FUNKIER POLAR ACTIVE THERMAL MICROFLEECE BIB TIGHTS
(with pad) 374g XL £79.99
The Funkier Polar Active Thermal Microfleece Bib Tights, with pad, offer an excellent blend of warmth and breathability, at a very appealing price-tag.
Even in milder conditions the inner climate remains temperate, and their B14 is pad better than I’ve come to expect from this price point.
Pros: warm, tactile and relatively stretchy, less bulky than traditional bib longs.
Cons: Front zipper higher cut than some.
Materials & Specification 4/5
These are a 16-panel design, 80% Polyamide, 20% Spandex microfleece fabric with double Lycra, which replaces the commonly used silicone leg gripper and is designed to stretch, offering optimal freedom of movement. The thermal microfleece lining provides warmth, while still trafficking moisture efficiently. I was particularly intrigued by this, since in all but the most bitter conditions, I tend to become overly toasty in thermal, fleece-lined models. The front and ankle zippers are self-locking.
The former is a decent length, though less convenient than some for roadside pit-stops. Stirrups can be quite divisive, preventing unwelcome gathering/ride up but can gather and spoil the snug fit of cycling shoes. These are just the right density and go unnoticed. Retro-reflective logos and ankle detailing are subtle but sensibly positioned.
The B14 is a slimline design, consisting of an anti-bacterial, moisture wicking and odour taming top layer, Funkier describes the foam padding as being high density, I’d describe it as medium. Materials are less exotic than some and contact points are very personal things. However, several thousand miles and several saddles later, it seems to offer the right amount of support, without feeling like the proverbial loaf of bread sans bike. No issues with hygiene either.
The Bib section is equally stretchy and the shoulder straps continue the comfortable, unrestrictive narrative.
I come up XL on Funkier’s sizing chart, generally medium on everyone else’s. However, that quirk aside, the XL felt a tailored fit for my 1m81, 70 kilo frame. No bagginess anywhere, yet roomy enough for a middleweight long sleeve winter base-layer, heart rate monitor chest straps etc. In short, their sizing chart is very accurate, taking the guesswork out of buying online.
Comfort has been superb. The fabric clung to my contours and is extremely compliant, meaning micro adjustments, or alternating between drops and hoods is seamless and unhindered. I’m no stranger to the pad’s ability to provide day long comfort - even on mixed terrain day rides. Odour control and moisture management are also excellent, and I’ve had no issues with chafing, or soreness, even when breaking in traditional leather saddles.
Probably the biggest surprise was just how well the tactile fibres managed moisture and kept me temperate, through an uncharacteristically mild October and November. 14 and 15 degrees weren’t uncommon as days progressed; temperatures where I’m usually moving from lightweight 3/4lengths to shorts.
However, the polar retain warmth equally well, on icy 5am starts. There’s been plenty of wet, greasy roads and moderate rain too and the middleweight fabric has done a surprisingly good job of keeping this at bay.
Unlike their Aqua Gents Pro Water Repellent counterparts, there’s no water-repellent coating, so given long enough, things will eventually get wet. 2-3 hours in moderate rain, they never exceeded the damp phase, remaining warm. Given another hour or so, with a break in the cloud and a moderate breeze, and quick cadence they had more or less wicked dry. Stirrups are a little old school but these sit flat and have only been noticed in the most positive sense-not that ride-up has been an issue.
Their Aqua stablemates have an advantage in this respect and would be my first choice in bitterly cold/snowy/slushy conditions. Last point on the comfort front, the front dipper.
Now, it’s never given cause for concern. However, it is cut higher than some, resulting in a few awkward moments when my bladder was at defcon1. Never left red-faced mind, so a minor mark down, not a deal-breaker.
I’ve tossed ours in the wash (regularly) at 30-40degrees with no ill-effect and subjected to regular rides on the wilder side, snagged by bramble and similarly aggressive foliage hasn’t induced bobbling, or other signs of premature aging three months down the line.
Given the performance and specification, £79.99 represents solid value for money. In some respects, their Aqua siblings pip them in the bang-for buck stakes, courtesy of the water repellent coating. Particularly if you are someone more susceptible to/have an underlying condition agitated by wet and cold. Steve liked the Stolen Goat Deep Winter Bib Tights - another excellent choice but a fair bit steeper at £125. There are cheaper store branded models (£64.99) that might give the Funkier a run for your hard-earned but there’s no doubt in my mind (and indeed, wardrobe) that the Polar are a great benchmark winter tight.
Being picky, a lower cut zipper would be welcomed but otherwise. I’ve been impressed by how well the Funkier Polar have performed in varying, changeable conditions.