Monday, December 22, 2008

The Perfect Last-second Gift

If it wasn't for my wife, I would be, as they say, late for my own funeral. If I say I'm gonna be somewhere in 10 minutes, add 20 minutes to that, and that'll be my arrival.

So with days till Christmas, I announce the wickedest holiday gift for a triathlete, the one who has everything. It's not a $12,000 carbon thing. It's not even a $200 carbon thing. It's a jacket. Not just any jacket, mind you. If that was the case, I'd be pimping my wool-lined, corduroy O'Neill jacket that wards off cold, chill and hollow-tip bullets.

No, this one, the T-Zero is better. I used this tri-specific transiton area jacket just before one of notoriously chilliest—and bone-chilling—races in North America: Escape from Alcatraz. It's put together by the guys at True Motion, and took design and feature cues from pro triathlete Jordan Rapp, a guy who is one of the most tech-saavy athletes out there. True Motion sent me one to test, and my first thought is "how do you test a jacket? It zips up, it zips down."

Well, with Rapp's involvement (as well as that of Paul Bashforth of True Motion, a guy I finally got to meet at Ironman Arizona No. 2 a few months ago when he numbered my wife before the race), it goes without saying that the thing will be tech loaded. But the biggest feature for me: two zippers. At Alcatraz—shit, at any cold-ass morning race—the one thing I look forward to least beside the line for the porta-loo is the line for body marking. Because once you make the front, you have a minute of unendurable chill as you take off your hoodie and freeze as the volunteer puts your number on your arms.

The T-Zero solves for it with a simple solution: zippers on the shoulder. No need to take off the jacket, just unzip, number, and zip up. As we waited to board the Hornblower, with the cold air coming off the bay, it was a pleasure to get to "test" this jacket.

But the thing is packed with other stuff. First, it's inside is a nice, warm, brushed twill. But the outside is a nice windblocking outer. Points there. There's a clip inside one pocket, allowing you to lock your keyring to it, so after the race you're not hunting around for your keys that fell out of your jacket.
MP3 pocket with internal cable run and external headphone port, check. Partitioned rear zip pocket, internal mesh pockets for your phone..... there's a place for everything on this one. A long tail, a high collar... there's no way cold is getting in.

It's $130. Not a bad price to pay for a jacket that will keep you focusing on just the porta-loo... and your start. And if you are looking for that last holiday gift for a loved one, just order it direct online at, drop an IOU in their stocking to let 'em know it's coming, and tell them you were late... but that it was my fault. I'll take the hit—I'm used to it.

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