Pas Normal Studios Essential AW22 Collection review - some of the most stylish kit on the market, but at a price
Thanks to its cool aesthetics, Danish brand Pas Normal Studios is becoming one of the most popular out there, but does its winter kit do the job as well as look good?
Pas Normal Studios has undoubtedly made a name for itself as one of the most popular cycling brands in the market. With a huge social media presence and a founder with a background in fashion design, it’s fair to say that those who wear Pas Normal Studios clothing are cyclists who put reasonable levels of effort into their kit choices. The Danish brand often releases apparel in understated, muted colours and the signature PNS logo adorns all of its clothing. The Pas Normal Studios ‘Essentials’ collection is the brand’s premium collection that is said to be created with a more relaxed fit and its intended to be used for ‘all-day riding.’
Women's Essential Thermal Long Sleeve Jersey
A flagship product in the women’s Essentials collection is the women's Essential Thermal Long Sleeve Jersey. It’s a garment made of a soft four-way stretch fabric and a brushed up grid fleece inner, with the front and sleeves made with a three-layer soft shell fabric for added insulation. I was surprised to see that Pas Normal Studios lists the garment as a jersey, because the fabric on the sleeves and front blocks out wind and kept me toasty in conditions down to five degrees celsius, while the thinner material on the back and back of the sleeves gave the breathability of a traditional jersey. The fleeced inner means that the garment feels soft against the skin (so can be worn without a long sleeve base layer) but the sleeves are also roomy enough that I could layer a thick winter base layer underneath for the coldest days.
Thanks to its DWR (durable water repellent) treatment, the Essential Thermal Jacket resists rain showers (you would need to have an emergency rain cape for heavier downpours) and features a YKK zipper so it can be adjusted on the move. It definitely is a garment with a tighter fit than other brands, it is cut short at the front and feels compressive when you first put it on, but as a rider who has an aggressive race position, this wasn’t an issue for me at all when I was riding. However, if you prefer a looser fit, I’d recommend going a size bigger than you would in other brands. Pas Normal Studios lists the three rear pockets as having a no-stretch material so they don't lose shape when they are stuffed with spares, bars or gels for a ride. While this is a useful feature, I did find that it made it tricky to actually get things in and out of the pockets at times due to them lacking any stretch.
At £340, this is an expensive investment but it’s worth considering if you are a rider who enjoys investing in kit that looks as good as it performs. The Pas Normal Studios Women's Essential Thermal Long Sleeve Jersey is also suitable for a variety of riding conditions which could make it your staple jacket throughout the winter.
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Women’s Essential Thermal Long Bibs
The Essential Thermal Long Bibs are no exception to Pas Normal’s rule of creating cycling apparel with ‘visionary aesthetics’. They come in three colourways: black, blue and olive, all of which feature the brand’s iconic branding, including the ‘Essentials’ logo on the rear. But these bib tights feel good as well as look good, with the M.I.T.I SuperRoubaix fabric soft and comfortable against the skin and extremely warm. Even in heavy rain showers I noticed that water was beading on the bib tights rather than penetrating through the fabric, ensuring that my legs were kept warm underneath.
The fit of the bibs isn’t too tight, which is a good thing for longer rides when you’re looking for added comfort, but perhaps isn’t the most aerodynamic fit if you’re looking for incremental gains. Unlike the jersey, I think I could have worn a smaller size of the bib tights and perhaps had a better fit, as I wasn’t getting the compression benefits of the tights in a size medium. The seam above the knee on the garment ensures there are no restrictions when completing a pedal stroke, making the Essential Long Bib have a ‘barely-there’ feel. The benefits of the roomier fit is lots of added comfort, I really felt like I would have been able to ride for hours in these bib tights with no fear of chafing or discomfort. This is also helped by the four-layer chamois which gives enough support without feeling bulky.
These bib tights are warm enough to use even in temperatures dropping below five degrees and the DWR treatment made them good in wet weather. Pas Normal Studios has struck an impressive balance between extremely warm tights while maintaining a lightweight and comfortable feel. At £240, you are certainly paying for the privilege of having such on-trend tights, but it’s fair to say that these aren’t just a fashion statement, they perform especially well technically, too.
Women's Essential Insulated Gilet
Admittedly, I’ve long been a bit sceptical about the necessity of a gilet, but this one from Pas Normal Studios has saved me from catching a chill on a number of long rides this winter. With the Polartec Alpha insulation which is strategically placed in the lining of the jacket, it feels like a warm hug when you’ve started to feel the cold out on a ride, protecting your core muscles. The inner lining is soft and warm, while the outer of the gilet is treated with DWR (durable water-repellent) which means it comes in handy in both the wet and cold conditions. The fit is streamlined and aerodynamic, cut short at the front to make it comfortable for an aggressive, race position, while the back is longer to protect from any spray on the roads. The taped hem also ensures that water can’t creep through the bottom of the gilet and holds heat in.
The Essential Gilet also packs into an incredibly small shape to ensure that it can fit snugly in the back pocket without taking up too much space that might be needed for spares or snacks. It comes in either a black or lilac colour, both featuring the signature Pas Normal Studios branding on the chest and rear. At £140, this is an expensive gilet but it’s more than just a flappy cape you’d slip before going down a descent; it’s become one of my ride staples and is great for when the weather turns or when you need an extra layer for those awkward middling conditions.
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You undoubtedly pay a premium to wear Pas Normal Studios kit, however you’re not just buying the logo. Alongside representing a forward-thinking, cool, fashion-led brand, you’re also paying for kit that is undoubtedly high-performance and quality. The garments in the Pas Normal Studios AW22 Essentials Collection have become some of my winter wardrobe essentials. If you have the means and desire to invest in some proper winter gear, this is one of the best options on the market.