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The Howies Jesse Polo shirt is a super-comfortable merino option in a cycle-friendly slim cut.
Sometimes you want to ride somewhere, but you don't want to look like you've just stepped off your bike when you arrive. You might be going to work, going to meet friends in town or whatever, and the full Lycra get up just isn't the look you're after. That's the type of occasion when the Jesse Polo comes in handy.
It's made from 100% merino wool which, as you doubtless know, is naturally antibacterial. That means it's odour resistant; when you get to your destination, you won't stink like a laundry basket. You can keep it on all day without any worries.
The Jesse is cut fairly slim – not as tight as a typical cycling jersey but closer than a standard polo shirt. That means it doesn't billow about in the wind when you're on your bike. The back is a little longer than the front but not by much. To be precise [gets out tape measure], it's 2cm longer.
The Jesse is made from quite a light weight of merino – 175g as opposed to the 190g of the Howies Vail T-shirt that we reviewed recently – so it's suitable for summer use and, of course, you can whack another layer on top in cooler weather to trap a warm layer of air around your body. The four-button neck allows you to let in a little extra air if you start to overheat and the fabric moves sweat away from your skin well.
The only trouble we've had with 100% wool clothing in the past is that it can get pulled out of shape if you load up the pockets – but you don't get any pockets here so that's not an issue.
Howies use Zque merino for this shirt which means, among other things, that it comes from sources that are environmentally, socially and economically sustainable, and the welfare of the sheep is checked. It's good to know that you're doing the right thing.
The Jesse is available in five different colours: darkness (dark blue), light navy, mid grey, ocean (blue/grey) and revolver (mid grey).
There's not a lot more to tell. This is a well-made merino jersey that you can wear on and off the bike. Job's a good un.
Very comfortable merino polo shirt for riding and not riding.
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Make and model: Howies Jesse Merino Polo Shirt
Size tested: Medium, Ocean
Tell us what the product 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?
Howies say, "A smarter casual alternative to a traditional base layer. All the technical benefits of Merino, in a slim fit short sleeve polo.
"High wicking, breathable and odour resistant, this polo designed to be worn all day so you can run or ride without the need to change clothes."
It's not cycle specific - there are no rear pockets, high neck or anything – but merino is a cycle-friendly fabric. It's for being active in, rather than for full-on sport.
Remember not to wash it too hot or stick it through the tumble dryer and it should last for ages.
Very comfortable fabric. It's still soft after several washes.
We reviewed Bontrager's 100% merino Commuting Wool Shirt and that was £70.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It's for being active in rather than for doing sport in. Use it in that way and it does an excellent job.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
You can wear it on the bike - then keep it on for the rest of the day without feeling scuzzy.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Not sure there's anything in particular to dislike: what you see is what you get here.
Did you enjoy using the product? Very much.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Definitely.
Age: 41 Height: 190cm Weight: 75kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.