Sizzling Strategies – Part 2: Dress for Distress

It seems like years ago that I mentioned how much I like the products from Duluth Trading Company. Wait a minute … it was years ago: Doctor’s Orders: Ride Naked!

As I said in that ancient article, Duluth makes stuff for real working people, which means they’re very familiar with clothes which will help to keep you both safe and comfortable while you’re out in the sun and the brutal heat. I still stand by the philosophy of that article, too, especially the parts concerning the advantages of loose-fitting clothing and man-made fabrics which enhance your body’s cooling system by wicking the sweat away from your skin.

The links in that old article are no longer valid, but if you go to the link for Duluth in the first sentence of this article you’ll find the same products for men and women under the “Buck Naked Performance” brand. I’ve always loved the product names at Duluth. How can you not believe their clothes will treat your body right with labels like Buck Naked Performance, Middle Management Chinos, Ballroom Jeans and Armachillo Cooling Underwear?

Buck Naked Undies (Left), Armachillo Undies (right)

That last item deserves a special mention here because I think it is a good addition to your clothing strategy of dressing for the distress of riding your bike in the heat. According to Duluth, the Armachillo products are cooler to the touch because they have “microscopic jade embedded in the fabric.” When I first read about this idea in the Duluth catalog I was skeptical, but my wife purchased a few pairs of the briefs for me for my birthday and I can say there’s some validity to their pitch. When you pull the Armachillos out of the drawer, along some other cotton and nylon mix undies, you can definitely feel that the Armachillos are cooler to the touch. Now, when you put them out in the sun for a bit (as I did when I put a pair alongside a pair of Buck Naked briefs on the hood of my car so I could take some photos) you really don’t notice any difference in temperature. Armachillos also seem to be cooler than other underwear when they start to collect some moisture from your sweat as you ride; I don’t have any experimental evidence to support this, and I have no intention of taping a thermometer to my butt cheek in order to confirm it; the evidence shall remain totally anecdotal.

Another product I want to mention trying, and subsequently using a lot, are the Buck Naked Performance Undershirts. I’ve got both the crew necks and the V-necks. They’re made out of the same material as the Buck Naked underwear. I buy them a full size larger than my “official” size, and because they tend to billow a bit as a result you wouldn’t think they would wick moisture as well as if they hugged your body. Maybe they don’t, but – as I’ve said quite often – I don’t like clothes which fit snugly as I ride. If I want to wear uncomfortable clothes, I’ll wear a necktie to work!

Buck Naked T-Shirt

Cargo shorts are my preferred cover for my Duluth undies, and Duluth does have an excellent selection of shorts in all of their materials. They are expensive, and so I continue to buy cheap cargos from a local Big Box store that are made out of a material like parachute cloth. They wear fairly well, but the Velcro on the pockets tends to peel a little bit, leaving a little space around which coins can escape. I may have to let my wife know that I’d sure like to try the expensive Duluth shorts.

In the past, I’ve usually worn just any kind of sock, from a cheap cotton crew sock sold by the same Big Box store where I get my cargos, to some People for Bikes nylon mix socks my favorite local bike shop had on sale for their 60th anniversary ($1 a pair; they were trying to clean out their back room). As I’ve “matured” (that’s a code word for “becoming a finicky old snot”), I’ve discovered there is some wisdom to the idea that man-made materials work to wick sweat from your stinky feet as well as from your stinky body, so I may dip further in my wife’s willingness to get me neat clothes and buy some Duluth 7-Year Performance No Show Socks.

Whether I’m running around at work, or using the platform side of my multi-purpose bike pedals, my only shoes are Brooks Addiction Walkers. They provide great support for my old feet. If I’m clipping into the SPD side of my pedals, I use a pair of DZR Minna cycling sneakers.


BluesCat is a senior citizen still living and working in Phoenix, Arizona. He doesn’t believe that “clothes make the man,” but he thinks they certainly can break him, and going without them can land you in jail.

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