SNOWSHOE MAGAZINE GEAR REVIEW:

Gear Review: 180s Offers Versatile, Affordable Winter Gear

One major factor I forgot to consider when I started bicycle commuting this fall was the wind chill factor. Here in Southern Connecticut, winter may get started a little later than it does in the rest of New England, but as early as October, temperatures were well below freezing on my predawn commute. So, while I wait for some snow to play in, I at least have the chance to test and assemble a wardrobe for when the white stuff finally does arrive.

The wind created by bike speed is no different than wind created in nature, so with my average speed at around 15 miles per hour and the lowest temperature reading I’ve seen being 27 degrees, the wind chill conversion puts these coldest days at around 14 degrees. While most of my body remains comfy, my hands, feet and head have suffered the most. A purchase of booties quickly relieved my feet, but finding affordable, quality gloves and a comfortable solution for my exposed ears has proved to be my biggest winter wardrobe challenge. Two great products by the 180s company, however, have resolved these issues for me.

The Meta is a mid-range glove that, for its $50 price tag, includes several practical extras that stretch the value of your dollar. Designed for skiers, snowboarders and snowmobilers, the Meta Glove has been versatile enough to handle the intricate actions of shifting and breaking both my road bike and hybrid in cold weather. This agility is a direct result of the Meta Gloves’ finger articulation and silicon gel imprints.

But the mobility you have while wearing the Meta doesn’t mean it protects you any less from the elements. Insulated with 200 gm’s of Thermolite Micro, these windproof and water-resistant gloves made another recent sub-freezing commute so comfortable that I’ll probably be able to ride deep into the winter months.

But the mobility you have while wearing the Meta doesn’t mean it protects you any less from the elements. Insulated with 200 gm’s of Thermolite Micro, these windproof and water-resistant gloves made another recent sub-freezing commute so comfortable that I’ll probably be able to ride deep into the winter months.

Among the Meta Gloves’ other extras are their zip-off gauntlets with drawstrings and storage pockets. This has protected my wrists on the colder mornings, while on milder ones, I have removed the cuffs altogether.

Being able to regulate your body temperature like this in cold weather is key, and seeing that your head is the body’s main thermostat, it is necessary to have options during your workout. Each morning, I wear a bandana beneath my helmet, paired with the ExoLite Heat Ear Warmer by 180s ($25). As cold as some New England mornings are, they can also be quite mild, so having the ability to easily shed a layer is convenient. Removing the bandana and keeping the ExoLite on helps regulate my temperature much more efficiently than wearing a full, cold-weather mask.

Shedding the ExoLite itself is even easier. With its collapsible 0.9 ounce-frame breaking down into a neat little package just 2 cm thick, the ExoLite can be tucked away into a breast pocket and forgotten about until needed again.

The ExoLite’s behind-the-head design allows for a comfortable fit even while wearing a bicycle helmet, so it would be ideal for skiers and snowboarders. The ExoLite has also performed well on long runs. The earpieces stay in place and, despite their three layers of soft, windproof fleece, allow the sounds of traffic to penetrate for safe workouts. The microfleece material wicks away moisture and dries quickly, while the earpieces have a simple, detachable design that makes for easy washing.

Probably the best thing about the Meta Glove and the ExoLite is their versatility. Who doesn’t like to buy gear that can be used for a variety of activities? From running to snowshoeing, skiing to hiking, the 180s company offers ways to efficiently outfit the most complete of winter athletes.