What I'm Wearing
I’ve never owned fancy gear or an ultralight bike, and you don’t need to either. For minimal investment, these items can make a big difference when biking around town.
Here are my picks for must-have clothing and accessories from these great brands.
Essential item: Performance Underwear
Best brand: ExOfficio
For bike commuting, style how you want on top, but get sporty for your base layer. I wear quick-dry synthetic undershorts and shirts for support and comfort. Cotton retains moisture, so avoid it unless you wanna sit with swamp ass in an office chair for eight hours. Doesn’t work suck enough even when dry?
I’ve experimented with nylon, polyester, Lycra and Spandex material from brands like Adidas, Reebok and Under Armor. For the best intersection of cost, comfort and durability check out Champion’s Tech Performance Boxer Brief (6” inseam or 9” inseam). I’ve washed them in hot water and unnecessarily baked them in the dryer, yet years later they fit just as tightly as they did out of the box.
Snugness around the legs keeps everything in place. Otherwise the fabric rides up, forcing you to pick at the inner thighs to readjust only to repeat the unpleasant process a few blocks later. Since I have long legs, I prefer the extra coverage of the 9” inseam even on warm days.
Changing of the Guard
Although Champion has supported me well, they’re no longer on top of my underwear drawer. Meet my new darlings made by ExOfficio.
I gambled on two pricier pairs of Give-N-Go Sport Mesh 9-Inch Boxer Briefs after reading great reviews on Amazon.com. I earned a third when a PR rep spotted me on social media during the No Pants Subway Ride sporting these.
ExOfficio’s mesh is so lightweight and breathable that it feels like I’m going commando. And isn’t that one of life’s guilty little pleasures? 9” inseams keep my thighs supported with no ride-up leg construction. For the ladies, they make bikini, hipkini and lacy thongs.
It actually wasn’t on Manhattan streets (or subways!) where ExOfficio proved its mettle, but rather in the Chilean desert. While backpacking around South America I washed my ExOfficios in a morning shower and they were ready to wear again that afternoon.
Essential item: Sexy white undershirt
Best brand: Uniqlo
Bright white form-fitting t-shirts—every guy needs ’em. For work, for working out, for going out. In the past I’ve been partial to Tommy Hilfiger’s stay white classic v-necks. But they’re made of cotton, which gets soggy when working out and yellows with age at points/pits of perspiration.
All hail AIRism by Uniqlo. As the name implies, these undershirts are like wearing air. They fit well and feel fantastic. Too often t-shirts have baggy arm sleeves. Hate that! AIRism softly kisses my biceps and makes me look more buff than I really am. Score.
One downside: silky thin shirts make nipples poke out like a porn star. I let the world stare and don’t care because AIRism cleans like a dream. I can wash AIRism in the shower, wring out the water, put the wet shirt on, hop on a Citi Bike and be dry when I redock. Impressive.
And for $12.90 a shirt they’re practically disposable. Sorry Tommy, I’m all about AIRism now.
Essential item: Multi-purpose hoodie
Best brand: Eastern Mountain Sports
My favorite purchase of 2013, and one of the most versatile things I’ve ever owned, is a power stretch hoodie similar to this one (women's version here). I probably wear this zip-up at least 140 days of the year, including every damn day of winter.
I worried that coworkers would judge me for arriving in this every morning, but it was so comfy and warm that I was like, nope don’t care, gonna wear it again tomorrow.
It’s also great for casual-style travelers. Pull the hoodie over your eyes, clamp on noise-canceling headphones, pop a pill and wake up rested at your destination.
Essential item: Attention-grabbing jacket
Best brand: NSR Riding
This neon rain jacket is my favorite purchase of 2014. It’s incredibly lightweight, compact, cheap and—bonus, matches my cell phone case. Most importantly, it makes me more visible to night traffic.
The one thing it’s not is breathable. And that’s a good thing. Impermeable plastic traps body heat, keeping me warm. I run outside in 43 degrees wearing an AIRism t-shirt and this jacket and after a 5K I'm steaming hot and dripping in sweat. The jacket washes easily enough.
Essential item: Waterproof rain cape
Best brand: Cleverhood
In a drenching downpour that skimpy neon rain jacket isn't going to cover it. For a more comprehensive solution, I turn to Cleverhood, which is made in Rhode Island. Cleverhood is waterproof and bike-ready. A large hood slides over a bike helmet, yet doesn't block peripheral vision. Wide arm holes that snap with magnetic closures don't inhibit my range of motion. An easy-access chest pocket, handy for wallets and smartphones, is sealed by a water-resistant YKK zipper. I just wish there were an inside hole to thread an earbud cord rather than looping it outsidethrough the hood opening and into my ear so I can hear directions from Google Maps.
I hope I don't have to use this often, but when it rains I'm ready!
Essential item: Headband
Best brand: Halo
When the front fabric strip inside my helmet got lost in the wash, I needed something to sop up the summer sweat. I was also doing an intense month-long academy at Barry’s Bootcamp where sweat pours out of pores I didn’t know existed. Now I leave Barry’s looking out-of-the-shower wet, but my eyes and forehead are dry thanks to this innovative accessory.
Halo II Pullover is made of Dryline nylon/polyester/Lycra fabric that wicks moisture and smartly siphons sweat away before it spills onto your face. A thin rubber sweat block strip locks the band in place, so no matter how fast I fly on the treadmill (12.5 mph sprints, GO!), it doesn’t move with me.
Soft, snug and sensible, this headband fits nicely under helmets or hats and dries quickly. Great for guys and girls, it’s an inexpensive yet essential gear for any sweaty sport. For the price, get two!