Just in time for winter come a few utterly practical items from Belgium-based clothing outfit Vermarc. Though many have never heard of the brand, they've been in business since 1977 and are the current clothing sponsor for the Quick Step, Silence-Lotto and Milram teams.
First up is the Super Roubaix Double Zip Warmup Tight, which, as the descriptive title suggests, isn't intended for use in competition per se but rather before it even begins. The no-frills and purposeful construction features cozy fleece-backed Super Roubaix fabric for ample insulation, gripper elastic at the ankles and a simple, high-cut elastic waist to keep your midsection covered. Just two subtle logos are used throughout: one on the ankle and another on your rear end.
Setting these apart, however, are the full-length zippers running down each leg. Finish your warm-up, pull up to the line, then unzip the tights and toss them to the side just before the gun goes off. As compared to the usual alternative of laboriously peeling off layers over your shoes and freezing while you wait for the start, these Warmup Tights seem like an absolute no-brainer, especially for 'cross. The US$135 price tag isn't bad, either.
Moderate days on the road that are too warm for full booties but too cool for just toe covers call for the simple – yet effective – Sock Booties, made with silver-infused polypropylene. These are essentially little more than oversized, heavy-duty socks with reinforced cutouts for your cleats but having used these sorts of things in the past, we can say that they're just the thing for keeping a bit of cold air and road spray away from your feet while maintaining outstanding breathability – it's no wonder they're a favorite of many Euro pros. They're also very inexpensive at just US$25 a pair.
After a cold ride, Vermarc's Climawell Winter Hat looks well suited to keep you from losing too much heat up top. The 80 percent acrylic body is augmented with silver-infused polypropylene Climawell fabric that promises to keep nasty odors at bay while a double-thickness band around the ears adds a little extra warmth. Though intended for après-ride use, it's still thin enough to fit under helmets provided you've got a bit of room in there.
Naturally, Vermarc offers the Climawell Winter Hat in a diverse range of team livery – including a Niels Albert special complete with rainbow stripes – plus more subtle hues if you prefer not to wear your allegiances on your sleeve. Suggested retail price is US$30.