TEST: CONATION MERINO VS. SYNTHETIC BIB SHORTS
CONATION MERINO VS. SYNTHETIC BIB SHORTS
Which material should you be using?
Conation Collective is a Colorado-born clothing company dedicated to delivering gear that’s high performance, super stylish and made with the finest materials available. The brand’s founder, “Mohawk” Matt, is a hard-core rider and racer who simply didn’t want to wear any of the flashed-out team jerseys and ultra-technical kits that were on the market. Instead, he decided to make his own gear, which is a representation of his personality and his identity as a pure-bred trail rider from the Colorado Rockies. You won’t find any NASCAR-style logos or flashy colors on his gear. You will find technical and high-performance fabrics sewn into clothes you won’t be embarrassed to wear if you’re seen by your non-riding friends.
We set out to test one of his most interesting products—the bib shorts. While bibs have been around for many years, they’ve been worn almost exclusively by roadies until recently. Bib shorts are one of those products you may scoff at initially—until you try them.
Conation’s bibs come in two distinct versions with identical construction. The first is made from a synthetic material, and the second is made from Merino wool. The synthetic short features a super-light, stretchable fabric on top and lightweight but supportive fabric on the bottom. The wool short is made from breathable Merino mesh fabric designed to keep you dry and comfortable. Both shorts feature a front opening that’s lowered to make it easier when nature calls. Both also have pockets on the back that are large enough to fit a tube, CO2, multi-tool and some food—in case you want to skip the hydration pack on a shorter ride but still need the essentials. As an added bonus every bit of these shorts is made in the USA. Both shorts retail for $120 and are available through www.conationcollective.com.
Field test results:
There’s no getting around it. Bib shorts look a little silly. Yet, all of our testers here at MBA use them. Simply put, they work better than a standard liner because they stay in place, support more of your body and will permanently eliminate the dreaded plumber’s crack when you’re in the riding position.
When Conation approached us with the new Merino wool short, we were skeptical. Bottom line, though, it works remarkably well. The material breathed much better than we expected and didn’t cause any itching. These shorts are comfortable and soft with an excellent chamois that is slightly larger than those in most “roadie” bibs, providing plenty of shock absorption and comfort. The lowered front is also a nice touch, as the shorts won’t pinch your stomach. Since these shorts are designed to be worn with baggies, the lowered front cut won’t show any extra skin, either.
The synthetic short provides the same features as the Merino short but with a lighter fabric. The fit is also slightly more snug, which makes it feel more like a conventional bib. These bibs work as they were designed to—as a mountain bike-specific bib short. The fit is spot-on, and the choice between materials comes down to personal preference. We have a slight preference for the synthetic version, mainly because it seems to breathe a little better and the snug fit felt a little more tailored. Then again, there will be plenty of material purists who will opt for the wool version, and they won’t be disappointed.
Merino wool short
Back pockets of the merino wool bib
Ventilated off-road chamois
Synthetic Off-Road Bib Short
Ventilated off-road chamois
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