Gear Review: FXR XPE Layerwear
FXR XPE Layerwear review and photos by Eliisa Tennant
Merino or Bust
They say that ignorance is bliss. I say that ignorance means freezing your butt off on the mountain. I had heard the rumblings around the outdoor enthusiast community about a superpower fabric. People spoke reverently when discussing the material; merino wool. Everyone was touting its rapid dry, natural-wicking properties. They said it was warm in cold conditions, cool in warm conditions, dry in wet conditions. How could this be? Does such a magical garment even exist?
FXR XPE Underlayers Review
When Mountain Sledder Magazine asked me to review some under layers, I was excited to see what all the hype was about. Enter the FXR XPE Women’s Mission 100% Merino Balaclava Pullover and FXR XPE Women’s Vapour 20% Merino Pant.
FXR XPE Women’s Mission 100% Merino Balaclava Pullover
The Pullover is designed to be a mid-layer so when I put it on as my base layer—I like living on the edge—a couple of my riding buddies weren’t sure it was going to do its job; it fit too loosely. But I immediately fell in love with the versatility of the balaclava and hood. You have a few options to work with: tuck both the balaclava and the hood at the nape of your neck, wear just the balaclava portion or wear the hood and balaclava. This feature alone would’ve sold me. Conditions in Revelstoke can change from bluebird skies and well below-freezing temperatures to socked in, wet and mild overnight so it is beyond practical to have an underlayer that can adapt.
The first day I rode wearing the underlayers was a cold one. Gearing up in the parking lot it was -15°C. It was time to test out the pullover’s warmth. I could probably stop my review right here and tell you that if you don’t have this mid-layer, you need it, and urge you to do yourself a favour and run—don’t walk—to your nearest FXR dealer and buy it! But… maybe you need a little bit more convincing.
I threw the hood and balaclava on for the first ride. I find that riding up the trail is always chilly, and my face usually looses most of its feeling in short order in the cold. It was so convenient to have all these extras attached. I can say with absolute truth that I have never been warmer, drier or more comfortable throughout a day of riding. The hype is real! This merino stuff is legit. I worked up a sweat—mostly digging my sled out—and I was truly astonished at how dried I stayed. Throughout the day I alternated between using the balaclava and not and also noted and appreciated how soft it felt against my face.
The next time I took the gear out the conditions were completely different—heavy, wet and warm—and still the Women’s Mission 100% Merino Balaclava Pullover amazed. I took off my jacket at day’s end and I was completely dry and warm; a definite first after such a wet day.
FXR XPE Women’s Vapour 20% Merino Pant
Okay, the pullover exceeds expectations. Now how about the pants? The Vapour 20% Merino Pant is designed to be a base layer and it fits accordingly; snug from hips to ankles in a very flattering fit.
The first day with the pants was great! I stayed warm regardless if I was riding, digging or photographing—and it was a cold one! The second time I wore them I spent a lot more time in wetter snow (again mostly digging) and after 8 hours on the mountain when I took my gear off in the parking lot I noticed I was damp in a few places—namely my butt. That being said I would be interested in trying an FXR pant with a higher percentage of merino on warmer days. Yeah, merino, I am a believer!
One criticism I do have about the pants is the draw string waistband; I am curvy but small-waisted and found that while the size small pants fit perfectly everywhere, there wasn’t ample drawstring to tie them easily. This became a glaringly obvious fact when my hands were numb and freezing. Ask me how hard it is to tie a tiny bow when you can’t feel your fingers—it’s very difficult.
On a garment care (and slightly embarrassing) note, it took me way too long to actually throw these into the washing machine. A sniff check the night before usually assured me that I wouldn’t offend anyone with my happy-to-see-you-we-are-going-sledding-today-and-I-am-so-excited-gas-station-hugs. You win again, merino, with your anti-bacterial properties that eliminate smell. When I did wash the underlayers, they came out the same size and even softer than before!
Overall my world did a 180° the day I put these FXR XPE under layers on. I didn’t believe I could be any happier atop a mountain than I already am. But when you aren’t worrying about regulating your body temperature it makes it way easier to enjoy the sport we all love. No longer am I ignorant to the concept of layering and thanks to the FXR XPE clothing line I am staying dry and warm on the mountain.