This is the second of a three-part series on my favorite women’s mountain bike apparel and accessories this season.
My five favorite mountain bike tops run the gamut of sleek no-nonsense performance, to bike lifestyle pieces loaded with specially treated fabrics that can be worn beyond the trail and into the workplace or cafe.
Giro Women’s Venture Jersey (MSRP $65) This is the tee I keep reaching for again and again. Even though it is described as a relaxed fit, its slight tailoring arguably makes it a more athletic fit.
Due to its DRI Release Moisture Management construction, the polyester merino wool blend is breathable even in the hottest of conditions. The simple chest pocket and secure zip pocket (which I LOVE!) are outlined with reflective detail. Available in three colors: Black, Blue and Red.
Patagonia Slope Runner Tank Top (MSPR $34.40) For super hot days, Patagonia’s Slope Runner Tank Top is the closest you’ll get to being nude. Constructed from recycled polyester and nylon, the fabric is treated with miDori bioSoft for added wicking and softness (it is ridiculously soft) and Polygiene permanent odor control.
Initially, I was skeptical. How can something so light (it felt like very soft tissue paper) withstand a grueling day mountain biking?. I also wondered how something that thin would retain its shape, or if it would expose every fat roll on my body as if it were more of a compression fit. After several times wearing it (a sports bra is needed underneath), it has retained its shape and softness while flattering my body. Engineered side paneling was also a plus. In addition to cycling, this top is perfect for hiking, running, cycling, and napping (verified!). Available in three colors (Black, Feather Grey, and Tasmanian Teal), Patagonia’s Slope Runner Tank Top is a staple in my active wear.
Patagonia Women’s Capilene Cool Trail Bike Henley S in feather grey (MSRP $45). Like nearly every piece in their updated mountain biking apparel line, Patagonia’s casual short sleeved henley is also a versatile favorite. Constructed from 100 percent polyester quick-dry wicking fabric, it can be worn in a variety of environments: mountain biking, bike commuting, hiking, and camping.
The “regular fit” is a wee bit more relaxed than I would like in that it draped loosely (particularly on my narrow shoulders), but I wore it on super hot days and did not get overly sweaty (thanks, Patagonia designers!), nor did I smell like a hot mess (Patagonia uses HeiQ fresh durable odor control) for post-ride visits to the closest micro brewery. I also appreciated the inclusion of a traditional longer back hem found on most cycling jerseys. Like all Patagonia products, they have been thoughtfully designed to reflect their commitment to fair labor and environmental responsibility. It is available in three colors: Peach Sherbert, Smolder Blue, and Feather Grey.
Pearl Izumi Limited Launch (MSRP $70).
More of a traditional mountain bike jersey style that I’ve used for years, Pearl Izumi’s Limited Launch jersey is pretty much what you’d expect: beautiful design and constructed with technologically innovative SELECT Transfer mesh fabric that prevents sweat soaked backs.
Despite my preference for dark colors (black, in particular) and riding at elevation, I didn’t melt under the harsh sun. Having comfortable cycling clothing in dark colors has kept me coming back to Pearl Izumi for years.
The Limited Launch jersey is available in two colors (Mountain Air and Mountain Sky) and its sleeves are designed to fit over armor. Although it is described as a relaxed fit, it looks and feels more like slim fit. I recommend ordering a size up (in my case, wearing a size M instead of size S). The addition of a back pocket for future versions would be a welcome upgrade.
Showers Pass Hi-Line Merino Short Sleeve (MSRP $89)
Appearances can be deceiving.
The Showers Pass Hi-Line Merino Short Sleeve shirt looks nice when worn and the merino wool/polyester blend fabric is so fine, I initially wondered if it was sent by mistake.
Why? Because it looked too nice.
Could it withstand a trail ride in the dog days of summer? The Hi-Line Merino Short Sleeve didn’t look like any other cycling jersey I’ve ever owned; nor did it feel like any of the merino or merino blend base layers sitting in my closet.
Super soft and stretchy, the top did not itch, bunch up, or lose shape. The tailored fit was flattering and I appreciated the slightly longer back length for coverage while on the saddle. I also liked the minimalist styling of the snap front and front pocket. When I saw how closely the shirt’s short sleeves fit to my arms, I wondered if they would restrict movement, or be too tight to accommodate a pair of sun sleeves (it wasn’t).
Other notable details on the Showers Pass Hi-Line Merino Short Sleeve: quick-drying merino wool blend fabric is loaded with features including UPF 40+ protection from harmful UV rays and antimicrobial protection from odors. I will probably buy a couple more of these to wear on my bike commute to work. Available in two colors (Dark Shadow, Hollyhock).