If I had to whittle down the Overland range to one product, this would be it. One product that can improve any item of clothing it's paired with. One product that encapsulates the versatility, performance and functionality of the entire Overland range. One product that I always reach for no matter what type of riding I'll be doing. Commuting, mountain biking, gravel riding, bikepacking, road cycling. Everything. Which product can cover all these bases I hear you call? The Dual, my friends, the Dual.
The Dual was actually conceived back in 2016 as a mountain bike product, part of the Morvélo Covert range that used pocketed baselayer, bib shorts and gilet as a means of riding without a pack. Before we began The Overland, Morvélo was the brand we founded in 2008 which taught us much about small batch production and technical apparel.
The baselayer had great reviews and won over many in the mountain bike industry, picking up awards such as Wide Open Magazine's 'Can't ride without it.' with such comments as "In fact – I’m going to stick my neck out and say that the Covert Baselayer is easily one of the most useful, practical and can’t-ride-without it products that we’ve tested this year."
As a small brand with limited budgets however, Morvélo found it hard to make an impact against the mountain bike monopoly that exists and sales were slow. Fast forward to 2018 and the planning of The Overland.
We (Morvélo) decided to drop the Covert range and instead bring over the baselayer and shorts into this new gravel and bikepacking collection, making some slight alterations to make it lighter weight and more packable. Essentially ditching the zip, sizing it up so it fits a little looser and modifying the front pockets so they used flaps and carefully positioned stitching to create the secure front pockets rather than velcro. Small details but ones that made a big difference.
Whether it was the changes we made or the rise in popularity of gravel riding, sales of the Dual took off and it quickly became our best selling Overland product. By why call it the Dual? This came about due to riders in warmer climates using the Morvélo Covert baselayer as a lightweight, highly breathable summer jersey. So we thought, why not? If that's how people are using them, who are we to argue? This is Gys Malan over in South Africa who was one of the first to use the Covert, not only as a jersey, but also out on a road bike rather than MTB.
We altered the Covert to make this a more viable option: lengthening the sleeves and the body and relaxing the fit so it was more akin to a close-fitting t-shirt. We didn't relax the fit too much as we found the pockets started to hang and swing around when fully loaded if everything was too baggy, so we settled on a sweet spot where it had a more relaxed appearance yet kept all your luggage nice and securely in place.
So what do I think is the key to the success of the Dual and why not the Covert? The Covert was aimed too narrowly at the mountain bike crowd. A tough sell anyway as they are often beholden to the long-established brands that dominate the market. Gravel and bikepacking had yet to hit the mainstream and road cycling remained lycra focused with a continued emphasis on sport. The last few years have marked a sizeable shift in the type of cycling people do and a mindset that is more focused on using the bicycle as a tool for outdoors exploration. The road cycling boom has faded but gravel is more than taking up the slack, both from road riders who are tired of battling cars and also from mountain bike riders who either are re-living the early days of MTBs (like me) or are finding that the gravel bike is an untapped ying to the modern trail bike's yang. What is considered boring on a current mountain bike is an absolute hoot on a gravel bike. I've rediscovered trails that I've not been on for over 15 years because I deemed them too bland on a mountain bike but now have welcomed back like a long lost friend. The gravel bike also makes a decent commuter, more comfortable than a road bike but quicker than a mountain bike.
This shift is what and why people are riding is behind why the Dual has found a new legion of fans and is the reason I cast it as our most versatile product. Here are three reasons why.
You can pack all you need for a day's ride in it's five elasticated pockets. I'm from a mountain bike background and always, always rode with a pack. I then spent many years racing and riding road bikes and just putting stuff in the pockets of the jersey. When I came back to mountain biking I couldn't stand having something attached to my back; it felt too constrictive. So the Covert, and now the Dual, were our take on how you can ride without a pack but still have the option to carry everything. Sure the wonderful array of bike bags can carry of a lot too, but if you're looking for something that can add storage potential to any outfit, the Dual is for you.
Both the Short Sleeve and Long Sleeve Dual have been designed to be packed up so they can be stuffed in pockets and bags, to be used when you need them and hidden away easily when not.
Using two mesh fabrics for breathability and light weight, the short sleeve Dual packs up small and only weighs 127g, which is lighter than the iPhone 6.
The Long Sleeve Dual is more like a t-shirt but can be used as a cool weather baselayer too. It comes in at under 200g it is about the same size and weight as this pack of peanuts.
Are you a gravel rider? Do you ride mountain bikes? How about cycling to work or around town? Go on bikepacking trips? Good, then the Dual is for all of you.
The gravel rider is someone who loves to explore the outdoors. It could be a quick spin from your front door on bridleways or a long all-day ride over forest roads. Either way, the Dual will carry your food, tools and maps (if you're going old skool!) and if the weather suddenly gets warmer, can be worn on its own and you can stuff the t-shirt into the back pockets until the weather changes once more.
Well, as the previous version, the Covert, was designed for you it makes sense that the Dual is too. You'll more than likely need to carry less than an all-day gravel rider or bikepacker and will be spending more time with the wheels off the ground. This is where the front pockets come in. Even though the thought of carrying a phone and keys in the front pockets is dismissed by those that haven't tried it, it is proven that this is actually the safest place for them - based on my own extensive crashing experience! The front pockets stop them rattling around and this area of your body is the least likely to receive any harm as the result of a crash. By ditching the backpack, it'll open up your riding to be more free-flowing and liberating too, without anything constricting your waist, chest or having something bashing into the back of your helmet.
Linked to gravel riding certainly and increasingly to mountain biking, bikepackers just love to not be near anyone else, or if they are it's just a small group and quite often miles from anywhere. This is where the versatility of the Dual comes in. It can be packed away in a bike bag, used under a t-shirt, jersey or jacket to carry food and tools that are easy to grab on the fly and the quick-drying nature of the Dual means it'll not only keep you motoring by wicking away sweat but also can be washed in streams and hung out to dry when camping out.
The Commuter and Urban Rider
All of us at The Overland ride to work (or used to if you are reading this during the COVID-19 lockdown) so over the last two years it's seen plenty of action of the streets. I've been using them daily to carry my lunches in, plus still some room for a Barricade Rain Jacket or the ultra-packable Overland Coach Jacket. Quite often I start off with a jacket on and then when I've warmed up it gets shoved in the rear pockets. As it can be worn under a tee or hoody, it's a sneaky way of adding the performance of a cycle-sport baselayer to a casual everyday outfit too.
Yes, you too can benefit from the Dual. The base fabrics are based on the highly praised Morvélo baselayers, so are designed to dry quickly, wick sweat away and for you to say nice and comfy under your jersey. In all fairness, you may not use the pockets so much but good to know they are there for extra storage potential. In the meantime, you can continue to use them as a regular baselayer. However most road riders we know also ride other bikes and commute by bike. In which case you can use the Dual for all the other reasons listed above!