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Thunderbolt Sportswear Softshell Jeans, 4 Years Later by Gerald Zhang-Schmidt

February 19, 2015

Great review from Gerald Zhang-Schmidt!!!

Thunderbolt Sportswear Softshell Jeans, 4 Years Later

Even in a field of many brands that are unknown to all but those in the know, Thunderbolt Sportswear is an outlier.

Given the Schoeller Dryskin used in their (now so-called) “Originals” softshell jeans, they fall right into the category of “technical menswear.”

Their focus, however, was less on the fashion than on the performance side of things; their jeans were even presented as a potential climbing jeans.

And so, even as many a brand in the category of tech-wear comes from a background in sports, especially cycling (Outlier is probably the best known; 7Mesh is newly getting started, to name just two), they went quite unnoticed in that field.

For me, too, the material was the main point of interest back in 2011 when I got my pair. And while I still love my Veilance Spec Pant, I have gone through two different other models from Veilance while the Thunderbolts are still going strong…

Where one of the selling points of Arc’teryx Veilance pieces are their very particular cuts, Thunderbolt’s offering is considerably more run-of-the-mill – but it’s a good mill: Schoeller Dryskin, and a classic five-pocket jeans cut.

As much as I like the peculiar cut and functionality of Veilance pants (with their angular lines and hardly visible ‘cargo pockets’ along the outside of the upper legs of some models), the comfort of the Thunderbolt’s softshell material is just amazing.
After four years of use, they are still the favorite pants of mine for most situations, from casual lounging to not-entirely-too-formal business wear.

Where Veilance’s materials work well, but can get to feel a little clammy when it gets warm, the Schoeller Dryskin is quite alright in a hot summer (for which it is somewhat too warm, of course) and still enough for me on a cold winter’s day.

(When temperatures get below freezing, however, it is time for the Veilance Spec Pants…)

The material cleans up well (even with the DWR gone), has withstood everything I’ve thrown at it reasonably well – and what faults in it have come up are not visible from the outside or without very close inspection or were easy enough to repair – and if there is one problem with it, it is that the feel is almost too comfortable.

It has, more than once, reminded me of the feeling of pajama pants, it feels that soft on the skin.

Hence, I enjoy going out in them, and they are a favorite for just lounging around at home, all the same.

Things had gone quiet around Thunderbolt Sportswear, but they are still around and on the verge of updating their original softshell jeans (stronger thread in the stitching was one of the few needed improvements) and introducing new products.

We’ll see what comes. I’m sure it will be good.

(And the date for the new releases has just been announced: March 16.)


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