The Pactimo High Country Wool Jersey is a stylish bit of kit that's worth investing in if the bike is your number one mode of transport and you are a bit of a sucker for the retro look.
- Pros: Versatile; doesn't need washing every few days
- Cons: Not great in terms of visibility; could have a more female cut
Pactimo has combined three different fabrics (merino wool, Coolmax polyester and nylon) to create a pretty versatile jersey. The wool content keeps you warm while the polyester and nylon add durability and give it a more lightweight feel.
The jersey is designed to be a casual fit. I'm a size 10-12 and I tested a small (Tass in the photos is more 12-14). There was ample room for a layer underneath. If you want the look that Pactimo has on its website, I'd say stay true to your size; if you want a tighter fit, downsize.
There are no quirks in the fit; the torso and arm length is good, the collar height spot on and the chest width not too tight. The generous length of the 'traditional fit' means it goes brilliantly with jeans or leggings for a casual look off the bike. For me, it lacked a bit of tapering at the waist; I thought it could be more flattering here. That's an individual thing, though.
The fabric has a really soft feel to it, with absolutely no irritation against the skin. There is no restriction of movement whatsoever on the bike. This is primarily down to the casual fit but also the stretchiness of the material, so even if you find it a bit snug somewhere, it gives well. The cuffs shut off cold draughts and the collar zip is easy to adjust. It doesn't have a guard but I never noticed any irritation when it was fully zipped up.
After the first week of testing – commuting every day and a couple of town trips – the jersey didn't smell or look dirty. The wool content is high enough to prevent it from holding odours, and its dark colour means it doesn't look dirty quickly either. It went in the wash anyway and it's been washed pretty extensively since to see how it responded. Bottom line is, you'll be wearing it a hell of a lot more than you'll be washing it. Drying wasn't an issue and it doesn't need an iron either. There is no bobbling or snags but you can tell it's no longer new; a slightly worn look's developed.
The rear pockets are great for lightweight items though I found myself reluctant to put anything too heavy in them; the jersey swings round while riding if unevenly weighted. As I was mainly commuting or popping into town in the jersey I normally had a pannier or rack bag anyway so didn't find not using them an issue. It's certainly worth knowing that the pockets can take a cased, 15 x 17cm smartphone (Moto G5 Plus). The button won't fasten over it but it is secure against falling out while riding. They do stretch, so if you opt to make good use of them they are accommodating.
As you would expect, the jersey really doesn't like water, although it's not overly weighty when it does get wet and it still manages a half decent job of keeping you warm rather than leaving you a shivering wreck. To be fair, if you're heading out in the jersey and it looks like rain, you're likely going to take a rain jacket.
I used it several times in rainy, cold weather; under a waterproof it kept me cosy warm in 5 or 6°C. In temperatures under 10°C you need a decent baselayer under the jersey. More recently, with temperatures hitting double figures, I've found a T-shirt sufficient. It'll be a great layer if you are heading out on a late summer evening on a pub bike. It's sufficiently breathable for the levels of exertion I was making to get me to work. I never felt myself overheating.
The only real negative I can find is the lack of visibility detailing. This would obviously go against the retro style. Be sure to get all your lights flashing if you're riding in poor light.
There aren't a huge number of comparable tops out there, though we have tested two that are very similar. Tass tried something from Rapha which she loved, but it's no longer available. Findra's Caddon Jersey is also very similar, though it's lighter than the High Country and £20 cheaper (and currently on offer for £69).
In short, although Pactimo markets its High Country Jersey as kit for early spring or autumn, it will serve you well all year if you want it to. Having forked out 100 quid for it, you'll probably want it to. Consider it a two-in-one garment – bike kit and casual kit – and that helps justify the expense.
Stylish and versatile for everyday use – you'll want to use it every day, too, for £120...
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Pactimo High Country Wool Jersey
Size tested: Small
Tell us what the product is for
Pactimo says: "When the ride is done and your adventure or training session concluded, slip on the High Country Wool Jersey and grab your favorite cup of coffee or pint of beer. At the core of each of us is a simple shared passion that shapes who we are, we love bikes! Take that love into your next business meeting, dinner date, or day out with the family by wearing the High Country Wool Jersey, subtly declaring your passionate love for this wonderful sport. With an incredibly soft Merino wool fabric blend and minimalistic definitive styling, the High Country will be your constant companion through these cooler seasons.
FABRICS & CONSTRUCTION:
The Merino Wool blended fabric throughout the entire High Country Wool Jersey is not only extremely soft, but built to match your adventure. Breathable, moisture wicking, temperature regulating and odor resisting, the fabric will keep you warm, dry and comfortable on your next commute. The 60% Merino, 32% Polyester blend will provide an outstanding classic jersey fit day after day. We've incorporated 3 standard rear pockets, each with a metal button closure. The 1/4 zip pull-over design utilizes the definitive industry standard metal YKK zipper on an extra- tall collar for warmth. The High Country Wool Jersey, incorporating performance, fit, function and fashion, is engineered with you in mind."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
*Merino Wool blend body fabric (60% Merino Wool / 32% Coolmax Polyester / 8% Nylon)
*3 Standard rear pockets with metal buttons
Pactimo states that it's 'for your early spring/late fall commutes or any off-bike activity'; it needs some support from other gear if the temperature are below about 12°C.
Looks like worn wool already, though no sign of bobbling.
Very casual. If you check the website, that's the intended fit. Very little shaping for the female body.
Stay true to size if you want the look on the Pactimo website. If you like a tighter fitting top, size down.
Weighty but it's not a 'performance' garment.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Easy – cold wash. Material quickly loses its 'new' look but it's not deteriorated in any other way.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Does what it claims really. Don't expect it to be a high performance jersey, that's not what it's intended for.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Versatility; riding to work, town or the pub and not feeling like I stood out as a cyclist when I got off the bike.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Could have had a more accentuated female cut.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Similar price to two tested, as mentioned in the review. Jura Cycling offers its full merino jerseys for less. Pactimo is perhaps a little overpriced but the mixed fabric offers added versatility.
Did you enjoy using the product? Loved it.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
A bit over-priced and could have a bit more shaping, but it really is a lovely, versatile top; use it for commuting, town trip, pub visit, café jaunt... all done in style. Only sporadic washing necessary to boot.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road My best bike is: Carbon road.
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, getting to grips with off-roading too!
Emma’s first encounters with a road bike were in between swimming and running. Soon after competing for GB in the World Age Group Triathlon Championships in Edmonton in 2001 she saw the light and decided to focus on cycling.
After a couple of half decent UK road seasons racing for Leisure Lakes, she went out to Belgium to sample the racing there and spent two years with Lotto-Belisol Ladies team, racing alongside the likes of Sara Carrigan, Grace Verbeke, Rochelle Gilmore and Lizzie Deignan. Emma moved from Lotto-Belisol to Dutch team Redsun, then a new Belgian team of primarily developing riders, where there was less pressure, an opportunity to share her experience and help build a whole new team; a nice way to spend her final years of professional racing.
Since retiring Emma has returned to teaching. When not coercing kids to do maths, she is invariably out on two wheels. In addition to the daily commute, Emma still enjoys getting out on her road bike and having her legs ripped off on the local club rides and chain gangs. She has also developed an addiction to touring, with destinations including Iceland, Georgia and Albania, to mention just a few. There have also been rare sightings of Emma off-road on a mountain bike…