At this point, there is certainly no shortage of options when it comes to riding apparel. It seems like every day another company pops up with a Kickstarter or new line of threads. With that said though, I still get excited when presented with the opportunity to try something new – especially when that something comes from an established clothing manufacturer that happens to be one of my favorites.
When Pactimo’s Josh Cook mentioned that they were going to be launching a full line of mountain bike apparel, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. At the time, the company was known for their experience with lycra for the road crowd – not performance MTB apparel. But after getting a first look at Sea Otter, it was clear that Pactimo was onto something, and I couldn’t wait to try it out…
When we first got a look at the line, it was explained that the Apex collection was inspired by some of Josh’s favorite pieces of performance wear including board shorts and soccer jerseys. That may sound a bit odd when talking performance MTB clothing, but the idea transfers well when talking about the feeling of the pieces. Both the shorts and the short and long sleeve jerseys have an incredibly light feel, and offer fast drying comfort that is still surprisingly durable.
Falling somewhere between ‘Endurbro’ and XC tight, the fit is definitely slim. It’s baggy, without feeling floppy or too loose. I will say that on almost the entire range (shorts, bib liner, and short sleeve jersey), I had to size up from my usual Smalls. Oddly, the long sleeve jersey seems to be cut a bit more roomy which made the small work out perfectly. For reference, I’m 5’8″, 150lb, and have fairly broad shoulders and chest for my size. I also have a big butt and thighs which made me wish the shorts had a bit more room in the seat. I run into this on tighter shorts fairly often, the seat of the shorts is pushed back, which then causes the shorts to bunch up around the crotch and the pockets to pucker. It wasn’t a deal breaker with the Apex short, but it would be a welcomed tweak.
Photos c. Caleb Smith/Kona
Even though the shorts are a slim cut, they seem to work great with knee pads like the Alpinestars Paragon. Pedaling with or without pads, the cut of the short leg was never irritating, and not too long or too short with a 13″ inseam.
I was a bit hesitant to request the Manic yellow shorts at first, mostly due to fear of them not being so yellow after a few rides. At the end of the review, they do show some wear, but they’ve remained surprisingly bright after being covered in various dirt from around North America. The same could be said for the jerseys including the light grey option.
Adjustments in waist size are easily made with an internal micro-adjust elastic retention system. My 30″ waist meant cinching it down four button holes on either side, though both sides have at least 9 holes of adjustment. The fly is closed with a zipper and two snap closure, and the short features 4 pockets – two standard side pockets and two zippered pockets, one on the right thigh, and one on the left rear.
Once I was on the right size bib (sized up from small to medium), the fit of the liner was fantastic. It made me realize that the shoulder straps of most of my bib liners are fairly uncomfortable, while the Apex bibs are just right. The Cytech Liege Carbonium chamois is super comfy for long rides, and the leg grippers stay put without being uncomfortable on hairy legs.
The bib liner has excellent comfort and performance, though in my experience, the pocket structure could use some work. Because of my dimensions, and the fact that my left shoulder doesn’t have as much flexibility, accessing things in the pocket was incredibly difficult. On me, the pockets just sit too high on my back which makes getting big things out like a bottle quite a chore. Definitely not something I could do on the move. Most other bib liners with pockets use a flap so they can be fitted lower on the back and hang over your short’s waist band, while here they are sewn flat onto the bibs. Those with longer arms or more flexibility might not have any issue at all, but for me I’d like to see this improved.
Both jerseys are incredibly simple, which is probably why I have zero complaints. They’re super light, very breathable, quick drying, and have a great fit. They’ve also proven to be quite a bit more durable than similar jerseys from other brands and have managed to resist any major snags or pilling. The long sleeve jersey is probably too slim for anything but the thinnest elbow pads, but these are meant more for trail riding so that shouldn’t be an issue.
The few teething issues aside, Pactimo’s first real mountain bike collection seems like a successful venture. Most of my criticisms are fit related, and I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the typical model size. I should also point out that I’m still riding the Apex collection every chance I get, weather permitting. For those not wishing to look like a bag of neon Skittles, there are more subdued color options available with five jersey colors and four short colors and sizing offered in S-2XL sizing. Above all, Pactimo is offering an impressive level of performance at attainable prices. The most expensive piece is the outer short at $90, then the $70 bibs, followed by $50 short sleeve jerseys and $60 for the long sleeve. Pactimo is off to a great start for the trail, which is why I can’t wait to see what’s next.