Review: Women’s base layers from Garneau and Pearl Izumi

We still have 1-2 more months of winter in the northern states. My dad resides in Yuma, Arizona and would call 40°’s winter, but whatever your cold tolerance is, baselayers can be a key component to enjoying the outdoors. Baselayers need to wick away moisture in cold temperatures and should be lightweight and fit snugly against your skin but not restrict movement.

Garneau Drytex 2004 Women’s Pants

Price: $40
Sizes available: XS-XXL (MD reviewed)

The Garneau Drytex 2004 Women’s Pants are lightweight with a 4-way stretchable peach skin fabric. What the heck is peach skin fabric?! The fabric has a fuzzy texture like the skin of a peach. The bottoms are moisture wicking, have an antibacterial treatment and feature a few reflective stripes.

The 1.5 inch elastic waistband is designed to stay up while being active. I’ll admit to having become a little schluppy this winter and found the elastic to be very snug and definitely not going anywhere. No matter if I was biking, jogging or hiking, under a mid-layer or under an outer layer, these did not fail me in warmth.

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I like everything I own to be multi-useful. With base layers, I want to be able to wear mine as tights under a dress for quick changing after an activity or sleep in them if it’s too cold (or I am too lazy to change). They were almost to warm to sleep in, which isn’t a bad thing if I was camping in the cold. With the large branding on the lower right leg, I had to bust out the tall boots to make them work off the bike, but that also isn’t a deal breaker.

After 8 weeks of use and washing, the material has started to pill in the token wear spots: knees and arse. But there are no tears, no sweat sag and no reduction in warmth. They are high quality for a baselayer legging at $40. The Drytex 2004 pants are available in men’s and women’s cut and Garneau gets bonus points for going up to a XXL in both.

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Pearl Izumi Women’s Transfer Wool Long Sleeve Cycling Baselayer

Price: $90
Sizes available: XS-L (MD reviewed)

This long sleeve baselayer is a Merino Wool and Polyester blend with moisture-wicking qualities. The material percent distribution varies throughout the top, with a micro-waffle type construction to help wick away those notorious sweat areas: back and under the arms. There is a more stretchable Lycra material along the back of the arm to the elbow for handlebar reaching without feeling like you are about to hulk out the back of your top.

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There are thumb loops that are a simple stretchy loop with a 1/4 inch width that looks like it could be uncomfortable but felt fine even when wearing 3 layers of clothes. Pearl Izumi has this long sleeve baselayer rated at 20°-40° temperature and the top performed well in these temps. Even in the mid-teens, I was never concerned about my body temperature while being active. As a higher end baselayer top priced at $90, it got the job done well and looks and feels like it will last a few years of steady wear.

 

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Review: Two pairs of women’s Garneau baggy shorts

These two baggy, knee-length shorts from Garneau bridge the gap between mountain and urban bike fashion for those who prefer something other than Lycra for all bicycle related activities.

Both of these shorts come with a liner that includes a built-in chamois and features wide waist and leg bands to prevent them from digging in. They are also beefy and nontransparent enough to be worn separately. These liner shorts are some of the comfiest I’ve ever worn, and both outer shorts come with a snap loop fastening system to keep them anchored to the liners.

The fit on both of these baggies is slim but not super tight around the waist and hips with extra room on the legs to accommodate muscular thighs and allow plenty of room for movement while pedaling. They come in sizes XS-XXL (I tested size small in both).

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Steeple – $120

The first noticeable thing about the women’s Steeple shorts is the fabric. It’s unlike any material I’ve encountered before on cycling shorts. The Revolt fabric looks and feels like denim, but with all the performance benefits of any other quick-drying, moisture-wicking activewear. Abrasion resistance makes these shorts tough but fashionable, and the Steeple is available in a variety of different colors to suit every style.

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These shorts are comfortable even when wet, and they have become a go-to piece for rainy, muddy days for this reason. The only downside? Mud stains don’t seem to come out of the Revolt fabric as easily as some other fabrics, but that’s not something I get too concerned about. I spend a lot of my life muddy anyway.

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My favorite feature is the stretchy panel on the backside of these shorts, offering extra comfort and flexibility while maintaining a form-fitting waist. Soft, silky material around the waistband adds comfort, and a Velcro adjustment allows for a perfect fit.

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Ample pocket space— five in all—provides no shortage of options when it comes to stashing tools, food or your phone, whether it’s during a ride or at the bar after, and Velcro or zipper closures on all pockets keep the valuables secure.

Whether you’re shredding the trails or riding to the grocery store, the Steeple shorts are a versatile pick for any bike-related endeavor and beyond.

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Latitude – $80

The Latitude is the more “mountain bikey” of these two shorts, with a slightly more casual look and cut. The material is more similar to that which you’d find on the majority of baggy mountain bike shorts. It’s soft and moisture-wicking, but also abrasion-resistant and DWR-treated for water resistance. I found them to be very breathable, and these shorts have been a go-to on hot summer days, comfortable even when sweat-soaked.

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There are four pockets – two zippered ones in the front and two jeanslike ones in the rear that don’t close. While the back pockets were nice for sticking my phone or other small essentials in while off the bike, I wouldn’t want to put anything in them while riding at risk of it falling out. If the shorts hugged my behind a little more, I’d probably reconsider though, so it’s most likely just a matter of fit and preference.

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Like the Steeple, the Latitude features an adjustable waistband via Velcro tabs, but adds belt loops to allow for extra fit tailoring. Bright colors like bright blue and magenta cater to ladies who like a bold look, but they also come in black for those who prefer a more subdued appearance.

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Overall, these are a comfortable pair of shorts for wherever your bicycle adventures may take you.

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