Fitness Travel Gear talks Thunderbolts!

February 15, 2010

Thunderbolt Softshell Jeans : Schoeller Magic in An Urban Pant

A few months ago, I was telling a friend that what I really wished someone would invent was a pair of urban pants with outdoor creds. She turned me on to Thunderbolt Jeans, made out of Schoeller Dryskin fabric, and I haven't looked back since!

I live in the city, so I like to think of myself as a bit too stylish to wear hiking clothes or running gear around town. Still, I'm an avid walker and need weather protection and moisture management, especially during the long, rainy winters here in Seattle. I get both from Thunderbolt Jeans. (Click on image above to see larger image.)

They look just like other jeans, with the same cut, the same pockets, and the same contrast top stitching, but they're black, which I prefer because it goes well with grey. That's what city people wear--black and grey! What makes my Thunderbolt Jeans infinitely cooler and more valuable than a pair of jeans is how they perform. It's like wearing a softshell jacket for my legs.

Whenever possible, I try to walk to appointments, to museums, to the grocery store, and everywhere in between, often covering a couple of miles each way. I also often power walk for an hour each day, usually wearing a day pack so I can run errands on my way home. Needless to say, I work up quite a sweat. So, I need pants that keep my dry, breathe well (so that I don't stink when I arrive at my destination, ready to socialize), and feel good to wear during the course of a busy day. My Thunderbolt Jeans excel in all categories!

The Schoeller Dryskin fabric does an incredible job of repelling water. Even after an hour-long walk in constant rain, I stay dry. Water just beads on the surface. I also stay dry on the inside. The fabric is designed to soak up perspiration and move it to the outer layer, where it can evaporate. And it works! Normally after exercising I get the cold clammies if I don't change out of my gear as soon as I get home. I don't need to worry about that with my Thunderbolt Jeans because I'm dry inside and out when I arrive at my destination. I can join the party and nobody even knows I just walked through a rain storm to get there (until I tell them so I can feel virtuous for not using my car!)

Another bonus of Schoeller fabric: these jeans have four-way stretch so I have total freedom of movement, which comes in handy whether I wear the pants for exercise, for hiking, or for travel. It's like I'm wearing a jean, a tight, and a sweat pant all in one. More important, the jeans hold their shape after hours of wear. I've worn too many stretchy pants that just stretch and stretch and stretch until they're too baggy and chafing my thighs. Miraculously, Schoeller fabric retains its shape.

The Thunderbolt Jeans feel soft and fuzzy on the inside, like fleece tights. The material is surprisingly thin, the pants fit and look like my regular jeans. I liked the straight-leg cut, which is a nice compromise between a tapered leg and a wider straight leg. I've worn men's Levi's 501 jeans most of my life and found that the fit and size of this pant was similar. (I've worn these pants in temps between low 30s to mid-40s and felt warm enough without overheating with exertion.)

Thunderbolt Jeans come in a variety of waist (28"-42") and inseam sizes; it's an impressive range, including long lengths for tall guys! It's not easy finding 34" inseams (much less 36" inseams) in outdoor apparel.

I should add here that the Thunderbolt Jeans are available only in men's sizes and that I'm a woman and wear them anyway! I tested a size 32 x 34, the same size I wear in Levi's, and found a good fit. I'm 6' tall, slim-hipped, and normally a size 10 in women's pants. I'd love a lower rise for a women's Thunderbolt pant (to match my favorite low-rise designer denim), but I didn't find the higher men's waistband distracting. I just folded it over.

Yes, these pants are pricey, but they're well worth it. I've worn $100 so-called sportswear pants that claim to offer the same type of moisture management and weather protection and been disappointed in the material more than a few times. Schoeller fabrics are top quality and hold up well after repeated use over the long haul. Also, I've learned the hard way....what's the point of wearing a nice softshell jacket if you're not going to get the pants, too? (If you've ever walked around in the rain and then had to sit through a movie with wet jeans you'll know why you need these pants.)

Bottom Line: It's sort of a no-brainer to me, especially for people who live in rainy climates. Who wouldn't want hard-core performance in a stylish pair of black jeans? They're comfortable and versatile, perfect for outdoor adventures, and the ideal travel pant.--E.D. Feb '10


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