Looking Good in the Woods: Summer MTB Jersey Roundup

What is the actual point of riding a bicycle on a trail? What is the end objective that we’re all trying to achieve? Is it to find an interesting and entertaining way to explore the world’s most beautiful places? Is it the hit of adrenaline? Maintaining fitness? Or perhaps even attaining self-actualization?

If you’ve read enough mountain bike gear reviews, you know that all of those reasons serve as a mere pretense. The main objective, the primary goal that every single mountain biker strives for, is looking good while out in the woods.

It doesn’t matter how fast you ride or how skillful you are if your kit doesn’t match your bike. If your helmet clashes with your jersey… just what do you think you’re doing? Put that bike on the rack, drive to the closest LBS, and hit the changing rooms young padawan. Get your priorities straight, you must.

If you ever want to progress beyond padawan and become a true master, you must realize what separates the pro riders from the amateurs. It’s not that they can ride faster or go bigger than you… instead, they’ve mastered the art of both looking good in the woods and on Instagram. This is the true secret. This is the way.

To help you reach the end objective of this challenging sport, and maybe even reach the professional level of looking good on Insta, I’ve rounded up five different summer jerseys to help you find the perfect match with your bike helmet, plus one sleeper hit. 

Club Ride Rambler Poly-Wool Henley

Club Ride has always prided themselves on producing mountain bike apparel that can easily be worn on the street without attracting any strange sideways glances, and while their HiFi Short definitely hits that benchmark, the Rambler feels like it would be more at home at a 50s baseball game than in the local pub. 

Actually, the Rambler takes inspiration from rowing culture. According to Club Ride, “whether you are rowing at the henley Royal Regatta or swinging your leg over your bike for a lunch ride, the Rambler has your back.”

The Rambler is the only jersey in this summer roundup to sport a poly-wool blend. The blend consists of just 20% wool to 80% lightweight polyester, and yet the softness of the wool is the first thing I noticed when I pulled it on. 

The jersey also features a 4-way stretch design, providing plenty of flex when putting body english on the bike. It also includes RideLight reflective accents, a chest pocket, and a hidden zippered rear pocket.

MSRP: $69.95. Available at ClubRideApparel.com, Competitive Cyclist, and evo.

Club Ride Vibe Shirt

The Rambler may not quite hit your goals of looking good in the woods, but the Vibe button-down shirt that Club Ride sent over will definitely have you looking downright professional. I felt so damn sophisticated in the Vibe that I couldn’t bring myself to wear it on the bike, and instead left it in the car to toss on after the ride.

That said, this button-down could easily pull double duty as a bike jersey, and might even allow you to up your game to #influencer status. The shirt sports quick-dry wicking material, UPF 50 sun protection, underarm mesh vents, RideLight reflective accents, two-way stretch fabric, a zippered chest pocket, a zippered hidden rear pocket, and even a sunglasses cleaner.

MSRP: $79.95. Available online at the Club Ride website.

Dakine Boundary Short Sleeve

From shorts to jersey, Dakine provided a truly minimalist yet baggy mountain bike kit for this roundup. The Boundary is the “lightest and most breathable jersey” that Dakine sells. The ventilation in the fabric is so significant that it’s visible with the naked eye, allowing it to breathe extremely well and dry sweat quickly, even on hot days with little breeze. 

Don’t expect to find a pocket on the Boundary, but the jersey does feature four-way stretch fabric, integrated Polygiene Odor Control technology, and a sunglasses wipe. 

You’ll note from the photos that there’s an intentional 5cm drop rear hem on this jersey, but due to the general bagginess throughout I found myself wondering if I could have sized down from a large to a medium.

MSRP: $55. Available online at Competitive Cyclist and Jans.

Fox Ranger PowerDry

Fox has spent years perfecting mountain bike apparel, and this careful honing of their craft is on display in the Ranger Powerdry Jersey. The jersey has fabric in the places you need it—like a longer tail to keep your crack hidden from your Instagram followers—but not in the places you don’t need it—like on high-wear seams or a neck collar. Instead, the Ranger features flat, taped seams for a comfortable fit.

The jersey uses Polartec’s Powerdry fabric “for exceptional moisture management,” according to Fox, and I found that claim to be spot on. The wicking and drying of this jersey is superb.

Finally, you’ll find a hidden rear zippered pocket if you need to stash keys or cash on a quick after work ride.

MSRP: $74.95. Available at Competitive Cyclist and Wiggle.

Pactimo Apex Metrix

Pactimo’s design philosophy across the entire line of products that they provided for review feels heavily race-inspired. The Apex fits squarely with that ethos, with colorful graphics that just scream “speed.”

The Apex Metrix jersey features BreathLITE fabric in the rear body and sleeves for breathability and moisture-wicking, and Run-Lite fabric in the front and neck “for abrasion resistant comfort,” according to Pactimo. 

The brand even notes that the jersey offers a “slim, contoured fit,” and I personally found the fit to be a bit too slim for my taste. I tend to run wide in the shoulders and neck, and found the narrow neck opening to be a bit too tight. If I would consider sizing down on the Dakine Boundary, I might consider sizing up on the Pactimo Apex… but that seems like it’d defeat the purpose of this jersey design.

If you want to look like you’re going fast in the woods, the Apex may just be the jersey for you. 

MSRP: $50. Available online from Pactimo.

Pactimo Terrain Classic

While the Terrain jersey maintains Pactimo’s race-centric design ethos, the addition of a “tapered, low profile neck provides just enough sun protection while staying out of your way,” according to Pactimo. I found this to assertion be quite accurate, and I enjoyed the fit of the Terrain much more than the Apex.

This jersey features a 3/4 sleeve design for a bit of extra brush protection. It also has a drop tail to help you maintain a semblance of modesty. 

The Terrain features heavier, more durable fabrics than the Apex, in case you should experience any off-bike adventures. But Pactimo still emphasizes breathability, so they’ve included “extremely durable yet highly wicking DynamiK fabric through the primary panel of the Terrain jersey.” Along the sides, you’ll find BreathLite panels for even more ventilation.

MSRP: $77. Available from the Pactimo website.

Final Thoughts

Exactly which jersey will help you look good in the woods depends on the helmet, bike, and riding style that you’re pairing with it. While the Fox Ranger PowerDry might seem simple on the surface, it has the right tech in all the right places combined with understated coloring that matches my olive helmet and green/blue Niner RIP 9 quite well. The Ranger will likely remain my go-to choice for the trail, swapping it out with Club Ride’s Vibe Shirt for post-ride beers.

For a change of pace, I really loved the aggressive race-oriented feel of the 3/4-length Pactimo Terrain, and could see wearing that jersey—even though it clashes with my color scheme—when the temperatures cool a little bit in the fall.

“Clashing color schemes?! Who does this guy think he is?”

Maybe I’m just not cut out for that #influencer lifestyle…

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