Review: Women’s Bontrager winter wear

Bontrager B2 long sleeve base layer – $85

When riding in cold and/or potentially-wet winter conditions, layering and dressing appropriately is of utmost importance. That being said, I usually opt to get my upper body base layers from the thrift store, discarded Dri-FIT tops from New Years’ resolutionists that do a fine job of wicking sweat underneath my ever-trusty Dirt Rag woolie. While this method has worked for me in the past, I will say that this Bontrager B2 shirt is starting to spoil me.

Wool is king when it comes to regulating body temperature and keeping you warm even when wet and sweaty. Unfortunately, I have sensitive skin and trouble wearing wool directly against my body. That was my initial concern and skepticism when I got the B2 – would I even be able to wear it without being uncomfortable?

I’m happy to report that this shirt has just enough polyester in it (35% to be exact) to keep the prickly fibers at bay and make it tolerable–even comfortable–to wear all day. Another bonus: Even after a long, sweaty bike ride, the B2 doesn’t hold odors well, so I was usually able to get several uses out of it before washing.

The B2 sports a slim cut and is just a tad longer in the rear than the front for the best fit while on the bike. It’s not overly stretchy but offers enough give that it’s comfortable through a full range of movement and for some variety of different body shapes.

I wore it both as a standalone shirt and as the base of any number of layers and found that it was comfortable worn by itself or with a thin windproof vest in temps ranging from the mid-30s to around 50 degrees Fahrenheit, while colder temps warranted some sort of full outer layer on top.

The Bontrager B2 has become a favorite go-to this winter. The body temperature regulation that the wool/poly blend offers make it a solid choice for a wide variety of temperature ranges–or when you aren’t sure what the weather will bring. If I can only bring one base layer shirt on a trip or backpacking overnight, this is the one I’d choose.

Bontrager Meraj S2 Softshell tights – $125

These tights showed up just in time for a two-week stretch of extra cold weather here in Pennsylvania. With highs in the single digits or teens for several weeks on end, I appreciated having such a warm and windproof layer.

The Meraj comes in two different weights – the S1 is meant to be used in above-freezing conditions, while the S2 was designed for below. And when Bontrager says below freezing, they mean it. I wore these on several road and gravel rides when temps were in the 20s and were plenty warm. On the trails, my legs were toasty with just this single layer of pants down into the mid-teens.

A softshell material on the front of these tights is windproof and water-resistant, while stretchy panels of fabric on the rear ensure optimal fit and ease of movement. There are also strategically-placed thermal fabric inserts and a top-to-bottom fleece lining that provides added warmth.

The wide waistband is comfortable and a drawstring allows for cinching should it be a little too loose. I found that the size small S2s fit like a glove on my 27-inch waist/33-inch hip – no digging in from the waistband and no tightening needed. The bottom cuff of the Meraj S2 tights features a zipper closure, zipper garage to keep out the wet, and silicone ankle grippers to keep the cuffs in place.

Overall, I’ve been really happy with these tights. They fit well and are comfortable both standalone or with a pair of baggies over them for mountain biking. If you regularly ride in below-freezing temperatures and damp or windy conditions, I think they are worth the investment. If most of your winter bike adventures take place right around freezing or slightly above, I’d check out the Meraj S1 tights instead, as the beefiness of the S2 is probably unnecessary.

Both the Bontrager B2 top and Meraj S2 tights come in sizes XS-XL and are fairly true to size based on this size chart. However, if you’re on the edge between two sizes or want a slightly looser-fitting garment, I’d recommend bumping one size up for these particular pieces.

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