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Santini Reef Rain Jersey – review

The Santini Reef Rain Jersey sits somewhere between a jersey and a waterproof jacket, with short sleeves and a race-bred, aero cut, combined with a wind and water resistant fabric - and it's an effective piece of kit for the damp but relatively mild UK climate.

The Reef Rain Jersey is unusual in its approach to weather protection – a niche piece of kit, perhaps, or a new take at how clothing can be worn to protect you from the elements. It follows a recent trend among clothing manufacturers – see the Castelli’s Gabba range and Sportful Fiandre’s collection – for weatherproof jerseys, which provide some protection from wind and rain, without compromising on breathability or fit.

The jersey uses Santini’s Tempo fabric, which is lightweight and windproof, with a membrane to add plenty of water repellency. How does it fare in use? On short, fast rides in wet weather, the Reef Rain Jersey is a really functional piece of kit – it’ll keep you warm (temperature dependent) and dry (for a time, as the fabric is only water resistant, not waterproof), and the slim cut is very comfortable when riding.

On longer rides, the rain repellent Tempo membrane fabric will keep out drizzle and rain showers but persistent or heavy rain will work its way in (the seams aren’t taped). However, because the fabric is windproof, it will help keep warmth in as long as you are moving along at a decent lick and the temperature isn’t much below ten degrees.

The Reef was designed with the Santini-sponsored Belkin team in mind and, according to the Italian firm, “works like a comfortable performance rain jacket to be worn when racing on top of their long sleeve winter jersey or their short sleeve team jersey with arm warmers”. That may be the case but, in practice, we found combining the jersey with a base layer and arm warmers (the Lycra arm cuffs sit very close to the skin but there’s plenty of stretch in the fabric) to be a better option (unless the jersey you choose to wear underneath fits very well), marking the Reef out as a piece at its best in spring and autumn, rather than on freezing winter rides.

The Reef can also work well as a mid-layer worn under a jacket if it’s particularly cold or wet as the long tail drops below most of the jersey and jackets we tested it with, providing plenty of extra protection from rear wheel spray. Breathability is, on the whole, pretty good, though the fabric can get a little clammy next to the skin if riding fairly hard. On the flip side, the full-length zip allows lots of ventilation.

The jersey has a generous amount of reflective detail, including a large panel of reflective fabric on the back, as well as plenty of reflective piping around the jersey, adding more useful catches of light when out in the dark or lower light times. The Reef certainly has more reflective detail than many jersey. There are also two well-sized pockets at the rear.

Conclusion

As a day-to-day piece of kit, it may take a while until you use the Santini Reef Rain Jersey frequently as it will likely make you rethink how your layers work, particularly if you wear it as a short sleeve jersey over a long sleeve jersey. In reality, it’s best worn on its own over a base layer on damp spring, autumn and cool summer days.

The Reef is something of a grower and, while it’s an investment in term of price, it’s a versatile and durable piece and, as you start to wear it more, you will see its potential in use.

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