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REVIEW

ilabb Traverse Pants and 2 Jerseys

Words Cam McRae
Photos Deniz Merdano
Date Mar 25, 2022
Reading time

I got an email from Holly Duncan, the brand and cultural manager at ilabb, asking if we were interested in trying out some product. The name was only vaguely familiar and I didn't know anything about the company or their product. A quick look at their website got me interested however; monochromatic schemes, (mostly) understated branding, attention to detail, and a focus on comfort captured my attention immediately.

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I may look uncomfortable in front of the camera, but my body is very happy wearing ilabb gear. Trevor Hansen has been giving me some coaching to transform my 1000 millimetre stare into blue steel, but progress is slow.

Wait a minute... ilabb? What exactly is ilabb, and why is their name upside down? I never did get the story of the name, but Holly told me the inverted wordmark was a "happy accident" rather than some acknowledgement of New Zealand's antipodean address. A sign came back from the printer upside down and everyone liked it. Seadon, one of the owners, " liked that it showcased how they saw the world differently - it was a huge conversation starter, and out of the ordinary."  Did I mention the company is from New Zealand? They are located "between Auckland and Queenstown." They have set up national websites like ilabb.ca to better serve a global audience and the company is also reaching out to support local athletes like Ryder Bulfone (who may have my favourite instagram) and Whistler's Steve Storey, but the company's address, owners and staff are Kiwi to the core. Established in 2007 by Seadon Baker and Matt Saunders, they have become a bike and sporting apparel brand. ilabb also produces winter snow sports gear, casual wear, and pieces for gravel riders.

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This is a little bold for my taste. If the logo was a more muted tone, like a medium gray, I'd be happier. Other combos, like black on grey or army green are more subtle. This is the Traverse Capsize jersey.

Holly went on to tell me the company had an unusual start; "Casual Apparel & Custom decals for action sports goods!  The scene at the time was very bland and predictable, Seadon and Matty knew that using an approach of designing crazy graphics for tees and action sports decals would speak volumes to other riders and like minded individuals, and orders started pouring in. Once they got momentum more technical garments from jeans to now performance ride gear were added into the mix, the rocket was ignited and the rest is history."

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I was operating under the assumption this was the Traverse jersey but it's actually the Lomond long sleeve T, and can be worn solo or (in my experience at least) as a base layer. It's actually made of 14% wood fibre (and 79% polyester and 7% spandex) which may explain why I found it so comfortable. It also seems to resist stinkiness like merino.

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Branding is subtle here.

It wasn't much more than five minutes after everything arrived that I was wearing it. The textures and silhouettes were so inviting that I couldn't help myself. And then, since it was peak Omicron when leaving the house was rare, I kept it on for two days straight. I didn't sleep in it but I could have. The first thing I did was yoga which was a great way to experience the stretch of the fabric and the fit, and it was pretty much flying colours. Or tones, as it were. It was like wearing a nice set of pyjamas, but with a more tailored fit, excellent pockets, very stylish lines, and a fly that closes. Since then the jerseys and pants have been in heavy rotation, aside from the pants on some of the very wet days we've been having, since they are not waterproof. A wet ass used to to be a normal occurrence but having experienced an undampened crack, I'm not going back.

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The fabric on the back and under the arms of the Traverse Crossover jersey is almost a mesh, without looking like you're wearing a negligé.

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On the inside the combo of opaque and transparent layers is easily seen.

ilabb Traverse Lomond Long Sleeve T and Traverse Long Sleeve Jersey

My usual winter riding layers involve a base layer, (my NF Dan merino has been my pick for the past couple of winters), a long sleeve jersey and a shell. Once it gets a little warmer I sub in a short sleeve base layer, but the ilabb gear gave me another idea. These two jerseys don't look very different on the web and the product, but they are quite different in design and use. The Traverse Capsize has front and arm panels that are textured on the outside and underarm and back panels that feature scallopped vents for airflow and wicking. The Lomond Long Sleeve T also has lighter and more vented rear and underarm panels but not enough to allow air to flow through so easily and it is significantly warmer. My first thought was that the Lomond would make a nice winter base layer while the Capsize would work just fine on top. And that's worked out very well. The fabric on the Lomond has more stretch as well making it a nice choice against bare skin. While this combo isn't as warm as the merino plus jersey pair, it almost makes up the difference by wicking efficiently and keeping my skin dry when we stop for a break.

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A few runs like these appeared after I disobeyed instructions and put the Traverse Crossover jersey in the dryer. The "Dri Ryde" fabric wicks efficiently for all day comfort.

While I like the cut overall, I find the medium a little larger than I'm used to through the body, while the arms are about what I'm used to. The fabric on the Lomond seems more durable than the Capsize and I've suffered a few runs on the fabric from wear and laundry. Long term I wouldn't put these in the dryer because of this, but I did so while testing to replicate the sort of treatment many of us subject our clothing to, and to be fair, the label on both jerseys quite clearly states; DO NOT TUMBLE DRY.

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Never forget your goggle wipe again, unless you forget your jersey.

A favourite detail is the zippered side pocket on the Capsize jersey, both the long and short sleeve versions. It's large enough for some riding glasses or a phone or wallet, but what I really like is the tethered goggle wipe inside. I forget to bring a cloth to clean my eyewear more often than not, and those I bring are unlikely to have been laundered this decade. This one gets cleaned every time you wash your jersey and the elasticized leash means you have it whenever you're wearing the jersey.

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This isn't simply a pretty pink inspirational quote; these silicone letters keep your pants from slipping down plumber style.

ilabb Traverse Ride Pants

Mountain bike fashion is a fickle beast. Pants used to be a thing, and then they weren't (unless you were a DH racer) and now they are a thing once more. In that time, fabric and manufacturing have made great strides making long legs a wise choice for all but the steamiest days. I used to wear shorts year-round but now I'm a convert. I still choose based on weather in the summer, but otherwise it's all pants all the time.

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The stretchy gusset in the back of the cuff eases entry and exit.

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The zippered slash pockets on the sides are a decent size and there is another pocket on the left side for something small.

ilabb's Traverse Ride is probably a two or three season pant in most climates but they would work fine for a cool summer day in the Whistler Bike Park. The fabric is a wind blocking softshell with a fine terry feel on the inside ("Nyllabb") and a tougher nylon layer on the knees. There are also strategic insertions of higher stretch fabric above the knees, at the rear below the waistband, and at the ankle cuff. These details do a lot to improve comfort and fit helping your pants stay up in the back and preventing your kneepads from pulling down the front. The ankle insert allows you to remove your pants post-ride without having to turn them inside out and disembark wet suit-style.

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My only real criticism of the fit of these pants is length. I have relatively long legs for my 6'/183 cm frame, but this is the first time I've worn pants that expose such an indecent amount of ankle.

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I don't mind the look, but it's nice to have your socks protected from puddles and hard objects.

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The velcro waist adjusters are the good kind of hook and loop that doesn't attract every soft item you put in the dryer, and I haven't had to readjust them once since I've been wearing the Traverse Ride Pants - not even after a wash.

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I've felt these vents steer icy air toward my warmest parts this winter, which means they'll be welcome as it gets warmer.

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In case you want to track them down...

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Do well-fitting and comfortable technical clothes improve your riding experience? You can without any doubt have a good time on a bike in jeans and a t-shirt, but products like ilabb's Traverse line seem to have a positive influence on my time on the bike. And while consuming post-ride libations.

The take-home is that these are some of the most comfortable and functional pants I've worn for shoulder season or reasonably dry winter rides. Putting them on makes me happy every time, which can't be bad for my riding. At 175 CAD they are well-priced, particularly considering the nice fabrics and excellent attention to detail. ilabb is an interesting company making some great gear and I'm looking forward to seeing what they come up with next. The pants, as well as the Traverse Crossover jersey and the Lomond T (in three sleeve lengths) are also available in army green and grey. The jerseys range in price from 80 CAD to 90 CAD, depending on the sleeve length you choose.

illabb.ca

illabb.com

cam@nsmb.com
Cam McRae

Height - 6'/183cm (mostly legs)

Weight - 170lbs/77kg

Inseam - 34"/86cm

Ape Index - 0.986

Age - 56

Trail I've been stoked on lately - Boogieman

Bar Width - 760mm

Preferred Reach - 485-500mm (longer with 27.5 wheels than 29)

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Comments

denomerdano
Deniz Merdano
8 months, 1 week ago
+5 Pete Roggeman Andy Eunson khai ilabb Cam McRae

Never thought I'd see the words negligé on here... you have my attention...

Reply

cheapondirt
cheapondirt
8 months, 1 week ago
+5 Konrad Vik Banerjee Nologo Grif Cam McRae

I share a generally similar body shape and would give that ankle ventilation a hard pass at almost any price, even significantly less than $175.

Reply

ilabb
ilabb
8 months ago
+1 Cam McRae

Thanks for the feedback! This was a thoughtful design for anti-bunching with crew-fit socks based on testing and feedback in New Zealand and Canada with our riders and staff, but we totally understand your concern. As an alternative option, our Terrain Pant is 1.5cm longer than the Traverse Pant, which Cam is reviewing here.

Reply

locks_5@hotmail.co.uk
locks_5@hotmail.co.uk
8 months, 1 week ago
+2 ilabb Cam McRae

Traverse pants and lomond long sleeve are my go to! Just go their Merino long sleeve for the colder temps we have been having through winter and love it!

Reply

ilabb
ilabb
8 months ago
0

Thanks for the great feedback Dan! See you on the trails.

Reply

Ride.DMC
Ride.DMC
8 months, 1 week ago
+2 ilabb Cam McRae

Yeah, those pants are too short for you.  Now that we're getting warmer I'm looking for a lighter weight pant.  I may just check these out.

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
Cam McRae
8 months, 1 week ago
0

The counterpoint for me is that these won’t be my choice for very sloppy days, or particularly cold days.  The immodest length won’t be an issue for most of the days I grab these for. If however, these are your one and only, it could be a problem.

Reply

ilabb
ilabb
8 months ago
0

This comment has been removed.

ilabb
ilabb
8 months ago
0

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions regarding the gear. We have two pant options - the Traverse (in the review) and the Terrain - both ranges have riding shorts as an option too. Let us know how you go!

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
Cam McRae
8 months, 1 week ago
+1 Speedykiwi

While I have Deniz's attention, I should point out that I made an error originally and thought I was wearing the Traverse (non capsize) jersey while I was actually wearing the Lomond long sleeve T. Which makes it more clear why I liked it as a base layer. 

Sorry!

Reply

fartymarty
fartymarty
8 months, 1 week ago
0

Cam - are these made in NZ?  I can't find it mentioned on their www so would assume not.

Reply

Speedykiwi
Speedykiwi
8 months, 1 week ago
0

This comment has been removed.

ilabb
ilabb
8 months, 1 week ago
+1 Niels van Kampenhout

Hey Marty!

Our manufacturing is done offshore, unfortunately domestic manufacturing with our small economy is a challenge. We do use a lot of sustainable fabrications where possible and have continued R&D going on all the time in this space. 

Locally for printing in New Zealand we do use some awesome local companies and will be for sure looking forward to working with some Canadian companies in this space too!

Reply

fartymarty
fartymarty
8 months, 1 week ago
+2 ilabb Cam McRae

Thanks for the reply.

Reply

velocipedestrian
Velocipedestrian
8 months, 1 week ago
+1 Cam McRae

Is anything beyond Cactus and Ground Effect any more?

Icebreaker love the huge NZ branding, but have the usual 'made in China' on the label.

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