The thermal skinsuit provides comfortable warmth

The thermal skinsuit provides comfortable, non-bulky warmth for the coldest races. by Kristie Hancock

With summer still a month away, it’s a strange time to think about cold-weather cycling gear. But ‘cross will be here before we know it, and if your team is considering new kits or warmer garments for the cyclocross season, now is the time to get organized, find the right vendor, and get your orders in so you’ll get your gear in time for that first chilly race.

To help your road, mountain, or cyclocross-specific team find the right products and vendors for kits for the ‘cross season, we’ve taken a look at some of the top custom clothing companies and their cyclocross-relevant product offerings. First up in this multi-part series is Mt. Borah.

by Brian Hancock

COMPANY

Mt. Borah is a Wisconsin-based company that offers custom clothing sublimation for cycling, nordic skiing, triathlon, in-line skating, running, and alpine skiing. The company knows a thing or two about ‘cross, as it supplies garments for Bjorn Selander’s Ridley team all racing conditions. The company has several customizable garments it says are ideally suited for cyclocross, including a nifty long-sleeved thermal skinsuit that I reviewed.

IMPRESSIONS

If it is cold and it is time for ‘cross, Mt. Borah’s thermal skinsuit is it a great choice. The texture of the imported Gavia fabric is like wearing the most comfortable brushed fleece you’ve ever touched! The fit and craftsmanship are excellent, and the brushed fabric is amazingly stretchy (my main concern with wearing a fleecy-material). Don’t worry, it stretches with every twist and turn you could make your body go through in a cx race. The folks at Mt. Borah are currently refining the template, so in production models there will be more girth in the arms. This wasn’t a concern of mine, as my twig arms fit very well in the current version. I understand that for an XL size, the arms should probably have a bit more room.

The leg grippers are more of the traditional, elastic sort rather than the stretchy rubber band on a few others I’ve worn. I think this pretty much comes down to personal preference. I’ve never had an issue with shorts riding up, but apparently some people have. Let’s just say these worked great for everything I put them through.

The thermal skinsuit has a chamois that doesn't get in the way of 'cross mounts.

The thermal skinsuit has a chamois that doesn't get in the way of 'cross mounts. by Kristie Hancock

The chamois is their 4-Way Stretch Skin Life in beautiful blue. According to the website, “This men’s specific chamois is a new revolution in seamless technology. The antibacterial, 4-Way Stretch Skin Life pad is designed to move with your pedal strokes, completely eliminating skin irritations.” While I can’t say if it’s a new revolution, I have to agree that it is very comfortable. This chamois has padding in all of the right places without being too bulky. It stayed in place nicely, causing no interference when jumping on or off of the bike. It seems to be a bit narrower than a few other pads I’ve ridden, so it doesn’t come down in the inner thigh as low as others. This didn’t bother me at all, as (again) it felt minimalistic while still maintaining a pretty high comfort level. Inner channels cut into the surface of the chamois helped it stretch and conform, and at no time did I ever notice an issue with bunching or chafing.

One pretty slick feature I’ve never seen on custom clothing is the quick re-order number sublimated on the inside of the collar. Under the code for your custom design is their phone number and a reminder that Mt. Borah does not require a minimum reorder.

The skinsuit I reviewed was sent out as a prototype from the winter, so it’s not listed on their website yet. Look for more information on their website soon as plans are finalized for this model, as it sounds like final dimensions are still in the works.

At $145, the garment isn’t cheap, but it’s quite a good value considering many plain black cycling shorts alone cost more than that nowadays. And when you consider this skinsuit can arguably replace three or more garments in your wardrobe or race bag, it’s quite a steal. On a cold day, you can leave the base layer, arm warmers, jersey and shorts behind.

Overall the Mt. Borah thermal skinsuit is a great piece if your climate will justify it. In Michigan it seems like the past few years have had very cold (and snowy) final ‘cx races in early December, conditions in which this skinsuit would have been perfect. For the early part of the season, however, a standard long-sleeved skinsuit would be a better choice. But for your team kit, having one of each on hand to choose from based on the day’s conditions would be the ultimate setup.

2007 Espoir National Champion Bjorn Selander getting his Mt. Borah skinsuit dirty

2007 Espoir National Champion Bjorn Selander getting his Mt. Borah thermal skinsuit dirty. by Paul Schoening

PRODUCT DETAILS:

Mt. Borah Long-sleeved thermal skinsuit

Fabric:
Gavia, a new product introduced from an Italian mill.

Number of panels:
Bottom of skinsuit – 9
Top of skinsuit – 7 with raglan-style sleeves

Care recommendations:
According to the tag, machine wash cold, tumble dry low, and do not iron.

Where it’s made:
Wisconsin, USA (except for the fabrics which are imported from Italy)

MSRP: Starts at $125 (+$20 for Gavia thermal fabric) with price breaks starting after your 12th skinsuit. More price information can be found here.

Notes on fit:

I’m 6’3″ and 180 pounds, meaning I’m pretty skinny and my arms are twigs. I’ve always had issues with long-sleeved skinsuits not leaving enough sleeve length to cover my wrists when I reach my arms out. To my surprise, this XL skinsuit is the first skinsuit I’ve worn that fits my long arms! For ‘cross this is great, as especially in Michigan the weather can get cold and it isn’t fun to have exposed skin. Mt. Borah is still in the works refining the pattern, so look for the sleeves to have a bit more room (for those of you with actual muscles in your arms) with the finalized product. As for overall length, this skinsuit fit like a glove. Not too tight but not loose, it was very comfortable. The inseam on the shorts was a comfortable length, especially for a garment designed to be warm.

OTHER CUSTOMIZABLE CX-WORTHY GARMENTS OFFERED:

  • Short-sleeved skinsuit (“pro” version also available)
  • Long-sleeved skinsuit (“pro” version also available)
  • Wind jacket
  • Wind vest
  • Thermal jacket
  • Thermal vest
  • Cycling cap
  • Thermal hat
  • Thermal headband

SERVICE:

Minimums:
Six with price breaks after 12, 24, 49, and 74 of a single item.

Reorder:
No minimum reorder quantity.

Lead times:
Currently 7 weeks from time of deposit and artwork, 4 weeks from time of art approval and final sizes. These turnaround times can change daily,  so check with the company for the most up-to-date information.

Max colors:
Unlimited with no extra charge!

Process:
Sublimation

Artwork:
Mt. Borah requires your artwork to be in a vector (versus raster) files. If you don’t have access to the vector artwork, Mt. Borah can help create them for you. This will cost more than the standard set-up, so contact the company for pricing on this service. The company explains the artwork process here.

For more info: www.CustomSublimation.com