Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Mail Bag!

I received the following email from Robert:


I found your website – wintercyclist.com – and read about Poagies from Dogwood designs.  Do you think they will perform better then the IceBike mittens that Kevin from Empire Canvas Works made me?


Regards,

Robert


I have heard great things about Empire Wool & Canvas and have seen some of their work and was impressed.  That being said, their mitts are not something I would use for my style of riding.  They are a bit heavier than the Dogwood Designs pogies (from what I recall), and the weight weenie in me weighs in heavily on a lot of gear decisions.  By far the big advantage is the dexterity component involved with the pogies; many riders use no gloves at all underneath (I choose to use a full fingered riding glove, partially for the padding).  This gives you full access to your controls without any sort of compromise (shifting and breaking in even the best mittens just isn't as good as in thin riding gloves).  Additionally, the pogies provide some level of protection for your riding controls.  Depending on your setup, it is also very easy to pull your hands out of your pogies, do whatever chore requires manual dexterity (opening your energy bar, zipping your frame bag back closed) and then shove them back in when you are done.  I could go on an on about how great these are, but it really comes down to the fact that they were developed and refined in Fairbanks, Alaska.  They were used and tested by riders who were out every day in temperatures down to -55F and regularly used at temps of -30F. They work well.

I can see several restrictions on a rider that would make the mittens an attractive option, the main one would be finances.  It can be hard justifying spending $100+ dollars on something you will put on your bike and not be useful the rest of the time you own it.  There is certainly more utility to be had with the mittens.  Another difference is probably longevity.  Many of us have had Dogwood Designs pogies for years, and they are still in great shape.  However, they are a bit harder to clean, and should not be washed/dried because the insulation can get packed down.  Joni (the Dogwood Designs lady herself) was nice enough to restuff a pair I made the mistake of washing several times.  The EWCC stuff looks like it is less likely to require maintenance after a decade (maybe after two).  However, both companies seem like they will be around for quite some time and both seem willing to do repairs, so that may be a wash.

I guess my final answer is that, yes, for cycling, Dogwood Designs pogies should perform better than any set of mittens (even a set of very nice, really well made mittens).  

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Chris, thank you for your thoughts on the Dogwood Designs Poagies. It is good to know that these Poagies will perform well in my part of the Country with lows of 5 degrees Fahrenheit and 25mph winds. I may have to get a pair.

The reason I opted for the Empire Canvas IceBike Mittens as a first choice is freedom of movement. For some rides I'm on my bicycle for 6 hours in all kinds of terrain including many long, steep 13 percent grade uphills. To break up the monotony, I like to move my hands around the handlebars and use the bar extensions which I can with the IceBike Mittens. Robert - icecyclist.com

Chris Bollinger said...

You will still be able to use your bar extensions (provided they are not huge) with the Dogwoods. One other advantage with the Dogwoods is that if you are able to use cycling gloves you may get a little extra padding and not need to shift your hands around so much. I have done a few longer rides myself, and with my current setup, I rarely need to move my hands at all. I used to use bar ends for the same reason, but stopped using them years ago after I got a good setup. Now my hands only go numb after I have been riding for longer than 18 hours or so.

Anonymous said...

Years ago the Pearl Izumi Amphib Lobster Glove was a popular choice for all the same reasons aformentioned. Warmth of a mitten, but dexterity of a glove. Useful on and off of the bike. The poagies just work better. They are warmer, especially the "Plus" version. Maybe even too warm for non-Fairbanks winter riding. Very windproof especially with the addition of Joanies Dingleberries. A good place to store food or batteries that you want to keep from freezing. Still lots of handlebar position options, even with bar ends. You can ride outside of the poagies to cool off your hands when you need to also.

This is not an issue in Fairbanks, because it is so cold, but in other places where it is warmer, and therefore wetter, the poagies are not waterproof.