I love hot weather but the more the mercury rises, the more careful we riders have to be about keeping cool out on the trails. Aside from proper hydration, high quality technical clothing can make a big difference here, and I was pleased to be wearing Showers Pass’ Apex Merino Tech Tee and IMBA shorts on some of this summer’s warmest days.
I’ve spent the bulk of the riding season testing this combo, and found both to be very comfortable pieces. With lightweight, breathable fabrics and a cut that’s sporty but not snug, this kit’s casual looks belie the jersey and shorts’ on-trail performance.
Apex Merino Tech Tee
Before even trying it on, the first thing I liked about the Apex Merino Tech Tee was its simple style. I appreciate when a jersey can look equally at home on the trail or on a pub/coffee shop patio, and I think the Apex offers a very versatile look.
I tested a size medium, which fit me well (I’m 5’9” tall, and weigh 145lbs) but with no extra bulk anywhere- the length was just enough, and the body hangs freely around my torso but maintains a fairly slim fit.
I prefer rounded collars and ‘less is more’ construction in my jerseys, so I applaud Shower’s Pass for avoiding any extra seams on this one. The Apex’s simple cut and great moisture managing abilities also make this an ideal base layer that won’t get bunchy under even snug fitting midlayers (like the Dainese AWA Hybrid Jacket I recently tested).
My first test ride was a hot one, and right away I decided the Apex Merino Tech Tee would be a good option for the warmest days. This jersey is very light, and easily lets air flow through. It also wicks moisture and dries itself very well; aside from the usual patch directly under my hydration pack I came home from a 30 degree ride looking like I barely broke a sweat.
The Tech Tee’s blend of 67% Merino wool, 27% Polyester and 6% Nylon is also quite comfortable on the skin. It’s definitely one of my softest jerseys, and the merino keeps it from smelling for at least a few rides.
One of the only features on this jersey is a small, right side zippered pocket- I tossed two cards in there for one ride, figuring a lot of people would carry a credit card and maybe an ID. Even with my hip pack’s straps sitting right over top of the cards, they didn’t bug me at all and I totally forgot they were there.
So here’s my one caveat with the Apex Merino Tech Tee: Thin merino jerseys aren’t ideal if you wear a hydration or hip pack. After just a few rides, I noticed considerable pilling of the fabric on the lower back area where my pack sits. Under another layer it holds up fine, but directly against a pack it would likely wear out pretty quickly. I have ridden both a typical hydration pack and a hip pack, and both contributed to this wear and tear. Jerseys with a high Merino content (not just this one) may be best to avoid if you usually ride with any kind of pack.
Aside from the wear my packs put on the jersey, I was very impressed with the Apex’s fit, comfort and warm-weather performance. The jersey retails for $67 USD (prices converted from CDN) and comes in Strong Blue or Dark Shadow (grey), with sizes S-XL available. A women’s model is also sold in XS-L sizes, with Strong Blue or Hollyhock color options.
The IMBA Shorts were a good match for the Apex Tech Tee on those really hot rides. They feel light on your legs, have vents on each thigh to help air flow freely, and offer a comfortable fit with unrestricted mobility.
My only complaint about the shorts is regarding their sizing- I found the waist to be a lot bigger than my other size 32 shorts. With the adjusters as cinched in as possible (as in the above photo), the IMBA shorts’ waistline was still at least an inch bigger than my other pairs. To complete my test I wound up sewing the adjusters in place, positioned as tightly as they could go (to the point where the Velcro doesn’t even line up) and got them to fit my waistline.
Now this did create a little bunching at both sides, but thankfully I don’t notice it while riding. My only other critique about the waist sizing is if that the adjusters are quite long, and will probably flap around if you have to tighten the waist much. I might suggest sizing down if you’re buying online, or try these shorts on if you’re at your LBS.
Once you have the correct waist size the shorts are quite comfortable. The fabric on the front is thin and lightweight, while the inner thigh and rear panel is slightly thicker but very stretchy. Between the breathable Nylon-Spandex blended fabric, leg vents and mesh-lined pockets, the shorts kept me feeling quite cool on some scorching summer days.
The shorts’ 12” inseam is sufficient, but leaves the legs on the shorter side- they just barely cover my kneecaps. I also noticed these shorts don’t repel water at all, after the top of my legs got wet pretty quickly on a rainy ride. Fair enough- no-one claimed they’d be waterproof!
Despite riding with a pack, I still use the pockets in my shorts too. The IMBA short has two front pockets, a rear zippered pocket and the vent on the right leg doubles as a mesh-lined pocket. The front pockets don’t have zippers, but held my smartphone in just fine (and comfortably so, with adequate space for a good sized phone). I’ll put my wallet in a rear pocket, if I have one, and the IMBA’s kept mine comfortably off the side of my saddle.
The IMBA shorts are finished off with reflective striping on the legs and rear pocket, not to mention my favorite ‘cheeky’ detail- The words “Enjoy The Ride” are sewn into the inside of the fly! The IMBA shorts sell for $92 USD, and come in Alpine Blue or Dark Shadow (grey). Men’s sizes 28-40 and women’s sizes 2-14 are available.