CASCADA ALL ROAD APPAREL REVIEW
Review by Robert Johnston
Photos by Adam Lievesley
While it may almost feel like a requirement to sport the latest and greatest logo on your chest when you take your mountain bike out for a ride, there are alternative approaches to your apparel that can share the dual purpose of riding and regular “living” clothing. Cascada is an Italian company who believes strongly in this multi-purpose ethos, with a small range of products that are designed to perform well no matter the activity, supporting your adventure regardless of what it may entail. With their products being designed and tested in the demanding Alps that surround their Trentino headquarters, I was optimistic about their performance and excited to put them to the test.
Cascada kindly supplied us with their Winter collection items, which are designed to offer comfort and performance in the lower temperatures – the Land Wool shirt; Merino long sleeve base layer; and Merino cross socks. These are not overly warm items with high levels of insulation, and so will serve as useful items in the wardrobe from Autumn (Fall) through to Spring for many riders across the World, especially in my UK testing ground.
MERINO CROSS SOCKS
The Cascada Merino Cross socks are made from Merino wool as you may have guessed, and are a cross-activity sock designed to offer a little warmth for the colder times. They do this whilst retaining their breathable and sweat absorbing nature, with the Merino wool’s natural antibacterial properties keeping them odour-free across a multi-day adventure. Cascada supplied us with the “regular” crew-length sock, but also offers a longer option for those looking for full leg coverage. The socks feature a left and right specific cut to offer the best comfort possible; are offered in 4 sizes to suit EU 35-50 (US 3.5-15.5); and have reinforced patches in the high-wear areas to both protect the sock and your feet from damage in the long run. At €25 (roughly $30), the Merino Cross socks are not cheap, but their multi-day use potential should help to justify this price.
MERINO BASE LAYER LONG SLEEVE
The Cascada Merino base layer long sleeve is a unisex base layer made from a Merino wool and Polyester blend, designed to keep your body temperature in the sweet spot on a cold-day adventure. Merino wool is again called upon to provide the insulation; moisture wicking and smell prevention, supporting multi-day adventures without fear of bacteria buildup leading to unpleasant odors. Merino wool is promised to offer heat retention even when wet, allowing for sweaty efforts to be performed without fear of freezing when things cool down. The unisex cut is designed to fit like a second skin, with the elasticity in the fabric allowing it to follow every contour on the body and wick sweat away effectively. The body is extra long, to allow the base layer to be tucked into your waistline and prevent heat from escaping or mud entering. The Merino base layer long sleeve is available in sizes XS, S-M and L-XL to fit most body sizes, with a pricetag of €85 ($100).
LAND WOOL SHIRT
The Cascada Land Wool shirt is designed to offer comfortable year-round performance for any adventure, from a pedal epic to a post-run beer. Constructed from a wool and Polyester blend with a good amount of stretch, with a brushed finish on the inside to be extra comfortable on the skin, the Land Wool shirt effectively blends casualwear with hidden performance. The fabric mix should offer the beneficial properties of the wool and polyester, with effective thermoregulation; odor control and insulation from the wool pairing with the quick drying nature of the polyester. The fit is quite regular, apart from a slightly extended and rounded tail, and lengthened sleeves to prevent ride-up when on the bike. There are two buttoned chest pockets to carry the essentials, with the left pocket featuring a hidden slot to allow safe glasses transportation; and the front closes with press-studs to make opening and closing the shirt easy and quick even when gloved. There are 3 colourways on offer in the €110 ($130) Land Wool shirt, from the bold Earth Tone tested through to a more subdued Duck Blue; and they are available in sizes XS-XL to fit most bodies.
When the Cascada package arrived at my door, I was extremely excited to see how it all looked in the flesh. Across multiple platforms, my adverts had been inundated by the Earth Tone Land Wool shirt since my initial communications with the brand, and I was very intrigued to see how both the look and the performance would match up with my expectations.
From the get-go, it was clear that the Cascada kit is all of a high quality; with soft-touch, thick materials; and neat stitching throughout. The colours of the Earth Tone aren’t too in-your-face, helping to maintain a classy aire to the crazy Aztec-style pattern. Both the socks and baselayer have a tight fit for their size without being in any way restrictive thanks to their inbuilt stretch, which keeps them firmly in place to do their job out on the trail. I was thankful for the true-to-size fit of the Land Wool shirt, allowing for a thin layer or two to be worn beneath to boost the cold-weather capabilities. I’ve got very long arms, so it was a surprise for the shirt to sit in a comfortable position without the dreaded gap above my gloves. In a seated position on the mountain bike, the subtly dropped tail sits nicely, however a more aggressively stretched seated position such as a gravel or road bike may lead to a bit of lifting – a good compromise for us mountain bikers looking for a casual aura to our attire when away from the bike. I’d very happily wear the shirt when going for a drink or two in a pub, or doing the weekly groceries, and it even went down well with my colleagues in the office.
Pushing the Cascada apparel to the limits in the UK winter, it’s clear that they should not be relied upon for the sole source of insulation on the colder days, however for their low bulk they do offer a good amount of warmth without feeling in any way restrictive. A windproof shell over the base layer and shirt combination was suitable down to around 5 degrees celsius (40F), with the pairing alone being better suited to the 8-13 degree range (45-55F). In these conditions, the standout feature was comfort – they blended into the background, allowing for unrestricted movement and good sweat management to let you focus on the adventure. I put the Merino wool to the ultimate test of multiple rides without a wash and was pleasantly surprised to find the lack of sweat smell. There was however a subtle “sheepy” smell when the wool got hot, even after a few washes, but it wasn’t strong enough to be a problem. The Merino Cross socks follow suit with the under-the-radar performance with stellar comfort, sweat management; and suitable warmth down to 5 degrees. After numerous muddy rides and a few times through the washing machine, the Cascada apparel all still looks as new, with a durable enough finish that should stand the test of time. I’d deliberately kept the shirt away from the most punishing brambles or grittiest mud since it’s an item I’d like to keep for as long as possible – it looks that good in the flesh – however it did shrug off the occasional encounter with a bush or branch.
The Wolf’s Last Word
There’s no getting away from that relatively high price-tag, with alternatives available for less money, but the quality and longevity of the Cascada apparel range thankfully delivers in equally high amounts. Giving fashion-conscious riders oodles of comfort and great sweat control for ride after ride, with adequate warmth down to the low 40’s, Cascada’s clothing is a great offering for those with pockets deep enough.
Merino Cross Socks – €25/$30
Merino Baselayer Long Sleeve – €85/$100
Land Wool Shirt – €110/$130
High Quality finish
Not suitable for the depths of a UK winter
Quality materials come at a price
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