May 27, 2019
Ash and I are currently camped-out on the western shore of the Alvord Desert in Southeastern Oregon. We’re returning from Overland Expo in Flagstaff, where we displayed the new Mosko riding apparel for the first time. We stopped here on the way home to catch up on work, emails, and the blog, and also to do some scouting for the UNRally.
In today’s post I’m going to focus on apparel. The history of the project, its current state, and where we see things going in the future. We’re very interested in your input.
Andrew and I first started working on apparel because we couldn’t find a kit for the type of riding that we like to do: unsupported, multi-day camping trips through mostly offroad terrain. We call it ‘Enduro-Touring’ because it fits somewhere between traditional ADV – which covers longer distances with more pavement – and singletrack day-rides on a dirt bike.
The typical ADV kits with integrated armor, dozens of pockets, and adjustable waist belts don’t work very well on that kind of trip. We’re wearing separate offroad body armor – usually a pressure suit or roost guard – and we need the ability to remove our jackets and stash them on the back of the bike in tough terrain. Most ADV kits are too big and bulky for that – meaning they don’t stash well – plus they’re hot and heavy, and we don’t need all the pockets and features.
On the other hand, the generic, semi-disposable dirt bike kits that are sold in nearly every powersports dealer in the country don’t work very well for enduro-touring either. These kits are designed to fit with body armor, but the garments themselves are poorly constructed from cheap fabrics, and they’re covered in bright colors & logos for motocross and racing. They’re designed for day rides on the track and trail, not continuous travel through variable weather and terrain.
What Andrew and I really wanted was a high quality, durable, waterproof/breathable hardshell, without all the extra stuff that comes with most ADV jackets. Something that Arc’teryx or Patagonia would create if they ever made moto gear. Something with clean design lines and the best waterproof/breathable materials you can get; that’s strong enough to survive repeated crashes but small enough to pack on a bike; and sized for body armor. It didn’t exist.
At first it was just a nagging thought, like: “why isn’t anyone making this?” Then it became a project. We knew we didn’t know what we didn’t know about apparel. We also knew there were a lot of skeletons on that road. We decided to try it anyway and see where that took us. We thought ‘maybe’ it would be a two year project. That was five years ago.
Our first apparel meeting was on October 31, 2013 at our friend Galen’s house in Portland. You can see it in this blog post. Mosko was barely even a business then. Galen has since moved from Icon to Klim. Since then we’ve had three major resets: first when we moved production from Shin TS in Vietnam to October 4th in Bangladesh, second when S Group started helping with design, and third when Scott Bryan joined our team last year, bringing his apparel experience from Patagonia and DaKine.
Now our designs are finished and in production. Everything should arrive in Portland via air freight in early June. We’ll have new pages on the website shortly. If you’ve been following this project, you know how many obstacles we’ve crossed so far. It is an exciting moment. Thanks for your support!!
The Basilisk is the Enduro-Touring kit that Andrew and I were picturing when we started this process 5 years ago. It’s designed for extended, multi-day trips through variable weather on primarily offroad terrain. The Basilisk combines the super-premium materials of a high-end mountaineering jacket, with the clean lines and minimalist design of a trail riding kit.
The Basilisk’s main body fabric is a highly abrasion-resistant eVent DVExpedition 3-layer, using eVent’s proprietary direct venting technology. It’s waterproof to 30,000mm on the water column (100 feet of pressure), with MVTR of 10,000 g/m/d, .06cfw air permeability, and DWR.
If there’s a more waterproof moto jacket out there, we haven’t seen it. To geek-out on the materials, do some Google research and you’ll see the many advantages of eVent. It’s incredibly waterproof and also incredibly breathable. On the Basilisk, we back up eVent’s intrinsic breathability with extensive mechanical venting: there are 6 vents on the jacket and 6 additional vents on the pant.
In high abrasion areas like the shoulders, elbows, and knees, we added SuperFabricceramic platelets on a 600D waterproof/breathable base, sewn as an overlay over the main body eVent for added strength. With two layers of waterproofing through the shoulders, chest, back, arms, and knees, you can crash repeatedly on this jacket and still stay dry, even if the outer layer of fabric is damaged.
Our zippers are top-of-the-line water resistant YKK Aquaguard Vislon. They won’t clog with dust and grime like old-school zippers, and they’re easy to operate one-handed.
Separate Body Armor
The Basilisk is our full-throated endorsement of separate offroad body armor for enduro-touring style trips, where integrated armor is more of a liability than an asset. If you’ve never ridden with separate body armor, here are the two main reasons we love it:
Track and trail riders don’t wear big jackets with integrated armor and tons of pockets for a reason. Imagine summer riding in Moab in a big ADV jacket? You’d die! For the best protection and temperature control, separate body armor is the only way to go. There’s a ton of information about this topic online if you want to do your own research.
Less is More
The gear that accomplishes its mission with the least features, is best. That’s the Basilisk. It’s light, nimble, and breathable, with the pockets and vents you need and nothing else.
We eliminated hanging liners entirely, reducing weight, bulk, and heat. There are two external and two internal pockets on the jacket, and two thigh pockets on the pant. Vents are placed strategically for maximum airflow, with exhaust vents on the back to eliminate ballooning.
The Deluge is our ultralight, packable, 100% waterproof/breathable rain layer.
It works in tandem with an already-waterproof riding kit like the Basilisk – for double-layer rain protection in a sustained multi-day downpour. Stuff the Deluge in your pack for trail riding, or bring new life to an old ADV suit which maybe isn’t as waterproof as it once was.
The Deluge jacket can be worn as either an under- or over-layer (sized up/down accordingly), while the relaxed fit overpant features extra reinforcements in high-abrasion areas around the knee and calf. It packs small: stash it and forget it. It also works off the bike, as an ‘around camp’ or ‘around town’ rain kit.
The Deluge’s main body is an eVent DVApline 3-Layer fabric with direct venting technology, rated at 20,000mm (66 feet of pressure) on the water column, 20,000 g/m/d MVTR, and 0.1 cfm air permeability. It’s made from a sturdy but lightweight 40d nylon ripstop with a 20d tricot backing. Zippers are YKK Aquaguard Vislon.
Our armor layering consists of a base layer, an armor pressure suit, and a mesh jersey on top. This is what we wear all day every day, rain or shine, hot or cold, offroad or on. The base layer sits next to your skin, the armor sits in the middle, and the jersey goes on top. Air flows freely through the jersey, through the vents in the armor, and right up against your skin.
2020 Apparel Development
RAK comes from ‘Anorak’’ a pullover-style jacket, like the kind you see in offshore sailing and mountaineering. The RAK pairs a riding-specific anorak with a heavy duty overpant, using as few seams, zippers, vents, and pockets as possible.
The core principle of the RAK is ‘too simple to fail.’ There are lots of riding kits out there with tons of features and gadgets. With the RAK we’re going to the far other end of the spectrum, adding as little of everything as we can. How cool would it be to have a simple, indestructible jacket, built from the absolute best materials you can get, at an approachable price?
With the RAK, we want to revisit the old ADV concept of double pant/jacket kits: one layer that’s comfortable for everyday riding, and a separate rain shell for cold/wet weather. The RAK pairs well with a non-waterproof riding kit, for touring or overnight trips in a variety of climates and terrain. It lives in your luggage, coming out only when needed.
Waterproof, breathable, and strong enough for RTW, but packable enough to carry on a dirt bike. That’s what we’re going for.
We think heated gear is due for a reset, both in the heating technology itself, and also the garments it’s applied to. A single heated garment should be a shining example of moto minimalism, eliminating several layers so you don’t have to bundle up like the kid in ‘A Christmas Story’ every time the temperature drops.
Most of the heated gear we’ve used is big, clunky, and old-school. It feels like my grandma’s electric blanket. The garments themselves are ugly and low tech. On a long trip, you still need a second jacket to use when you’re off the bike, because the heated gear is so awkward and uncomfortable. Plus it barely insulates when it’s not plugged in. With the Ectotherm, we’ll fix all that.
Picture your favorite packable outdoor puffy, but heated. That’s what we’re going for.
Enduro Soft Shell
We’re developing a super tough, super comfortable soft-shell trail riding pant. All the day-ride dirt bike pants we collectively own are made from the same cheapo, old-timey pack cloths, either 600d polyester or 500d cordura. Technical soft shells are tough, breathable, stretchy, and comfortable. Why not use them in a riding pant?
Soft shell mountaineering pants by Scandinavian brands like Fjallraven, Haglofs, and Norrona are providing inspiration. I used these Norrona pants on my dirt bike last Fall, and they were the best offroad pants I’ve ever worn. For a month in Ethiopia this winter I wore these Fjallraven touring pants and again: fantastic.
Future Apparel Direction
We want to continue focusing on the type of gear that we ourselves actually use and understand. Which means more dirt, more travel – less pavement, less racing. It feels like the sport is headed that way too, with smaller bikes, rougher terrain, and remoter destinations on everyone’s mind.
What should we develop for 2021? If you have an idea that’s consistent with the above… we’re all ears!
Here’s the latest prototype of the Rak. Unfortunately it was sized too small for me – a large – to wear over body armor so I haven’t been able to ride with it yet. It fits me great without armor though. It’s a cool jacket, I wouldn’t mind wearing it around town when we’re done testing. Hopefully one of the ‘medium’s’ on our team will be able to ride with it this Spring.
Here’s the latest prototype of the Ectotherm. I used it on a desert trip a few weeks ago and it worked great, especially in the cold mornings and evenings. It needs a few small tweaks, but even in it’s current state, it’s already the best heated jacket I’ve ever owned.
Here’s Scott, hooking up the Ectotherm to a bike for the first time. In the back of my truck right before a trip ha!
On the soft shell enduro pant, we only have one leg to play with at the moment, but it’s a really nice leg. It’s made from a combination of different high-end Schoeller soft shell fabrics and leather.
Here’s a pic of the very first Basilisk jacket from the production line in Bangladesh. Check out the factory floor in the background. This is one of the nicest sewing factories any of us has ever seen in any country. It’s the same one Ash and I visited a few years ago when it was still under construction (covered in This Blog Post). Scott just returned from the factory, where he snapped this pic. Big shout out and thank you to Taufik, Biswajit, and all our friends at October 4th. Great job guys!!
Here we are inspecting it at our shop in White Salmon.
Now that we’re about to have a warehouse full of apparel, we’re working on displays and hand-outs. Ash worked with our graphic designer Dan Cox and Scott Norton at Image Pressworks in Portland, to come up with these really nice printed pieces that we can distribute at shows. The folding hand-outs for bags and apparel are printed with short lead times and smaller runs on a digital press, whereas the Mosko brochure (which is less likely to change during the year) is printed in larger runs on an offset press.
Martin finished the new booth benches and mannequin display/storage boxes, just in time for us to do a test-setup before we packed everything up for Overland Expo.
Overland Expo West
There was no way that all this stuff plus three display bikes was going to fit in the 12′ garage on our toy hauler. Fortunately Roel was in town for a visit, and he was headed to Overland Expo too, so we rented a 15′ UIhaul and he agreed to drive it 1,000+ miles south to Flagstaff. Thanks Roel!!
Ash and I were a day behind Roel with the truck and camper.
There were strong winds in Flagstaff when we arrived, gusting to nearly 50mph, so we decided not to setup until the morning of the show. We also bought a bunch of plastic 5 gallon buckets and filled them with water to hold down all our apparel displays and EZ-Ups.
Then – since we had the day off – our buddy Mark (who lives right down the street from Fort Tuthill Park in Flagstaff) took us riding. There’s an awesome and extensive singletrack network directly across the street from the park. Who knew? What a treat. Thanks Mark!
Andrew and Scott flew to Flagstaff from Portland, and we all woke up early to build the booth. It was awesome to finally show our apparel in person after so many years of development. We weren’t taking orders at Overland Expo, just showing and test-fitting. Also we didn’t have the pants, only the jackets. Still, it was an excellent dry run and quite motivating to see the respone. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive.
Even with 4 people and a 40′ booth, we’ve never been so busy. It was nuts. It seemed like we hardly even had time to check in with each other during the day. Like we started at 8, blinked, and then it was 6. We had a record year for orders, even though we weren’t selling apparel yet. THANK YOU to everyone who showed up! And thanks also to everyone on the OX team who made this year such a resounding success.
22,000 people came to Overland Expo this year, which is amazing. We had good weather on friday/saturday (despite some wind). On Sunday we (and most of the other vendors too) tore down early to avoid a wind & rain storm in the afternoon.
Here’s what the booth looked like:
Here’s a video interview I did at Overland Expo with Chris from Cafe Racer Podcast about the new Basilisk kit. If you want to geek-out on details, many are covered in the interview.
Here’s Chris, about to take his first-ever ride on a Onewheel.
We got everything torn down and packed just in time for the wind, sleet, and rain on Sunday afternoon. Last year we learned the hard way not to pack up samples when they’re wet, otherwise when you unpack everything a week or two later, it’s all covered in mold.
On Monday morning, the shipping company arrived at the park to palatalize our booth and take it to Lebanon, TN, where we’ll be for the BMW MOA Rally from June 13th-15th.
With the booth loaded up, Ash and I started the long trip home, in unseasonably cold/wet Arizona weather. What a great year at OX. I seriously don’t know what more we could ask for.
Lee is working on a new ‘low profile’ mounting puck for the Backcountry and Scout panniers, on bikes with tight clearance behind the racks. This thing is cool!! I wonder if all our pucks should look like this?
Since it’s dirt bike season – we’ve had gear bags on the brain. I think a Mosko Gear Bag is in our future.
We had a few ‘singletrack fridays’ at the office.
We got a huge delivery of 30,000 stickers. They’re going out with every shipment now. Soon they’ll be available on the website too.
Also in the sticker shipment were these awesome new UNRally stickers.
UNRally planning is coming along well. We’re expecting more people this year. Sarah & Ames found some additional couches, and we collected some old windsurfing gear from our friends at the CGWAto build two dedicated UNRally landsailing boards.
Yesterday here on the Alvord, Ash and I went to find the remains of a B24 Bomber that crashed in 1945. It’s a pretty remarkable crash site up near Pueblo mountain, and a great ride and hill climb to get there. We’ll add it to the UNRally GPS tracks this year.
Spring Desert Trip
A few weeks ago, I joined a group of riders for a trip in the Eastern Oregon desert. It was one of those epic rides: great people, great weather, and fun terrain. A perfect start to the season. Here’s some pics.