15 Months with the Vulpine Long Sleeve Merino T-Shirt

I’ve had my Vulpine Long Sleeve Merino T-Shirt for two winter seasons now. It’s time to discuss how it is holding up beyond first impressions. In a word: brilliantly.

No pilling, no tears, no holes, no stink… what more would you want from a baselayer.

That’s what the shirt is to me, I wear it almost exclusively under my Sugoi RSE NeoShell Jacket. The Vulpine shirt is thus in rotation with two merino Patagonia zip-tees of different weights.

I don’t generally wear any of these on their own because I find that the wind blows through them and I feel cold with just a wool layer. I have been thinking about adding a windproof gillet to my selection and then might wear wool jerseys as a single layer on my arms more often. While the wool is knitted tightly enough that it is quite smooth and comfortable on the skin, it is loose enough to let the wind through. Surely that’s a bonus when wearing the shirt under a jacket to add breathability, but that’s in part why I don’t really end up wearing it on its own a whole lot.

In the meantime, however, the Vulpine shirt keeps me nice and warm under the water/wind-proof jacket, but not sweaty. Given the open neck, it’s my go-to baselayer in not-so-cold weather. The construction of the seams around the shoulders is very comfortable and not in the way in any riding position under any version of a jacket.

The wool is holding up VERY well. No pilling, not wear as far as I can tell. The overall quality is really terrific even after months of daily use. I wash the shirt in a primitive N American toploader then hang-dry so not particularly gentle in treating it, but there is no sign of wear even on elbows, no loose threats. This quality (rather than functionality) would justify the price entirely in my mind.

The blue colour has also stayed true all along. It continues to be much more handsome a shirt than I am or than my bike is.

Some more critical thoughts:

  • As I noted in my first impressions, the sleeves are a little too short. Off the bike, they are just right, but in a riding position, they leave my wrists uncovered which I don’t like much. [Yes, a bit of a theme, i.e. I like to stay warm!] While I am quite tall (1,96m), most of that height is in my legs and I don’t order long sleeves on dress shirts, for example, so it seems like the proportions on the sizing are a bit off for my body type.
  • Likewise, the longer back is also not very long. Worn by itself (i.e. not tucked in) the shirt covers the edge of whatever pants I’m wearing, but not much more.
  • I have never used the pocket on the back, in part because I mostly wear the shirt as a baselayer, but also because the most likely items would be keys or a wallet and those either would likely rip the pocket (keys) or don’t fit (wallet)
  • As I wear the shirt under a jacket, the reflector on the back pocket is also turning out to be less essential than I would have anticipated.
  • I do like my neck warm, so I wouldn’t mind a slightly closer collar.

Bottom line: Definitely high quality and very nice to wear. As it turns out for my use as a baselayer, some the functionality is not necessary.

 

Betabrand Bike-to-Work Pants

Betabrand is another one of those brands that I’ve been keeping an eye on for their bike-specific hipster ware. So, when they were having one of their sales (sign up for their newsletter or follow on Twitter) I jumped in and ordered olive bike-to-work pants.

The main attraction to the brand is, er, the brand. Hip, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but functional and good looking.

Well, the bike-to-work pants didn’t really turn out to be a winner.

I ordered them in 36, my usual side, but the waist was a bit big, while the thighs (I do commute by bike after all) were tight. The sizing was odd since I also ordered one of their beautiful cordarounds in a 36, but that was too small.

The bike-to-work pants weren’t massively too large, but I would have needed a belt off the bike which means wearing the belt on the bike and that’s just not that comfortable.

In the end, I was also a bit underimpressed by the bike functionality and the quality.

I had ordered “olive” but my order confirmation already said “mushroom”. The pictures of olive looked like a light green, but the colour turned out to be a pretty bland, meh shade of, well, mushroom.

Because the fit wasn’t right, I didin’t quite try them riding on the bike, but the coverage in the back seemed adequate. The cut didn’t seem obviously conducive to riding.

The reflective flap that folds out of the left rear pocket is terrific. Nice to have a bikeware item designed for right-hand-drive traffic too.

But that’s pretty much it for bike features, i.e. lower-in-front-higher-in-back, no seams to sit on and pocket and rolled-up-pant reflectors. Terrific and new a coupl of years ago, but so-so now.

Finally, I just wasn’t that impressed with the quality given loft prices of US$100+ (pre-sale). The pants really seemd liked a pretty regular pair of chinos that could have been Dockets or some similar ho-hum brand.

Obviously, I can’t report on durability and fit on the bike, since I returned them…