Sportful Spring/Summer Wear: At The Finish – by Grannygear
By now I have had several hundred miles in the Sportful gear we introduced in our first post and I think I can talk about the pieces with some confidence. Let’s dig into them in the same order as we began in our introductory post.
Pro Base Layer Sleeveless $70.00
This has been my got-to base layer pretty much since I received it and I have been very pleased with how well it has worked. It’s quite minimal so this is not a base layer for keeping cozy in on nasty days, but more of a three season piece. I like to wear a base layer even on very hot days, so this Pro Base Sleeveless would be right in there. It dries fast, never feeling clammy or soaked. I will use this a lot over summer.
It fits snugly (as it should) but I did find it a bit challenging to get into and out of, mostly because the hem around the waist was very tight. One thing it seems designed to do was work with a bib short as it becomes fishnet-ish material right where it would be below the front waist line of the bib. And that makes sense actually as that area is covered in lycra.
The only negative thing I noticed with that design was when I wore it with baggy shorts. Then that short and somewhat high cut ended above the waistline of the baggies. Hello, belly button! Yeah. And fishnet too! Bonus!
So this impresses me as a base that works well as a pure roadie piece or fast gravel with a Lycra approach, but not so much for adventure stuff.
Cliff Supergiara Jersey $145.00
This is a great jersey. I can’t think of one bad thing to say about it. It is a close fit, but the cut is superb and I loved the sleeve length and the way the sleeves are made with no annoying bottom hem to them. Man that is nice! Overall it just disappears on you when worn and feels great against the skin.
Aside from that, the most unique thing is the double row of rear pockets. That feature is kind of cool in a way. I found it useful to separate snacks from clothing or trash/wrappers from snacks, etc. Keep in mind that anytime you have pockets stacked like that you affect the capacity of either pocket by what you have in the other pocket. I also found that if I had a long fingered glove on, it could be hard to reach back and feel which pocket I was getting into. Still, I love the jersey and, even if I do not think the double pockets are a better mousetrap, they are not taking away more than they give.
Supergiara Layer Vest. $115.00
Ah. Now this is another really good piece of kit. I have a lot of vests. I love vests. I find them so useful for our wide ranging temps and windy days. You can keep your core warm without overheating and stow it away when not needed.
Compared to the other vests I have, it is not the most protective and bulky nor the most svelte and barely-there. It walks the middle ground. It has (depending on the size you choose) a slim fit, but not what I would call race cut, so there is room for a couple of light layers under it and maybe even one not so light layer. The fabric is soft and silky and the collar feels fine all zipped up. That silky fabric does flap a bit on fast descents, but most fabrics do in that situation.
It stows into its own pocket as well. I think this fits well into the more gravel-y adventure side of things and I grabbed it for my last bikepacking trip. It is not as compressible as some I have (that you can stuff into a water bottle), so even though it easily fits into a jersey pocket, it is not that super minimal approach.
Supergiara bib short $195.00
Sizing, sizing, sizing. The bane of clothing review efforts. I have a bit of a ‘really, really, like/sort of like’ thing going on here. The fit of the Supergiara bibs is very snug and compressive. Now, is that because they are designed that way or because I need a bigger size? Not sure. But when I am in them, they work really well, however there is no doubt that they are very tight. Even the shoulder straps could be longer as they pull a bit. These are so tight fitting that having straps at all seems a moot point. I mean, where are they going to go?
I reached out to Sportful and was told that yes, they are designed to be compressive. And since I can easily wear either a Med (like these) or a Large in Lycra, I went with the Medium for the review. I think I might have been better in a Large, but if you size too far up in Lycra, it may fit your legs fine but allows for a loose ‘pocket’ area for the man-bits. Chafing occurs. And that is never good.
I wore them on lots of rides, the longest being a mostly all day deal, 75 miles and 7000’ of climbing. I did notice that I was feeling more pressure through the chamois than I expected, but it was only a vague notion, not an issue. In that way, the Castelli Rossa Corsa bibs I have are still the king of long day chamois.
I also stay away from non-black lycra, but the blue/grey on these was attractive and not too revealing, so to speak.
Giara Overshort $95.00
Just what is a gravel bike short anyway? Or an Adventure short? Not sure. But I would say that these are pretty much a light weight MTB short. They fit quite loosely around the thighs and are baggy in the crotch too. You could probably fit light knee pads under there. Most gravel shorts I have you cannot do that. They have simple structure to them, not a lot of pockets, etc.
So is that a bad thing? Nope. But they do not have that ‘go to town and hang at the coffee shop, maybe use them for the office’ vibe that some shorts wearing the gravel/adventure moniker do. I used them for a three day bikepacking trip with a pair of short liners underneath (they were horrible short liners by the way…not Sportful). Who makes really good short liners? I need to go shopping!
I shy away from wearing full bibs under baggies unless its pretty cold out. Besides, for adventure stuff it’s better to have separate tops/bottoms instead of having to disrobe to get out of a bib. I even wore these Overshorts to bed with a set of running tights and my knee warmers on to take the temp rating of my sleep system up a bit. The one zipped front pocket was nice for keeping folding money in there as well.
I really liked using these in the warmer weather. I wore them on a day that saw mid nineties temps on a long climb and never felt like I was hating it. I also like the baggy short for anything where you are camping or hanging out a lot. It’s not like I carry a chair with me when bikepacking, so sitting on the ground or a fallen log in Lycra is a bit rough. There, shorts like this rule. What I could have done was wear Lycra bibs for the long day’s rides and change out into baggies at camp. That is not a bad idea either.
The sizing of the Overshorts is a bit odd. I am a 32 waist. I ordered a Large as this stuff is Italian, so you just know you need to go up at least one size for us ‘muricans. But the Large was huge for me, like just ‘drop to the ground if I let go’ huge. No problem…send out a Medium. Weeeelllll, it was still too big so I used a light weight belt to make it work which is fine, but not what I expected.
Sizing. It’s a puzzlement.
At The Finish: I like the direction Sportful is going with their ‘Fun Focus’ and the adventure aspects of some of the items I had were right in there. My overall favs are the vest and the jersey. I wish I had sized up with the bibs just to see if the Large was better, but that is that. The base layer is a fine item but is kind of silly to wear with baggy shorts and a non-racy jersey/shirt because of the mid-rift cut. The Overshorts really do not distinguish themselves but neither did they fall short other than the fit being odd.
And we do have things that I would not pair up. I would not wear a tighter jersey with baggy shorts. I think it looks weird and if I am OK with a baggy short I am likely OK with a loosely fitting jersey. If I am wanting to go fast and move through the wind with greater ease, then I don’t want baggy fitting anything, so give me Lycra and a slim fit for the tops too.
Of course, gravel is a moving target. It is a pie with quite a few slices in it and there is something for everyone, whether you are speeding across the plains of Kansas in search of a finish line, rambling down the Tour Divide Route, or doing a quick overnight into the local mountains.
See some extra Sportful items I was sent to review later in this post.
Thanks to Sportful for all the fine kit.
Note: Riding Gravel was sent the clothing in this post by Sportful at no charge for test and review. We were not bribed, nor paid, for this review and we always strive to give our honest thoughts and views throughout.