockburn) and just GET OUT FOR A RIDE. I’ve also done my share of early spring, ANY-AND-ALL-WEATHER-POSSIBLE races, and the fatbiking, when there’s no choice except to gear up, and ride for 3 or 4 hours, regardless of the weather, so I need to be warm, dry, and comfortable.
I’m also kind of freaked out doing this because of the power of the internet. I did a few fatbike reviews last year: a Salsa Beargrease XO1, a Trek Farley 9.9. and a Norco Bigfoot 6.1 It was a privilege to even be able to ride the bikes, and I took the responsibility pretty seriously, but they were kind of a lark for me. People actually LET me ride awesome bikes and I got to write about the buckets of awesomeness. It was a total gas doing the reviews because each of the three bikes was totally and completely wicked, but now they have a life that’s larger than I thought, and almost a year later, I still get a few hits per day for EACH of them based on internet search engines.
But here’s the problem: the Trek Farley comes stock WITH SWEET CARBON WHEELS, the Norco Bigfoot is a LITERAL BEHEMOTH OF A RIDE, and the Salsa Beargrease was THE NICEST ROLLING BIKE I’VE EVER RIDDEN!
…and this review is about long johns and a vest.
So even if they’re the sweetest long johns ever, and even if the vest was stitched by Donatella Versace, they’re still long johns and a vest.
Okay, before Jane reads this and her morning coffee shoots out of her ears, they were pretty sweet long johns and vest, and I honestly loved them–despite the fact that Donatella didn’t hand stitch them for me–because getting cold and damp on a ride is awful, and the right clothes sometimes make the ride.
Anyway, this is a review, so here’s the reviewey stuff:
From the c2 website;
c2 was created by Jane Hayes, a New England native who wanted to design clothes she wished she had for herself when she was out on her bike long after everyone else had hung it up and headed to the gym. Her business was built on a core belief that whether you are cycling, hiking or running, the weather shouldn’t keep you from doing what you love. You just need clothes that can keep up. c2 gear is designed to keep you warm and performing at your personal peak, even when the mercury drops.
And that pretty much sums up the clothing line. c2 is awesome, it looks and feels great, it wears well, it’s grass roots, and it works exactly the way it should.
Honestly, the review should end here–don’t worry Jane, there’s more–but if anyone is going to spend the time to read this, and possibly lay out some cash (and since Jane sent me a pretty sweet underthings) I think I should at least offer a few points about them, you know, seeing this is a cycling blog and all, and because as cyclists, we have specific needs. Oh, and (spoiler alert) there’s a coupon code at the end of this review.
For those of us in Southern Ontario (and many other areas north, south, east, and west), a good portion of our year takes place between the months of “Aw, c’mon, it’s already November” and “Ugh, thank god it’s finally March”, and during that time, we NEED to get outside. We want to be warm, but not too warm, we need to be ready for changing conditions, and whatever we wear has to be comfortable because we not only spend our time in the cold, we spend it perched atop a teeny tiny bicycle seat.
So here’s what’s important to me in my cold weather wear:
- Warmth and breathability
- Construction and durability
- The c2 vibe
And because it’s my blog, I’m going to rate the articles on a “BOOM Scale”.
- B = 1 (The lowest rating–think paper bag garments)
- BO= 2 (The second lowest rating–a bag with a soft lining)
- BOO= 3 (The mid rating–sweet and well made)
- BOOM= 4 (Pretty awesome)
- BOOM!= 5 (The perfectest)
Some would doubt the science of my rating scale. Totally okay with that. Also, since I’m me, and I gush over most things bike, bike-related, and bike-adjacent, it’s unlikely there will be any rating less than BOOM.
I tested a pair of Power Stretch Performance Tights ($99), and a sleeveless Power Stretch Base Top ($59).
As expected, both articles rated either BOOM or BOOM!. They were comfortable, well fitting, breathable, good looking, and most important, WARM.
Warmth and breathability
The pants are WARM. Disclaimer: I just haven’t had the chance to test the garments in the freezing cold dead of winter, but I’ve donned them on plenty of temps in the range of 2-7 degrees, with a wicked wind each time. Since it wasn’t freezing, and since they look so good on their own, I wore them without a second layer. They were warm and wind resistant.
They also seem to have a pretty remarkable breathability. I get lost in the technology of moisture wicking whosits and heat retaining whatsits, but they work. The inside is constructed from some sort of space age softness, but they don’t get mushy and gross when I get hot, and trust me, at my size I sweat. Buckets.
To recap. We want to be warm enough that our bits don’t retreat inside our bodies, but not too warm that our clothes become water laden bundles of icy discomfort. c2 does that.
Warmth and breathability Rating: BOOM/BOOM!
Okay, when I received the box in the mail and opened it, I was a bit disappointed. The pants didn’t have a chamois, and they weren’t a bib. The bib was most troubling because I’m 45, and very generously proportioned in the gut/side gut areas. Also, at some point in the last decade, my arse crack grew in length, and subsequently, I always ride with a bib (out of respect for those who ride behind me). However, the fit (I wore an XXL) was terrific: High waisted and well-fitting. The legs didn’t scootch up, and the vest kept my back warm. I didn’t need a bib because they fit so well.
Also, they’re not compression material, but they seem to do a good job of keeping my body where it should be. I call it “Guttage Control” and the GC factor on the garments is pretty high.
Back to the lack of a chamois. Honestly, it wasn’t even a problem. If anything, it adds to the versatility of the pants. With such a great fit, I wear cycling shorts under the pants and there’s no bunching. This means that if I’m doing a different outdoor activity, I can wear them. Also, with a cycling short instead of a chamois, some would argue that laundry is minimized because you don’t have to wash after every wear. I’m not a fan of that though because sweat is icky and I like to smell nice instead of bathing in the sweat from my last ride.
Fit Rating: BOOM!
Construction and Durability
These clothes are constructed beautifully. Aside from the space age material, the seams, hems, and general finishing are awesome. I’m not a sewing-stitcher person, but the garments look and feel well-made, robust, and sleek. Better yet, the lines are kind of awesome. They seem to accentuate the goodly body parts while decentuateing the less-goodly parts.
Regarding durability, I first wore my C2 last April, on an early spring ride. Then it got warm, however, so instead of storing them, I just washed them with my summer stuff about a dozen times. They don’t look any different than they did the first time.
Construction and Durability Rating: BOOM!
Reflective accents. Green stitching and logo. Sweet.
This is a tough one. There are a billion alternatives on the market. Between bike shops, outdoor shops, and the bottomless online options, you could throw a dart and probably hit a cold weather riding kit. Bicycling.com and Outsideonline.com both have reviews that pitch Rapha apparel as an alternative, but be warned, they cost big bucks. Garneau, Castelli, Giro, MEC… The list is endless. Investigate to see which brand, fit, style, and look are right for you.
c2 seem to be priced just above the low end of the price spectrum, which makes their items a compelling purchase. With Garneau and Rapha, the quality is there, but you also pay for the name as well.
There is a link to the c2 website. Here’s another: Buy c2
Value Rating: BOOM!
The c2 Vibe
I like the c2 vibe. Jane is the real deal. I trolled her facebook page, and she is a true outdoors person. She talks the talk, and more important, she walks (and rides and hikes and runs) the walk. And, she does so in New England, where winters last from late August to early July (or something like that). Also, Jane makes her clothes in the US. It’s great to have a social conscience, and be against sweatshops in principle, but it can be tough to shop by that conscience, so when a company promotes socially responsible practices, it’s great to patronize them. If you check the tags on the big players, they’re all made somewhere else. c2 is made in North America by North Americans. I like that–not in a chest beating sense, but in a “locally grown” sense.
Jane now divides her time between Toronto and New England, which makes her ours too.
If you need to know one thing about Jane and her clothing line, know this: Jane started making her clothes, one article at a time, in her living room, in 1995. You can’t get more grassroots, and I really dig that.
C2 Vibe Rating: BOOM! (times 2)
You don’t have to listen to me. I’m just a guy who rides a bike and writes a blog. Take a look at the c2 website, read a few online reviews from reputable sources, talk to the folks at your bike shop, and buy what’s right for you. The c2 items that I wore were awesome, and I love them.
And here’s the magic of a blog: If you want to try them, Jane is offering first time customers a sweet coupon code for 25% off your order. For those of us north of the border, shipping isn’t cheap, and the exchange rate is somewhere around 200%, so that’s pretty sweet. For my American friends, that’s a pretty sweet deal, eh?
So, until Monday, December 11th, 2017, take 25% off your order of $100 or more with the coupon code TEAM COLIN. You can enter it at checkout.
Oh, and I know a few bike shops read my blog. c2 is a great option. You can get in touch with Jane at: firstname.lastname@example.org
So, after a summer that wasn’t, it’s no longer wet and warm season, it’s wet and cold season.
But that doesn’t have to mean chunky sweaters and sipping hot cocoa by the fire–don’t get me wrong, I like a good chunk of sweater. When it’s cold outside, we just need the right gear to stay warm…but of course, not too warm.
Winter is cold, and it consumes way too much of our year, so we might as well get outside, embrace it, and be boss.
First, Jane Hayes contacted me last year about reviewing her clothes. I agreed and offered the provision that she could read my review and say either yay or nay to me publishing the entire review, but could not edit it. She agreed sent the items to me free of charge.
Second, I am totally and utterly independent. I’m not an ambassador for anyone or anything, I don’t often get free stuff, and if I talk about a bike shop, or a bike, or anything else, it’s because I love it/them/the stuff.
Third, as I’ve already said, I love everything about everything (especially when it’s about bikes), but, when I gush about things, it’s sincere affection.
Fourth, while I gave the articles as thorough a testing as I could, I didn’t wear them in the cold dead of winter. I wanted to post this review before the winter punches us in the throat with an icy fist.
Finally, I do my homework when I’m reviewing something, however, if you’re reading this, take everything I say with a bag of salt, because it’s only my opinion, and based solely on MY observations, MY thoughts, MY needs, and MY biases.
End of disclaimers.