Accessibility Widget: On | Off

REVIEW: Specialized Trail-Series Winter Riding Gear 6

A line of mountain bike riding gear for inclement weather that is meant to be mixed and matched to handle all conditions.

REVIEW: Specialized Trail-Series Winter Riding Gear

Tackling adverse weather conditions is often the only option for getting on the trails during the winter months. If I am cold or wet, that generally means that somewhere along the line I messed up with my gear choice, and I hate that. When I'm prepared and have the right gear, riding in the cold and wet is worth the effort for off-season fun, so I set out to see if the Specialized Trail-Series jackets, jersey and gloves would keep me happy on the trail.

By Amanda Wentz

Trail-Series Gear Initial Impressions

The first thing that I noticed when checking out the Trail-Series gear is the lack of obvious branding. At first, I couldn’t find anything that showed that this was Specialized gear. It took two rides to notice the small “S” that can be found on the sleeve of the long-sleeved pieces. Aside from the Anorak, each of the jackets and the jersey could easily be worn incognito after a ride.

The Trail-Series Wind Jacket is incredibly lightweight and packable. This is a go-to piece for days when there's a chill in the air or there is a chance for light showers. One great thing about the Wind Jacket is that it folds up into its own pocket and is small enough to fit into a jersey pocket or a bike equipped with SWAT. If the jacket isn’t folded into itself, there is enough room for keys and a credit card. The venting on the back, across the shoulders will let the jacket breathe on climbs.

Photo

My first take of the Trail-Series Rain Jacket is that there was nothing particularly unique about it. It checked all the standard boxes with fully taped seams, watertight zippers on both the front and pockets, and a large hood with draw cords to fit over the helmet. This, however, is exactly what I want in a raincoat — nothing too fancy, just keep me dry.

Out of the box, the most surprising piece in the Trail-Series line was the short-sleeved Anorak jacket. I must admit that initially I was not sure when I would wear this jacket. It is built like the Trail-Series Rain Jacket with a three-layer laminated shell, fully taped seams, watertight zippers and a large hood with draw cords. Then it is paired with a short-sleeved cut. The Trail-Series Anorak does have a neat trick, that I haven’t seen in other jackets — it can fold up into a pocket and, has a built-in belt so it can be worn around the waist like a hip pack.

The Trail-Series Alpha Jacket gets its name from the Polartec® Alpha® Direct Insulation fabric used in its construction. This isn't a women-specific jacket. This inner lining fabric is super soft and looks like it could comfortably be worn with everything from a tank top to a long-sleeved jersey. The outer fabric has a nice stretch that allows for full range of motion and has a thinner fabric under the for venting. While the cuffs were snug fitting, they also have some stretch to be worn over or under the gloves.

The Polartec® Power Grid™ fabric of the Trail-Series Thermal Jersey is softer than any jersey I have previously worn. The grid detail of the fabric gave a bit of visual interest and the kangaroo pouch on the front is certainly unique among mountain bike jerseys. Inside the kangaroo pouch is a small, zippered pocket for keys and a credit card. This piece is also incredibly subtle in branding, so I can see how it could easily be worn out and about post ride.

Photo

The last piece out of the box, and arguably the most important for winter riding, were the Trail-Series Thermal Gloves. It is clear right away that these are not as bulky as some winter gloves I have tried. The three-layer soft-shell construction looks to provide warmth and wind resistance without getting in the way. I liked that the cuffs are a bit oversized so they would fit snugly and stay in place either under or over a jacket or jersey. Lastly, the Hydrophobic Ax Suede fit palm has lots of strategically placed rubber to create a tight grip on the bars.

Trail Series Wind Jacket

Photo

Technical Highlights

  • 100% Recycled Polyester Wind Shell for wind and water resistance
  • Water resistance is paired with best-in-class breathability
  • Minimal bulk for packing and collapsing into pocket, pack or bike equipped with SWAT
  • Under-helmet integrated hood with fixed elastic binding
  • Relaxed Fit Trail Jacket is loose providing room for layering underneath.
  • Fabric Content: 91% Nylon, 9% Spandex
  • Sizes: XS-XXL
  • Price: $125
Photo
Photo

While the Trail-Series Wind Jacket might not be as insulating as some of the other Trail-Series jackets, it certainly holds its own. This super lightweight and packable polyester shell is incredibly wind resistant. It folds up into its own pocket so why not throw it in a pack or jersey pocket on every ride, just in case? It has a slightly relaxed fit to throw on over a bulky jersey. Alternatively, it could also fit under another jacket to provide a bit of extra warmth. Given how wind resistant it is, I was surprised to find it is also quite breathable. There are many venting holes along the back of the shoulders, and the half zip also provides some venting. Lastly, the hood is sized to fit under the helmet so that it can be held in place even in super windy conditions, taking away the sting of a winter breeze.

Trail-Series Rain Jacket

Photo

Technical Highlights

  • 3-layer Laminated Shell is a woven fabric that's wind-resistant, waterproof, and highly breathable
  • Fully taped seams prevent water intrusion
  • Watertight YKK AquaGuard® zippers prevent unwanted water seepage.
  • An over-the-helmet hood with a rain visor and adjustable drawcord
  • Relaxed Fit is loose and comfortable, and provides plenty of room for layering underneath.
  • Fabric Content: 100% Polyester
  • Sizes: XS-XXL
  • Price: $225

Photo

The three-layer laminated shell on the Rain Jacket was pretty darn breathable, and the fabric is on the more-pliable side for a rain jacket. I was able to wear it in a few different weather conditions, to test its versatility. When wearing it on a warmer day, I was pleased to find that it doesn’t get too steamy, even when pedaling uphill. The fit is relaxed enough that I was able to layer it over the Alpha jacket on a cold and windy day. I didn’t get to test this jacekt in a full-on downpour, but based on an inspection of the large hood with draw cords, and the fully taped seams, there is no reason to think that it fall short in extra-wet conditions.

Trail-Series Short-Sleeved Anorak

Photo

Technical Highlights

  • Three-layer Laminated Shell is a woven fabric that is wind-resistant, waterproof, and highly breathable
  • Fully-taped seams
  • Watertight YKK AquaGuard® zippers
  • An over-the-helmet hood with a rain visor and adjustable drawcord
  • Half-zip front with gusset allows for venting
  • Short-Sleeve design
  • Relaxed Fit is loose and comfortable, and provides plenty of room for layering underneath.
  • Fabric Content: 100% Polyester
  • Sizes: XS-XXL (not women-specific)
  • $150
Photo
Photo

Photo

I live in Reno, Nevada, so we don’t get the warm rain storms that inspired this piece. Fortunately it's not a one-trick pony. I found myself wearing the shell on late-afternoon rides when I want a little more wind protection on that final descent. I paired it with the Thermal Jersey and found that it was breathable even on the climbs. The fact that the jacket folds into a pocket (and includes its own belt!) makes it a no-brainer to take along on any cool ride. Other features that I like are the higher neckline with the soft gusseted half zip for venting.  I appreciate the drop back tail, too. No worrying about the jacket creeping up during a pedal. Just like the Rain Jacket, The Anorak's hood is meant to fit over the helmet and has an adjustable drawcord, YKK AquaGuard zippers and fully taped seams to keep out the rain.

Alpha Jacket

Technical Highlights

  • Polartec® Alpha® Direct Insulation
  • Alpha® technology eliminates the need for a backing fabric
  • Lofted fibers for warmth, while allowing sweat and heat to expel away from body
  • Exterior shell fabric is engineered to breathe and move moisture from the insulation to the exterior
  • Relaxed Fit Trail Jacket is loose providing room for layering underneath.
  • Sizes: XS-XXL (not women-specific)
  • Price: $225

Photo

Quickly becoming one of my favorite pieces is the Trail Series Alpha jacket. The Polartec® Alpha® fabric is super soft and the stretchy exterior allows for a snug fit without feeling restrictive. Two zippered pockets on the front are roomy enough to carry essentials for going from a ride to a socially-distanced dinner with friends. I have worn the Alpha in temps ranging from 35 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit and been surprisingly comfortable. At the lower end of 35 degrees, I was wearing the Thermal Jersey and the Thermal Gloves. It took a little while to warm up, but once I did the combo was surprisingly breathable. When we started the descent I was a bit more chilly due to wind but as this is a mid layer, that isn’t unreasonable. To be completely comfortable on a colder ride, I would suggest pairing the Alpha with the Trail Series Rain Jacket to cut the wind on longer descents. I started another ride in the mid 30s but it warmed up to 50. When it was warmer, I was wearing a tank top as a base layer and was pleased to find that it wasn’t sticky against my skin. The jacket has a trim fit so choosing a size up should be considered for room with a baggy jersey or other layering.

Trail-Series Thermal Jersey

Photo

Technical Highlights

  • Polartec® Power Grid™ generates targeted touch points to manage moisture with improved breathability
  • Hydrophilic next-to-skin surface absorbs sweat and transfers it to the outside of garment
  • Outer surface engineered to disperse moisture for fast evaporation
  • Lightweight, warm without bulkiness
  • Front Kangaroo Pocket with hidden secure zipper
  • 4-way stretch construction
  • Relaxed Mountain Bike Fit is blend of generous and tailored fit
  • Fabric Content: 91% Polyester, 9% Spandex Knit.
  • Sizes: XS-XXL
  • Price: $150

The Polartec® Power Grid™ fabric of the Trail-Series Thermal feels unlike any other bike jersey I have worn. It is incredibly soft, perfectly stretchy and doesn’t look like a mountain bike jersey. I have actually worn this on a chilly day with a vest, and I wasn’t even planning to ride. Paired with both the Alpha and the Anorak, I have been comfortable and dry in a variety of conditions. With temps in the 30s on a windy and cloudy day, it was great when layered with the Alpha jacket. The amount of stretch in both fabrics made for a cozy fit, and I stayed warmer and dryer than I expected. Wearing it with the short-sleeve Anorak on an early evening lap gave me a bit more insulation against dropping temps for a final descent of the day. Standing alone, the jersey isn’t very wind resistant but the Anorak was able to give the perfect amount of protection. At $150, the Thermal Jersey does come with a higher price tag, so I appreciated the versatility offered.

Trail-Series Thermal Gloves

Photo

  • Wind-resistant three-layer softshell upper
  • Hydrophobic Ax Suede fit palm
  • Wiretap™ touchscreen-compatible
  • Velcro cuff to wear this glove under or over jacket cuff.
  • Fabric Content: 100% Polyester
  • Sizes: S-XL
  • Price: $40

Photo

I wore this glove on both mountain bike rides and motocross laps at the track. The wind resistant 3-layer softshell kept the cold out when pedaling or twisting the throttle. The slightly relaxed fit through the fingers is really nice for blood flow and kept my digits warm. The Ax Suede palm has well-placed rubber and leather patches on the thumb and first to finger for grip on both the bars and brake (or clutch) levers. The ample Velcro cuff was appreciated for glove-over-the-jacket scenarios. Unfortunately, I was unable to get the Wiretap™ feature to work reliably. When I was able to get it to work, the bulk of the gloves were not very precise. Overall, I was really happy with the way the gloves kept my hands warm with minimal bulk.

What’s the Bottom Line?

The Specialized Trail-Series has given me a peace of mind for riding in cold or windy weather since unfavorable days are all about having the right gear to stay warm, dry and happy. Pieces like the soft and insulated Alpha Jacket work great as a standalone or can be paired with the Thermal Jersey and Rain Jacket for extra wind resistance. The Wind Jacket is lightweight, easily packable and breathable to always along on a ride for a unexpected wind or cold protection. Should a storm hit, the features of the Rain Jacket will keep the water on the outside where it belongs. Even the short-sleeved Anorak shows outside-the-box versatility when it's worn over a short- or long-sleeved jersey. Throw in the Thermal Gloves to keep hands warm and dry and off-season riding just became a lot more fun.

Create New Tag
6 comments
Show More Comment(s) / Leave a Comment