If you’d asked me in May whether merino wool would be part of my MTB wardrobe this summer I would have said “OK, I know we don’t have sweltering summers in Scotland but the weather isn’t that bad”. That was until FINDRA came along and asked us to review some of their outdoor apparel collection. To our surprise, this included some Merino wool items, some of which are named after islands off the west coast of Scotland.
FINDRA Oronsay Merino-Lite 3/4 Sleeve Top
This piece is one of my favourite riding tops, of all time. It wasn’t actually a review piece, I got this many months ago, but I’m a big fan so I want to mention it here. It is a 150g Australian merino blend with 13% nylon. It is super lightweight, has an ‘active’ but fairly flattering cut, and the fine mesh panels under the arms provided that extra ventilation for when things get a bit sweaty betty. Fast wicking on hot summer’s day climbs, and quick drying on the line, and it can be washed with all your other clothing with a standard biological washing powder at 30°C. Minimal faffing! It isn’t quite so odour resistant as a 100% merino wool fabric, but still holds up much better in the BO department than a standard polyester jersey. We were concerned the material might be prone to rapid wear or bobbling at the shoulders where a backpack sits, but we’ve not seen any signs of wear, even after a 7 hour long hike-a-bike effort in the Cairngorms (see our Where to Ride feature on Aberdeenshire). The dropped back hem provides that extended coverage needed when leaning forward in the cycling position. Wear it when temperature regulation is important on a long day and when it’s warm enough that the midges are out.
The FINDRA Oronsay is available in a colour-popping grenadine and eggplant combo (featured), and a host of other colourways including a more understated Loch blue and eggplant combo, and a spiced coral and bronze green combo. The Oronsay will fit sizes XXS through to Large and will set you back £55-65 (size & colourway dependent). An excellent choice for those times where you plan to head straight to the pub post ride!
FINDRA Isla Merino-Lite Vest Top
As with the Oronsay, the FINDRA Isla vest is also made from a lightweight 150g 87% merino 13% nylon blend. This vest works well as a light base layer, providing good temperature regulation and plenty of ventilation. It also has an extended back for extra coverage when pedalling. The Isla vest has quite a flattering fit and the flatlock seams give it durability at points that would normally be the weaker point of a garment. £38 will get you one.
FINDRA Padded Cycling Leggings
The pad in these FINDRA leggings was designed in partnership with professional 2-wheeled adventurer (if this is a thing, she is definitely one of them) Lee Craigie of the Adventure Syndicate. This woman has probably done more miles in a single week than most of us would hope to do in a year, thus, the comfort level of the pad in her cycling shorts is kind of a big deal. Needless to say then that on the 50 or so miles i’ve ridden in these leggings I was pretty damn comfortable.
The pad is a substantial one with varying thickness throughout to provide maximal padding at the sit bones. For me, the fit was a good one, with no uncomfortable ‘bunching up’ I have often experienced with other cycling shorts. Of course, everyone’s unmentionable region is a different shape, and there certainly is no one size fits all when it comes to this department, so it is best to try before you buy. FINDRA have two high street shops in Scotland; one on Henderson Row in Edinburgh, and their main design HQ on the High Street of Innerleithen (mountain bike mecca, but you knew that).
Falling to halfway between the knee and ankle, the FINDRA padded leggings provide nice coverage for those fresh autumnal mornings. For the mountain bikers amongst you, POC soft shell knee pads fit nicely over the leggings, and the leggings actually prevent any friction burns you might be accustomed to experiencing with well worn knee pads. The 4-way stretch fabric, made up of 88% polyester and 12% spandex, provides plenty of freedom and the flatlock seams are completely unnoticeable.
With a hip size of 34″ I opted for a size small which offered a snug fit. A 30″ inside leg means the leggings sit quite high on my waist – almost up to the navel. An elasticated waistband with adjustable tie let’s you find the most comfortable fit. The leggings are actually slightly water repellent; they’ll not keep you dry in a downpour but all the same a nice to have. These are available in sizes XS through to Large in two colourways; nine iron (featured) and grape wine. A pair will set you back £55 just now, instead of the usual £65.
FINDRA Orla Print Tee
In addition to the cycling and trail running garments, FINDRA also offer a range of more fashion-oriented (but still outdoor-practical) garments such as the Orla Print Tee, also made with the 150g 87% Australian merino 13% nylon lightweight material. Also featuring flatlock seams, this Tee is very comfortable and best suited to light exercise. It is definitely one of the more heavily branded items of clothing produced by FINDRA, who tend to most often opt for minimal branding on their garments. This Tee will fit sizes XXS through to Large and is available in several colourways including bronze green, spiced coral, and eggplant. £55 will get you one.