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Kalf Club merino jersey review

28 Feb 2019

Deliciously soft and comfortable jersey for cool, dry weather

Cyclist Rating: 
• Great for comfort and temperature regulation
• Less good for foul weather protection

The merino wool long-sleeve jersey has become a staple of a number of brands. It was Rapha that first made it popular (to modern audiences, at least – go back far enough and jerseys were made of wool), and since then versions have popped up from the likes of dhb, Café du Cycliste, Chapeau, Isadore, Ashmei and numerous others.

By definition, they are all fairly similar, but that doesn’t mean they are all the same. The cut, the details and the fabric itself can change from garment to garment, meaning there are good and bad merino jerseys out there. And this offering from two-year-old British brand Kalf is one of the good ones.

Let’s start with the material. The Kalf Club jersey is made from Sportwool, which is a blend of merino wool and polyester. It’s the same fabric that Rapha’s original merino jerseys were made from.

Pure merino wool is well regarded for a number of reasons – it’s soft and not scratchy, has natural temperature regulating properties and doesn’t smell bad when it gets sweaty – but it also has some drawbacks. It doesn’t hold its shape well, and can get saggy, especially when wet. And isn’t particularly hardwearing, which is where the polyester comes in.

Buy the Kalf Club merino jersey from Evans Cycles

Developed by an Australian company, Sportwool combines merino wool on the inside and polyester on the outside. This makes the resulting fabric soft against the skin and comfortable even during hard exercise, while also providing a bit of stretch to make a close-fitting garment. The polyester also helps to make the jersey washable without ruining its shape.

The softness is the first thing that stands out about the Kalf Club jersey. It feels delightful to slip on, smooth and warm, like a big hug. If that sounds a bit too sappy for a piece of performance clothing, then just try it on a grey, chilly morning and the world will suddenly feel like a better place.

In many ways, it feels more like a base layer than outerwear, and the closeness of the fit means that it is pleasant to have next to the skin even with nothing else underneath.

That brings us to the cut. The Kalf Club is created using shaped panels that do an excellent job of following the contours of the body, making for a jersey that sits close to the skin without the need for too much stretching. Where some wool jerseys can sit like a sack on your torso, the Club is neat, but still allows for unrestricted movement, especially when hunched over on the bike.

This is important not just for looks and aerodynamics, but also for temperature regulation, as the close fit encourages moisture from sweat to wick away from the skin and pass through the fabric, leaving you dry even when you’re working hard on the bike.

As for aesthetics, that is a matter of opinion, but the sage green is very on trend and makes for a stylish garment. In a world full of fluoro colours and brash logos, the understated elegance of the Kalf Club will make you stand out.

There are some downsides, however. The jersey is not particularly weather proof. On cold days, the wind will whip through the fabric, creating a chill, and rain will find its way inside. Nor is it as warm as some options out there.

If you are only in the market for one winter jersey, then there are others that will do a better all-round job of keeping the elements at bay. However, that shouldn’t rule the Club out, as it works brilliantly in partnership with an outer rain shell.

If you treat the Club almost as a base layer, it will be comfortable, lightweight and cosy on chilly mornings. Then when it gets colder, windier or wetter, simply add a waterproof shell jacket over the top, and all problems are solved.

You can find out more and buy the jersey here:

The voluminous central pocket at the rear of the jersey is perfect for stashing a lightweight rain cape, although all the pockets could do with a touch of extra reinforcement to stop them stretching out of shape, making it tricky to get a hand inside while riding.

Buy the Kalf Club merino jersey from Evans Cycles

The Kalf Club is finished with some classy details. A hidden zipped pocket is perfect for stashing keys, reflective strips at the base and shoulders offer a modicum of protection in the dark, and the waistband has a silicone gripper strip to prevent the jersey from riding up.

This is maybe not the jersey for an epic ride in the harshest conditions, but it is perfect for a Sunday run-out on a crisp, dry morning, where comfort is paramount. It will also look great when you’re having a recovery pint in the pub afterwards.

Most of all, though, it is so soft to the touch, once you’ve got it on, you won’t want to take it off.


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