January can perhaps be described accurately as “the depths of winter” and so warm and hopefully weather-proof clothing continues to occupy a significant space on our test schedule.
The second of this month’s three test kits is from New Zealand brand, Solo. As you’ll note from the snaps, we’ve already had some miles in these garments, but we’ll wait until we’ve tried them in a range of conditions before giving a full review.
Here are some early thoughts by way of a ‘first look’.
Solo Merino base layer; short sleeved; black; small, medium, large – £50
First up the Merino Base Layer. Priced at £50, it is placed firmly in the mid to high end range of woollen under garments. As a fan of merino, I was pleased to see this new arrival. The lanolin within wool keeps odour at bay for longer than man-made base layers generally. The extremely fine 150gsm wool in this garment means that I will probably use it throughout the entire year. The medium size fitted well, despite my requirement for small from other brands.
The side panels keep the layer in a good shape and the fit is close. In short, it fits me beautifully. It is quite long, so tucks into bibs easily, and doesn’t ride up. The flat lock seams should keep me free of itching. Hopefully, a hardy staple.
Solo Merino collar; one size; black; £18
The damp morning air and misty conditions meant that I also plundered the kit bag for the matching 150gsm Solo merino collar. A one-size-fits-all, close-fitting, long tube of wool, early impressions indicate that its £18 price tag might be money well spent. Never a fan of a cold neck, it was over my head and under my jacket before leaving the house.
Solo RT Winter Jacket; X-Small to X-Large; £170
Finally the RT jacket was removed from it’s cellophane wrapping. This is a serious winter jacket from Solo: no visual jokes, fictional teams, or sponsors logos visible here.
What we have is a cold weather training jacket (and in theory racing, but you may get pretty warm; we’ll see). The wind and waterproof panels on the front, arms and shoulders should keep out the chill and avoid damp penetrating from road spray and light rain. Heavier downpours, frequent in recent months, will provide a sterner test.
The zip is off-centre in the style-du-jour, and I have to confess to liking the asymmetric look, despite not being wholly convinced of the attendant claims for enhanced comfort (zip tucked under jaw, rather than on throat). Nevertheless, it looks good and does make the jacket easier to unzip on the bike. The zip is also hidden under a baffle, making it all a little more weatherproof.
A reflective stripe running from the left cuff, across the chest and all the way down to the right cuff will help with visibility from the front when signaling a turn to oncoming traffic – a nice detail on such a stealthy looking piece. Reflective trim on the back also helps keep you seen from the rear. Soft cuffs and a matching waistband should keep the draft out.
The classic three rear pockets are in attendance, with a zippered and fully waterproof pocket on the right hand side for any electronic communication device you might have. A surprise side pocket on the right has already proved handy, providing an easy to reach home for my house keys as I rushed out of the door to make a ride.
Check back soon for a full review.