With winter conditions settling in across the country, it’s time to highlight some go-to fall weather pieces. The first (and most anticipated) item is the knee-length version of Ibex’s El Fito tight. Since their purchase almost five years ago, the El Fito ¾s have seen hundreds- even thousands- of hours’ use in temperatures ranging from freezing to nearly 60 degrees. Hit the jump to see what makes the wool knicks one of my Fall/Winter essentials.
Built of what Ibex have termed “Bike Pointe Heavy” fabric, the El Fitos’ body is “made with New Zealand Merino wool, a small amount of nylon for extra strength, and Lycra to make a garment that fits snugly and moves with you.” Knee panels are built of Climawool Lite softshell material to provide a bit of extra stretch as well as wind protection. The 4-way stretch multi-density pad has a wool face and the whole thing is stitched together in the USA.
Without fully synthetic materials’ forgiving stretch, sizing on the El Fitos is important. Closer to American (Pearl Izumi) than Euro (Castelli) sizing, the smalls fit my 30in waist, medium/large thighs, and 6’ height reasonably well. There is a bit of looseness at the cuff (just below the knees), but not so much that it’s proved an issue. The Bike Pointe Heavy fabric doesn’t provide quite the support that Lycra or Roubaix synthetics can- but it’s made up for by its versatility.
And it’s the El Fitos’ versatility that keeps them in constant use from November through March. They’re cozy and reassuring when stepping out on cold mornings but don’t become uncomfortable as temperatures climb. In fact, it’s not until the thermometer hits about 60 that I feel compelled to pull them off.
As nice as the original pad was (it has since been updated), the Ibexes’ use went into overdrive once I decided to remove it with a seam ripper. The ability to wear the El Fito ¾s over my favorite shorts (or just whatever’s clean) mean that they are often worn multiple days per wash week. Doing so also provides a bit more support for tired legs and allows them to be stuffed into a pack if the day proves warmer than expected.
It’s rare for any one piece of cycling clothing to last for five years- let alone to remain a favorite for so long. The Ibex El Fito ¾s combination of comfort, versatility, and durability have made them an essential cool weather piece. They’ve easily justified their $130 price tag and can be recommended without reservation. With a pad or without, everyone should own a pair.