Sweet Protection has eschewed fancy synthetic poly blends for their newest line of fall jerseys, instead turning towards the favorite au-naturale material of outdoorsy-types worldwide — wool. Is this lightweight jersey enough for riders venturing out into the elements or will you be left feeling sheepish?
Based in the Norwegian mountain village of Trysil, Sweet Protection is no stranger to challenging climates, with their home turf serving as a testbed for their gear. The old idiom of “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing” can have its roots traced back to Norway, and with good reason: living above the 61º latitude line rewards those who come prepared and punishes those who venture out but leave their cold weather gear behind. Sweet Protection has embraced the unforgiving and moody weather patterns of their homeland, using their Norwegian know-how to create a line of all-weather gear in pursuit of extending their time spent riding, come helvete or high water.
Unlike the coarse and scratchy woolen sweaters that are the go-to gifts from grandmas worldwide, the Badlands jersey uses a blend of merino wool that Sweet Protection dubs “superfine.” The individual threads of merino wool that weave together to make the Badlands jersey measure just 17.5µm thick, whereas typical merino wool measures in at 25µm. For those of you who don’t study sheep’s wool and are having a difficult time imagining how thin 17.5 nanometers is, the average thickness of a human hair is 80µm, so pluck a hair and think about a thread that’s 4 times thinner. Superfine, indeed.
But what does this superfine merino goodness mean for the rider venturing out for autumnal shred sessions? It means that you’ve wrapped the top half of your body in the comfiest collection of threads to ever make it out onto the singletrack. It almost feels like you’re covered in silk, but in a socially-acceptable, non-leisure suit kind of way. Not that I own a leisure suit or anything.
Soft feeling aside, the Badlands jersey does an admirable job of toeing the line between breathability and warmth: you’ll keep from freezing while bombing downhill, but you’re not going to have heatstroke when you pedal back up for another lap. Wool’s natural moisture-wicking properties not only make this excellent breathability possible, but also allow for some modest weatherproofing, with light rain beading up on the surface of the jersey rather than soaking through and cutting your ride short. As an added benefit for your fellow riders, sweatier types like myself are noticeably more pleasant to be around post-ride, as wool does a great job of resisting odors.
The Badlands jersey has an understated design, especially when compared to the flashier kit out there in the marketplace. Cribbing notes from Nigel Tufnel, Sweet Protection opted to offer the Badlands jersey in the blackest black they could, with some subtle embellishments (still primarily black) to liven things up a bit. For those looking for a little bit more flair, the Badlands jersey also comes in a rather fetching blue colorway.
The shape of the jersey is designed for being in the saddle, with a shorter than usual cut up front to prevent the jersey from bunching up and a longer tail to keep slop from the trail from ending up on the derriere. The fit is comfortably sporty: neatly trimmed, but definitely not snug — just right in this reviewer’s humble opinion.
After multiple outings into the PNW’s temperamental fall weather, the Badlands jersey proved to be an excellent choice. During misty morning rides, Sweet Protection’s merino long sleeve kept me dryer than my typical synthetic kits, but I was truly impressed when the skies opened up to let the rain fly. Even during spats of moderate rainfall, I never found myself feeling waterlogged–impressive for such a lightweight jersey. Once the clouds passed over, what little water had gathered on the jersey quickly dried, keeping my core full of all the warm and fuzzy feelings.
On days where the weather was less amiable and temperatures explored the nether regions of the thermometer, I paired the Badlands with a lightweight jacket and found the combination to be just about perfect. With its excellent breathability, impressive moisture wicking, and just-right warmth, it’s easy to give my much-coveted seal of approval to the Badlands jersey. If you suffer from a lack of long sleeves in your riding wardrobe, consider checking out Sweet Protection’s offerings, and remember: there’s no such thing as bad weather.
Thanks to Sweet Protection for providing the Badlands Merino Long Sleeve Jersey for review!