Merino wool has developed a loyal following, for its wear comfort, its looks and its anti-microbial qualities (it doesn’t smell). Usually seen in the form of a cooler weather layer, this short sleeved jersey from masters of the merino mix, Smartwool is one of a growing number of summer weight technical tops made from the miracle fibre.
Made from 75% merino wool/25% polyester, this jersey feels as light to wear as most synthetic jerseys, with just the right amount of stretch to be neat, without being over clingy. It’s a full length zip design, giving ample opportunity for ventilation, while perforated side and back of neck panels increase airflow where you most need it anyway. There are two traditional rear elasticated pouch pockets, and also a small zipped side pocket with MP3 player cable outlet, for those who like their tunes while they ride (or for spinning). Reflective piping along the lumbar area enhances visibility.
The fit is athletic and neat without being overly tight, so it’s a good jersey for more casual use as well as for sporting rides, on or off road. It’s well shaped at the back, with a nicely dropped hem, and gentle silicone grippers to help prevent ‘riding up’, which seem to do the job well enough, since I didn’t have any trouble.
In use, it performed well, keeping me a comfortable temperature both when working hard and when descending at speed. The fabric wicked effectively, with any moisture disappearing pretty quickly.
It’s available in three colours and sizes XS to XL. Sizing seems to be pretty good, with a Medium being roughly equivalent to a good UK12.
NB. A good tip to maintain the ‘anti-smell’ properties of merino is to try and avoid anti-perspirants that can clog up the fibres and go rancid. Bicarb based ‘natural’ deodorants wash right out and keep the garment (and you) smelling fresher for longer. Lush bicarb deodorants work well with merino.
Laid back and versatile top that will keep you comfortable on or off road throughout spring and summer.
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Smartwool Women\'s Road jersey
Size tested: Blue, M
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Designed for road riding, with improved fit to 'keep up with your pace'.
Fit, cut and fabric are spot on for spring and summer road rides. Casual styling means you won't look out of place off road in it either.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
75% merino wool, 25% polyester
Perforated panels at the sides and across the back of the neck for ventilation
Full length front zip
Two rear elasticated pouch pockets
Side zipped pocket with MP3 cable outlet.
Pleasant to wear and helped maintain a stable and comfortable temperature whether working hard uphill or coasting downhill.
If washed correctly and avoiding fibre clogging anti-perspirants, should last for years without smell build up.
Best washed in non-bio to maintain anti-microbial properties.
Really comfortable next to skin and kept body temperature stable and pleasant.
At the upper end of the price spectrum for a merino-mix cycling jersey, but with a greater proportion of merino wool than most less expensive garments.
Casual, versatile and will lasts for year so probably worth the investment.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Performed superbly as a warm weather road cycling jersey, and also performed well off-road.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Fit, casual styling, fabric.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes. Or possibly buy one for them as a present.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
Comfortable, high performance top with casual and versatile good looks.
About the tester
Age: 37 Height: 1.65m Weight: 67kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, general fitness riding, mtb,
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.