NF Winter Pants and Mid Weight Jacket
When NF (aka ENNEF design) exploded on to the North Shore Trails back in 2019, the scene had been set. A small shop in East Vancouver would be small-batch manufacturing winter riding pants. Sure, there were TLDs and Fox Heads that catered to the California Crowd who rode moto-inspired kits but the fabrics and the materials did very little to facilitate Canadian West Coast riding.
And if you haven't noticed, this is the center of the mountain biking universe.
The climbs are straight up and trails are steep and gnarly. The outerwear you choose can boost your confidence, keep you warm and maybe even save your life when the mountains decide to unleash it all, or it can undermine your courage.
When NF, ENNEF, NEEDS FACTORY, supplied us with the new Heavy Weight riding pants and a Mid-Weight Jacket, I was curious to see where It would sit in my closet amongst the ultra light Patagonia Shells and Gore-Tex Paclite and Pro shells.
Mid-Weight is an accurate terminology when it comes to the new top from NF. If you are familiar with their pantaloons, you would compare the material to the DP3 and DP4s. They are thinner and more flexible than the DP3s and more textured than the original DPs (my favourite NF pant material by far).
This material was never advertised as a waterproof alternative but with the DWR coating, the external water management is sufficient. This is not a jacket I reach for if the weather is already angry and spitting out droplets from the heavens. It's a jacket that I can use to pedal up on the enduro bike when the temperature is pointing at negative values. I often pair the jacket with a NF Dan Merino base layer and there is none of that, 'be bold, start cold' silliness that gets thrown around in my head.
The construction of the jacket is simple and effective. The two zippered pockets on the sides and one on the chest are at the correct locations. I don't put my phone on my chest. As a child of the 80's, I was told early on to never carry my cell phone over my heart. My knads however, are fine to take that kind of radiowave punishment. Right, Son?
The colour? Oh I love the colour that stands out in the forest. People tell me how they saw me across the parking lot or somewhere deep in the woods. The NF logo is common like pine cones around these longitudes but he Fireweed Mid-Weight jacket stands out like a big purple toy and I embrace it. If you want more subtlety, opt for black or the concrete grey they call the taupe. All great options.
The jacket runs warm, warmer than any other jacket I wear on pedal-heavy rides and some ventilation would be well received by this reviewer. The material is also thick enough that It's no hip pack stuffer and I would love to see a carrying strap built into the shoulders. That way, it could attach itself to the handlebars. Lately 7mesh and Rapha have been including straps to carry tiny shells on bikes and I think NF could pull something off like that too. Maybe even include a small zippered pouch to stuff the jacket into for the climb?
The skirt is long but not as long as some more road and commuting-oriented jackets. Combined with the NF heavy weight or DP pants, the coverage of the back is more than sufficient. No exposed mid-rift to let air or mud in. Yet not too long to get caught in the wheel or saddle. The YKK Zipper feels bombproof and zips up all the way to the chin without feeling suffocating. It also keeps the cold wind out of your neck on the rips down the road to get to the next bit of trail. The zipper also unzips from the bottom up and I absolutely love this feature to access my hip pack when it's under the jacket. I've also ridden down with the zipper undone from the bottom to increase ventilation, making me feel like Caleb Holonko flying down the trail with my jacket flapping around. It's almost bad ass. My small complaint would be that the hand opening is a little tight and makes the access to a watch or pulling them off over the gloves a bit of a mission.
Heavy Weight Pants that Glow in the Dark
The heavy weight pants were not kit I was expecting to get along with. But then I put them on and my world turned upside down. Comfy would be the understatement of the year with the new zipper-less pants from NF. The fleece lining inside and the DWR coated outside works in the most horrendous conditions. I wouldn't call these pants waterproof in the traditional sense, considering water does not bead off of them. But the material is resistant to water and will take a while to saturate. When they are saturated, the thickness will keep you warm if a little wet.
We've had a few sub zero days in the Sea to Sky region. The days where my riding buddies were double, triple layering, I was cozy as a koala in my fleece lined NF pants. With the perfect hand and zippered pocket layout, I could keep my gear secure and my hands warm whenever needed. All the pockets have good depth for easy access in and out with gloves on.
This NF winter gear has come in handy in various situations in the past couple of months. From E-MTBing in very cold conditions to trail building for hours in the deep forest. I've taken them skiing and just as casual wear in the mornings taking the dog for a walk. During a recent snowstorm that wreaked havoc in our neighbourhood, I spent the whole day outside helping out neighbours and shoveling snow in the NF pants. Never underestimate the use of comfortable, warm pants for day-to-day use.
I value mountain bike-specific clothing that has a ton of other uses in my day to day life. At 5'9", I chose mediums and both the jacket and pants fit great. Improvements to the cuffs at both arms and feet would be appreciated as the entry and exit can be a little cumbersome, especially after a ride when you are dirty. Wider openings at the ankles could also help channel wet weather over the shoes rather than inside them as I found out a couple of times going through deep puddles, or hanging out in the rain.
If you live and play in a cold but dry climate, the NF Heavy weight pants and Mid weight jacket should be high on your with list. Great fit and functional features that will keep you warm and comfy on whether it's a fat bike ride or just shuttle laps and long descends.
If you are looking to pedal up a bunch and keep the rain out at the same time, better look elsewhere unless E bikes are on the menu regularly.
Jacketruns at $259 CAD $195 USD
Pants are $249 CAD $185 USD