December 09, 2011

Craft Storm Tight Review

These are my go-to extreme winter cycling tights. They are far warmer than your typical fuzzy interior lycra tights. These tights have a couple of layers in front - a windproof layer and inside that an insulating ribbed thermal layer. They have a heavy lycra layer and the ribbed thermal layer underneath everywhere else. The front lower shin area (below the piping in the photo) and back of the leg are not windproof. The inner layer is nice and cozy against the skin. They have reflective piping for those inevitable dark winter rides.

These tights are warm at road bike cruising speed to at least -10C (14F). If you pedal harder they are warm enough to -15C (5F) at least. I really like them for pre-riding cross courses on cold days to quickly get myself nice and warmed up as well as for apres cross. But they would be too warm for a serious training ride at -5C (23F) or above. When it gets really cold, -20 to -30C (-4 to -22F), I put on a pair of windpants and I'm good to go. If you want to see the full gear for really cold cycling, check this out.

They are great for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing too at much colder temperatures - something like -30C (-22F). Because you usually aren't going as fast there is less wind chill for those types of activities.

Couple of downsides though. They are quite a bit heavier than regular brushed interior lycra tights. Of course, if you want to go cycling at cold temperatures, you really cannot wear only lycra tights, even heavy ones. And even the wind protection found in many lycra tights isn't enough. You need insulation too - like the inner layer in these tights. I expect they are not any heavier than wearing heavy lycra tights with wind pants for example. But too many layers tend to bind and reduce pedalling efficiency. These are more comfortable than a layered approach and seem to pedal easier.

The other downside is the lack of suspenders. Since I wear them over a pair of cycling shorts (they have no chamois themselves) I find they can ride down on my butt if I'm doing a lot of sliding around on the saddle. Mountain biking in hills for example. I sewed a pair of hockey suspenders onto mine to reduce this tendancy. Cost about 12$.

For the right conditions - cold - these are a great option. I normally take a medium, but I found I needed a large or they were a bit too tight in the thigh. They aren't as stretchy as lycra so you don't want them tight or pedalling efficiency suffers. The large fit my waist fine and I'm a 31 waist. Also they were a touch shorter than usual in medium. I machine wash with everything and then hang to dry. No issues over a couple of winters of use although I don't wash them every day or anything like that.

Bottom line? These are an important part of my winter sports wardrobe and if I wore them out or lost them, I would definitely buy another pair. I haven't found anything better.

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