None of the mentions or recommendations where paid for or sponsored by any of these brands or companies. These brands and items are recommended based on actual experience.
Before some heavy articles come up, let’s all take a moment to have a little fun and talk about some great bike wear that is either high quality or more ‘blue collar’ in pricing or both.
When you think “biking apparel” a Finnish military surplus and tactical gear store is likely not first on your list. But before you dismiss some Nordic gun nuts, check out their line of clothing. Unlike a lot of tactical gear, Varusteleka builds their clothing brands, such as Sarma, around long life and classical cuts.
What this means in practice is a lot of wool and a lot of old school grade cotton (i.e. thick enough to do actual work). For those that commute year-round, wet weather (Pacific NW) and fat bike, you can find a ton of standout pieces that work not only for biking but for any activity that includes going outside and staying warm. Especially among the wool items, there are some standout gear. Wool henleys, wool shemaghs, wool long underwear and wool balaclavas are all perfect for times when the air bites. The one thing about all their gear though is that you better like black, OD green or Finnish M05 camo. Because those are about the only colors 90% of their clothing items come in.
One advantage of shopping a Finnish store is that, save for a few items, nearly all Varusteleka goods are made in the EU. The prices can vary per an item with some items getting into the triple digits. However, it’s a quality over quantity equation, with gear that, with proper care, will last for decades.
When it comes to mountain biking specific clothing, there are often so many ways to skin a cat. Only certain fabrics have the stretch needed and will wear well. However, shopping for mountain bike clothing can get surprisingly expensive. So, what are you actually paying for and who does that benefit?
Gravity Anomaly is a mountain bike brand based in Colorado and they make their clothing in the United States. Not only will you be helping yourself stay employed with a robust local economy, you know who your money is benefiting.
Gravity Anomaly only has a few pieces, their Disrupter shorts and Boardroom jerseys being the two best items they make. While these items are made in the United States, they are priced very competitively, certainly better than some “premium brands” that come out of the same factory as everyone else’s stuff. Its blue color pricing for blue collar ‘Murica.
One thing to note, however. If you ride where the dirt stains, avoid the lighter color items as the chosen color seems to be perfectly engineered to show every bit of dirt and grime.
Ladies, you need great clothing. Unfortunately, most cycling clothing brands treat you like second class citizens at best and, more often than not, weirdly shaped aliens. Luckily Terry has you covered.
Terry makes a lot of different items, from racer cut jerseys that are clearly for biking to more general athletic clothes to full-on Copenhagen style bike friendly fashion items. They even have a made in the U.S.A. section. Also, they have a plus size category for those needing those sizes.
City MTB’s resident female cyclist would want mentioned that the chamois on some shorts and pants are better for ladies without, quote “an actual ass”. That being said, the Metro line of shorts and pants come highly recommended. These don’t look like typical biking shorts and pants; being something you can go to the restaurant in. A lot of their jersey’s come in a relaxed fit, called Flow by Terry.
All in all, if you are woman, it’s hard to beat what Terry has for you. Good quality clothing that doesn’t look like some dude’s idea of what women should wear.
Do you go into fits when someone defeat’s your KOM? Do you watch bike racing 24/7? Do you like the idea of racer kit made by big names but aren’t excited about their $300 kit coming out the same factory as your Nashbar kit? Meet Donkey Label, made for racers, not posers.
Let’s be clear, Donkey Label is so race focused that their products practically ship with a bottle of EPO. They make no apologies. No relaxed cut. No athletic fabric mechanics jerseys. No blue collar pricing.
While most of their gear is north of $150 price, if you are looking for something affordable by the masses, it’s hard to beat their socks. The wool ones are great, being a technical cut that even fits in road racing clown shoes. If you do bike related things where your feets and ankles might get wet, they make some polypro ones also.
Most of their kit is made either in the United States or in Europe. So, while their prices for most items are in the premium price range, they are employing people who actually get to vote for their lousy leaders, which is more than you can say for 90% of Raphla’s items.
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