Some bicyclists and runners only venture out when the weather is warm, while others gladly brave whipping winds and sub-freezing temps. All-weather athletes know finding a pair of comfortable, wind-resistant pants can be challenging. Many are stiff and bulky, requiring multiple layers because they don't provide much warmth, and trapping in sweat, which can be uncomfortable and even dangerous on cold days.
SUGOI, a Canadian company with a Japanese name, has come to the rescue with its Firewall 220 Pant, part of its extensive line of products made with its Firewall 220 fabric, including jackets, hats and gloves. These pants are not waterproof, but they are non-snow cold-weather activities. Bicyclists will want to wear them over shorts or pants with a pad, and runners might pull them on over tights on truly cold days.
SUGOI was founded in Vancouver in 1987 by bicyclist David Hollands and fashion student Carol Prantner, who merged their interests to create athletic apparel that is functional and attractive. They chose the name SUGOi, which means "incredible" in Japanese, because they saw at the time that good technical apparel came from Japan and Europe. The company, which remained in Vancouver after becoming part of the Apparel Footwear Group in 2008, started with a single line of biking shorts, and now sells a wide range of apparel for running, bicycling and triathlons.
These Firewall 220 black pants, which retail for $150 and are offered for men and women, are lightweight yet toasty, and unusually easy to move in, thanks to its combination of breathable inner layer and a soft, almost suede-like shell that has just the right amount of stretch.
The three-layer Firewall 200 fabric also wicks moisture, so that last mile of riding or running is as comfortable as the first. Yes, the fabric does make a bit of a "swish swish" noise when rubbed, but it's a subtle sound, not loud like the windbreaker you were to elementary school.
The pants feature a zipper and snap enclosure in front, with a panel of elastic at the waistband for a comfortable fit. At each ankle, a 10-inch-long zipper opens the fabric in a "V" to reveal a layer of mesh for cooling. The ankle zippers, which lock into place, have the added advantage of making the pants easy to pull on and off over sneakers or biking shoes.
There's also a small zippered pocket that sits in the middle of the back, right below the waistband, which is perfect for car keys, a phone few bucks and identification. The pants are constructed with gray stitching visible along the seams between its panels, creating an attractive look.
All in all, the Firewall 200 pants are attractive, functional and maybe even incredible. (MSRP $150)
Karen Nitkin likes to run, hike, bike, camp and swim. She spends as much time as possible on these activities, while juggling a writing career, family life, and doing errands like laundry and going to the grocery store.
Nitkin lives in Maryland, where the relatively mild climate allows her to run and bike year-round. She also spends at least a few weeks each year in New Hampshire, camping and hiking in the White Mountains. She has set a goal of hiking all 48 New Hampshire peaks that are above 4,000 feet. As of the fall of 2010, she is at number 20, following an epic rain-drenched four-peak overnight in the Pemigewasset wilderness over the summer.
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