Review: Pas Normal Studios Women’s Essential Collection – does performance match aesthetics?

Scandinavian brand Pas Normal Studios certainly know how to make kit look good, but does it perform well enough technically to compare with other market leaders?

Since it was founded in 2014, Pas Normal Studios has been making waves in the cycling apparel scene. A high-end, premium clothing manufacturer with a contemporary Danish aesthetic, it’s one of the go-to choices for the modern cyclist. Have a gander on the Instagram pages of some of cycling’s most prolific ‘influencers’ and you’ll often see the most double-tapped posts are of riders donned in a Pas Normal Studios outfit. 

It goes without saying that the Copenhagen-based brand ticks all the boxes when it comes to style. Jerseys, shorts and jackets all come in carefully curated colours which are inline with this season’s trends, and the subtle Pas Normal Studios branding is understated enough to let people know you’ve thought about your outfit without demanding too much attention. But aesthetics aside, does Pas Normal Studios clothing have the technical capabilities required of high-performance cycling kit? Or is it just a pretty face? We tested the brand’s Women’s Essentials Collection to find out.

Women’s Essential Jersey

As soon as I took it out of Pas Normal Studios’ suitably stylish packaging, the premium feel of the Women’s Essential Jersey was apparent. Despite the light colour, the material was completely opaque. Even when wearing my most garish of baselayers, the pattern was completely covered by the jersey’s dusty purple colour. Not only does this help to ensure a sleek look while on the bike, it has health benefits too, with the super-opaque microfibres offering greater protection against the sun’s UV rays.

Made in Italy, the fabric of the Essential jersey boasts a sophisticated honeycomb construction which I found to wick sweat effectively while riding in heat of around 20 degrees celsius. The air circulated well around the jersey, ensuring that I felt fresh and didn’t have a risk of overheating, even during intense efforts.

As part of Pas Normal Studios’ “Essentials” collection, the jersey is said to have a “less aggressive cut” than others in the brand’s range. The fit felt comfortable while riding, with enough elasticity to provide a range of movement and not feel restrictive. However, I’d argue that the relaxed fit described by Pas Normal Studios on the brand’s website doesn’t quite come to fruition; I found the jersey to be quite closely cut to the body. 

Related: Rapha Pro Team Powerweave Bib Shorts Review

For reference, I wear a size small in Rapha Pro jerseys but found the Pas Normal Studios jersey to be tighter than this, and I was wearing size medium in PNS, so it’s worth considering sizing up if you don’t want an extremely tight fit. I did find the length slightly too short at the front while standing up, but this wasn’t too much of an issue thanks to the high frontal panel of the accompanying Essential Bib Shorts. Overall, the fit strikes a balance between remaining aerodynamic while not being too restrictive for a long endurance ride.

Priced at £150, the Pas Normal Studios’ Essentials jersey does sit at the pricier end of the spectrum. However, the quality of the fabric convinces me that it will be a long-lasting and durable garment. Even after a few washes, the Pas Normal Studios printed branding remains firmly intact, and the YKK zipper feels robust. The jersey is abrasion-resistant to eliminate fabric pilling and is resistant to corrosive agents in sun creams, so it’s an investment that should go the distance.

With an easy-care, wrinkle-free, and quick-drying fabric that can be hand washed on the move and a zip side pocket for any valuables, the Essentials jersey has been designed for all-day and overnight adventures. If you’re looking for a jersey that fits the bill for exploring and bikepacking trips but can double up as something to wear for intense efforts or on race day, the Pas Normal Studios Essentials jersey is a worthwhile investment. 

Shop the Pas Normal Studios Women's Essential Jersey

Women’s Essential Bib Shorts

Of all the Pas Normal Studios kit I tested, I was most impressed with the Essential Bib Shorts. The four-layer ultralight chamois pad is supremely comfortable and well-positioned to protect all the right places while in an aerodynamic position. Even when in an aggressive tuck for long efforts, the chamois stayed in place and I didn’t feel like I had to shift my around on the saddle to avoid discomfort.

While the jersey was a little on the tighter side when it came to fit, the bib shorts felt like a standard medium when compared to other apparel brands.The longer back panel and relatively high-rise at the front of the shorts remedied the issue of the Essential jersey being slightly shorter in the body.

Related: Best women's summer baselayers

Like the jersey, the bib shorts feel lightweight and wick sweat successfully thanks to the micro-perforated straps which help to circulate heat. The base fabric was stretchy and comfortable while elastic leg grippers ensured that the hem of the shorts stayed in place.

The shorts are made by hand with laser-cut panels at the Pas Normal Studios faculty in Italy. This manufacturing process goes a long way to ensuring the quality of the bib shorts remain high and also justifies the £210 price tag that the Mechanism shorts come with. When considering the cost of Rapha’s Pro Team Powerweave bib shorts which retail at £295, the Pas Normal Studios Essential Bib Shorts are comfortably within range and can also be used for a multitude of riding styles, be it steady endurance miles or on race days.

Shop the Pas Normal Studios Women's Essential Bib Shorts

Women's Mechanism Stow Away Jacket

For when the weather gets unreliable, Pas Normal Studios Mechanism Stow Away Jacket is the ideal safety net. Despite being treated with a double-woven fabric treated with DWR (durable water repellent), the jacket remains lightweight and packable, folding down to a remarkably small size which sits snugly in the Essential Jersey pocket. 

I tested this jacket in some heavy downpours, water appeared to roll off the surface, keeping the inner fabric dry. As well as performing well in the rain, the jacket also adds an extra layer of warmth, surprisingly windproof despite having an outwardly thin layer. I found the jacket to be breathable while robust enough to protect from harsh rain or winds. Moisture didn’t build up inside the jacket meaning I avoided that “boil-in-the-bag” feeling that some emergency waterproofs can create. 

One of the most common flaws of lightweight waterproof jackets is a loose fit that can flap around when descending or in the wind. Thanks to the anatomic fit of the Mechanism jacket, however, this isn’t a problem. The jacket is expertly cut to fit the female geometry with an elastic waist and sleeves to ensure that cold air is kept firmly away from the body’s core. A double YKK zipper with “road to nowhere” branding is also a subtle detail which adds to the premium feel of the jacket. It’s one of the few stow away jackets I’ve used which doesn’t sacrifice aerodynamics for wind protection and comes with a £170 price tag. It’s worth keeping in mind that this jacket might not fit over a thick winter layer – unless you size up – but it’s something that will get plenty of wear throughout the changeable autumn and springtime conditions.

Shop the women's Pas Normal Studios Mechanism Stow Away Jacket

Overall

Pas Normal Studios’ Essential Collection is one of the most aesthetically pleasing cycling kit offerings on the market today. With a range of well-considered colours and minimalist branding, it is the sort of kit that will make you feel confident when setting off on a ride. It’s not cheap, but when compared to other brands who are similarly positioned in a premium range, Pas Normal Studios is reasonably priced.

The quality of the kit doesn’t stop at how it looks, either, the Essentials Collection performs well under a range of conditions and can be used for long rides as well as more intense efforts or races. With a women’s specific fit, it is well-contoured to the female shape, but it is worth keeping in mind that I found this kit to come up smaller than some other brands. Above all, the Essentials Collection seems durable and the exceptional quality justifies the price: carefully designed in Copenhagen and then well-made in Italy with a supreme attention to detail.

The Pas Normal Studios Essentials Collection is available here