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Soft, breathable, incredibly warm and with a performance fit – that pretty much sums up the Chapeau Men's Etape Long Sleeve Merino jersey. If you want a great quality, comfortable three-season top then this one is worth the investment.
The Etape LS Merino jersey is something I've been wearing a lot over the last four to five weeks as it is just so versatile and comfortable.
The majority of the jersey is made from Australian Extrafine Merino Sportwool which feels very soft against the skin, with no scratchiness or anything. Merino is often touted as a wonder fabric and it does have some very impressive qualities highlighted by the Chapeau.
First of all, it's unbelievably warm for a jersey that is so thin – in the latest cold snap I've been wearing it with just a long sleeve baselayer underneath, though the temperatures have dipped below freezing.
Its lack of bulk makes it ideal for layering, as you can wear it comfortably beneath a close-fitting waterproof or windproof jacket.
While also being warm it's also impressively breathable. Even when riding hard on the climbs I never felt it get overwhelmed with sweat, in temperatures up to around 12°C.
The cut of the jersey is close for performance riding, and real attention to detail means the fit is spot on when in the saddle. There is plenty of length in the arms for when stretched out in the drops, and a lengthy tail section keeps your lower back covered.
The front sits quite high, which stops any bunching of the material here, and also keeps the bottom of the zip from rubbing your shorts when in a crouched position.
The neck is reasonably high and close, which stops cold draughts from entering, and there is a zip garage too, to avoid irritation of the skin.
Round the back are four pockets: three in a traditional style, with a zipped valuables pocket sitting on the outside of the central main pocket. That zipped pocket has a water-resistant lining, giving some protection against road spray, so it's ideal for your more delicate cargo.
The pockets have plenty of depth and width, and the two side pockets have sloped openings, making it easy to get your hand in while riding.
All of these small details are what make the Etape Merino such a great jersey.
True, it's not cheap, but when you see and feel the overall quality, this seems like a jersey that is going to last and last. For a fair bit of the test period I've been carrying a rucksack over the jersey and there have been no issues.
It's not the most expensive out there, either: it's £15 cheaper than the 7Mesh Callaghan jersey, for example, which is of a similar design.
It is more expensive than some, though, such as the Craft ADV long sleeve jersey, but that doesn't use merino in its construction, and I'd say the benefits it brings to the Etape are worth the extra cash.
Overall, I'm a big fan of the Etape Merino thanks to its performance and fit, but also the fact that you'll get so much use out of it. The only real criticism I can come up with is that the two colour options, Grey and Deep Ocean, aren't exactly bright for when riding on dull gloomy days.
Lightweight but very warm, breathable and versatile jersey for three-season use
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Chapeau Men's Long Sleeved Etape Merino Jersey
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
According to Chapeau: "Quick-drying, lightweight, breathable and natural, our Etape Merino LS is a high-performance long sleeve for Autumn, Winter and Spring. It's as perfect under a jacket in the depths of winter as it is worn over a base layer in the spring.
"Simply put, the Etape is the very best long sleeve jersey in our collection."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Chapeau says, "The main body of the Etape is made from Australian Extrafine Merino Sportwool, which is a fast-drying, natural fabric that quickly draws moisture away from your skin. It is also bacteria inhibiting, keeps odour under control and offers enhanced UV protection.
"The Etape has three full-sized pockets for your riding essentials with enough room to store your layers as rides hot up. A zipped, water-resistant pocket will keep your phone safe for those cafe-stop selfies and to keep Strava running!"
The cut makes this a close-fitting jersey but the size guide on Chapeau's website looks to be pretty much spot on. It does say on the website that Chapeau is happy for you to order two sizes and send one back, if you aren't sure.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Merino products can shrink if not treated properly, but follow Chapeau's guidelines and you should have no issues.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
A very versatile jersey that'll cover a decent temperature range.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
A great balance of warmth and breathability.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I really like the grey colour here, but some might want something brighter for dull days.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
For the standard of quality and performance I would say that the Etape is well priced, especially against something like the 7Mesh mentioned in the review. There are cheaper options, like the Craft, but I'd say the Chapeau is worth the extra investment.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
In terms of performance and fit, the Chapeau Etape Merino jersey is one of the best I've worn, and all that is backed up by some excellent craftsmanship. A brighter colour option would make a welcome choice for winter riding, but there's very little not to like here.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!