Review: Specialized Trail-Series mountain bike kit weathers out winter (mostly)

Tips & Reviews

We got the Specialized Trail-Series mountain bike kit sent over in the hopes of surviving another Scottish winter. The collection is based around a layering system, with several pieces designed to work together to cover everything from cool autumn days, to sopping wet winter rides. Unfortunately, we’ve experienced far more of the latter but the sun did shine for at least one glorious day of shooting…

Review: Specialized Trail Series MTB Kit

PROS

  • Understated branding
  • Well thought-through layering options
  • Loose (but not baggy) fit
  • Good waterproofing (top half)
testing specialized trail series winter mountain biking kit review
Photo by David Cheskin

CONS:

  • Zippers are clunky
  • Some items lack breathability
  • Gender disparity with some pieces
  • Women’s Trail-Series Shorts too short

Women’s Trail-Series Rain Jacket

specialized trail series winter waterproof mtb jacket review
Photo by David Cheskin

Let’s kick things off with the Specialized Trail-Series Rain Jacket. This is available in men’s and women’s versions, and the two aren’t created equal. The men’s retails at an eye-watering $375, while the women’s (tested here) retails at $225.

While the men’s gets an upgraded woven Polartec Neoshell fabric for super breathable waterproofing, the women’s does not. Instead, it is a 3-layer laminated shell that certainly is waterproof. It beads tremendously well and has kept me dry during some serious downpours. However, the lack of breathability is painfully obvious. With fully taped seams it kept the rain out superbly. However, it was also very good at keeping sweat in, making for some very cold descents after big efforts on the climbs.

specialized trail series rain jacket review
The Specialized Trail Series Rain Jacket has two large zippered pockets on the front

The hood is voluminous, leaving plenty of room to fit over a mountain bike helmet, with adjustable draw-cords to cinch it down into place. The YKK Aqua Guard zippers also help keep the rain out though they are a little clunky, not offering a smooth zipper action throughout the whole zip.

Trail-Series Wind Jacket

specialized trail series womens wind jacket blue
Photo by David Cheskin

I love this little piece of kit from Specialized. It is a fine example of a quality windproof. It is a pullover design so there’s no full length zipper for me to accidentally break when i’m in a hurry. Instead, the zipper starts at solar plexus height allowing you to close it up when the wind is a cold one, and pull it down when you’re working hard.

specialized trail-series wind jacket review women's blue
Photo by David Cheskin

It is so lightweight you will forget you are even wearing it. When you get warm, take it off and scrunch it up into the tiniest of balls and stuff it in a pocket. No fuss. It features a small zippered pocket that fits my iPhone 7 nicely. I like it so much I gave it my Editor’s Choice Award for 2020. Pick this up for $125.

Trail-Series Alpha Jacket

specialized trail series alpha jacket winter mountain biking kit mid-layer
Photo by David Cheskin

This is another piece of the Specialized Trail Series collection that I really liked. This is a good mid-layer option for cold days on the hill. Its Polartec Alpha Direct insulation, originally invented for U.S. Special Forces, offers decent warmth for its low weight.

For me, it still isn’t really warm enough for casual, social rides in the middle of a Scottish winter. I definitely need another layer when i’m not working so hard. That’s likely where the Trail-Series Thermal Jersey comes in, but the one Specialized sent me to test was far too big.

specialized trail series alpha jacket review womens mountain biking clothing winter
Photo by David Cheskin

Stretch panels under the arms make it very easy to move around in. The material on the front has begun to bobble ever so slightly, but only because I’ve gotten about a year’s worth of wear out of it in less than 3 months. Pick this one up for $225.

Trail-Series Short Sleeve Rain Anorak

ftesting specialized trail series short sleeve anorak mtb kit winter womens clothing review
Photo by David Cheskin.

This is a pretty unique offering from Specialized. The Trail-Series Anorak is a pull-over style jacket with sleeves that come down to elbow length. It is both windproof and waterproof with fully taped seams and YKK AquaGuard zippers. Its over-sized fit gives it good breathability.

specialized trail series anorak mtb jacket waterproof unisex wear waist strap

If you need a lightweight waterproof jacket that doesn’t give you that “boiling in the bag” feeling, the Trail-Series Anorak is a good option. The cool thing about the Anorak is that it stows away inside itself with a zipper, while an elasticated strap with a buckle secures it around your waist so you can wear it like a tiny hip-pack. Another great piece of kit for those who loathe carrying backpacks! I like wearing it for running, as well as riding.

Trail-Series 3X Dry Short

specialized trail series 3x dry shorts mtb clothing review
Photo by David Cheskin

While I liked many items in the Specialized MTB clothing collection, I was less impressed with the Trail-Series 3X Dry Shorts. My main issue was that the shorts were too… well, short. Pedaling along, they rise up my leg leaving an unsightly skin gap between the end of the shorts and the beginning of my knee pads. Perhaps i’m being fussy, but I get the feeling most mountain bikers aren’t fans of that particular look.

specialized trail series 3x dry shorts revuew womens mtb winter clothing
Photo by David Cheskin

The Schoeller 3XDRY fabric is water repellent, as advertised. You will get a soggy bum when you smash through large puddles. The material has sufficient stretch to allow for unhindered movement and the wide adjustable waist band is comfortable in the seated pedaling position. Storage options are ample; two deep hand pockets and a small zippered one down the left leg.

Trail-Series Thermal Gloves

specialized trail series thermal gloves review
The Specialized Trail Series Thermal Gloves retail at $40.

I liked the fit of the Thermal Gloves. The velcro cuff is neat and the thin suede palm offers a good feel for the bars. However, I failed to experience their “thermal” properties. My hands either felt like they were inside a sauna (when riding hard up the climbs), or at the opposite end of the spectrum, very cold (on the descents). Both issues can be accounted for by the lack of breathability.

Specialized.com

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