TOBE Vivid Mono Suit Review – Long-Term
I’ve worn it through storms, the deep freeze, in pouring rain and even on a couple of hot sunny days in the alpine. Here is my TOBE Vivid Mono Suit review!
TOBE Vivid Mono Suit Review
Alright, your time is precious, so let’s just get into this right away.
First up is fit, which is crucial in a mono suit because it’s all one-piece and it’s got to fit folks with a wide spectrum of body shapes. I think TOBE has done a great job of finding the middle ground here. I’ve been wearing a large, and it just fits my 6’3″ frame lengthwise with not much to spare.
Thankfully, the genius designers at TOBE have realized that it’s better to have a little more arm length than a little less—a rare insight in the world of outerwear. Even with my arms fully outstretched, I don’t run out of sleeve length. I’m ecstatic about this detail.
As for the girth, I’m 185 lb and there is still room inside the Vivid for a bigger fella. While the Vivid is cut generously enough to contain some extra girth, it doesn’t feel overly baggy. And I’ve never felt that my mobility was in any way restricted or hindered by the suit.
There are four mesh-lined vents—two in the armpit area and two on the inner thigh. These are crucial for regulating temperature on warm days. The mesh is pretty fine, so it does a decent job of keeping snow out while you’re riding if you forget to zip them up or it’s hot enough in spring that you just don’t care.
The design of the suspenders is exceptional. They are wide and very comfortable, and a mini-sternum strap works wonders to keep the suspenders from moving around or trying to slide off your shoulder. Once the suspenders are done up, you’ll forget they are even there until you take off the suit off again at the end of the day. My one criticism is that I think they look a tiny bit overkill, and I feel that the same great result could be achieved with a slightly less bulky design.
I personally like my sledding outerwear to have a hood. It adds style, and it comes in handy anytime it’s snowing and you want to stop and take off your helmet. This one is removable, so everyone can be happy.
I’ll lump both wrist and leg gaiters into this category. Let’s start with the wrist gaiters. These are cut from a stretchy fabric and have a thumb hole for those who like to wear them partially over their hands. I don’t personally prefer that, as I find it irritating to have unnecessary material between my hands and the handlebar grips. That said, even when pulled back, the wrist gaiters do a great job of sealing out snow and drafts from getting past the arm cuffs.
On the topic of cuffs, the TOBE Vivid arm cuffs are very well designed in my opinion. They go really wide to easily accept under-the-cuff gloves, which are my preference. The material folds over itself when clasped by the hook-and-loop closure system, and it creates a clean, streamlined profile.
The leg gaiters are one of only two slight beefs I have with the TOBE Vivid. They’re not adjustable, and they are just not tight enough to stay in place despite the cloth loop that attaches to the wearer’s boot laces. That means that if you’re spending enough time stomping around in deep snow, the gaiters will eventually slide up enough in the back to let snow in. I think that making an adjustable gaiter (or just plain tighter) would help for future TOBE product, but for now I have to either be concerned with pulling the gaiters back down intermittently throughout the day, or just taping them in place (which works well but is a PITA).
The Vivid has four exterior pockets: two are “handy” waist-level pockets and a third doubles as a collar expansion. That third pocket is interesting, with a double-zip. Zip it down from the top and you get a wider collar. Zip it up from the bottom and you get a chest pocket. The fourth is a little bicep pocket that’s handy for small items like lip sunscreen or a lighter.
Inside the jacket is a phone-specific pocket with a clear, touchscreen-capable material. This seems like a thoughtful feature, but for mountain riders it flies in the face of what we now know about the electronic interference of avalanche transceivers. But yeah, I get it—not everyone rides in avalanche terrain, so it makes sense to offer such a useful feature.
Speaking of features specific to mountain riding—the TOBE Vivid Mono Suit does feature a tether attachment point. It’s our opinion that no one should ride in the mountains without a kill-switch tether, so it’s great to see that on the Vivid.
The TOBE Vivid uses a two-layer Cordura shell with a Sympatex 45,000 mm, 100% waterproof membrane. Now if that sounds like gobbledygook to you, no worries—I’ve got you covered. It’s waterproof AF. Basically, the Sympatex membrane is tested with a column of water that simulates the effect of moisture trying to penetrate the suit in situations like kneeling, wearing a backpack or riding through rain. For example, 5000 mm waterproofness would be sufficient for the equivalent of sitting on a wet seat. A rating of 13,000 mm would cover a person kneeling on moist ground.
As you can see, Sympatex—which is tested to more than 45,000 mm—blows these ratings out of the water. And my experience over two years backs this data up.
As for the breathability, TOBE doesn’t publish any specific breathability numbers because the way that Sympatex expels moisture is different from most other waterproof/breathable membranes. Without getting too scientific, it uses the temperature and humidity differences between the inside and the outside of the suit to move moisture along some hydrophilic (water-absorbing) chains. Geeky stuff. But in two years of on-snow testing, I can say that it works well. If you take into account that a mono suit generally runs a little warmer than a jacket and pants combo, you’re all set.
The factory DWR (Durable Water Repellent) treatment that stops the outer fabric from soaking up moisture is holding up well too. It’s worn off a little around the lower legs, so that area does tend to collect a little snow and ice sometimes now, but the rest of the suit stays very dry on the outside still.
On more that one occasion I’ve had outerwear fall apart the first time I’ve worn it—defects like seams coming unstitched and drawstring closures breaking off. The TOBE Vivid is on the polar opposite end of the garment quality spectrum. After two winters of pretty regular use, my TOBE Vivid looks brand-new. Seriously, like brand-new, I shit you not. Somehow, as if by magic, it doesn’t even look dirty right now, and I’ve never washed it (it helps that it’s black I suppose). Everything is intact. Nary a stitch has come undone. The only thing I could possibly say is that the wrist cuff no-name “Velcro” hook-and-loop closure doesn’t quite hold as perfectly as it did out-of-the-box, but it still manages quite well.
There’s nothing more to say. Durability mic drop.
Okay, down to the real nitty-gritty. The TOBE Vivid suit is a champ. It features top notch construction, including double stitching, reinforced seams, tough Cordura shell material and “Armortex Kevlar” on the knees, inner calf and leg cuff. Despite all these factors which have helped the durability of the mono suit, it’s still quite light. The 2-layer Cordura material is flexible and it’s non-insulated, which is ideal for mountain riding. It’s not overly warm except on hot, sunny spring days. And there is no hindrance of movement for times when you’re hopping from running board to running board, full pin through tight trees.
The zippers are bulletproof YKK Aquaguard waterproof zippers. I’ve gotten the vent zips caught up in the vent mesh lining before, but that can be chalked up to user error.
I mentioned earlier one beef that I had with the TOBE Vivid Mono Suit. Here’s the other, and it’s actually sort of two things that I’m not crazy about. The first is the collar, which is quite high and stiff, such that it interferes with the chin bar of my helmet at times if it is zipped up the entire way. The solution I’ve found is to run the collar expansion zip down just slightly, which allows the collar to flex and move a little more. But ideally the collar would just be less tall.
The other issue I have is with the hard, plastic little hood drawstring pull tabs. These things tend to whip around in the wind and smash into your helmet making shockingly loud noises when you’re cruising down the trail at speed. It can be quite deafening if you’re not wearing earplugs. To be fair, I think every jacket or mono suit I’ve ever worn has suffered from this same problem. But I have faith that if any company is willing to go the extra mile to produce the ultimate performance garment that accounts for even the smallest gripes like this, it might be TOBE.
Otherwise, the suit is just right. No snow down your back, always dry, usually not too hot. Great job.
I really like the style of the Vivid Mono Suit, and most of the TOBE stuff for that matter. Those Scandies have good taste. Simple, basic colours and nothing that will induce seizures. Subtle branding, and not a checkered flag to be found.
As for the fit, a little bagginess was cool back when I was in high school, and I still don’t mind it to this day. For those who like a tighter, athletic cut, rumour on the street is that TOBE will introduce a slimmer fit offering in 2020.
To help wrap your head around the fit, TOBE has a really great feature on their website in which you can pick out a suit and they show examples of what it looks like on a variety of people with different heights and weights. That way you can get an idea of how their suits will look and fit you, based on your own dimensions. It’s a really cool feature and I wish more clothing brands would offer something similar.
Are Ferraris good value? No, they are not. But that doesn’t mean you don’t want one. Same thing here. At $1049 CAD the TOBE Vivid mono suit is amongst the most expensive on the market—but it is awesome. So the question you must ask yourself is this: what is performance worth to you? You wouldn’t take a Totoya Camry to the track, so why would you wear a “good value” outerwear with average performance in the mountains?
Something else to consider here is that, as mentioned above, the TOBE Vivid suit is bomber. This is not an item that is going to be replaced every year—unless you’re the kind of rider who likes their outfit to match their sled wrap each year. Everyone else should be able to get at least a couple of years out of one of these suits no problem, even if you ride hard and regularly. And the simple, classic styling means that you’re not going to fall out of fashion before your suit is worn out.
As the saying goes, “You get what you pay for.” And that is certainly true in this case. The TOBE stuff IS on the pricey end of the spectrum, but in reality the Vivid Mono Suit is well worth the price.