Kalf has established itself as significant player in the clothing market in recent times – we were impressed with its summer Chevron jersey and Chevron bib shorts last year, and the Kalf Five° gloves a couple of months ago, all of which managed to pair good value and quality in a good-looking package.
The Club Thermal Jersey is another example that establishes Kalf as a good-value brand worth considering, but it’s not perfect.
Let’s deal with the gripe from the start: it’s not actually a very warm jersey, which with the best will in the world, isn’t ideal for a piece marketed as ‘thermal’. Kalf says it has a Roubaix fabric on the inside, but it’s one of the thinnest applications of the material we’ve ever seen, and as a result isn’t as insulating as you might be hoping.
This might be fine if the outer fabric of the jersey was windproof (or simply thicker with some form of DWR treatment for water resistance), but it’s not. As a result, it does let a fair amount of cold air through. During testing this winter in single-figure temperatures, I’ve worn the jersey with a full long sleeve base layer – with a windproof panel across the front, incidentally – or a more weatherproof outer layer like Sportful’s Light Wind Jacket along with it.
So, it’s not the warmest or very weather-resistant, but there are upsides to this lack of winter ‘bulk’; chief among which is the comfort and lightness on the skin. Where many thermal long sleeve jerseys can feel a touch stifling despite claims of breathability, the Club Thermal Jersey is certainly able to shift good amounts of moisture and keep you cool and dry when it does turn a touch milder. There’s also the potential to use this as a lightweight mid-layer on really cold days.
On that note, the jersey, made from a very stretchy fabric, weighs in at a mere 253g in a medium, which along with the thin fleece lining means it’s very soft and light against the skin. To that end, there are no tight or restrictive points on the jersey either, so those riders after a little ‘give’ in the slim cut are well-catered for too.
Very well catered, actually – the jersey is available in six sizes, ranging from small to XXXL, so despite the slim cut, there’s plenty of scope for bigger riders to find a fit that suits them. The sleeves are plenty long enough for most, although those with a very long wing-span might notice a bit of creeping at the cuffs. Speaking of which, there are no grippers at the wrists to hold the cuffs in place, but that’s often a good call given the potential for irritation against the skin.
It’s also very well made with neat attention to detail, just like other Kalf pieces we’ve tested in the past 12 months. RCUK editor George commented as much on the lightly windproof Kalf Transition jersey in the autumn, and those details around the textured-hem gripper are almost identical, laid out in Kalf’s distinctive chevron design.
If you want an obvious indication that this is a Kalf jersey on the outside, you’ll find an iridescently reflective ‘K’ logo and brand name on the central rear pocket, and triple chevrons on the tops of the sleeves, as well as a discreet logo under the collar. They should help with visibility in darker light, though there's potentially room for more reflectivity.
The rear of the jersey sports three ordinary pockets as well as a zipped security pocket on the right flank, but it’s a shame the fourth pocket isn’t lined with a water resistant membrane, if only to protect the contents from excess moisture from the body. Certainly, heat is transferred through all the pockets, which left me with particularly warm gels when I wore a packable gilet as part of a kit ensemble.
Still, that does demonstrate the impressive breathability of the fabric, and as a result positions it as a good quality mid-layer for cold rides, or the main piece on a milder day.
Once you accept the Kalf Thermal Winter Jersey isn’t a particularly warm winter jersey, there’s plenty of use for it. Mainly, that’s as a breathable and flexible mid-layer that can assist with insulation on cold days, or on its own (possibly with the addition of a gilet) on autumn or spring days.
- Slim but unrestrictive cut
- Stylish design
- Good breathability
- Not the warmest or windproof