You can buy a lot of softshell tops these days, most of which claim to be weather resistant, and good across a range of temperatures. I'll wager you can't buy many better than this Kalf Club Men's Softshell Jersey, though. It really does do an excellent job and I can highly recommend it.
- Pros: Excellent temperature regulation, good weatherproofing, good fit
- Cons: Three pockets would be better than two
The eVent membrane within the jersey is charged with stopping the wind, keeping the external moisture (ie rain) out, and letting the internal moisture (ie sweat) through. A lot of the time those all seem like mutually exclusive goals, so it's always a wonder to me that membrane fabrics work at all, let alone so well. I've had good experiences of eVent membrane fabrics in the past and this is no exception: the Kalf Club jersey is really impressive in its ability to regulate moisture and temperature.
A case in point: I wore the jersey for a 120km ride across the Mendips, with a starting temperature of about 4°C and a finishing temperature somewhere in the mid-teens. I was riding an e-road bike, so for the most part of the first half I wasn't doing much work at all. Then I did a timed loop around Cheddar as part of the bike test where I was going at about 75% of my maximum as it warmed up. After that, I headed home and got into a two-up smash across a flat section where I was going pretty hard and it was getting towards short-sleeve temperatures.
At no point during that ride did I feel the need to adjust the jersey. I didn't freeze on the long downhill into Wells early on, with just a sleeveless summer baselayer underneath. I didn't have to unzip it climbing up Cheddar Gorge. I didn't boil in it going hard on the flat much later in the sun. It coped in one day with a good proportion of the range of temperatures you can expect for UK riding, without any problems at all.
It certainly moves sweat away from your body effectively. My phone in the rear pocket was dripping wet at the end (a point to note if your phone isn't waterproof!) but the inside of the jersey felt dry to the touch, and never got clammy at any point during the ride.
Water moving the other way hasn't been an issue: I've not ridden in the driving rain in this top but it's more designed for showery days and it copes with them admirably. The rain beads well on the surface and runs off, keeping you nice and snug. It's not a full waterproof but it copes with the rain just as well as, if not better than, similar jerseys.
The two rear pockets have a storm flap, which makes them a bit harder to access but does keep the weather out. There seems to be a bit of a trend to move to two pockets from three at the moment. I can't say I'm in favour: it makes the pockets too big and stuff tends to rattle around a bit.
Finishing is good. The gold colour is visible without being shouty, and the cut is good. I'm a bit bigger than Harvey who's modelling in the pics, so I filled out the Large sized jersey a bit better; Kalf's size guide seems accurate. The sleeves are the right length and cuffs and collar are snug and windproof without being tight. There's a decent dose of reflectives for after dark.
Realistically, with a couple of baselayer choices and maybe a shell gilet for really wet days you could probably wear this top on every ride from the day you put your spiked tyres away to the day you finally crack out the guns. You can spend a lot more than this on a softshell jersey and not get the same level of performance. It's a proper good top, this.
Excellent softshell jersey that'll be a year-round choice for UK riding
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Kalf Club Men's Softshell Jersey
Size tested: Large
Tell us what the jacket is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Kalf says, "A windproof and water-resistant eVent softshell that shuts out the wind chill and adapts to the range of conditions we can ride through in a day. eVent DVstretch fabric is supple and has a high stretch rating that compliments our fit/cut that's designed for layering and maximising the comfort of the articulated sleeves and contoured hem. The waffle-pattern brushed liner of the fabric creates air pockets, trapping heat naturally and effectively with minimal bulk while dumping that heat fast when you need to simply by venting the layer. Combining this temperature-regulating ability with storm-shielded pockets with reflective trim has created our perfect winter softshell."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
For those in the know, eVent® is known as the most breathable membrane on the market, especially suited to high aerobic activities. With traditional waterproof fabrics, the membrane must become wet before moisture transfer can start but eVent® can vent and regularly outperforms the most well-known brand on the market.
A pre-contoured hem, cut and shaped to provide additional protection from the road spray and elasticated lined cuffs ensuring full coverage when matched with winter gloves.
Generous strips of black reflectivity under the rear pockets, across the back, on the wrists and across the chest are placed exactly where they are needed, providing plenty of visibility without visual assault.
Well made, good sizing and fit.
Couldn't really ask for more.
Washes well, outer layer is fairly snag-resistant.
Perfect for showery days. Heavier rain will work its way in but you'll stay warm as it's very windproof.
Among the best softshells I've tried.
Kalf's chart says I'm a large, and a large fits me just so.
It's a mid weight for a softshell; thinner jerseys (Castelli Perfetto) and heavier duty ones (Galibier Mistral) are available.
Comfy to wear with the soft lining very good against the skin. Nicer than a Gabba to wear without a baselayer.
A lot of softshell jerseys are a lot more expensive than this. It's cheaper than a dhb one.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Washes fine on a normal cycle. Rinse well to keep the water beading off the surface.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
It's just a really good jersey.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Pity about the pocket layout.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?
You can pay the best part of £300 for a softshell; the Kalf is near the bottom of the proper membrane tops.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes
Would you consider buying the jacket? Absolutely
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Absolutely
Use this box to explain your overall score
Three pockets and it gets a 10.
About the tester
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Kinesis Tripster ATR, Merida Scultura
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.