Review of Thunderbolt Sportswear’s Softshell Jeans Mark 2 and Agility Hoodie, after half a year of use – and thoughts around athleisure.
Tag: good things Page 1 of 4
Less stuff, more sensuality.
In that, you can show your concern for the world, as well as your elite status, by not just mindlessly shopping, unlike “the masses”, but carefully selecting your experiences and curating what you show of them.
You can follow the psychological insight that has been showing that experiences make happier than possessions, spend differently, have a memorable life sampling the best the world has to offer, and keep the economy humming along.
You can have your cake and eat it, too.
There are just two typical oversights, two problems that are often deliberately glossed over: the necessity of (some) things and the fault of the bought experience.
The Necessity of (Some) Things
It takes things to do things.
Sure, if the things you spend your money on merely clutter up your living space, yes, then they are the mere possessions that the psychologists in pieces on “why you should spend your money on experiences and not things” are talking about. Then, you might have felt excited to get those things, probably loved them for the first few days, and then got used to them being around.
Also, if you spent all your money on stuff so that you don’t have any money to spend on doing anything, having all the things in the world would not make you happy.
Still, even with running, and as fond as runners are of saying that you need no (special) equipment to go out and run, there is a great market for gear.
As with so many a kitchen appliance and gadget, there is probably a lot of aspirational sales, of people buying running shoes and equipment in the hope that having invested the money in those things will make them do what they want to do, and be better at it.
Some people probably overdo it with their equipment, on the search for the perfect shoe or the perfect training watch (or kitchen knife or pan), too.
Yes, it does not take much, and in all the marketing pushes all around us, we would do well to remember that – but running shoes that suit you properly and proper running clothes rather than jeans and a cotton T-shirt are probably not the worst idea, either.
To Have or To Use…
As usual, the proper balance needs to be considered:
Is the gear good in various ways (such as value for the money, quality, opportunities it gives) or is it just tempting because the marketing is good?
You have to strike a balance between the psychology that is at work when things are alluring and the actual value of these things later, when in use.
The latter is all the stronger an issue as the ultimate value of even the best of gear is only fulfilled if you actually have opportunities to use it, and if you make use of those opportunities.
Good gear that is constantly in use, even if it was expensive, costs little compared to cheap things (let alone expensive ones) that just use up space in a garage, if you consider the cost per (hour, mile, etc. of) use. And if you wouldn’t have the experiences that are memorable if you didn’t have those things, then you are right to spend money on these things.
The Fault of the Bought Experience
The second problem glossed over in the incessant call to spend your money on experiences, to buy experiences, is the consumerist frame to these suggestions.
Same as some gear is actually necessary for experiences; some money may be necessary to make more experiences possible, and some package trips may be good for learning new things or going to new places in safety – but there lies a point where we tend to go quite wrong in constantly thinking about the direct buying of those experiences.
It’s not about the spending of money.
Money Don’t Buy Memories
As you may, if you ever stop to think about it, regret ever having purchased things that just clutter up your life, you may regret ever having paid for experiences that were just superficial.
After all, the reason why you should “buy experiences, not things,” as that is always phrased, is that we have a longer and stronger memory of experiences. Also, we tend to remember good experiences as even better than they were, and we re-interpret not-so-good experiences as funny, or relevant, or at least great learning experiences that shaped us into who we are.
That is all true, but when money comes into play too much, it may color the memory.
The romantic dinner at the restaurant that is way above your pay grade may turn into a great memory if it was worth it or if something unexpected happened, but if it was just a meager disappointment with money badly spent, it might well be remembered most strongly in terms of the financial loss for nothing, if it is much of a memory at all.
The hole-in-the-wall street food place, in contrast, is memorable not just for not having cost much, but for having been found serendipitously.
For an odd, bad experience to be remembered in a positive light, it helps if it was something that you decided to risk, and that you mainly did of your own accord. (Not that a bungee or parachute jump wouldn’t cost you a bit of money, wouldn’t go down without some trepidation, but would then likely end up a positive memory…)
The same applies for experiences that turned out good, too: The important thing is that it was truly your experience, with as much input of you yourself as possible.
Put Yourself Into It
An experience is better when you actually experienced it in full, from the excitement of the initial idea through the anticipation in the nitty-gritty work of planning, to the excitement and anxiety of the first step into that adventure, all through it, and finally in the reporting (where social media can actually be good for you) and the memories afterwards.
A cruise may give you tons of innocuous (or not-so-innocuous) holiday snapshots and experiences, but like any packaged experience that is served up like a Disneyland ride, controlled and passively consumed, there is just too little input of you yourself to make it truly memorable and worthwhile.
On the other hand, if you create adventure, you can even stay “at home,” invest only very little to no money, require no (new) gear at all, but decide to do something exploratory and adventurous.
Approach it in that spirit, embark on that enterprise, and create a memorable experience – all from such simple “adventuring” as going out for a night run, a photo project, a little bit of foraging, an outdoors overnight stay, some lessons in the history or biology (or whatever strikes your fancy) of the place you are. Or from family time together. Or an entrepreneurial venture.
“The most powerful experiences come at no cost” (as Carl Maida of the UCLA‘s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability commented in this context).
So, don’t spend too much of your money on things, but don’t just buy experiences, either:
Do things, go out – or stay in, if you feel like that – get active, create experiences to remember.
Summer is coming, protective gear may seem less necessary – but when you go out into the mountains, a light and highly protective layer may only become all the more necessary:
Seeing a type of clothing that is rather business-like in a material that is not the traditional choice is somewhat disconcerting.
A blazer may be more casual and sporty than a full-on suit, but it still is a step up in style for most men nowadays, outside of the office and business world that requires suit and tie; a blazer in a Windstopper material, then, seems a tad too radical a departure from the norm.
Well, that material is still missing from my ‘collection’, but Veilance has produced blazers in everything from high-density polyester weaves as used in water- and wind-resistant shells to wool-cotton blends and the just-mentioned Windstopper.
Going for such technical materials, and for some technical, protective, features as well, these pieces do stand out from the usual range of men’s clothing.
At the same time, in bringing these two sides together, they show just how much we have forgotten that clothing is always both protection and presentation, function and style.
Even a pair of jeans and a T-shirt transports a message and keeps its wearer dressed and (hopefully) comfortable.
If jeans and a T-shirts isn’t your style – or if it is, but only spruced up a bit towards the more sartorial – and you still spend a good bit of your time moving around outside, not just in a car, blazers like those from Arc’teryx may be just the thing for you: Style and substance, so to speak.
Pieces I can speak of are:
For one, the Haedn blazer of the most recent seasons (and an otherwise unnamed blazer from a few seasons ago), which is a wool-cotton-polyester blend with a rather more traditional look and feel but great cut and performance…
Secondly, for the spring/summer seasons, there is the Blazer LT. This light and thin, rather shirt-like, version of a blazer is odd at first (Shouldn’t a blazer be a thicker material?), but turns out just perfect for a greater touch of style and protection…
Something I can’t resist mentioning: If the blazers have you thinking of hipsters on bikes – or perhaps, men with a sense of gentleman-ness who know how to combine old(er)-fashioned classical style with modern elements – check out Onoo’s “Sendling” jacket!
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.)