Fox Racing Winter MTB Apparel Review

Fox Racing Winter MTB Apparel Review

There’s a saying that goes something like, “There is no such thing as bad weather, just weak ______”. (Insert runners, cyclists, etc.) Well, living at 8,400’ in the mountains of Colorado, I can attest that there is such a thing as bad weather when we get 60mph winds, snow storms that dump feet of snow, and temps rarely above freezing for a third of the year. So, when I had the chance to test out Fox Racing’s Defend winter line of riding apparel I jumped at it because I know that with the right equipment there aren’t many days you can’t get out and ride.

Caption: Photo Credit: Aaron Bible @definitelywild

Fox Racing has been a leader in mountain bike apparel and accessories for a long time. They continue to innovate and deliver world class gear. With the release of their cold weather Defend line, Fox has now made it possible to ride all year regardless of where you live. I wanted to test this gear in some real winter weather in the high mountains of Colorado. I tested the Defend Fire Pant, Defend Fire Glove, TecBase Long Sleeve, Ranger Water 3L Jacket and Enduro Pro ¾ tight. With this setup, it is a great way to stay dry and warm. The Defend line has kevlar reinforced protection and taped seams that provide unparalleled protection and durability in the toughest conditions. In the Fox Defend lineup, apparel pieces are further delineated by “Water”, “Fire”, “Wind”. “Water” provides excellent water repellency. “Fire” are the warmest and insulated pieces, and “Wind” are windproof outer layers. Through a combination of these, there really is no weather you couldn’t ride in. Fox does not give recommended riding temps for any of their apparel pieces, but we wanted to see if we could come up with some to help guide your apparel choices. 

The Fox Defend Fire Pant is designed to take on serious conditions. It has a DWR coating so that it is water repellent, and its fleece lined for warmth even in the most brutal winter conditions. It also has a built in stretch that allows it to move with you. The leg is tapered with a snug, elastic cuff so you don’t have to worry about catching a chain ring or chain. It also has Fox’s Race Ratchet buckle, which makes on the fly adjustments super easy. This pant is incredibly warm. Even at temps below 20 degrees, I was sweating after twenty minutes.. The fleece lining traps heat nicely and the waterproof fronts keep the cold wind out. The inseam is 31” and the waist is adjustable. I found them a little short for being 6’1” but the rubber grips on the cuff held them in place and still kept the wind and snow out.

<Caption: Photo Credit: Aaron Bible @definitelywild >

I added the Enduro Pro ¾ tight as a base layer with its chamois, snug and flexible fit, and world leading D30 knee protection. Having protection like this is important anytime of the year, but even more so when the trail is covered in snow and ice when falling over is common. The knee protection in the Enduro Pro tight is also removable, which allows for greater range of motion that allows these to be used for endurance riding or even on the indoor trainer. The Enduro Pro worked really well as a base layer for the Defend Fire Pant.On a sunny day in the 30s you could wear these alone, but otherwise, I’d recommend pairing them. On really cold days, like in the 20s with a cold, pairing these pants together is ideal.

Caption: Photo Credit: Aaron Bible @definitelywild

For tops, I tested the Ranger Water 3L Jacket. This jacket has fully taped seams, and waterproof zippers that keep the anything out. I tried this jacket out a few weeks ago on one of our brutal weather days – 60 mph wind gusts, unbearably cold — and it held the weather at bay.  With several different pockets you are able to store your stuff and keep it dry. The hood is also large enough to cover your helmet. We don’t get a lot of rain in Colorado so I wasn’t able to test impermeability, but depending on how heavy it is raining you could expect to stay dry at least a couple hours of heavy rain due to its 3 Layer construction. The Ranger Water 3L does an excellent job of keeping the wet and wind out but is not insulated or lined in order to give the wearer a broader range of temperatures to wear it in. The elastic cuffs are comfortable and hold well and the tail of the jacket is long enough that it helps keep your butt dry. It also allows for enough room to wear a pack underneath and not ride up too far.

Caption: Photo Credit: Aaron Bible @definitelywild

I also had the TecBase Long Sleeve Baselayer. This is a versatile piece that can be worn under a jersey, jacket, or on its own. It is lightweight, snug and breathable. As a base layer it works really well. It also has a longer back for added warmth when in a riding position. To be worn on its own, it would have to be fairly warm, like above 50 degrees. But it is designed to be used as a base layer since it does not have any pockets. I paired this base layer with the Ranger Water Jacket on that brutally cold day and stayed warm throughout my loop on Blue Dot trail system.

To top it all off I had the Defend Pro Fire Glove. This glove is incredibly warm for not being insulated. It is fleece lined with a DWR coating so it keeps wind and water out. The palm is also Axe Suede which is super durable and waterproof. I found it to be too warm for anything above 40 degrees. At those warmer temps it can get pretty sweaty in the glove with its fleece lining and water/windproof shell. The cuff is very snug which is designed to keep the elements out also adding to the overall warmth of the glove. The cuff is also a little longer so it stays tucked in your sleeves.

Caption: Photo Credit: Aaron Bible @definitelywild

Overall, all of these pieces really performed to expectations. This specific combination as detailed above, would work really well for casual days on the fat bike that aren’t too cold and with an added midlayer or the Fox Flexair Pro Fire Alpha Jacket (not tested in this review) there really isn’t any weather you couldn’t ride in (that’s still safe to ride in).

**Disclaimer: We have had an incredibly mild winter in Colorado. Typically our town at 8400 ft averages 200 inches of snow and brutal winds. We have had some windy days, but not our typical snow totals. Even so we were able to test the gear in some cold temps but we did not have the chance to put it through its paces in truly harsh conditions. Hence the photos in the sun and barely any snow. 

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