Layer Up with SmartWool Thermal Midlayers


With the introduction of the new Thermal Midlayer (TML) series, SmartWool launches the SmartWool® Layer Up System for Fall 2010. Cold weather outdoor enthusiasts will be able to layer head-to-toe in SmartWool® material, offering the most effective and efficient layering system in complement with breathable, waterproof outerlayers.

SmartWool’s® Next-to-Skin (NTS) Baselayers are the foundation of the SmartWool® Layer Up System. Moving the moisture vapor away from the skin, NTS keeps the breathing process going by allowing the vapor to pass through its fiber out to the Thermal Midlayer. The NTS Baselayer also manages any moisture build-up on the skin, absorbing it into the wool fibers away from the skin. The TML acts as the insulation layer, providing extra warmth without added bulk. The TML is also critical in keeping the layering system breathing; passing the moisture vapor through its Merino wool fibers where the breathable outerlayer can release the moisture vapor to the outside atmosphere. Wearers stay drier, warmer and more comfortable when wearing a complete layering system of Merino wool Baselayers and midlayers.

SmartWool continues improvements to the fit, functionality and finishes of its Next-to-Skin Baselayer line. The increased hem width on the cuff and waist; rolled forward side seams and added underarm panels simply add to the comfort. New fun colors and bright striped patterns plus all the moisture moving benefits of 100% SmartWool® Merino wool fibers, makes this an everyday “must-have” for hours spent playing in the snow. And, all NTS pieces are easy care – machine washable and dryable. Other finishing details and overall designs for both men and women include: chin guard on zippers; contrast neck taping; subtle flat lock stitch detail; and the introduction of seamless shoulders in the midweight collection to reduce chafing.

As the second layer in the system, the new SmartWool® Thermal Midlayers (TML) provide the necessary insulation and aide in the body’s breathability process. The TML continues to move perspiration in its vapor state, transporting it to an outer layer before it condenses into a liquid. A buffer of air is trapped in between the NTS Baselayer and the Thermal Midlayer creating a thermal insulation zone, providing warmth. This keeps the wearer dry, warm and comfortable, so activities can continue. New Thermal Midlayers are available in three weights: TML Light SportKnit, a warm, light midlayer sweater ideal for three-season aerobic and stop and go activities. TML Light is a warm, light, midlayer to help make transitioning through the seasons extraordinarily comfortable. The TML Heavy is the warmest insulator for active pursuits and stop-and-go activities in very cold weather. TML – the SportKnit has a looser weave and allows for more breathability. It’s good for high aerobic days or warmer days. An additional benefit of layering all in Merino, you get the warmest system possible, without bulk giving the wearer maximum mobility. With three weights in both NTS and TML, as well as multiple fabric construction options in the TML users can mix and match for the optimal layering system. The overall benefit here is that users can really fine-tune their dressing system – for their body, their activities and the weather.

For more information visit:

Catlike Whisper Plus

In late July, I read about Catlike’s 2010 Whisper Plus helmet. Supposedly, the lightest and coolest (from a temperature standpoint) helmet on the market and I had to have one! They were available for purchase in the US on August 2nd, which is when I placed my order, then anxiously checking the Fedex tracking each day to watch it’s progress. Yes, I was excited.

The Whisper Plus retails for $280.00 which puts it on the pricey side of things. My justification was simple, it was designed to protect my head making it invaluable riding accessory. It arrived in a black hard-shell carrying case, very similar to an expensive pair of sunglasses. I immediately inspected and tried on the helmet, being very impressed with its design. It is an extremely light helmet, yet feels very rugged.

I chose ‘Cervelo White’ as the color of my helmet which seems appropriate as I ride a Cervelo P2. The whites on both do in fact match.

The following morning in Central Park I noticed a number of interesting differences in this helmet as opposed to my old Bell. It has an adjustable back strap that sits right at the bottom part of the skull, keeping the helmet tight but still breathable. If necessary I was able to (with one free hand) reach back and tighten or loosen this device to find a happy medium while riding.

It’s most notable feature is the wind coming through the vents and across the top of your head. It was pretty amazing and really did keep my head cooler than I was used to.

As far as ‘looks’ go (come on people, we all like to look good when racing) it is great from the side angles and has an aerodynamic quality. From the front it looks very alien with its multiple honeycomb vents, which is a minor drawback compared to it’s cooling function. Overall, it looks very professional and may mark the beginning in a new era of helmet design.

I have been wearing it on training rides a lot with no dissatisfaction. In fact I love it. As far as races go, I haven’t tested it yet as I have only had a few ‘Sprints’ since owning it. Probably, I would wear it in any race greater than a Half Ironman as you hardly know you’re wearing the helmet which is a huge plus.

I would definitely recommend this helmet to any serious cyclist or triathlete.

MSRP: $280


Cloudveil Run Don’t Walk Vest

The “Run Don’t Walk” line of gear from Cloudveil is not only for the athlete who is based in the high reaches of the company’s home base of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Nor is it some utilitarian line of unattractive gear that works well, but looks awful.

When I got my hands on the Run Don’t Walk vest, I had never run in a vest before and didn’t quite know what to make of it. As it happens though, it really fits my M.O. very well because my arms and hand tend to get extremely warm when I’m running, even when it’s very cold out.

The first time I went to run in this vest, I think it was about 25 degrees outside, if I recall correctly. the first thing that struck me was the weight of the vest, which is to say the LACK of weight. Coming in at a ridiculously minuscule 7 ounces, I honestly couldn’t believe how light it was in my hands! This lightness carried over to the feel once I put it on also.The odd thing is, the thickness of the fabric by Polartec belies the weight but gives a comforting prelude to the protection that the garment provides.

Being that I am a singer and am somewhat obsessive about my throat/neck being covered, the high neck on this vest was really perfect in height. It cam right up to my chin, keeping my entire neck warm but never falling onto my skin enough to offer any kind of chaffing or annoyance.

I can honestly say that I was and remain taken completely aback at the performance and warmth of this vest! While it is still cold outside here in the Northeast, and with an arctic front bearing down on us for this coming weekend, I am looking forward to revisiting this review when things begin to turn toward the spring to see just how versatile this thing is!

MSRP: $75


Giro Advantage 2

Ok, so let’s face it, almost everybody who sees an aero cycling helmet thinks they look a little silly, but secretly harbors a desire to strap one on and see what it can do. I know I did!

Earlier this year, I got my hands on the Advantage 2 from the Giro company. If you’re a cyclist at all, you know Giro as one of the leading helmet manufacturers around. In fact, if you’ve seen any ad with Lance Armstrong in it riding a bike, then you’ve seen him in a Giro (Ionos). The Advantage 2 was my first opportunity to try out a cycling icon and to get under and aero helmet.

First, you should know the purpose of an aero helmet. As the name suggests, it helps to make you more aerodynamic and thus, more efficient. On top of that, an aero helmet is, dollar-for-dollar, a MASSIVE savings over other aero components such as wheels. Click here for an article that has a very good breakdown of cost per watt saved.

Now, on to my thoughts on the Giro Advantage 2. Like I said, this was the first aero helmet I’ve gotten the chance to try out. At first, like many athletes, I was a bit concerned about the heat factor. The Advantage 2 doesn’t have the huge amount of vents that an every day cycling helmet has, rather, it has only five vents. These vents are right on the peak of the front of the head and do indeed get all the air. So, what I noticed was that, not only was I cooled enough, but the vent channels running along the inside of the top of the helmet allowed for a small vortex Giro Cycling Helmats, Advantage 2, Aero Helmets, Benefits of and Aerodynamic Cycling Helmet of air (like a mini tornado) at the back of my head that felt like a constant air conditioner. I was completely shocked. This is what the Giro website has to say about venting in the Advantage 2:

Internal Air Channels

By definition, a channel is; a route through which anything passes or progresses. In the case of Giro helmets, we utilize channels on the inner portion of the helmet to move air. These internal channels are carefully crafted and are one of the keys to a well ventilated helmet. When combined with our external vents, they help move hot, stale air across the riders head and force it out the back of the helmet. This is a proprietary Giro technology that we call WindTunnel Ventilation.

On top of the amazing heat dispersion, the Giro did indeed seem to allow me to feel more like I was splitting the air, rather than pushing it out of my way.

Another really great feature of the Advantage 2 is the foresight to put channels in the ear flaps to allow sunglasses to be worn. Not once did any of the glasses that I tried with the helmet feel pushed either down on my face or squeezed in from the stems.

About those ear flaps; I was concerned about comfort due to the fact that my ears stick out a bit more than most. This causes them to feel pinched and generally sore after wearing, say, a swim cap for too long. However, the ear flaps on the Advantage 2 gave my ears plenty of room without being uncomfortable. The one slight detractor I found was hearing. Because of the positioning of the ear flaps, it does make hearing everything you’re use to with nothing but straps on either side of your ear tricky. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like you “can’t hear” it’s just a bit muffled relative to unobstructed hearing. That said, I had zero troubles with that both in workouts (on NYC streets where hearing is VERY important) or in the Ironman Mooseman 70.3.

So, if you’re in the market for things to make you more aerodynamic, rather than dropping $2000 on a new pair of wheels, why not just take $160 and get a helmet that will give you more aerodynamic advantage anyway?! I really like the Advantage 2 and I look forward to trying it out when it get’s truly hot this summer, so be on the lookout for updates.

P.S. Look out for some new helmets from Giro very soon!

MSRP: $165

Buy on Amazon: Giro Advantage 2


Smith Optics Pivlock V90 Max

Leading up to Ironman Louisville this year, I have been quite desperate to find something that could keep up with my rate of perspiration. That’s right, I sweat…a TON. I need a pair of glasses that are lightweight, has a great field of vision, minimal or no frames that would allow sweat to pool, lenses that would allow my copious amounts of sweat to run off easily and allows for a boatload of airflow to keep my eyes and brow line cool(ish). The Pivlock V90 Max fits the bill on all accounts.

First, weight; the Pivlock’s are amazingly lightweight. Aside from their weight in hand, the action and fit make them that much more invisible. While the weight of some glasses belies cheap and half-baked manufacturing, the Pivlocks are actually designed with that in mind using what they call the Grilamid TR90 frames, built for flexible, light yet hard core construction.

Next, the lens. Well, as far as traditional frames go, the Pivlocks have none. This means absolutely zero interfering with any part of your periphery. The field of vision goes seamlessly from the through the lens, to over or under the lens (if you can get around the great coverage). The V90 Max’s come with three lenses, bronze mirror, ignitor (rose tinted) and clear. Each of the lenses offers a clear, easy to clean, larger surface and they have a sweat seal hydrocoating that allows sweat to roll off easily. The changing of the lens takes about 10 seconds flat and is super simple yet sturdy.

The shape of the glasses makes them very comfortable an firmly, yet lightly, fitting on your face. They offer a huge amount of coverage that once again, has no frames to distort your field of vision. Even with that much coverage, the airflow is unparalleled in my experience. There is no frame lip to interrupt or stop the airflow over the brow and air flows throughout the entire perimeter of the lens, keeping your face and eye area cooler than any glasses I’ve tried. After a six hour ride I came home and HAD to show my wife the lack of sweat on the lenses!

The one possible detractor for some people may be the size of the V90’s. They probably work best on a medium to large face because of their size. This isn’t to say that they wouldn’t “work” on everyone, that’s a matter of taste and preference.

I highly recommend the Smith Pivlock V90 Max glasses. As long as I can keep these bad boys on my face they’ll be there. On top of that, Smith’s lifetime warranty certainly helps!

OH! I almost forgot!! Take a look at the amazing, removable prescription system that the V90’s offer!

MSRP: $139


Pin It on Pinterest