PRIMAL HT.A Kit: Casual Comfort & Style
With winter in full swing here at PEZ HQ and more snow on the ground than we’ve seen since 2005, there’s been a bit more time for casual wear, so a closer look at Primal’s Happy Trails Apparel (HT.A) “less cycling more lifestyle” items is in order. The best part is that the District Hardshell jacket, Ogunde cargo pants, Longsleeve Henley pullover, and Coltrane Jacket are all designed to be ridden – and are just as comfy and useful off the bike.
You’ll recognize the Primal name if you’ve been anywhere near road cycling in the past 25 years, as the Denver-based brand has long been a supplier to a full range of custom riding kits to teams, clubs, and some very big events like the 5 Boros bike ride in New York, Bike MS, Ride the Rockies, and some 22 more listed on their website. It’s fair to say Primal is very active in the cycling community.
Their success is grounded in producing very good quality custom kits at prices that make you wanna buy the jersey of that ride event you just did – or will be doing this year – but making a successful brand in cycling doesn’t stop there. Last year Primal launched their Happy Trails Apparel (HT.A) line of casual and off-bike clothing, that’s a smart extension of their road & off-road cycling lines designed to appeal to anyone looking for better quality clothing to fit an active lifestyle both on – and off the bike.
I first saw the line at Interbike – and was most impressed by the out-of-box thinking from the Primal designers, and the guts of senior management to show off some unexpected twists like the Hines Down Short sleeved vest ($260) – an evolution of the puffy vest we all own that adds short sleeves and hand warming pockets to a piece that can be worn over or under whatever else you’re wearing.
District Hardshell Jacket $150 US
This one answers the call for a rain and windproof jacket that works as well off the bike as it does on it, and it’s packed with features. The roomy hood zips off, and has a drawstring like any good hoodie should. The weather-repellency makes this one less breathable, but the mesh-lined inside really helps internal airflow and ventilation – so you can wear it much longer without getting steamy.
The shoulders also feature big vents in the back. Fit is roomy but sleek, and snug at the waist – with longer sleeves and cuffs with thumb holes shaped to cover your hands and not expose the wrists when riding. I also liked the chest pocket – which is big enough to fit in my iphone 6 with room to spare – a nice touch that not enough brands offer. Comes in Small, Medium Large & XLarge.
• Check prices on Amazon.com here
The breezy mesh lining in the District Hardshell jacket does a nice job of keeping air circulating on the inside.
Ogunde Cargo Pants – $150
Commuting by bike is fun and usually a better way to get to work, but you need the right gear. A decent pant is critical to be tough enough to stand up to a bit of pedalling action and a few things the road might throw up – and also because you don’t always have the luxury of changing clothes when you reach your destination. This cargo pant is made from a tough poly-cotton blend fabric to resist tears and works well on the bike, and still look like a decent set of trousers for mixing with the normal folks in your office.
But once again the details make it an eye-catcher – the pant legs have a zippered cuff that eliminates the need for a rubber band or velcro reflector to keep your pant legs clean and out of the gears. There’s enough pocket-storage here to take you into full-Sherpa mode if desired: the exterior side pockets have a zippered edge that expands a lot, the front hip & waist pockets open to each other inside for a whole lot more storage on both sides too. There’s enough room in the legs that the cuffs can be rolled back to reveal a cool camo print on the inside to let loose your inner hipster. The crotch gusset uses extra stitching for durability on the saddle. The fit on my size Smalls was geared closer to a 32 inch waist than the 29″ listed on the website – but as you can see in the photo – the length was spot on. Sizes Small – 2XL.
Nice details on the Ogunde Cargo pants include the zippered expandable outboard pockets and the cool camo print inside.
Monochrome Blue Henley Pullover- $70
Priced right at $70, this one’s easy – and shows off just how much Primal understands making casual wear that fits right (not the same as cycling gear). But the story Primal wants to tell is in the Echofé fabric made by SCafe Fabrics – they’ve found a way to use coffee in the actual fabric – a good idea because coffee’s natural ability to block odors makes this one pullover that’s designed to smell better. The fabric itself is soft with enough stretch that it feels good all day long. Comes in 7 sizes from at XS – 3XL.
• Check prices on Amazon.com here
The soft Echofé fabric gives the longsleeve Henley a very nice feel.
Coltrane Jacket – $100
Aside from its cool name, the Coltrane jacket feels more like a soft comfy light-mid-weight sweater, and works well over a base layer, or under a jacket or vest for the right amount of warmth. The fabric is a loose weave poly blend they call Cierzo – which allows lots of air movement into and out. The high collar is nice for cooler Spring-Summer-Fall days, and the full-length two way zip allows for a better fit over hips, with pants, and to adjust ventilation in different temperatures. The long sleeves are long enough to cover your hands and the thumb slots just make it that much more useful. Around back are two good sized pockets for stowage. I’m wearing a size small, but it comes also in M, L & XL. Comes in black (shown) or neon green.
Thumb slots in the sleeves, a comfy sweater-like knit, a two-way zipper, and silicon waist gripper deliver a lot more than you’d expect in a long sleeved riding jersey.
When I first saw this new Primal kit at Interbike, I noted how many of the cycling clothing companies were squeezed into shrunken booths with just a couple of racks, or not present at all, while Primal was there in force in one of the largest spaces for any apparel brand at the show. And with good reason – their 2015 rebrand (including a name change from Primal Wear to simply Primal) and line expansion into more casual and technically-inspired off-bike wear was such a success that for 2017 they proved you can’t have too much of a good thing.
So where a lot of other technical clothing brands have failed at crossing over into more casual apparel, Primal’s stepping up with items that show off a more fashion-savvy style, making for clothing that a lot of folks will want to wear off the bike as well as riding to and from whatever daily life holds.
• See the full HT.A lineup at Primalwear.com – and you can buy all of it online.