Regular readers know our affection for Naked and Famous's Snow Pant Denim, indigo jeans designed for the slopes that double as terrific daily cold-weather biking trousers.
Unfortunately, eBay sightings of these long-discontinued pants are rarer than a David Brooks fan at a Donald Trump rally, and here in Minneapolis, winter is sticking around just as stubbornly as John Kasich. We need some more warm cycling-friendly pants.
Honestly, we never imagined we would ever approve of a product made out of "exclusive AeroFleece." But when we saw that Bill Murray was a fan, we figured we'd give them a chance.
Decade after decade, Bill Murray has rarely steered us wrong — and he hasn't this time either. While we don't quite like the Rider jeans as much as we like Caddyshack, we'll put them right up there with Rushmore, Quick Change, and even Groundhog Day. Which is to say, we like them a lot.
They won't work for sub-zero commutes, but with a pair of long underwear we've been plenty comfortable down to 10°F. Without long underwear, we reckon we will wear them into the low to mid 50s, at which they'll be too hot and we'll switch over to shorts.
Like the Snow Pant Denim, the Rider Jeans are versatile. In the same way that Bill Murray was designed for comedy but can handle straight dramatic roles with great skill, the Rider Jeans, designed for cycling, are also awesome shoulder-season golf pants. As Mr. Murray himself has discovered. (You didn't think he was biking to work, did you?).
Al Gore and Leo DiCaprio are going to have to take a lot more trans-oceanic plane trips before they manage to put a dent in the bone-bruising chill that greets us every morning in Minneapolis this time of year. But while there's nothing we can do to avoid the snow, sleet, and ice, we can avoid the even-worse-than-usual traffic and parking-space hunts that come with them. How? By continuing to ride our bikes to work, even in the face of sub-zero temperatures.
How do we pull this off without looking like we're about to engage in some heavy breathing with a couple of broad-shouldered Scandinavian beauties at the Winsport Olympic Luge Track? We lay out our strategy below.
2. Nannini "TT" Goggles. Made for motorcyclists but adopted by cyclists looking for a stylish way to keep your eyelids from freezing shut.
TORSO & LEGS
3. Smartwool Baselayer underneath a 8 Wool Turtleneck. A baselayer under a jacket is all we usually need in anything above 10°F but it was -6°F this morning so we layered with a wool turtleneck. 8 makes a stylish one, with value.
4. Love Moschino Long Down Puffer. Down blazer-style jackets and some days even down shirts work for Minneapolis winter commuting. But not this neo-Polar Vortex shit. At anything below 0°F we pull out the long down puffer. Jack Frost may nip at your nose, but first he nips at your toes, then, surprisingly, your ass. Having goose feather coverage back there helps prevent his bite.
5. Smartwool Baselayer underneath Naked and Famous Snowpant Denim. Naked and Famous is responsible for some of the most important innovations in the history of denim, like scratch and sniff raspberry scented jeans. But their all-time best effort is the discontinued Snowpant Denim, a deep indigo wash treated with a waterproof and wind-resistant coating, and lined in comfy fleece. Look for them on eBay and try to grab them before we do.
6. Wigens Bear Claw Gloves The synthetic lobster claw gloves you see most winter commuters wearing are neither a warmth nor a dexterity match for these Swedish leather and fur marvels. Unfortunately Wigens seems to have stopped making them. Set up an eBay alert.
Minnesota-based 45NRTH makes the popular Wölvhammer commuter boot, but they're nearly as heavy as a pair of Pacs, only rated to 0°F, and don't abide by our un-gear aesthetic. After several years of trial and error we've concocted a 4-step footwear solution that's fairly lightweight and can hold up to a 45 minute commute at -20°F.
Darn Tough Hunting Socks. Not all wool socks are created equal. We've tried a dozen different brands and Darn Tough are the best. Made in Vermont.
Q: This winter will be my first time hitting the ski slopes since pursuing the MB lifestyle. What do you recommend I wear to look good and stay warm without looking like a Spyder Toolbag?
Q: Great to have you back! I checked out your ski channel, and while I liked the suggestions, (especially the pants), I'm unable to locate a pair in my size. That was back in 2011, any chance on getting an updated recommendation for a full ski outfit?
A: We keep things really simple when we hit the slopes, using, for the most part, what we normally wear in winter. (See earlier post on the matter.) There's no reason to get into a special synthetic sports uniform — see "Spyder Toolbag" look — unless there's a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract involved.
Here are some suggestions from bottom to top:
Naked and Famous throws a lot of denim against the wall and some of it — like our highly-recommended Snowpant Denim — unfortunately doesn't stick. (These were nearly 60% off at Neiman Marcus and still took over a year to sell out.)
We contacted N&F and there are no plans to make more. However, Tate and Yoko have 29 and 30 in stock, and there are always a few pairs floating around on eBay and about half the price. Set up an alert.
UNDERLAYER Smartwool Merino next-to-skin. This works for winter biking, snowshoeing, football game watching, or just sitting by the fire.
SWEATER Cashmere turtleneck from 8. No, this is not Brunello Cucinelli cashmere. But we believe 8 to be the best cashmere value in the world.
They cost nearly as much as a Vail lift ticket, but if Moncler is good enough for Italians scaling K2 (pictured), it's good enough for us to scale the St. Regis bar at the top of Deer Valley. But any down puffy jacket will do, and if you want to keep it stylishly Italian and starting with the letter M, YOOX always has great deals on Montecore, Moschino, Martin Margiela, and Museum.
Cashmere hat with a pom. (Similar to pictured.)
SUNGLASSES Vintage Carrera 5425s in tortoise, from Allyn Scura, the official eyewear provider to Magnificent Bastard, and the film American Hustle (opening nationwide on Friday).
Q: We're coming up on ski season quickly. What would an MB full ski outfit look like? And yes I mean ski since an MB would not snowboard. —Alex
A: Alex, you are correct. We do not snowboard. In fact we actually limit our ski vacations to Mad River Glen in Vermont and Deer Valley and Alta in Utah. These are the three remaining resorts in the United States that have rightfully banned this boarding horde of mogul-flattening teens. Do not mess with the bumps.
As for the ski outfit, we keep it very simple with stuff we already have in our regular winter rotation, like a puffy coat that hits at the waist, a cashmere hat with a pom, and leather stars-n-stripes "Captain Freedom" gloves. Where we venture outward is on the pants. Naked and Famous has created the coolest ski pants ever, the Slim Guy Snow Pant Jeans. They fit and look like denim but are lined, waterproof, windproof, and have have vented cuffs to fit over your ski boots.
Q: I was shopping around in Toronto recently, and as I was looking around for a new set of jeans I stumbled upon Naked and Famous jeans (http://www.nakedandfamousdenim.com/). I really liked the quality feel, and the basic appearance, but they do seem to have a thing for skinnier fits. The jeans are made in an old-style denim machine, and are made out of fine Japanese denim. I thought they seemed MB-esque. What do you think? --Matt
A: There is definitely a lot to like about Naked and Famous. Like you say, they're made from quality materials, they're cleanly designed, and one version even contains 8% cashmere (and an MB can never be ensconced in too much cashmere). It's the fits we have a problem with. Perhaps they just need taller models, but the Slim Guy is unflattering (top), and The Skinny Guy should just be left to The Skinny Girl (bottom).