It’s spring time. The trails are rapidly drying and the stoke for mountain bike season is building quickly. It’s time to release some built-up winter pressure with a road trip and get the cobwebs knocked off those legs. Before you pack though, we have a few suggestions for bike apparel. Here’s what we’ve been wearing the past few weeks—and packing on road trips— as we’ve been getting our legs under us for the season.
Spring Riding Essentials
Packable rain jacket: Flylow Davis
Flylow’s Davis jacket might be the best spring jacket out there. The Davis is made from a Stash ‘n Go Lite proprietary material which provides light protection against the elements while also being really lightweight and packable. The jacket is treated with a PFC-free DWR coating and has a hood, elastic cuffs, a drop tail, and a chest pocket.
I’ve found the Davis is perfect for cool starts in the morning when you only need a light layer on top of a jersey. The jacket breathes well and is the perfect layer for when you wish it was just 5° warmer. The men’s size medium fit great for me. Flylow advises women to size down for the jacket as it’s unisex, but unfortunately our female tester didn’t have luck with the straight-cut fit. The Davis comes in four colors and six sizes.
- MSRP: $140
- Buy from Flylow or evo (past season colors on sale)
MTB Pants: Rapha x Brain Dead Trail pants
Rapha’s collaboration with the hype-y Braindead brand was…different. To be honest, there wasn’t much in the collection I was interested in, except for these pants. I’m very much a modest, under-the-radar kinda guy and the collection is not that.
But something about the pants stuck out. Maybe it was the purple color accented with the gold lettering, or the fact that they are just different than all the other blend-in, earth tone, don’t-make-too-much-noise apparel that happens to be out there. The pants have a distinctly Rapha feel, in that they fit and feel great and will last some time. But it’s also nice that the brand did something different, and even if not everyone likes it, you’ll stand out on the trail and sometimes that counts for something.
- MSRP: $195
- Buy from Rapha
Jersey day one: Pearl Izumi Canyon long sleeve jersey
Pearl Izumi’s new Canyon jersey is about as good as a spring time jersey can get. The jersey is made from mostly recycled polyester and has a soft and light feel. If you want something light and breathable, but something that will still give you a few degrees of added warmth for a cooler day, or good protection from the sun without baking, then the Canyon is perfect.
Jersey Day two: 7mesh Women’s Desperado 3/4 Merino Shirt
The 7Mesh Desperado 3/4 Merino shirt is a combination of recycled and new polyester with Merino wool that’s articulated for a solid fit. The jersey feels light and breathes like it too. 7Mesh offers a wide variety of sizing on this one, from XS to XL. It’s not the cheapest jersey out there, but for the quality, it’s not bad either.
- MSRP: $70
- Buy from Jenson USA
MTB Shorts: Flylow Laser short
Flylow’s Laser short are a lightweight trail-riding short available in two lengths: 10″ and 13″. We tried the 10″ length and they are a great option for anyone who doesn’t want a bunchy, baggy short. The Lasers have an airy nylon/spandex fabric with a DWR coating and an adjustable waistband.
Note that these really are a lighter trail riding short, underlined by only having one thigh pocket, laser-cut perforation on the inside of the thighs, and a higher rise than other MTB shorts. These land just above the knee, so if you’d like more coverage, make sure to grab the 13″ length shorts.
- MSRP: $120
- Buy from evo (past season colors on sale)
Gloves: Giro Gnar
The Giro Gnar gloves are designed with maximum protection in mind so you can shred hard all weekend with reckless abandon. The knuckles and topside of the fingers are armored with D3O® Impact Additive material that’s both flexible and tough. (Pro tip: be sure to break these in before your trip!) The three-season Gnars also have padding sewn into the outside edges and a thick suede palm for protection where you need it.
A warm layer: Specialized Trail Alpha jacket
We haven’t been able to take this jacket off since it arrived. The Trail Alpha jacket is a lightweight and packable layer with a wind resistant outer layer, and it’s lined with PolarTec’s Alpha material, a light insulating layer that gives decent warmth on a cold ride, or after the ride on a cool spring day. The Specialized Trail Alpha is a ridiculously comfortable, light jacket with a solid fit.
- MSRP: $225 (all colors on sale from $112.45 – $179.99)
- Buy from Specialized
A grown-up shirt: Flylow Wild Child shirt
The Flylow Wild Child shirt is a short-sleeve, button-up with a fun pattern and you know it’s for apres because there are little burritos, pizzas, and bike water bottle prints all over the shirt. It’s light and stretchy and the worn-black color will fool anyone who thinks you bought a new shirt just for the after party.
- MSRP: $75
- Buy at Backcountry
Multi-use tank: Minus33 Woolverino Racerback tank top
Springtime usually means making some attempt to even out those tan lines. For those who don’t know Minus33, the brand specializes in wool products, especially for the athletic type. The Woolverino Wool Racerback tank top is a micro weight tank made from over 80% merino wool. If you’re worried about wearing the tank top to a break spot after the ride—don’t. The Racerback keeps it pleasant smell and feel after hours, or more, in the saddle.
Classy shades: KOO California sunglasses
No one wants to keep those Robocop glasses on after the ride. KOO’s California sunglasses are a good pair to show everyone in the group that you’ve finally chilled out after the ride. The California’s have a polycarbonate frame with Zeiss lenses and a square wayfarer style. Slotted lenses allow a bit of air in and the temples curve inward for a snug fit. The only thing I’d like to see is some rubber on the inside of the nose, because these can slip downward with a little bit of sweat.
- Price: $139 – $180
- Buy from Amazon
Pieces of flair: Roka Lola 2.0 Sunglasses
Many of the Roka sunglasses fit smaller faces well and the Lola 2.0 sunglasses in the new crystal frame collection have just enough color and flair for a fresh and fun look. The frames are incredibly lightweight and like all Roka sunglasses, have the no-slip grippers at the nose and temple tips to help keep the cat-eye frames on your face. The polarized lenses are crystal clear, giving leaves and rocks nice definition. Custom combos are also available with a half dozen lens types.
- Price: $220
- Buy from Roka
Pack it all in a bag: Backcountry All Around 40L duffel bag
We like the Backcountry All Around 40L duffel for weekend trips on the road, plus it easily works as an airline carry-on. There’s a handy dry bag at one end for shoes or stinky gear. The material is tough, not fabric-y like a typical gym bag, so it should last years.
- Price: $119
- Buy from Backcountry