My full review of Sportful’s Total Comfort jacket & bibtights, BodyFit Pro long sleeve base layer, and cap (they call it a helmet liner).
The Sportful line of cold weather cycling kit runs pretty deep – with more than enough model variations and choices to cover every riding condition I can think of. The Italian brand’s roots are in cross-country ski gear, so they know a few things about cold weather performance clothing. Italian’s pay attention to tailoring, style and fit like no one else, so you’re almost guaranteed to look good. They also sponsor Peter Sagan’s TotalEnergies pro cycling team, and have and have been a fixture on the Pro Tour stage for many years – so the cred is solid.
Needless to say – I was excited about getting into this new SPORTFUL Winter Kit, and out into the some cool conditions.
Total Comfort Jacket – $300US
The signature item in the Sportful winter lineup this year – the Total Comfort jacket is all new, and to cut to the chase, and very nice piece of kit.
I’ve worn and reviewed dozens of winter jackets over the years, and this is the first design of this kind that I’ve seen. Thanks in part to advances in technical fabrics and new ways designers are using them, cold weather kit really does just keep getting better.
Sportful has found a pretty sweet balance between warmth, breathability, protection from the elements, and weight.
The challenge with all winter jackets is to repel the elements, while still allowing enough breathability that you don’t overheat and drown in your own sweat. The Total Comfort jacket tackles these key issues with construction using two of Polartec’s most innovative fabrics – Neoshell and Alpha Direct.
The Neoshell is used on the outside, it’s windproof, and they claim “waterproof” as well, although in my tests I’d call it water resistant as I did experience some absorption in a heavy rain, even if I wasn’t out long enough for it to soak through. The sleeves below the elbows, and the lower waist section of the body are treated to make water bead up and simply bounce off – you can see a clear demo of this in my video.
Inside, the Alpha Direct fabric is like a loosely woven fleece – you can see the large piles of fabric attached to a mesh liner. This really helps in moisture transfer – allowing heat to move away more efficiently from the body and begin evaporating because there’s just more space inside the jacket. The kicker is that it’s done within the confines of a sleek body conscious design. And it works. I’ve found it to keep me nicely and warm, without getting as wet as some other jackets do from sweat build-up.
Total Comfort Bibtights – $200US
Bibtights – two words, when taken individually should really never be mentioned in the same sentence as your manliness… but put ’em together, get over yourself and you’ve got one of modern cycling’s best inventions – stretchy pants that bring a sort of super-hero vibe to the whole MAMIL genre.
Sportful’s Total Comfort bibs are exactly what they claim – totally comfortable.
Made from “heavyweight brushed stretch fabric with 4-needle stitching”, they’re a nice winter weight warmth without being bulky. The multi-panel design fits well in the riding position, and overall fit was superb on my size Medium testers. Pulling them on there’s the requisite “oh these are too tight” initial feeling, but a couple minutes inside and they all but disappeared from thought, while embracing my lower half in brushed fleecey warmth.
While they’re not meant for wet days, (try the Fiandre or Fiandre No Rain bibs when it’s wet outside) the shin and calf are cut from Sportful’s No Rain fabric which does a decent job of repelling water splashed up from below.
The bib straps are a nice mesh to allow lots of air flow (adding to the overall comfort), and are designed to not roll up, bunch up, or gutter.
In case you still haven’t go it, that Total Comfort theme continues all the way to where your money lives – thanks to Sportful’s Total Comfort seat pad. It uses muliti-density foam placed at strategic points between you and your saddle, and the skin side is a seamless, single piece of very soft fleece that feels amazing, and uses dimples to once again help moisture transfer so you won’t over heat.
The ankles zip into place for a nice snug fit under, or over, booties.
Bodyfit Pro Long Sleeve Base layer – $75US
My cold weather cycling always hinges on how warm I am, so starting with the right base layer is essential. I once squeezed into 7 different winter base layers, for a video review – but all I really need is one good one.
I like this Bodyfit Pro long sleeve base layer because it’s so light (my tester weighed only 103 grams), yet so warm, all at once. Modern knitting technology has also brought big advances to how these garments can be made to fit around our unusual shapes. Think of this a a tube-sock for your torso.
The fabric itself is ribbed, which varies the thickness of the material, and therefore allows for much better moisture transfer and breathability than would a uniform thickness. I wore this a few times as a single layer under the Total Comfort jacket, and really liked the results – yeah it kept me very comfortable.
Helmet Liner – $45US
Ah behold the humble cycling cap, no cold weather ride can happen without it, yet few things scream “private school lad” louder. Few of us would be caught seen wearing one. Such are the battles we grown men fight.
Thankfully Sportful’s smart design makes choosing this one easy. The peaked sleak silhouette fits nicely under my helmet, completely eliminating the dreaded “Jiffy-Pop” head, thanks to the front half being made from GORE-TEX INFINIUM™ which blocks wind & water from the outside, while the fleecey inside keeps up the warmth where your head meets the cold – right in front.
Overall, this is top end kit with excellent detail to smart choices of technical fabrics, clever design ideas, and the kind of fit and finish I expect from an Italian brand. The Total Comfort jacket is not cheap, nor should you expect it to be, but a good winter jacket can last 5 seasons or more, so it’s a long term purchase.