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Review

NF Winter Pants and Mid Weight Jacket

Words Deniz Merdano
Photos Deniz Merdano - Unless noted
Date Jan 24, 2023
Reading time

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.

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Open from the top or the bottom Photo : Graham D

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Hood over big POC Kortal helmet is not a problem Photo : GD

Mid-Weight Jacket

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?

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I often went trail building in the NF winter gear .. I was comfy and warm

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.

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90's hip hop video vibes with the color and the wide angle lens. Photo: Johhny Scavarda

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Stretchy material is easy to move around in. excuse the rider's awkward style. Photo: GD

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.

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Good overlap of jacket to pants ratio. Photo : GD

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.

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Comfortable fitting clothes, goofy looking selfie

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

denomerdano
Deniz Merdano

5'8"

162lbs

Playful, lively riding style

Photographer and Story Teller

Lenticular Aesthetician

www.blackbirdworks.ca

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Comments

metacomet
Metacomet
1 week, 4 days ago
+3 Endur-Bro Scott Schneider Deniz Merdano

I've gotten along quite well with the jacket. Ordered it as soon as it dropped.  It is very comfortable and durable, and actually not that bad to sweat in a bit, and offers a good deal of protection in a variety of conditions.  Its not a rain shell, but its not trying to be and I think that's a great thing.  Its definitely on the warmer side for a riding jacket, but its breathable enough that it doesn't boil you like most all of the nylon hardshell types, and it is WAY more durable.  It is definitely not an ultra packable jacket, and that made me a bit reluctant, but for the temps and rides it works for, I just keep it on anyway and its done a great job of keeping me comfortable.  I've actually used the jacket quite a bit off the bike as well and its been great.  I do wish the chest pocket was oriented vertically though and I would probably use that pocket more if it was. High and horizontal makes it a bit awkward to get things out of it.   Some vents would be great, but I'd be hesitant to introduce more zippers and compromise anything about the fit and the simplicity, and more zippers would potentially add more bulk and remove flexibility as well as another point of failure.  I could take or leave the dual way zipper personally, and think its a bit finicky and more delicate feeling when zipping it up or with the bottom open, but can see how some people really value this feature. 

I haven't had cold enough temps to use the heavyweight pants yet, but they fit great like the DP4's.  They are WARM. One thing I would Really like to see, especially in the heavyweights, is either a straight leg/bootcut option , or a zippered gusset at the ankle so it could be opened up, and fall over the outside of my shoes.  This would make them way more useful off the bike as well for hiking/trail building/fatbiking/snowshoeing/other winter sports and just daily use.  I'd honestly love that option in the DP4's as well, but maybe that's just me.  The very tightly fitted ankle really limits their functionality since it funnels everything into your shoe.  Maybe its an option, maybe its a whole different pant designed more around daily versatility but with the same fabrics and some of the design elements as the DP4/heavyweight pattern.

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Uncle-Scott
Scott Schneider
1 week, 4 days ago
+2 Deniz Merdano Metacomet

This comment has been removed.

smoochy
Max Nodwell
1 week, 4 days ago
+2 Scott Schneider Deniz Merdano

I received that very Fireweed jacket for my (winter season) birthday and I love it.

10/10, no notes

Reply

LWK
LWK
1 week, 4 days ago
+1 Scott Schneider

I have the prev version (berzerker; no fleece lining).  I live in a cold, dry climate and I love them.  They're good for general outdoors wear, running, xc skiing as well as riding. 

I've ridden in -15*C in mine and been ok - the one thing I thought would be nice for cooler temps like this is a fleece lining... and here we are.  $250 isnt cheap but given their versatility, the amount I wear them and for how long I think/hope they will last, I think very good value.

Reply

ShawMac
ShawMac
1 week, 3 days ago
0

How narrow are these down at the calf/ankle? I like my old school 2002 fox shin pads, but I find they don't fit under modern mtb pants due to skinny jean syndrome

Reply

metacomet
Metacomet
1 week, 3 days ago
0

They’re quite narrow, especially at the ankle opening.  Maybe if you sized up, but even then maybe not. I already size up as I find the sizing of the pants and shorts to be Very slim and race oriented. I’m usually a Large in everything, including their shirts and jacket, but I am far more comfortable in XL for their pants and shorts, and they’re still not what I would call loose or baggy at all by any means.

Reply

Ride.DMC
Ride.DMC
1 week, 2 days ago
0

You mention that the cut of these clothes are slim & race oriented - I'd call that an understatement for MTB specific clothing in general. LOL.

When I buy casual pants from any of the traditional retailers, I wear a size medium.  When I buy MTB specific pants I'm either a L or XL - or as Sombrio used to call my preferred size back in the day "Clydesdale". Thanks Sombrio!

When I bought a pair of DP3's and noticed that the waist has no fasteners (i.e. no adjustments) I upsized to the XL.  They fit me fine, but knowing what I know now, if I order another pair of NF pants I will stick with the L.  The waistband may not be adjustable in the traditional sense - but the elastic is stretchy enough that the size L would easily accommodate my 34" - 35" waist. And it is robust enough that I am not worried about it breaking down and losing it's elasticity before the rest of the pants have come to the end of their service life.

Reply

metacomet
Metacomet
1 week, 2 days ago
+1 Endur-Bro

I’m generally a size 34ish waist, but I found it was more so the thighs that were too tight in the size L’s, so I gave my size L DP3’s to my pretty skinny 15 year old son and they fit him great. I’d even still consider it a pretty racey fit for him, and for me in the XL DP4’s.   If you like your XL’s I’d really recommend trying on size L’s before making the jump. Easy enough to add an arcade belt if the waist is at all loose on the XL’s. And it’s a Lot easier to throw a slim base layer under my XL’s if I needed.

Reply

Ride.DMC
Ride.DMC
1 week, 2 days ago
+1 Metacomet

All great points - especially about the Arcade belt.  Those things are highly underrated for MTB use...  I bought one specifically to use with my RaceFace Agent pants but now use the belt in everyday use - they are that good.

My only gripe with the XL is the added length in the leg.  The waist and thighs are perfect.

Reply

Endur-Bro
Endur-Bro
1 week ago
0

I've been told by NF that those loops are for if a belt is needed.

LewisQC
LewisQC
1 week, 1 day ago
0

I have the Berzerker version in XL. Quality and design is really good. Only wish they made them in longer version (I'm 6'2'' with around 34'' inseam). I use them for fat biking (with merino underneath from -2 and lower) cause I was going trough a XCsking pair of pants a year because of friction on the seat. With my winter booths they're just long enough so I fit the pants inside my boot. I'd miss about 2 inchs to get to my ankle. Having them reaching  top of my RC shoes like in pictures above is only a dream...

I also tried them for DH/enduro riding at the end of season but my knee pads (POC Oseus) where too big  and I though they were too hot (8 degree Celsius). This new model with fleece liner must be very warm...

Reply

Endur-Bro
Endur-Bro
1 week ago
0

Been wearing this jacket (sans sex toy colourway) with a merino shirt underneath and DP3/4 pants all winter so far.  I tuck the jacket into to the corded top of the Rapha bum bag when I heat up.

I'm a lil huskier (same height/m0ar mass) than OP so I use M bottoms and L tops.

Ed.

I'm wearing the 5.10 Trailcross GTX and 5.10 Freerider Velcro shoes for my winter rides and the DP3/4 pants fit nicely over the cuffs of these shoes.

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