Specialized Trail-Series Alpha Jacket

Specialized has just introduced its all-new Trail-Series mountain bike clothing collection consisting of winter layering garments and The Cycling Independent has been recently testing a few key pieces in the lineup. While we haven’t hit full winter mode there have been enough cool mornings and evenings to get a foundation of initial impressions in place. First up is the Alpha Jacket.

The salient feature of this new, redesigned offering is its Polartec Alpha Direct insulation, a fuzzy lofted fiber material specifically designed for consistent warmth, fast moisture-wicking and top-level breathability. It’s a jacket but still considered a layering piece so when the temps really begin to drop a heavier layer can be added under or even over it. For those in more moderate climes one of our favorite features is that, unlike the original Alpha jacket, this new Alpha Direct material requires no backing fabric (a material stabilizer of sorts) so it can be comfortably worn in direct contact with your skin. This increases comfort as well as performance—it’s kind of like a do-it-all jersey/jacket. Additionally, the exterior shell fabric is engineered to breathe better than the previous version and promote efficient moisture movement from the insulation to the exterior.

Throughout testing the jacket preformed exceptionally well. Its inner material is warm, comfortable and cozy without becoming damp or soggy. It’s also not bulky so it can be stuffed in a jersey pocket or hydration pack. Due to it not being frigid I wore it with a short-sleeved summer jersey to start rides before removing it later. With a light to medium base layer this piece is perfect down to just about freezing level temps. If it gets colder use a thicker base layer or even add a top layer over it and you’ll be perfect.

The fit is slightly relaxed (but not baggy) and it has discrete pockets in the front (but not on the back like most road style jackets) so it can easily double as an off-the-bike selection without looking overtly “cycling specific.” In fact, during this test session I actually wore it more often off the bike (it’s becoming a go-to casual) than on but that will certainly even out once winter riding sets in .

Final thoughts: When winter does come around in all its fury I may never not wear it, riding or otherwise.

Offered in men’s (grey or black) and women’s (black or auburn) specific sizing (XS through XXL), the Trail-Series Alpha Jacket retails for $225 and is available now.





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  1. TominAlbany says

    I have an personal issue with breaking away from everything I’ve taught myself about what to wear on the bike. I’ve got my system set, more or less, for various conditions throughout the hear here in Albany, NY. All of the stuff that keeps coming out that could replace my existing gear, and potentially be more comfortable (eg. Gabba-style rain jersery vs. water resistant windbreaker) just don’t get a look because then I’d have to rethink what I do from the bottom up, so to speak. What’s your response to cavepeople like me?

    1. Mike Cushionbury says

      Thanks for the comment Tommy.
      I totally get what you’re saying. It is very true that the latest in winter riding gear will indeed make a marked improvement in riding comfort through lighter yet warmer materials that wick moisture better than ever. But even with the latest and greatest at my disposal when I lived in PA for 10 years (2007 – 2017) I was the same creature of habit you speak of. When January – March riding kicked in I had my layering routine dialed and I stuck to the same formula year after year mostly with minor base layer updates. I had this really nice Giordana winter jacket that fit perfectly and had all the features I wanted so I wore that every season for about eight years with no complaints. But then technology took over with a new Gore jacket that has all the same features, better warmth and moisture transfer, it was lighter and more compact than my old go-to and it let me wear less underneath while staying warmer.

      I reckon my point is don’t be afraid of rethinking your layers piece by piece, upgrading here and there but also what works, works and maybe it doesn’t need changing. Just a little mixing and matching with old and new. And like I said in the review, this jacket is proving to be a keeper that I’ll wear season after season.

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