Swedish brand POC is well established in both the snow sports and cycling apparel market and its winter kit comes with a lot of expectations for quality and comfort in cold conditions. The women’s thermal carbo bib tights deliver a lot in terms of comfort and warmth, but the finishing leaves room for improvement on this specific pair.
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POC Women’s Thermal Cargo bib tights - Technical details
The name of these winter bibs really gives it all away: these are winter bib tights with cargo pockets. POC says they should deliver “ultimate warmth and keep you protected from the elements” with the use of thermal materials.
These bib tights are made of thicker material with a weather-protecting, fluorocarbon-free DWR-treated membrane on the outside and a brushed inner, in an effort to keep the cold elements out and warmth in. The weatherproof membrane is only applied to the front of the tights, though so that the legs would not overheat, and around the chamois, where you’re likely gonna get some road spray.
The cargo pockets are placed on the thighs and are made of stretchy materials with a pillowcase design (there is a fold at the top) for securing your things inside.
The bib straps are what POC calls “Reverse Suspender”, meaning that there are two straps at the back, coming together at the front under the chest. The wider suspender on the front accommodates specifically for female anatomy, and the overlapping back suspenders make it possible to pull the bibs down without removing your jersey.
The VPDS Multi D WO chamois is women-specific with enhanced air permeability and silicone inserts for extra comfort.
POC is known for incorporating safety and functionality into its products and, on these tights, there is a large reflective detail about the length of the whole calf, on the left leg - which makes sense when you think that these are made by a European company (so you’d be cycling on the right-hand side). POC has also added a hanging loop to the back of the bibs, right at the lower back, which allows the bibs to be hung without the legs folding onto the floor.
The bibs are available in sizes from XS (tested) to XL.
POC Women’s Thermal Cargo bib tights - Performance
Cargo bibs are my absolute favourite type of bibs regardless of the leg length and, for a long time, I have been searching for a pair of winter cargo tights. These POC’s Thermal Cargo bib tights seemed to be the answer to my search, with great claims for comfort and warmth.
I’ve been riding these for the last couple of months through freezing temperatures, but also on the occasional rare double-digit days that have given a false sense of spring. As a final test before typing up my verdict of the pair, I wore them for a 200km audax and, I must say, I have never enjoyed eight hours of riding more than I did this time, and a lot of it was down to the comfort that these tights provided.
The tights performed very well in both mild and cold conditions, as despite their waterproof front side, paired with a lighter top layer they breathe well enough to avoid overheating in milder conditions. And when it comes to proper winter conditions, the weatherproof front has been a heaven-sent, keeping road spray and light rain at bay and thus making me stay a lot warmer.
This DWR-coated membrane has less give to it than regular lycra, which means that the bibs fit slightly differently from ones without weatherproofing, but it’s a compromise I am willing to take in favour of warmth. I found the XS I tested to be true to size, although less compressive than on other pairs I regularly wear. The less stretchy fit is most tangible around the knees and when pulling the tights on over the legs.
The design of the upper half of these tights is something that I both liked a lot and felt I could make do with some improvements. The front of the waist sits quite low - at or below my hip bones - which at first made me feel like the bibs are, you know, going to slip down. Of course, they’re not because the bib straps are there to prevent that. But then, the straps are not the tightest, either. This is absolutely brilliant as they allow the bibs to be pulled down without taking off a jersey when going for a quick pee break, but not so great in feeling “snug”. Then again, I also acknowledge I am not the tallest of individuals so the straps might be much snugger for someone taller.
The cargo pockets sit quite low on the thighs of these tights, which at first felt a little strange, but was just a matter of getting used to. The pillowcase design (there is a little fold at the top part) and stretchy material ensured that whatever snacks and things I stored in the pockets, stayed well put even on rattly gravel rides.
The chamois on the bibs is excellent - it is comfortable, soft, and doesn’t stain and washes very well without taking forever to dry. That and the overall feel of these tights make them very comfortable for winter rides.
I really liked the well thought details, such as the hanging loop at the lower back, and although the reflective leg is technically on the 'European' side, it still works brilliantly in adding more safety.
However, I must admit that despite the faultless performance of the tights, the quality of the stitching was a disappointment. After a couple of washes, the flatlock seams had loose strings at multiple places, and the seams continued to unravel slowly at places throughout the testing period. I have contacted POC about this and they've ensured me that as a customer I'd receive a new pair free of charge. Assuming this is a one-off quality issue, I have let it slip - especially because the stitching fault has not prevented me from using the pair in any way.
POC Women’s Thermal Cargo bib tights - Verdict
Overall, these are some of the most comfortable winter bib tights I've worn. The cargo pockets add to their appeal and I have really cherished the warmth they offer on cold and damp days. The sketchy stitching was a bit of a disappointment but as I know I could replace it with another, it is not an issue that'd prevent me from buying this pair.
The fit of these bibs is slightly different because of the waterproof front membrane, and if you're someone who likes very compressive tights, these might not be for you. It's really the performance: the overall comfort of the chamois, flatlock seams and comfy materials that make this pair excel.
What about the pricing? We've tested winter bibs that have had similar stitching issues as the POC pair - for example, the Lusso Ladies Comfort Break Bibtights. But those retail for £110, so they cost less than half of the POCs (£250), although they don't offer cargo-carrying options. Velocio Women’s Thermal Bib Tights are a little more similar in terms of price (£215) but again, no cargo pockets - yet they've excelled in the thermal properties and better quality, as well. Even though the POC pair is expensive, it's not the most expensive - that title would go to Rapha Women's Souplesse Shadow Tights costing £270 for the pair.
It is slightly hard to justify the high price tag of the POC Women’s Thermal Cargo bib tights. You can get a thermal bib tights pair for a lot less but none I have tested are as comfortable or come with cargo pockets. If you can afford them, I would recommend the POC Women’s Thermal Cargo bib tights for excellent comfort, easy pee breaks and great details.