Sunday, September 26, 2010

Review: Arc'teryx Rampart shorts

Every spring I try to find a good pair of shorts to wear for the summer. When it comes to pants/shorts, I try to find a good daily driver and stick with them for a while. Luckily in the summer, I swim or submerge enough to keep shorts mostly non-funky. This means, I really do wear the shorts daily, maybe washing them once every couple weeks or so. TMI? Sorry.

The point is that I wear shorts really hard. For a couple years I used the REI Sahara convertible pants -- and pretty much just wore them in short-mode. I liked the REI shorts ok. I liked that they dry quick and that they had good pockets, and the zip-into-pants mode made them handy for S24O.

What I didn't like was the huge-ass-honkin cargo turd pockets on them that I always filled up with crud. And I don't like pants that are not actually sized -- like, I want a 34" waist pant. I don't want an "L" that requires a belt or whatever. Picky shit, I know.

Also: I blew through the butts on the REI shorts -- after a month of riding, my sit bones would work through the fabric and there would be holes. Even though the pant/shorts only cost about $55 (actually a lot less when Liza worked there -- with the super discount), which is a good value, that value decreases when the ass blows a month later.

So this I decided to try the high-zoots. This spring, I bought some Arc'teryx super shorts at Mountain Gear. They cost $85. $85! Eighty-five bucks. Shite! And I've got to say, they put out pretty good. There are some quality issues, which at $85, I find pretty indefensible, but I did wear them at least 5/6 days for 4 months straight.

I don't know the actual model of these shorts -- I don't see the exact model on the current Arc'teryx site. But I think they're the Ramparts.

The good:

- They're sized. And a 34" fits like most of the other 34"s I own. In fact, they're a great fit and feel good while pedaling.

- No ass blow outs. I find that pretty impressive. I'm not a padded bike shorts guy -- and I don't wear padded underwear. I just have flimsy REI poly-plastic briefs. So, there's not much protection for the shorts as they're abraded between the sit bones and the saddle. These shorts show no signs of wear at the sit bones after a summer of riding.

- They dry fast.

- They have plenty o' pocket space, but not the honkin-super-cargo-turd pockets. They're perfect. I always carry a phone, chap stick, knife, earphones, cash, wallet. Keys on belt loop. It all works well with these shorts and feels comfy while loaded and riding.

The bad:
- Some of the seams are pulling out. The rear pocket and the two front pockets are coming un-sewn. $85? Cheesy. Even if I wear them daily for months. Especially since the fabric appears to be ready for another summer of riding... a bit more quality in the stitching department of the high-use areas would go a long way on these shorts.

- I'm ok with the hold in the right rear pocket -- it's a product of a lame wreck and I was amazed that the entire rear of the short didn't get ripped in the event -- so I guess this should be in the "good" camp: they're abrasion resistant.

- It would be ideal to see a more gusseted crotch area -- to make riding a bit more comfortable for those that like no seams below.

The net:
These are great shorts. I don't know why they need to cost $85. I know Arc'teryx is the latest "serious" brand to be seen in, so you're paying a premium for that.

I noticed that the latest REI Sahara convertible pant/short has adopted non-cargo-y side pockets, which is cool. Given this change, I'll probably try the Sahara again next year for $60 and see how the butt holds up.

And I'll sew up my Arc'Teryx shorts and get another summer out of them. But I probably won't buy another pair.

Dec 2010 -- UPDATE ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I followed the advice of a commenter and sent the shorts to Arc'teryx warranty people. A new pair of shorts is in the way. No cost to me other than sending them the shorts. Nice.


Michael said...

In the summer, I usually ride in regular outdoorsy shorts and REI cycling underwear. I've had the same experience with REI shorts made from lightweight nylon, it dies pretty quick. I have a couple pair of shorts that are made out of fairly heavy weight ripstop cordura that have lasted for about forever. Mine were made by The North Face, but I don't see them in their catalog any more.

Things are getting crazy expensive, but I don't mind paying IF I get quality, durability, and a well designed product for the price. I bought a few things from Patagonia back in the mid-90's for what I thought were crazy high prices that worked great and are just now starting to die on me.

Michael said...

Oops, forgot to include this:

I found some great pics of the Group Health kids bike races on FLickr.

Anonymous said...

I don't care what John wears but I hope women cyclists continue to wear form-fitting lycra bike shorts.

The sport skirts are a good idea, too. There needs to be a sundress option as well.

Btw, fellow guys, if you think our clothes cost a lot, just wonder over to the women's section. And they are a bit less likely to economize with a "daily runner" attitude toward "funkiness."

Anonymous said...

John - Arcteryx has an amazing warranty/repair department. You might consider sending these into them to see if they can work their magic on the repair.