In November, Denver-based Primal Wear launched a new line of cycling apparel, HT.A, that takes a rider from the bike to a day at the office or a fun evening out with friends. HT.A stands for “Happy Trails Apparel.” The new line provides some interesting and versatile options to add to your cycling wardrobe.
I had seen some of the line at Interbike last September. Then just before Christmas the company contacted John Marsh and me to see if we would like to try anything from the new line. I selected the Ella Hoodie in navy blue. (John selected the Thelonious 3/4 stretch button-down shirt. His comments will follow mine.)
Initially, I was a bit taken aback by the $115 price tag for a hoodie, but when it arrived I was impressed by the attention to detail, fabric and construction. The fabric is Pareille stretch Mélange (distinguished by its multicolors) which has a good amount of stretch as not to impede range of motion. It also has temperature- and moisture-regulating properties.
This is not something I’d wear on a club road ride (because of the hood), but definitely for a ride to run errands, a hike or even out to meet friends for lunch. It’s practical for commuter cycling, but toned down enough not to scream bike apparel. Hence, it’s got multiple uses.
One of the features I really liked on this hoodie was the mesh stretch action band that goes the full length of the spine. As you reach for the handle bars, the mesh opens enough to give you a little more mobility. So you never feel restricted. Additional features like two rear pockets and silicone tail gripper are very nice. Since the pockets are in the same navy material and the gripper is on the inside, they blend nicely into the garment. Thus, most people wouldn’t know you are wearing purpose-built cycling gear.
Other nice touches include a pony tail opening in the hood for women with longer hair. And thumb holes on the cuffs provide added warmth on cool rides, walks or runs.
I can suggest slight improvements for the Ella Hoodie. First, the single reflective band should be on both sleeves, not just one. However, they did put it on the left arm, which is closest to traffic in drive-on-the-right countries. Second, I’d like them to refine the quarter-length zipper closure. I had to use two hands to unzip as it would get hung up where the fabric changed from the blue to the black.
Thelonious 3/4 Button Down Shirt
I have to say, my first reaction was the same as Sheri’s when perusing this new commuting/ urban/ active apparel line. Pieces like the Thelonious shirt looked cool, but the price ($150) reminded me more of a high-end jersey than a button-down shirt.
It’s undeniably a nice, well-made shirt with a lot of thoughtful features and materials that make it perfect to serve the purposes Sheri mentioned: Wear it to ride your bike on errands, around town, to meet up with friends, or even on your commute (assuming you’re not going to get too sweaty).
The cool comes in the form of 3/4-length sleeves with a cuff that folds over, revealing neon green piping on the cuff edge. The back features the same mesh “action band” as the Ella Hoodie (in black, with a neon green pinstripe down the middle). The Reflexe material is described as “stretch microfiber polyester fabric with 2-way mechanical stretch that provides excellent range of motion and moisture management properties.”
It’s all that, and seems to be pretty wrinkle-resistant, to boot. Whether wearing it to ride, or even just when you’re out and about (I wore it recently out to dinner with friends), it really is a well-made, versatile shirt that fits well and looks great. My wife even says so! —J.M.
Primal Wear’s venture into active, urban lifestyle apparel has some bright spots with HT.A. They’ve done a nice job combining technical features with progressive style, as well as using materials that breathe well and stretch as you move. From outerwear to tops to bottoms, it’s nice to have an option to leverage your cycling wear for commuting, casual bike rides to run errands or out to meet friends. Multiple uses translates to getting a bigger bang for your buck – and maybe getting closer to justifying the pricing. Here’s hoping you have many Happy Trails.
Sheri Rosenbaum regularly contributes articles and reviews products for RBR. She’s an avid recreational roadie who lives in the Chicago area and a major advocate for women's cycling, serving on the board of directors and volunteering with the Dare2tri Paratriathlon Club. Click to read Sheri's full bio or visit her web site sunflowersandpedals.com.