After a soggy start to 2016, it looks like some proper nippy weather has finally arrived! With this in mind, take a look at our lowdown on these six pieces of off-season kit...
Merrell All Out Terra trail shoes
This is a shoe that could easily have gone wrong. Merrell has loaded it with hardcore trail features, initially leading the cynic in us to predict it was simply a marketing ploy to crank up the price.
Coupled with this reviewer’s past tests of Merrell shoes, which consistently lacked rebound force, things didn’t bode well... yet how wrong we were! This is a fantastic pair of off-road shoes. There’s the built-in sock liner that, though initially a touch too noticeable against the left ankle, soon broke in to keep out detritus; the toe bumpers offered modest protection against jagged stones; and diamond-patterned lugs gripped superbly on mud and trails.
Eclipsing all that is the most important feature – the ride. These are just a beautiful shoe to run in, providing swift and smooth transition from landing to toe-off. They’re not über-light (324g per shoe for our size UK10.5) but that’s a sacrifice worth paying for the lugs and liner.
Verdict: Great ride and protection unite to produce a fine off-roader, 92%
Nathan Halo Fire headlight
It takes a lot to remove the Petzl Tikka from our bonce for dusk trail runs and night city ventures, but the rechargeable, water resistant Halo Fire successfully achieves this with a winning mix of weight and lumen brightness.
What initially appeared a bulky head unit was barely noticeable on the run. The five modes – plus a myriad of flashing options – meant that nearly every nocturnal condition is covered, with the 280 lumens max capacity (and decent 25hr burn time) suitable for all-but the darkest and most technical of off-road conditions. We found the ‘Runwave' controls (where you wave your hand in front of your face to change the mode) a neat stride-maintaining innovation in principle, yet slightly ridiculous in practice, looking like we were swatting an imaginary fly once we were on the move.
A minor issue was that there were so many modes that we were unsure how to find the one we wanted, restlessly skipping modes like a teenager flicking through their parents’ vinyl collection.
Verdict: Lightweight unit that packs a hefty lumen punch, and an okay price too, 85%
Endura Freezing Point overshoes
Founded in Scotland, you’d expect Endura to know a thing or two about designing warm clothing – and the Freezing Point Overshoe doesn’t disappoint in keeping feet warm on winter rides.
As the material is so thick, there’s not a lot of give and they’re a battle to actually get on over your shoes. If you have the luxury of owning a pair of bike shoes specifically dressed in overshoes for cold weather this won’t be a problem, but be careful to avoid potential tears or snags if you’re taking them on and off regularly.
The inner fleece lining is like a thermal blanket and, in an onslaught of cold wind, our feet were kept reassuringly toasty. The Velcro heel tab at the back is quite small, though the zipper is robust and hard wearing.
Verdict: Rest assured, you won't be getting cold toes in these, 85%
Saucony Nomad women's run jacket
Saucony have categorised their run kit into three sections: ‘dry’ for wicking base layers, ‘warm’ for mid-layers and ‘shield’ for protective outer layers: the Nomad falls into the latter category.
The spotty front, shoulder and arm sections are made from a cosy fleecy-lined material that withstands the chilliest gusts and also displayed water-resistance, with raindrops running off. Meanwhile, the under arms and back are breathable and stretchy (although not water-resistant), so we didn’t get too hot.
The Nomad fits true to size and is close enough not to flap or be too restrictive. Details are also good – three zippy pockets, thumb holes, reflective details and a double front zip, which can be moved from the top or bottom.
Verdict: Not cheap, but it'll see you through most weather, 90%
Sugoi RS SubZero bib tights
Designed for extreme cold, the RS SubZero bib tights are one of the warmest options in Sugoi’s range.
Although they’re expensive (though a little birdie tells us they're now available for up to 35% less at some retailers!), you get a lot of material for your money, with the zipped front section coming up so high they almost resemble a thermal tri-suit. It’s often difficult to find a sweet spot with thermal cycling clothing – you can be left feeling shivery and sweaty at the end of your ride – yet we didn’t encounter this with the RS SubZeros; the fast-wicking properties ensuring we didn’t go cold on our warm-down either.
They’re well crafted with simple, understated branding, and the ultra-tough welded chamois kept our backside comfy for hours. But we found the foot straps flimsy and redundant, as the locking ankle zippers keep the legs from riding up anyway.
Verdict: A big price ticket, but comfortable to wear and warm, 79%
Giro Pivot waterproof cycling gloves
With leather-like palms, these could be mistaken for Alan Partridge’s driving gloves. So how do they perform on the bar tape of a bike, instead of the interior of a Rover 800?
The titular ‘waterproof’ function achieves exactly that, resisting relentless rain, taps, a bathroom shower and every other aqua-releasing device we could throw at it. Breathability is successfully provided by an in-built membrane and a small Velcro tab keep them in place. The rain and cold-battling capabilities certainly make them versatile, yet our main issue came in the bulkiness.
There was a lack of dexterity when reaching for shifters, and any food-unwrapping tasks were a no-go (although they were adept at swiping on touch screens).
Verdict: Warmth and waterproofing good, flexibility less so, 78%
For more reviews of the latest tri gear, head to the gear section of our website