I vividly remember my first ride in Washington. Eager to shake the rust off after a cross-country road trip, I turned a blind eye to the looming weather forecast and rushed to the nearest trailhead. Instantly enamored by the close embrace of towering evergreen trees and dirt masquerading as fresh coffee grounds, I pedaled deeper into the misty forest. Not long after, I was awakened from my dirt-induced stupor by a rainstorm unlike any I had ridden in before.
Having encountered my fair share of rain on the east coast, there was something fundamentally different about this storm. The rain felt less like rain and more like the spray from the jet engine of a departing 747. My helpless water-resistant windbreaker quickly turned to human cling wrap, leaving me to seek shelter under the nearest tree.
That first ride was a wet wake-up call to prioritize my rain and winter riding gear. Having tested a handful of offerings, I finally settled on Fox’s Ranger Water lineup as the best opinion for a blustery Pacific Northwest day. Equal parts functional, comfortable, and weatherproof, Fox has allowed me to ride more and worry about that pesky precipitation less.
Fox Defend 3-Layer Water Pants
A rain jacket is only half the battle, as nothing is worse than soggy pants coldly clinging to your legs as you try to pedal. On the flip side, no one wants to wear pants that feel like a ground tarp. Fox has found a comfortable middle ground with the Defend 3-Layer Water Pants. Made with a fully seam-sealed interior and lightweight 3-layer waterproof, windproof, breathable main body fabric, these pants are impenetrable by water while maintaining a comfortable riding fit.
Designed with riding performance in mind, these pants have an athletic tapered fit and room for knee pads. Fox has incorporated their Ratchet Closure System; a slim ratcheting buckle that is easily adjustable and pinch-free, allowing their pants to be tailored to one’s exact fit. The waterproof zipper at the ankle lets you slide these pants on and cinch them down against any water ingress, and keeps them secured at the ankle for miles of pedaling without distraction or discomfort.
These pants have become my go-to option for the colder months. Even on days when it’s not actively raining, I find myself reaching for these pants for their ability to hold warmth and protect me from puddles. Soggy chamois have become a problem of the past with the Defend Water pants, and fortunately so, as anyone who has had the misfortune of experiencing such a sensation knows that few things can be as detrimental to a ride’s longevity.
Fox Ranger 2.5L Water Jacket
The first line of defense for anyone looking to ride in the wet is unequivocally a rain jacket. The difference between a good rain jacket and a great rain jacket is usually hard to discern until it matters most. With a three-layer construction that is waterproof, lightweight, and breathable, the Fox Ranger 2.5L jacket is a great rain jacket.
Mountain biking is a highly dynamic activity, constantly having to adapt to ever-changing feedback of their bike and terrain. An issue I’ve encountered in the past with other rain jackets is that they tend to be too restrictive. There is nothing enjoyable about pulling for a gap and having the shoulders of your jacket so tight that they limit your range of motion. The Ranger 2.5L is designed with riding (and all the dynamic movements it requires) in mind. At 5’10 and 165lbs, a size large fits me perfectly while allowing me the freedom to move around my bike without being restrictive. Fox has nailed the fit on this jacket as it still maintains a visually sleek profile and doesn’t feel like an oversized trash bag when ripping through the woods.
This jacket’s features don’t stop at its 10K waterproof and 3K breathability construction; thoughtful touches are scattered throughout. An adjustable drawstring allows for the bottom of the jacket to be cinched down, further protecting you from the elements and keeping the jacket from waving wildly while riding at speed. Elastic cuffs and an oversized hood designed to fit over a helmet assist in keeping you dry no matter how nasty the weather. I’ve enjoyed this jacket so much that it has established itself as my go-to rain jacket, riding or not. It is, however, most at home when covered in mud from a rainy day of ripping bikes.
Fox Ranger Fire Glove
While I’m not one to ride gloveless, in warmer months, I opt for the thinnest glove possible. My biggest gripe against other cold-weather gloves I’ve used in the past has been that they feel less like gloves and more like oven mitts. Such a thick glove creates a “disconnected” feeling from my bike; the last thing I want to experience when piloting my way down an elevator shaft of a trail. The Ranger Fire Glove has overcome this issue with a feel that’s only marginally thicker than its warm-weather counterpart and textured fingertips to ensure a solid grip.
Having ridden with these gloves for two winters now, I would categorize myself as a convert. They are dependent and durable, and their fleece interior and AX-suede exterior combine for a glove that is seriously comfortable while maintaining warmth. With a slip-on design, there are no velcro bits to fuss with or worry about wearing out.
One of my favorite design elements of these gloves is their extended cuff that keeps your wrist warm while creating an overlap with a long sleeve garment. While not fully waterproof, they are water-resistant, protecting from any splashes or stray water droplets. This finely curated blend of warmth and comfort results in one of the best dry weather winter riding gloves on the market.
Fox Ranger Water Glove
At first glance, the Ranger Water Glove can easily be mistaken for its “Fire” sibling. It’s not until you feel the waterproof outer shell that you realize this glove may just be the only glove needed this winter. While not quite as warm as the Fire version, these gloves still maintain heat well, making them a great option for an average winter’s day. There are very few scenarios where these gloves wouldn’t be a viable option, as the benefits of other warmer gloves are nullified when they are drenched with rainwater.
The Ranger Water glove shares a nearly identical profile to the Fire version, with many of the same great features (such as the extended cuff). This longer wrist cuff is extremely beneficial when paired with a rain jacket. The overlap between rain jacket and glove allows for water to roll off without ever threatening to penetrate one’s outer layer.
I have been thoroughly pleased with the addition of the Ranger Water to my glove rotation as it has allowed me to comfortably ride on days that I otherwise wouldn’t leave the house. When paired with the Ranger Water 2.5L jacket and Ranger Water pants, I have not only stayed dry on rainy days but have found myself eager to embrace the elements.
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