Polaris Challenge Traverse Ride Men’s Jersey
178g (Medium) £74.99
Polaris Challenge Traverse Ride Men’s Jersey is another clever reworking of the classic road top, better suited to touring, mountain biking and indeed, general riding. It also looks pretty relaxed worn off the bike, so doesn’t scream “cyclist” when you’re mooching about.
Available in men and women’s specific versions, Polaris market the traverse ride as a “merino blend”; which basically means 65% polyester 35% merino, which some may feel a little sneaky. Don’t click away just yet, it feels every bit as tactile and has a wealth of other appealing features too.
Starting with the collar; this is softened for a civilian look but also designed so it can be turned up, protecting the neck from strong sunlight. It also offers some defence from blustery winds. Longer sleeves continue this subtle mix of stylish protection.
Rather than the classic “triple terrace” pocket formation, they’ve opted for a zippered nelson chest pocket and two diagonal “power mesh” just inboard of the hips, which, again, strike the perfect balance between style and practicality.
The former is designed for safe-keeping of valuables and has a brilliantly executed zipper tag. Bank notes and cards are the most obvious cargo but it will also manage a passport/similar ID. However, it looks overburdened when fed a smartphone, or my superzoom compact camera, which tended to bob about and look socially awkward. Ladies will be pleased to note this doesn’t feature in the women’s version.
Better are the two diagonal “power mesh” hip pockets that also appear on their jacket. Clever use of angles and elasticated tops, coupled with sensible depth ensures they’ll carry smart phone/big bunch of keys and even some mini pumps without jettisoning them at the first bump - they’ve also stayed put across ten miles of dirt roads at 20mph.
Comfort is much closer to merino, rather than polyester, maintaining an ambient climate relatively cool when it’s hot, yet retaining heat on cooler, late summer/autumnal evenings. The half length zipper offers some additional airflow and uses the same elasticated tag for effortless, mid-ride adjustment. Talking of which, fibres don’t react with wool’s pace but are much faster than polyester’s.
I’ve only felt faintly damp around the pits and lower back when riding at 25mph in 32 degree heat and this soon evaporated. At the other extreme, I was dry in fifteen minutes following an unexpected, sharp summer shower and it line dries following a bucket or machine wash in similar time. The hybrid weave also means it stands a better chance of retaining shape if thrown in with the household wash at 40 odd degrees.
Sizing is accurate for the most part and cut long enough to protect the lower back when hunkering low on the drops for long periods-no flap or flutter-even on blustery descents. However, our medium tended to gather slightly around the middle, resulting in an unflattering paunch like effect …
Minor points aside; I really rate the traverse. Yes, it does seem a little steep given pure merino race jerseys can be had for as little as £40. However, the weave seems hardy and it’s a great all-rounder in the style and practicality stakes.