Product Review: Garments from the Nau Spring Line
Thanks to the mild climate of Sydney I luckily spend three quarters of the year wearing shorts. And I try to cycle commute. This results in embarrassing wear points developing where buttocks meet bike seat. I patch my shorts for as long as is feasible (see pic after fold), but sooner or later new shorts are required. So when Nau launched their spring line, including the Confidant Shorts with a reinforced seat the shout went up. Hallelujah! Clothing for the real world. A review of these and other Spring garments after the fold.Confidant Shorts are made from a unusual merino wool fabric. Merino has blitzed the outdoor market in recent years with its ability to feel comfortable over a wide range of conditions. But mostly its been in knitwear (Icebreaker, Ibex, Patagonia, Smartwool, etc). Here Nau challenge that expectation and have also crafted it into a high grade, woven cloth. It's soft, non-scratchy and airy enough of a fabric to have even been used for shirting. But with the appropriate reinforcing in the seat, we trust it will be more than up to the task of bike commuting.
I should point out that the reinforcing is not the thick chamois-style pad common in full-on cycle knicks, but is a second layer of cloth on the inside of the shorts. So you can walk around normally, without feeling like there is a thick sock stuffed down your shorts. As usual the Nau detailing and finish is excellent, though I wonder if a zip fly wouldn't be more practical, in this light fabric, than the stud closures.
After squeezing into the tent after a two hour walk in drenching rain and stripping off my overpants, my partner said 'What's that smell?' We narrowed it down to my shorts. They smelt like a wet sheep. Wool actually creates a chemical reaction when it gets moist, which has the unique property of keeping its wearer warm even when wet. Luckily my merino shorts dried with surprising swiftness, and the aroma dissipated.
One of my patched up shorts that, alas, didn't have a reinforced seat.
And, as I'd never replaced the Gore-Tex Paclite jacket I'd had stolen whilst working on a land conservation project, I also lashed out on a Nau Succinctshell. This lightweight rainshell is another first. Its 100% recycled polyester ripstop fabric is bonded to a recyclable polyester waterproof/breathable film, which is turn is printed internally with a slightly raised pattern. This is known in the industry as a 2.5 layer fabric. It improves breathability, while protecting the inner film from abrasion, without resorting to the stiffer full three layer construction. [With 2.5's you also gain lighter weight and compactness, but trade some durability.]
The Succinctshell packs down into a tiny bundle and weighs but 355g, so you never need be without eco-benign weather protection. The hood, whilst battened down for storms, still readily moves when you turn your head side to side, never obscuring your vision. A feature I always look for in rainwear. Though I wish the hood's front seam, where the visor is, was seam taped like the rest of the jacket. The front zip and the underarm vent zips are coated water-resistant zips. An amazingly detailed rear pleat provides extra arm mobility. The spacious, zippered, hand pockets are lined in mesh, whereas my personal preference would been for the waterproof fabric used on the exterior.
My last purchase of a polo shirt was about a decade ago (when Patagonia went to organic cotton), so figured I could afford to buy one of those too. The Nau Two Faced Polo thinks outside the square.
On the exterior is a luxuriously soft organic cotton, yet on the inside is an eyelet mesh version their corn-based PLA fabric.* The two are combined in a bi-component knit, with the PLA pulling moisture off your skin and passing it, via a capillary structure, to the absorbent cotton waiting on the outside of the shirt. This means your skin feels dry and comfortable, even when exercising. I like collared shirts because they help protect the neck from sunburn and this collar has just enough body to stand up for that role. Seams are positioned away from pack hipbelts and shoulder straps, though I'm in two minds about the look of the exposed raw edge seams. Very comfy to wear.
* [Yes, their PLA is Ingeo, which might come from genetically modified corn. Because America's corn crop is so contaminated by GMOs there is no real way of knowing. So Nau also fund a conventional corn crop, equivalent to the quantity needed to make their garments.]
I'm not in need of any jeans, with my patched-up Levis still providing service after 24 years! (pic here), so, unfortunately, I had no justifiable excuse to investigate the new denim that Nau just released this spring. Available for both guys and gals their denim is, of course, from ring-spun, 100% certified, organic cotton. But whilst you get the usual Nau attention to detail, like angled belt loops and softer inner waistbands, it's just as intriguing what you don't get. "No distressing. No whiskering. No chemical sprays. No resins. No sanding or abrasion. No embellishments. No bleach. No stone washing. No silicone softeners," is how the company put it. Their denim legwear also gets some unconventional nomenclature, with styles known as the 'Lean Jean', and 'Loose but not slutty'! Women get a denim skirt too. How did they neglect to include a denim kilt for the male of the species?
And just as the aforementioned shorts save me the hassle of reinforcing the seat, Nau also make it easy for you to contribute to worthy non-profit organisations, with 5% of every sale going to the org you select.
All up I very pleased with my spring purchases. They're very functional, as well as snappy looking. Sewn from quality recycled or renewable materials. That's not to say the garments are perfect. They have their foibles, (don't we all?) but they are exceedingly well made, so if they can give me the longevity I've come to expect from quality outdoor gear*, I'll be more than happy. ::Nau
* [Aside from some campfire spark burn holes my first fleece jacket looks as almost good as the day I bought it — 27 years ago!]