Thursday, July 7, 2011

Chrome Pasha Hoodie: Wool That Feels Like a Real Sweatshirt?

Hooded sweatshirts are the comfort food of clothing: There is something so snuggly and relaxing about them, that just putting one on at the end of a long day can improve my mood. Before I started cycling I was a fan of this garment and wore it frequently when not in my dressy attire. But I soon discovered that I can't really wear hoodies on a bicycle: I sweat too much and the thick cotton eventually turns into a heavy wet rag. Comfort food no more. Wool manufacturers have attempted to address this issue by making their own versions of the hoodie. I've tried these from Ibex, Icebreaker and one other company I can't recall, hoping to find a replacement for my beloved cotton sweatshirts.  But the wool versions only vaguely resemble the real thing; something is off about the texture and feel. Thus jaded, when Chrome offered me to review their "Pasha" hoodie I expected more of the same. But I am glad to report that I was wrong.

Chrome Pasha Hoodie
Whatever else might be said about the Pasha, I think it is crucial to recognise that Chrome did it: They made a wool sweatshirt that feels like a "real" sweatshirt and not like a wool sweater pretending to be a sweatshirt. The inside is fluffy and impeccably soft, the outside feels convincingly sweatshirt-like to the touch. The weight, the texture - everything is just like the hoodies I am used to. The asymmetrically placed zipper and structured tailoring add a contemporary touch.

The design of the Pasha is cycling-specific, in that it is semi-form fitting and is cut longer in the back than in the front. I have read some reviews complaining that the cut is too narrow around the chest and too generous around the middle, and I somewhat agree. But I have a modestly sized chest, so the narrowness in that region works well for me. The middle is indeed roomy, but I do not find the cut unflattering. I am a US women's size 4, and the "Small" hoodie is just about spot on.

The hood is tight around the head and neck without requiring pull-strings. I've worn it on a roadbike in windy thunderstorms, and it did not get blown off over the course of the ride as other hoods tend to.

54cm Frame Toptube Clearance
I admit that once I took these photos I blacked out the Chrome logo, which is just too prominent for my taste. I suggest they consider making a subdued version of it, as many don't like displaying branding on their clothing. (And yes, I realise the irony of this photo as I write this - but bicycle logos are different!)

Chrome Pasha Hoodie
My one major real complaint about the design of the Pasha is that the thumb loops are not practical when riding a roadbike; they dig into the space between my thumb and forefinger when I stretch my arms to reach the drop bars. So unless I am riding an upright bike with a short reach, I end up not using them. I will probably sew up the holes in the sides of the sleeves.

Chrome Pasha Hoodie
A lesser complaint is that I do not like the exposed metal zipper. It's cold and "unfriendly," in contrast to the overall feel of the hoodie. The zippers they use on the pockets feel much better, so I would love the central one to be replaced with something in that vein.

Yet another minor complaint is an aesthetic one. There is maroon stitching in some parts of the hoodie, apparently for decorative reasons. This is nice in itself, but it clashes with the primary-red stitching next to the pockets, as well as with the Chrome logo and with the fabric of the same colour inside the pockets. Maybe this is a personal thing, but the combination of the maroon and the primary red looks off to me.

Finally, I should note that the Pasha is made in China, unlike some of Chrome's other items.

Chrome Pasha Hoodie, Pocket
The Pasha has two zippered side pockets - one much larger than the other, due to the asymmetrical placement of the central zipper. The larger pocket easily fits a wallet, point and shoot camera, or sandwich. The smaller pocket will fit a mobile phone or keys. There is also a large zippered rear pocket that will fit the contents of both side pockets together. The pockets have meshy interiors and can also be used for added breathability.

First Spring Ride, Bianchi
As far as weather conditions, I find the Pasha best for cold weather and mild rain - which we've been having a lot of here, even in the summer. In May and June we had stretches of days with temperatures in the 40s-50s, continuous rain, and this horrible bone-piercing dampness. The Pasha kept me warm, not sweaty, and mostly dry from the rain. Being wool, it is wearable in warmer temperatures as well, certainly into the lower 70s.

I've had this hoodie since March and have washed it three times on account of getting it covered in mud while riding a fenderless bike. It is durable and takes well to being washed and dried.

The most enjoyable thing for me about the Chrome Pasha, is that it has all the properties of 100% wool while feeling like a real sweatshirt. The design could be tweaked, but I'll take it even as is. It's great to be able to wear a hoodie on a bike without the "wet rag" effect.

28 comments:

  1. Looks good, but how do you wash it? By hand? In cold water? Dry clean? I'm always concerned that wool garments will shrink A LOT.

    Affordable Luxury

    ReplyDelete
  2. The first time I washed it was by hand; the second time I threw it in the washing machine; third time by hand again. Worked fine either way. Most of the currently made wool clothing is meant to be washed normally and nonchalantly, def no drycleaning.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sleeves - this thing was proto'd in SF so thumb thingies are there to ward off the year-round chill coming home from the bar/cafe/farmers' market on a fixie. Not mean to be taken on a "ride".

    ReplyDelete
  4. I know you aren't crazy about synethics, but have you tried lululemon for this kind of thing? Their hoodies and jackets feel soft as cotton, but the synthetic materials make them wicking and great for athletic activities such as cycling. Best of all, the cuts and designs are feminine and flattering...far more so than the Chrome stuff (no black and red, properly fitted to a woman's figure)! If you're willing to explore synthetics that don't feel really synthetic, I highly recommend checking their stuff out!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anon - I've tried synthetics, including the wicking, flattering ones for women. My skin breaks out in a rash.

    GR Jim - Aaah. But don't those cafe fixies have the saddle like 2 ft above the handlebars? Seems to me they might still have reach issues with these sleeves.

    ReplyDelete
  6. The thumb hole is a nice idea to hold the sleeves in place while acting as a fingerless glove.

    Nice. Very nice.

    Wonder if it comes in guys size 3x???

    ReplyDelete
  7. It looks great on you!

    I loved mine...practically to death! I washed it with fabric softener by mistake and didn't find out until later that this is really bad for wool. So it has holes in it. :(

    I actually have the Large and the sleeves are too long and need to be rolled up, so that's an interesting difference in the sizing.

    It's a great hoodie. I replaced it with a Pushbike EW&R, but will probably get another one eventually.

    The thumb holes work in SF on fendered, geared bikes also. :) They warmed my hands many times on a cold windy ride home.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i have washed a few holes into mine, but never used softener, i just wore it to death over the past two years. i just checked their website, and the pasha appears to have center zippers now. sad :(

      Delete
  8. I have the Chrome Cobra hoodie, maybe its only for men? I really love it, good for everyday wearing and on the bike.

    ReplyDelete
  9. When you've shotgunned 3 Olys at the gold sprints you are in a good comfort zone. Or the opposite.

    ReplyDelete
  10. "I washed it with fabric softener by mistake and didn't find out until later that this is really bad for wool"

    Ha! Good to know : )

    ReplyDelete
  11. Walt & Dave - Yes, it looks like Cobra is the men's version, though they are not exactly the same. Cobra has drawstrings at the base of the hood (which I really dislike and am glad the Pasha does not have them) and what looks like miniature pockets (?) next to the thumb loops, which is kind of interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Walt, you should check out the men's version, the Cobra: http://www.chromebagsstore.com/apparel/mens-apparel/cobra.html !

    ReplyDelete
  13. So is it just eternally fall/winter in Boston? It's way too hot here in SoCal to even be thinking about long sleeves.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Well, these pictures were taken in March/April. Normally it is hot and humid here starting in June, with temps in 80s and 90s. But this summer has been weird, with lots of rain and uncharacteristically cold temps every other week. So the last time I wore this hoodie was in June, a couple of weeks ago, but last summer that would have been impossible.

    I have never been to CA, but isn't it always 40s-70s in North California? I would probably pass out after one day in South California.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Unfortunately, in Texas summer weather, hooded sweatshirts are the stuff of heat stroke!

    ReplyDelete
  16. It depends on how far you are from the coast. We're only about 10 miles in so we usually get really nice weather all the time (60-70s during the day) but we've been venturing into the high 80's & low 90's lately. Grated, this isn't high compared to a lot of the country but for here it's hot.

    I've lived in Virginia and North Carolina, so I know I'm now spoiled living here in Southern California. :)

    ReplyDelete
  17. I have been a fan of thumb loops for a few years now, and have several tops by both Ibex and Patagonia which feature them. I wrote about them for my blog back in April of 2009 and for some reason, if you Google "thumb loops," my post still comes up first! (I think some people call them thumb holes, but I am glad that you and I both use the same term.)

    http://www.xo-1.org/2009/04/in-praise-of-thumb-loops-huh-thumb.html

    I find I can ride in either top quite well while using the thumb loops, but, living in Southern California, I don't often have a need to do so.

    Yours in sport,
    Chris Kostman

    ReplyDelete
  18. I like thumb loops a lot, but the sleeves really need to be long enough for them to be of any use. Better for manufacturers to err on the side of too long.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Maybe you have freakishly long arms. Or palms. Long palms.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Very cute. It's a shame they don't make it in larger sizes. There's lots of us XL girls out there. They only go up to a 40" chest.

    ReplyDelete
  21. The chrome pasha looks nice! Very cute, I'd love one. I love hoodies, but yes, cotton can get sweaty and soggy. I wear a light hoody to work to keep the sun off my arms, but it's too hot and then wet. I do have a blue wool hoodie from old navy that I got at the 2nd hand store. It's ultra itchy virgin wool though, so I will wear it more in colder weather with something underneath to stop the itch. I have another wool hoodie cardigan too and I can't say I complain about them not being 'hoodie' enough.
    As for lululemon, no thanks! Yes they make flattering yoga clothes, but I abhor their lack of cotton and natural materials. I do believe they make some merino stuff, but have refused to set foot in one for years. Living in the Vancouver area, I have not been able to escape the sight of women in yoga pants for years now. A few years ago I insisted I wanted some lululemon pants for my birthday and spent ages looking for 100% cotton pants. They cost a fortune. Now I get excited about wool pants at the 2nd hand store.:)
    Anyway, my main beef being if they are about yoga and all things yoga related like nature, health, holisticness, then they should be using natural fabrics that breathe! Synthetics are so unpleasant.
    Wool is the most amazing material ever.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I read some other reviews and all complain about the fit. For $160 this is a bummer. Do not be afraid of having it tailored or taking it in to fit. If you can sew, this can be fixed.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I think fit is a very personal thing, and when it comes to cycling-specific tops and jackets for women it is almost impossible to manufacture a one fit for everyone crowdpleaser. Imagine, the same design for A chests and D chests, pear shapes and apple shapes? It can't be done.

    For instance, it took me the entire last summer to find a suitable cycling rain jacket. I tried on several dozen of them from Pearl Izumi to Rapha and they all looked terrible on me, just downright disfiguring. Finally I found one that looks normal on my figure and I love it - though I am sure it gets plenty of criticism from ladies that are shaped differently.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I think this looks great, and great on you, but I wish they'd make a version without the red contrast. I know it's their signature, but it's too technical looking for me.

    The only wool sweatshirt that I have (and it does feel like a real sweatshirt!) is this one, which I wore a lot this winter:

    http://www.nau.com/womens/categories/insulation/m3-hoody-306W01.html

    ReplyDelete
  25. I think the hoodie looks fabulous on you, fitting but comfortable. I agree about the logo. I know manufacturers want their products to be recognized but I'd rather tell someone "It's from Chrome" than for someone to be able to read the logo from 20 yards away. I do like the lined red pockets, just a little pop of color.

    ReplyDelete
  26. This is an awesomely thorough review. Just want to say I've had the merino Pasha since the early days and I have the same problem with the thumb holes. I'm a petite 5'0" with normal-length arms and the XS thumb holes give me hand cramps when riding, whether I'm in the drop bars or on top! Besides this minor complaint, I love mine and am still wearing it. By the way, what pants are you wearing in these photos? They look great :)

    ReplyDelete