TOBE Novo Bib Review – Later, Onsie!
While there are seemingly countless styles of monosuit available from TOBE, they offer just one non-insulated model of bib for men, called the Novo Bib. If you’re a mountain rider who prefers a jacket and bib over a onesie, then the Novo is your ticket. Here’s our TOBE Novo Bib review.
- Industry leading waterproofness
- Lightweight and flexible Cordura material
- Super comfortable and functional suspenders
- Bulletproof reinforcement in key areas
- Looks good
- Gaiters riding up
- Pretty baggy
- Waterproof zippers are a little stiff at first
TOBE Novo Bib Review
We’ve reviewed many of TOBE’s outerwear products in the past, including quality monosuits like their Vivid Mono Suit and, going back further, the Privus Mono Suit. It’s now time to critique part of their two-piece system.
We can make it easy by comparing the Novo Bibs to the monosuit of the same name. But here’s where it gets weird. From the waist down, the Novo Bib actually has more in common with the Vivid Mono Suit than it does its namesake Novo Mono Suit. Go figure. Here lies the difference:
- Unlike the Novo Mono Suit, the Novo Bib does not have a zipper running up the outside of the leg
- The hip pockets are angled, like the Vivid
- The Novo Bib features inner thigh vents
In all other ways, the Novo Bib is similar to the specification of TOBE’s top-of-the-line monosuit. Before we get into how the Novo Bib performs on snow, let’s take a look at its specs.
The Novo Bib features a 2-layer Sympatex Cordura shell that is rated to 45K waterproofness. Yes, you read that right: 45K. You could go kayaking in this thing. And the bib is fully seam-sealed. That means your butt is going to stay dry all day long, which is the whole point. The Sympatex membrane is also 100% windproof, which is perfect for when you’re riding up high in a biting, alpine wind.
It’s got YKK Aquaguard zippers which are fantastic at keeping out moisture but are always little stiff until they break in. It’s a fair trade-off, although you’ll be cursing if you manage to jam up the zipper by sucking an extra bit of ventilation mesh into the zipper car.
One other weatherproofing point is that the bib features four loops just below the belt-line for pairing with the powder skirt of your TOBE jacket. You are wearing a TOBE jacket with these bibs, right??
The deal with Sympatex is that they don’t report a breathability number for their membrane because the way that moisture is moved from the inside to the outside is different than most other membranes (such as Gore-Tex), which are porous. It’s a lot of techno mumbo jumbo, but the result of real-world testing and riding shows that getting sweaty on the inside is only a problem if you’re either way over-dressed or working too hard in warm weather without cracking some vents. Avoiding those scenarios is “Backcountry 101”.
The other factor to account for is that breathability isn’t nearly so much an issue for a bib, because usually it’s a rider’s upper body that creates excess heat and moisture, not the lower half.
So don’t worry, it breathes well enough to sweat out that pair of double-bacon jammer McSandwiches you had for breakfast, no problem.
TOBE outerwear has always had a baggy fit, or at least until recently with the release of the Macer line, which is tailored with a slimmer, “athletic” fit. I know plenty of riders like a baggy style, and I do too, but I do feel it’s a bit excessive in the Novo Bib. I get why they do it—because a loose garment will have a more universal fit than one with a tailored, slim fit. And because it’s essential to be able to fit knee and shin protection under there.
But to clarify my point in the case of the Novo Bib, I personally wear a size XL for length, when I could probably fit a medium in width. And the XL is just long enough for me at 190 cm (6’3”) tall. Sure, not everyone has the same build. But I really like the fact that TOBE is addressing this fitment with the Macer Jacket and Mono Suit, and I hope to see a slim fit bib down the road that would have a more streamlined fit for us tall guys as well.
That said, the Novo Bib does feature stretchy, hook-and-loop adjustment straps at the waist that help dial in the fit and keep the bib positioned squarely where you like it. And it also has belt loops in case you’d like to add some bling to your ensemble with, say, a studded camo belt to go with those white shades of yours.
The bib top rises to a good height around mid-abdomen, and slightly higher in the back. The upper sides are made of a stretchy material that helps keep out snow, yet can flex to accommodate different body shapes (aka beer guts).
All this adds up to a comfortable fit.
The TOBE Novo Bib has the same suspenders featured in their top-tier mono suits. They’re comfortable to the point that you won’t even notice them. The sternum strap is key to preventing the dreaded slip-off-the-shoulder than can happen when in bibs without one.
One criticism I have of the suspenders is that they could stand a little more length. At my height, the adjustment is maxed out. And, because the sternum strap height is not adjustable, it sits rather high on my chest. It’s not a problem where it is, but I wouldn’t want it any higher. For those reasons, anyone taller should definitely try a set of TOBE bibs on to make sure they fit right before buying.
Otherwise, these suspenders are the crème-de-la-crème.
Pockets and Vents
As mentioned above, the Novo Bib features two angled pockets at the hips. I like that these are deep enough to store a toque, cellphone, some snacks—whatever. The zippers are nice and wide, making it easy to get a gloved hand in and out of the pocket.
The bib also offers two inner thigh vents. These are mesh backed, which helps to keep snow out if you’re riding around with them open. And snow will try to get it, because they are placed right up front for easy access and good cooling of your “down there” hot spot.
The cuffs of the Novo Bib are well-reinforced with tough Armortex Kevlar material that runs around the perimeter and extends up the inner leg to the front of the knees.
The leg openings feature a snow gaiter with a metal hook and a snap loop that can be attached to your boot laces. The gaiter cuff is made of an elasticized material with a rubber lining to help it stay in place.
Here’s where my only real criticism of the Novo Bib comes in, and unfortunately it’s a common issue that isn’t exclusive to TOBE’s stuff by any means. The problem is, when walking around in deep snow or stomping snow down around a stuck snowmobile, there is a tendency for the snow gaiter to creep up at the back of the leg to above the cuff of the boot, at which point snow can enter. This doesn’t happen all the time, but it can on deep, stuck sort of days when you want your outerwear to be impenetrable.
The TOBE Novo Bib is priced at the high end of the spectrum at $600 CAD. Sure, for that amount of money you can probably find a crappy mono suit from another manufacturer. Heck with that mentality, why not head down to your local hardware store and buy $600 worth of disposable coveralls to wear riding? You’d only have to wear them once each, and you’d be set for life.
Where am I going with this you ask? As they say, “You get what you pay for.” And that is certainly the case with the TOBE Novo Bib.
TOBE Novo Bib Review Summary
If you like riding in the mountains and two-piece outerwear is your thing, the TOBE Novo Bib is a great way to dress up your lower half. You’ll stay warm and dry, and be happy about great features like the premium suspenders, big pockets and easily accessible venting.
The only drawbacks are a gaiter that can ride up in certain situations and a baggy style if that isn’t your thing.
Some might bat an eyelash at the price, but these are tough as nails, will last many years and are a great investment.