Yes, I am reviewing underwear. If you are faint of heart or have delicate eyes, maybe you should skip this post.
When you occasionally find yourself running in -20 to -40 windchill factor, you will find that your choice of layering can make or break the run. Take for example, the case of the poor fellow whose story I am about to share. One day in the Pipeline, we all went out for a run in Albuquerque. It was a colder than normal day, and one of the guys forgot his sweats and opted to simply go out in his “PJ panties,” i.e. the shiny blue, uber-short nylon running shorts. I recall I separated from the group in order to get in a few extra miles, so I didn’t regroup with them back at the Cone Ops Center for a good hour after they finished. Upon entering the room, there on the floor, was said fellow, in writhing agony, because he froze his junk. The PJ panties, while alluring to the ladies, did little to protect his nether-regions, and so, he suffered a good hour of the screaming barfies as sensation returned to his, well, you get the idea….
I too have paid the price on occasion, but I am afraid no more. Ibex, if you aren’t aware, is a high-end manufacturer of merino wool sports apparel. Everybody knows wool is Nature’s favorite form of insulation. It traps heat in the cold, even when wet, and dissipates it when it is warm. It also has naturally-occurring anti-bacterial qualities. But, for eons, wool was also bulky, stinky when wet (you know, that old kinda wet dog smell?) , and itchy itchy. These days, companies like Smartwool and Ibex are pushing the envelope of wool engineering. I’ve found the Ibex layers, in particular, are thinner than their synthetic counterparts, yet typically warmer, least stinky, and way more durable.
The Zepher Winds (find them here) run a pretty penny ($60), but boast Ibex’s thickest Merino wool layer, and some kind of magical wind shield where it matters most. They call it a “wind panel with poly micro denier.” The coldest paces I’ve put them through were about -30F, under just some thick running tights, and I was perfectly comfortable. I have to admit that upon seeing the picture to the right, I was a little hesitant, mostly because they look just ridiculous. But, it’s not like these were designed for the runway. So, I punched it, and I haven’t been disappointed in the least. I should also mention I’ve tested them in warmer weather (20-30+), curious as to whether they would roast me in warmer climes. True to form, the merino wool kept me warm, but nowhere near overheating. They do make another version minus the windproof material, which is probably most ideal if you’re looking to sport these in the summer. But, I have to say that the Zepher Winds will perform in all winter conditions.
Well, I’m not sure what else to review about these undies. They get the job done, and I highly recommend them for anyone who lives and trains in the any kind of cold climate. See you on the catwalk!