Sportful's Supergiara Thermal Jersey does a good job of keeping you warm in cold conditions – but exactly how it's 'gravel' isn't clear. The separate-layer windproof panel works, but won't be to everyone's taste.
Sportful had a bit of a hit with its Supergiara bib tights as Stu reviewed here – the 'giara' bit of the 'Supergiara' moniker meaning 'gravel'. Giara translates in Italian to 'an earthernware pot', which could become gravel if you dropped it from a height, I guess.
The gravel-specificity (yes, that's A Thing now) of the Supergiara tights are the pockets. One on the thigh for gels and other light stuff, and two more on the back, to hold items easy to hand or under your jersey, that you don't want ejected into the void while fanging about lumpy, bumpy gravel tracks. I was keen to understand exactly how a jersey itself could be more 'gravel'.
The Supergiara Thermal Jersey is a pretty hefty affair at 320g. It would feel more like a thermal jacket, if it weren't so tight-fitting (it's not me in the photos). Sportful does a heavier version, the – surprise – Supergiara Jacket, which costs £60 more, features triple-layer fabrics, and has two additional stash pockets on the chest. Sportful says it's good for 5-10°C, which I'd take as good for down to zero, if the performance of the Thermal Jersey here is anything to go by. Maybe guideline Italian temperatures are to be given the same raised eyebrow as Italian clothing sizing, but I digress.
The Thermal Jersey fabric is a real mixture, the complexity of assembly accounting no doubt for a chunk of the price tag. There are a number of retro-reflective grey panels, bands around the arms, and also above the two outer pockets. Definitely not high-vis, but they do work in car headlights.
Everything's held in place by a full-length silicone grip-strip around the hem, and the fairly chunky (in a good way) YKK zip terminates al fresco at the neck with no zip garage to be seen.
On the back, around the lower stomach and below the bicep there's a light Roubaix two-layer thermal fabric which does an admirable job of keeping warmth in and the wind at bay, without being an actual windblock fabric. I, of the notoriously-crap circulation, was warm of hand while working reasonably hard in 5-degree windy temperatures with just a 100gsm merino base underneath.
The Supergiara's party piece is the opaque chest panel, which is a completely windproof layer sitting over the top of a non-thermal two-layer breathable fabric. This curls around to the back and over the shoulders, affording complete protection from the wind. I'm guessing the thinking here is to stop the wind while allowing the fabric underneath to breathe, unencumbered by the necessity for a windstopping membrane and instead relying on the physical air gap present between the fabric and front panel as you move around on the bike.
Going below 5°C, I found myself needing a proper windblock layer – the Thermal Jersey pairing nicely with a light, almost gilet-grade fabric stowable race cape, but becoming pretty sweaty if paired with a proper hardshell jacket. Out on a 3-4°C offroad blast under a loose-fitting mountain bike hardshell, I found the thermal jersey a bit sweaty for my liking – not sopping wet, but not as breathable as you'd want a layer to be.
So far there's nothing screaming 'gravel' about the Supergiara Thermal Jersey, but what about the stowage that marked out the bib tights? You get three pockets across the back, just like every other cycling jersey. The two outer pockets are 14cm ('iPhone X') deep, the middle one about 18cm – so plenty long for a decent mini-pump, and I had no issues stocking a decent ride's worth of wintry kit in them.
What did surprise me after the promise of Gravel-Specificity, was the lack of any kind of retention flap or artifice in the pockets, as I enjoyed recently on the Assos Mille GT Jacket. Indeed, the inner fabric of the pockets I found so slippery, I was fearful to stow my phone less an unexpected jolt see it ejected rearward, never to be seen again (at least in one piece). I feel Sportful really missed a trick here, and it's an odd omission given its work on the bib tights. Also, there's no zipped security pocket for car keys, cash or card.
So how 'gravel' is the Supergiara Thermal Jersey? Depends on your lens. If you equate 'gravel' with needing perhaps a thicker jersey than normal, one with a separate layer that blocks that biting hoolie coming down the glen as you mash the SPDs through peaty burn after peaty burn, winching yourself higher over the bealach to the promised bothy and a cup of hand-ground coffee, brewed in the enamel mug jauntily hanging off your seatpack, then maybe 'gravel'.
Marketing aside for a moment, the idea of making a warm jersey that blocks wind is nothing new. We covered a roundup of the best in our Winter Jersey Buyer's Guide, below, and Sportful already has a contender in the Bodyfit Pro Thermal Jersey. Reflecting on Stu's review (he's All Gravel, him) I couldn't help but feel the Supergiara Thermal was a jersey looking for a meme, and saying something's 'gravel' doesn't necessarily make it so. Had Sportful made the pockets of better kit retention, maybe a longer drop at the back to ward off mucky spray, maybe building in arm zip vents to assist thermal regulation when winching oneself up gravelly inclines the like of which no council roading engineer would ever dare tarmac, then I'd get it.
Price-wise, it's on a par with other technically loaded winter jerseys. It does a good job of regulating temperature in single digits, in or out of the wind. I don't think I enjoyed it as much as the Assos Mille GT, but that's £170. Back in 2016 I loved the dhb Aeron Full Protection Softshell; that has the same rrp as the Supergiara Thermal but is currently available from Wiggle for £60.
Overall, the Supergiara Thermal Jersey is a nice bit of kit. It's plenty warm, windproof where it mostly counts, fits snugly (the Large tested was spot on for size) and breathes as well as you can expect. Storage could be better but it's one to consider – even for gravel.
Good choice for riding in cold winds, far from home, but storage could be better
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Sportful Supergiara Thermal Jersey
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
It's for people wanting to ride in cold, windy conditions.
"A NEW BENCHMARK FOR WINTER RIDES
"We asked ourselves, how can we turn our gravel thermal jersey into a super-jersey? We examined all its features and took the jersey to the extreme, with a double-layer thermal fabric and almost perfect front protection. The front layers are separate, with the outer layer serving as a windproof barrier. There, now we've got it."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
2-layer thermal fabrics
Silicone gripper elastic on waistband
3 high-capacity back pockets
Full-length YKK® zipper
Certainly stops the wind. Keeps you warm into low temps.
Early days, but no sign of any mechanical stress.
Pretty snug, certainly one for slimmer builds.
Spot on in Large.
It's pretty heavy.
Some sweatiness aside when under a shell, it's not bad.
It's on a par with other technically loaded winter jerseys.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Still looks new after a few months.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Pretty well – and that's from someone with rubbish circulation.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The fit. It's snug.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The pockets need some sort of retention, and I'm really not sure about the looks.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
I'd say the Thermal Jersey is on a par with other technically loaded winter jerseys such as the dhb Aeron Full Protection Softshell (£110 rrp but on sale for £60). It does a good job of regulating temperature in the single digits, in or out of the wind. I don't think I enjoyed it as much as the Assos Mille GT, but that's more expensive at £170 rrp.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Not sure.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Maybe
Use this box to explain your overall score
If the pockets had better retention, and maybe the hem was a bit lower, it could gain another half a star. As is, it does the job required to keep you warm in cold winds – but is it 'gravel'?
About the tester
I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc My best bike is: Velocite Selene
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mtb, Dutch bike pootling.