Tuesday, March 27, 2018

New Jacket Day! The 45NRTH Naughtvind

It's got an offset zipper!

Nuff said, the offset front zip is what did it for me in choosing the Naughtvind as my go-to winter cycling jacket. Icebeards are great and all but as frost build-up forms a small mountain of dripping ice around my chin and beard, clinging to every piece of beard my face has, it was a beautiful moment as my ride came to an end and I was able to painlessly and effortlessly unzip the jacket away from my yeti-like facial features. And that button just above the chest pocket? Well, it serves a great purpose, and that is to fasten the collar in place. This makes for a stylish and practical accessory otherwise not found on typical cycling apparel.

Those who know me well, know that I'm a little on the 'picky and choosy' side when it comes to cycling apparel. I lean hard towards function over fashion, as I most often find myself many miles away from other people, places and things when I ride. The @45NRTH Naughtvind is a solid winter cycling performer. Labelled as a soft shell, it boasts some incredibly well thought out features not found on other winter-specific cycling jackets. Functionally, this jacket exemplifies the ideal outer layer for cold weather cycling and as for fashion, well, simply put, it looks like it should look as a cycling-specific garment, with jersey pockets, reflective patches by 3M and a slush tail to boot!
Soft fleece line collar that zips up nice and high, above the chin!

The Naughtvind fits and feels much lighter than one would think a winter cycling jacket should, yet it wears and handles itself like a brute in the dead of winter, unassumingly tough and capable of fending off less than ideal conditions. Like any soft shell, there is a limit as to how much precipitation it can handle, particularly in milder conditions, with wet slushy snow. I did get to ride for a couple hours in -2C with wet snow falling and the Naughtvind did hold up to its end of the bargain, keeping me comfortable. Should I venture out on an overnight bikepacking trip in snowy/wet conditions, I would also bring along my hard shell to complement my kit.

Offset Zipper Buttoned Down

Offset Zipper Done Up
There are more holes in this jacket than there are in the ozone layer, and that's a good thing because this jackets ACTUALLY breaths and ventilates the rider. Let's face it, most winter riding, especially when fatbiking, involves the rider to work hard, pushing the bike  and rider, thus building up some heat. This means that dumping that heat can be an issue, especially with your typical waterproof hard shell jacket, where non-breathable layers prohibit you from getting that sweat pushed away from your body.

So, what 45NRTH did, is not cheap-out on ventilation AND they used a @schoeller softshell material to ensure that breathability is at a maximum. Combine the breathable soft shell material with the mesh-lined pit zips (genius by way) and overlapping back ventilation ports and you have the perfect recipe for comfortable cold weather riding.

What you choose to wear underneath your outer layer is just as important as the outer layer itself. I was comfortable and dry at -10C on a sunny day wearing a mid-weight long sleeve cycling jersey with my 45NRTH merino t-shirt underneath. This combo allowed me to unzip my cycling jersey underneath my fully zipped Naughtvind. This method allowed for air to move more freely under the jacket, while it was still zipped up. In the deep cold, below -25C, I wore a mid weight fleece with a long sleeve merino against my body. This fared really well as I was able to ventilate through the pit zips to keep the fleece mid-layer from building up moisture. If I was working any harder or if the temperature was any warmer than -20C while I was fatbiking that day and I would've had to drop the fleece layer or begin to unzip the jacket to encourage more ventilation.
Mesh Lined Pit-Zips
Other Key Features of the Naughtvind
Just Breath
Breathability is hands down my most important feature in a winter riding jacket. Being dry during long and cold rides is a matter of comfort and safety. If I soak my kit from sweat and still have two hours of riding until home, I am at risk of hypothermia and making grave mistakes on the bike. However, there are a few other features that the Naughtvind brings in to play that are fundamental to having a fun and safe time while winter cycling.

Being Seen
The addition of 3M Schotchlite reflective material has me more at ease during my dark and stormy winter commutes to work, or, as I arrive home from work in the dead of winter at 4pm and it is already dark outside, I am more likely to ride and be seen with these well-placed reflective squares on the elbows, the back of the neck collar and the reflective 45NRTH logo.

Grab'n Go Jersey Pockets
As cyclists, having familiar features in the garments we wear and trust is an added bonus while we plan out our rides, especially in harsher conditions, where time and efficiency is at a premium.  Easily accessible with a liner glove on, the rear pockets are slack enough to get a winter handle on your items. Though I did not ever keep a water bottle in these rear pockets, as it would've froze up, I did use these pockets to keep snacks, extra gloves/hat and my pump, just as I would in a summer weight jersey. The elongated slush tail is a nice added touch on those sloppy and slushy gravel roads, at just the right length to keep the butt dry.

Three perfectly sized "jersey"pockets line the lower back of the Naughtvind
Final Comment
The Naughtvind quickly became my go-to piece for winter riding, on my fatibke, in all but absolute worst of winter riding conditions, that is, in the warmer, wetter, slushier conditions.
I'm happy to admit that I found its limit in more spring-like conditions (above 0C), as it is black in color and thick enough that once my heat builds up, it was difficult to shed the moisture build-up without having to unzip the entire jacket. This should be expected for most softshells, as they're not designed to take on huge amounts of precipitation, especially in milder weather.

This jacket excels from -5C to -25C range, in cold and dry conditions.  It has superior breathability capabilities. I'm already excited for next winter and to take this jacket on some overnight fatbiking trips, where I can rest assured that I will be dry and comfortable for hours on end.

Thanks to 45NRTH and Live to Play Sports

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