Specialized Women’s Trail Series REVIEW
TRAIL ALPHA JACKET | TRAIL WIND JACKET
TRAIL 3XDRY SHORT | TRAIL THERMAL GLOVES
Words by Marissa Krawczak
Photos by Caleb Ely
While some are lucky enough to be fair weather riders, others live in areas, or better yet, thrive on the foggy, wet days in the woods. Specialized has a robust line of soft-goods from bibs to jackets, shoes and helmets. Many of those items are very good and regularly get worn by many of our test team. I received the Specialized Women’s Trail Series to review and have anxiously loaded up the bike when the skies turned grey this Spring. The Specialized Trail Series is designed for dedicated off road riders who are committed to playing in the dirt, no matter what. Fortunately for me, I love riding in terrible weather, so here is what I thought of the Trail Series after testing it out in the cold winter days and fluctuating weather of early Spring here in Oregon.
The Specialized Women’s Trail Alpha Jacket is a “semi” form fitted jacket featuring a dual-way full zip and two-zippered hand pockets. It is lined with PolarTec Alpha material that is a fine poly-grid fleece. This high venting fabric lines a poly-spandex shell that is stretchy and breathable. It has a simple short collar and comes in two solid color options, black or crimson.
The Women’s Trail Wind Jacket is a super-light relaxed fitting pullover shell with a ½-length zipper and hood. It is designed to pack down into its own zipped pocket for maximum space saving in your already snack-filled pack. It is constructed from one fabric made of recycled polyester and spandex making it wind proof and lightly water resistant. It features small vents in the upper back portion and a bottom waist elastic synch. The wind jacket comes in two solid colors, black or dusty turquoise. Where the Specialized Alpha jacket is designed to keep you warm in colder temps, whereas the Trail Wind mountain bike jacket is a thinner, packable layer that will protect from cool breezes. If you’re looking to start a ride in the early morning, or want a windshell for the final descent at sunset, this is a great option.
The Women’s Trail 3XDRY Short is made from a poly elastane woven material that is finished with 3XDRY by Schoeller Textiles. This integration allows the outside of the fabric to repel water while the inside absorbs and redistributes water to the surface. The closure of the short is a snap and buckle attached to an elastic waist band that can be adjusted, as necessary. The shorts feature two deep hand pockets and one left side zippered pocket. The simply-designed shorts come in the most versatile color, black, and have an accented bottom hem, with the front being slightly longer than the back to help offer more coverage and slide over knee pads better.
One of our crew’s new favorites, and mine too, the Specialized Trail Thermal Gloves are a three-layer soft shell with a hydrophobic soft-suede palm. They feature a faux leather ‘Wire-tap’ material on the pointer fingers and thumbs that allows the use of touchscreens on your phone or at the gas station payment pin pad. The cuffs are elastic with a stout Velcro closure and are tailored at an angle, accenting the graphic screen print on the back of the hand and the hexagonal screen print on the palm.
Wearing the Specialized Women’s Trail Alpha Jacket is a weightless, comfortable feeling and I loved having this insulated layer. Its stretchy fabric allows it to fit perfectly over a merino wool base layer or long sleeve jersey for those cold riding days and it’s still slim enough that an even heavier jacket could easily fit over it. The soft fabric of the PolarTec Alpha is comfortable against the skin without feeling like heavy fleece of other performance mid layers. I typically wear a size women’s large, and this jacket was particularly fitted, with the length sitting just at the waist. If you are larger busted or like baggier clothing, the fit may end up being a bit tight. One thing I would like to see on this jacket is a higher quality cuff. The simple elastic bands on the wrist cuffs seemed a bit less tailored in quality than the rest of the jacket but were totally functional and comfortable. I wore this jacket during a late fall adventure bike race and was impressed with its warmth for being such a lightweight layer. It held up well when I was hike-a-biking out in the cold desert air in mud and sagebrush. The style of this jacket is sleek, with a short collar and very minimal logos so it is versatile and can be worn with anything. I also really liked this jacket for commuting because it was fitted enough to be appropriate for ripping the gravel bike around the winter bike lanes and wearing under a shell on a stormy day.
The Women’s Trail Wind Jacket is the ultimate ‘just-in-case’ shell to have on hand. It is extremely lightweight and packs down incredibly small, making it the perfect addition to any sized pack or pocket. The relaxed fit of the wind jacket is roomy enough to go over any base layer or jersey, including the Trail Alpha jacket. It is tailored nicely and is not too baggy looking with a similar length to the Alpha jacket, just at the waist. If you like longer length jackets this one will be on the shorter side. The hood did not fit over my bike helmet as well as other hooded wind breakers, but per Specialized, the hood is meant to be worn under the helmet. This being the case, I had to stop mid-ride to re-configure my hood and helmet when some gusty winds came at me. The ‘dusty turquoise’ color was great for commuting on the bike without being a crazy neon color and went well with my street clothes and other bike gear.
Specialized’s Women’s Trail 3XDRY Shorts seem simple at first glance, but the technology of the fabric is superb. The material whisks away moisture easily while providing a nice, tougher feeling layer that protects your money-making thighs from the elements. My favorite part of the shorts were the deep hand pockets because I could put my hands in there to keep warm when I was not pedaling. One improvement I would make is the elastic adjustment of the belt, it had to be reinserted into the belt openings and proved to be a finicky detail. Overall, the fit of the short was baggier than the Women’s Trail jackets, allowing plenty of room for layering thermals, chamois and knee pads underneath. I really liked these shorts for cold and wet weather days out on the trails and was pleasantly surprised to stay much drier than in any other short I have tried.
Next up are the Specialized Trail Thermal gloves are high-quality constructed insulated gloves. They are incredibly comfortable and super effective for warding off frozen fingers and repelling the elements. The dexterity of the fingers is awesome even though the gloves construction feels sturdy, like neoprene. I loved the ‘wire-tap’ feature because I did not have to take my gloves off when making payments for my CBD sodas at the local grocery store after a long ride. I also really like the nose wipes on the backs of both thumbs because I get runny noses often, especially in the cold weather. I highly recommend these gloves for colder weather and am impressed with the durability and weather resistance so far, as I have ridden in them quite often this winter and early spring.
The Wolf’s Last Word
The Specialized Women’s Trail Series is a perfect blend of technical sportswear combined with streetwear. It is practical, functional, comfortable and blends into any social scene you might find yourself in post ride. As a person whose style is more geared toward looser fitting clothing, I still felt pretty comfortable in the tailored cuts of the Specialized Women’s Trail Series. The snowboarder and bike park rider side of me wants my jackets to be a bit longer and baggier but after living in a city where I can ride from my house on different styles of bikes, like gravel road biking, I did enjoy the slimmer fits of the Trail Series. If I rode more XC, I would love this apparel even more. I am 5’8” and athletically built and the women’s size large in the jackets fit perfectly, but any smaller would be too small. For me in the spring, I am still up on the mountain snowboarding during the day, but it sure is nice to get back into town in the afternoon and go for a pedal to loosen up my legs. While I pray for spring snowstorms up on the mountains, the bike trails are melting out and I am excited to have a trail specific set of apparel to withstand all the elements I may encounter. I recommend the Specialized Women’s Series to keep you warm, dry, and happy out on your next shoulder season cross-country trail or gravel bike ride.
Trail Alpha Jacket: $225
Trail Wind Jacket: $125
3XDRY Short: $150
Trail Insulated Gloves: $40
Disclosure: Our team selects all of the products we review and do so with honesty and objectivity in mind. Some of the products we receive come directly from Competitive Cyclist, who also value our readers and have offered them a 15% discount (exclusions apply) on their first purchase by using LOAMWOLF15. Through this program we may also receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thanks for your support, TLW.