From Boston to Key West by Bicycle
Written By : Bill Flagg
Although they are dubbed “trailhead pants”, my pair of blue Coalatree trailhead adventure pants served me best over 2,000-plus miles of road, gravel, and a bit of everything in between, during my first long-distance cycling tour from Boston, MA down to Key West, FL.
Me crossing the ferry from Manhattan into Hoboken, NJ- apparently I like the color blue -- Trailhead Pants
As a utilitarian who is more concerned about functionality over style or comfort, I am most impressed by the durability of my trailhead pants. I wore them on over 90% of my bicycle tour, sometimes spending 6-7 hours a day on the saddle and in the end these pants have held up fantastically. Although they have shown a bit of fraying at the contact points where my butt and legs were gliding against my bicycle seat, the wear and tear on them still looks minimal given the amount of heavy use I gave them over two and a half months. The biggest test on durability I gave these pants was during the Transvirginia Trail, a challenging 550-mile cycling route starting at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC and ending in Damascus, VA.
For 12 days I really put these pants to the test, traveling over 45,000 feet in elevation gain on mostly-unpaved rocky and bumpy Forest Service roads in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia, and Virginia.. My trailhead pants weathered some very hard cycling days with me, which mostly consisted of grinding up steep, gravel roads at 3-4 mph, sometimes for 6-8 hours a day. They also weathered some hike-a-bike sections, and cycling up and down narrow trails that were overgrown with brush, and unfortunately lots of prickers! The prickers left tiny fray marks where they caught my pants, but my pants did not once tear or rip apart! And they weathered all of this in mid-November at elevation in the Appalachian Mountains, which consisted of sub-freezing temperatures with a bit of snow and rain thrown in here and there for good measure.
Reddish knob lookout point in Virginia- a king stranger offered to take my picture here -- Trailhead Pants
Speaking of weather, I subjected these pants to a whole slew of varying weather conditions on my cycle tour. Leaving Boston in late October, the first couple weeks presented rain, hail and even a couple of snow days, which won’t surprise any fellow New-Englanders reading this post. During the wettest days, or days with snow, I put on a pair of waterproof rain pants over my trailhead adventure pants, but most of the time this was unnecessary as these pants dry quickly and kept me warm on even those chilly 40-degree days. Proper layering is very important when you are spending a considerable amount of time outdoors in cold weather. These pants often acted as a base and mid-layer on my cycling adventures because they are fairly warm, and the material easily wicks off sweat and light rain.
Aside from durability, the next best thing about these pants is comfort. As I mentioned before, I was wearing these pants for about 90% of my cycle tour. And before you judge me (like my girlfriend did many a’ times along the way!), you must realize that on a long cycle tour, you need to be particular about what you bring with you, and unfortunately pajama pants didn’t make the cut on my essential items packing list. No worries though, as my trailhead adventure pants are comfortable enough to sleep in too. Camping in sub-freezing temperatures, these pants added comfort to my nights in the sleeping bag. On a couple occasions, I wore long-johns under my trailhead pants, but I don’t think there was a night that I didn’t have my trailhead pants on while I camped, with southern FL being the exception as it was still warm at night there, even in late December. More important than being comfortable in the tent, though, these pants were very comfortable to cycle in. The stretchy, soft fabric didn’t leave my legs and any contact points with my bicycle feeling irritated and chaffed. I also appreciated the fact that due to their slim nature, the bottom parts of my pants didn’t get caught in my chain and get grease all over them-- I’ve ruined a good handful of jeans this way commuting by bike in Boston over the past 5 years.
Lastly, I really appreciate the anti-microbial quality of these pants, as well as the fact that they are environmentally friendly. These pants are made from recycled materials, using sustainable manufacturing practices, which makes me feel even better about my initial purchase. As for the anti-microbial quality, somehow these pants never ended up smelling bad. Considering I didn’t give them that much love in the form of washes over the course of my tour, maybe two or three, one of them being a sink in a motel ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, I was thoroughly impressed with their, umm, resiliency in the face of my complete lack of sanitary standards. To their delight, as well as my girlfriends, I did give them a nice wash at the end of my trip though!
Sometimes even Florida gets cold enough for pants-- with my girlfriend, Rutva, at the start of the FL stretch in Fernandina Beach. -- Trailhead Pants
My adventure trailhead pants surely served me well on my first long-distance cycle tour, and I’m confident they will hold up on my next bike tour across the country, which I’ll be embarking on soon. If you want a pant that is made for any occasion-- from cycling, to sleeping in to wearing out in public-- this is the pant for you. Adventure on my friends!