Flylow has been making casual clothing for a few seasons now (including the Anderson shirt from their “Everyday” collection that Jonathan Ellsworth reviewed last season) and I’ve spent this spring in several pieces from their new “Trail” collection.
Flylow says the Trail Collection is designed for the times “when you need to check out for an hour or two of weekday brain cleansing.” The pieces in this collection are designed to transition from the mountain bike to the bar, and even to work.
(And for a look at Flylow’s women’s Trail collection, check out our reviews of the Flylow Carter Short, Hawkins Shirt, and Susie Tank.)
Size Tested: Large
- Intuitive S/G Lite: 100% polyester
- 25D ultra light fabric
- DWR treated
- Air permeable
- Satin smooth with stretch
- YKK zippers
- Adjustable hood cinches
Reviewer: 6’0″, ~175 lbs.
Flylow says the Maclean is “A lightweight shield from wind, rain, and sun in a retro-inspired, packable shell.” Out of the box, it feels more like a light windbreaker than a rain jacket, and looks much more casual than technical piece. But I’ve been impressed with how it performs.
I’m generally a size Large in just about everything, and the Large Maclean fits me well. It’s shorter and less baggy than most ski shells; it has a more fitted cut, as you’d expect from a summer piece. I can fit a light puffy underneath it, but it’s not cut to fit heavier insulation and layering.
The Maclean has a very simple pocket layout, with just two zippered hand pockets. These have molded YKK zippers that I appreciate, and the liners of the pockets are sewn so that they double as inner stuff pockets inside the jacket. They’re roomy enough for a couple of canned beverages apiece, and more than spacious enough for any phones or wallets.
The Maclean has a very stripped down feature set. It has a simple drawcord to adjust the hood (without any sort of cinching mechanism), and velcro and elastic cuffs that do a good job of keeping the sleeves put without being too bulky.
While the Maclean does have a DWR coating, I wouldn’t substitute it for a true raincoat; it just feels too susceptible to wetting out.
Where it does shine is as a light, good-looking do-it-all layer. I’ve found myself wearing it on chilly mornings that aren’t cold enough to merit a puffy, and on breezy afternoons where it’s done a great job of cutting wind. It’s also kept me dry in some light rain.
And because it’s so light and packable, it’s a great option to stuff into your bag, if, for instance, you’re riding your bike to dinner and think the ride home may be a little chilly.
The Maclean isn’t very breathable, however (it’s a packable, uninsulated, windbreaker that can stave off light rain), so I wouldn’t recommend it as a piece to wear for prolonged high-output activities.
Size Tested: 32
- 90% polyester, 10% spandex
- 40+ UPF
- Quick Dry
- Flylow Intuitive IQ fabric featuring Peaks technology
- Moisture Wicking
- Two plastic snaps on the waist
- Fifth panel gusset
- Zippered hand pocket with media cord capabilities
- Zippered thigh pocket
Flylow says the Cash short is designed to prioritize breathability and durability. I’ve been riding in a pair all spring on everything from short after-work rides, to all day bushwhacking wanders, and while they won’t be replacing my dedicated riding shorts anytime soon, I’ve been impressed by their versatility.
Flylow offers the Cash Short in a range of waist sizes, instead of just the typical “Small, Medium, Large” breakdown of other brands. And I appreciate this. I consistently wear 32″ pants and shorts, and occasionally size up to 33″. So I went with the size 32 Cash, but found that its waist is larger than any other 32 I own (and bigger than the Levis I wear in 33″). I’d probably need to size down to the 30 in the Cash Short to get the correct waist fit. Unlike most bike shorts, the Cash doesn’t have any sort of internal adjustment, and instead relies on belt loops. That’s fine, but I’ve found that pants and shorts with too large a waist and no internal adjustments always tend to bunch up in the groin area, and the button has a tendency to slip out from under my belt, revealing my pale belly. That’s a contrast to dedicated bike shorts with an internal adjustment system that do a better job distributing the slack.
The Cash’s 11.5” inseam falls to the top of my knee (for reference I usually wear 34” long pants). It’s a great length for XC and trail rides, and is the same length I usually go for with casual shorts. But I’ve found them to be too short to wear with knee pads, which means I won’t be reaching for the Cash Shorts on any gravity rides.
The Cash Short has two hand pockets, each big enough for a large cell phone. The right-hand pocket has an unobtrusive zipper closure and a headphone port. I appreciate the zippered pocket, since I’m always hyper-conscious about losing something on a long ride.
There’s also a large, hidden, zipper pocket on the left thigh that’s the perfect size for a smaller phone or a wallet, and it’s placed so that it doesn’t rub against my leg while riding.
Performance and Durability
The Cash short isn’t the lightest short I’ve ridden in, but it breathes well, and I haven’t found myself wishing for any sort of vents. I’ve soaked it through a couple of times on creek crossings, and have been impressed with how quickly it’s dried. So I wouldn’t hesitate to use these as board shorts in a pinch.
They are also clean-cut and sharp-looking enough that I’ve been wearing them a lot when I’m not on a bike, too.
The Cash Short wouldn’t be my choice for long trail rides, since I like shorts with a better adjustment system and a slightly more technical cut. And I wouldn’t choose them for gravity rides, since they don’t mate well with kneepads. But for a lot of shorter rides (especially those that start or end at the brewery or back at work) they are a really clean option that performs well without looking like a techy bike short.
And as for durability, I haven’t had any real issues so far, although there are some loose threads where I hit a tree. (So try not to crash into trees.)
Size Tested: Large
- 50% nylon, 50% polyester
- 50+ UPF
- Quick Dry
- One chest pocket with snap closure
- Metal snaps up the front
Flylow says the Nelson is a shirt with a “plaid, vintage style but in a technical fabric.” And at first glance, it looks very similar to the second-hand plaid shirts that are practically the official summer uniform for fishermen, raft guides, mountain bikers, and hikers. But the Nelson Shirt is constructed from a combination of nylon and spandex that should make it more comfortable, durable, faster wicking, and less likely to stink.
Like the Maclean jacket, the size Large Nelson fit me well. It’s got a nice slim cut that drops low enough that I don’t have to worry about plumber’s butt while climbing, but I also don’t feel like I’m wearing a tall T in casual company.
The Nelson is very simple. It’s got a single-button chest pocket on the left side, and that’s it; no hidden glasses wipes or secret pockets. The snap buttons make it quick and easy to take on and off, and I’ve had no issues with them at all.
One of my friends has a mantra: “ABC — Always Be Collared.” It just makes for a more classy approach to life.
I try to follow that path, but it’s not always easy; collared shirts often get sweaty and stinky, and they don’t wick well or dry fast, which makes it hard to stay collared while I’m exerting myself. But the Nelson changes all that.
I’ve been wearing the Nelson for just about everything: mountain biking, beer drinking, meetings, dinners, dock hangouts, pretty much every summer activity I partake in. Through it all, the Nelson has performed great — it wicks well, dries fast, and doesn’t stink even after long mountain bike rides where I’m worried I may have gotten the camera in my backpack wet because I’m sweating so hard. It’s also light and breathes well, which helps me stay cool.
I also try to live by another mantra: “ABB — Always Be Bronzing.” As a pasty Idahoan, it’s important to place a priority on tanning, and the Nelson’s snap buttons make it easy to tear the shirt off at the first hint of sun, and get it back on quickly as it (inevitably) immediately disappears.
While Flylow’s new Trail line isn’t the most technical outdoor apparel around, it isn’t trying to be. But the Maclean jacket, Cash Short, and Nelson Shirt all strike a good balance of utility with a clean, casual look. So if you’re looking for outdoor gear that’s just as much (or more) at home at the pub as it is on the trail, the Flylow Trail collection warrants consideration.