As autumn teases us with colder weather and shorter days in our Europe HQ, pre-work and evening rides have become chilly. Not yet time to reach for a jacket, the Podia Merino long sleeve jersey introduced earlier this year has become my go-to kit.
Podia Navy Merino, lightweight long sleeve cycling jersey
Maybe I should preface this with a warning that this is going to be a lot of words about a simple merino jersey that has performed very well for me….
While I’ve seen & ridden in excellent cycling kit from some of the biggest brands in the industry, sometimes it’s the little guys that get the attention to detail (and pricing) just right. Polish clothing company (and now road & gravel cycling tour operator) Podia started small with their first designs actually just a stylish looking club kit. Only a couple of years in, they realized simple ideas could improve not only their jersey design but construction as well, still keeping all design & manufacturing within Europe. This latest jersey is their first foray into natural fibers with a Merino wool blend.
Podia Navy Merino jersey – Technical details
The core of the jersey is a simple 165 gram 67% polyester/33% merino SportWool blend, a single fabric used throughout. Podia realized that at their small production levels they could only keep a low 135€ cost if they didn’t try to offer too many colors. So instead of three different body fabric colors, they added color in the details. Pick the Navy & Orange jersey and you get a color matched orange zip & detail stitching. I opted for the more low-key Navy & Olive, but there’s an even more stealth Navy & Black too.
Detail-wise the Podia Merino errs on the side of simplicity. Three standard rear pockets haul your gear, plus a fourth mini valuables pocket. The little zip pocket isn’t water-resistant like many similar jerseys, instead adding just one more layer of the light merino. That actually works out better for me since water-proof pockets don’t breath, forming a hot spot on my back when I’m pushing it. And when I need something actually waterproof, I always opt for a sealed bag/case anyway.
The fit of the jersey includes generously (but not overly) long sleeves with a nice angled tapered cut to the cuffs. At 185cm tall I have relatively long arms and occasionally find close-fitting jersey & jacket sleeves to be too short. The extended cuffs of the Podia Merino jersey kept my wrists covered, closing the gap to a pair of gloves. Reflective piping both above & below the rear pockets adds visibility, and silicone dots on the elastic rear hem help keep the jersey from riding up, even with empty pockets.
The Podia Merino jersey is made entirely in the European Union, sewn in Lithuania, and Podia even offers free repair service if you happen to crash in it. The cut is comfortable and close, with my size Large fitting true to size for my 102cm chest.
Riding Impressions – Podia Navy Merino jersey
Lighter than the average long sleeve merino-based jersey Podia manages to make a piece of kit that I wear more comfortably on rides where it warms up as well. This time of year the temps start cool (down to 5-9°C) but warm up once the sun comes out (even up to 16-18°C). This lightweight merino mix jersey offers a perfect base to these changing conditions. When it leans towards the colder end I add a merino baselayer, plus maybe even a light vest.
Even though I like the low-key look of the jersey (no shouting logos!) the color is dark which isn’t perfect as we lose light everyday. But in reality, I ride enough mixed on & off-road that light colored jerseys just end up permanently stained with little mud/spray polka dots. So dark navy has its upsides. And when I want more visibility, I prefer to just throw on a bright colored vest, like Podia’s own lightweight & super stretchy 100€ Aerospace Orange Vest which is a solid option. Low light conditions also tend to be the coldest, so pairing this dark jersey with a bright vest is a perfect layering combination anyway.
The light Sportwool fabric is not really stretchy at all so the close, comfortable fit is important. It has also held its shape quite well over half a year, without the rear pockets noticeably stretching out with use (the reflective tape on the pockets seems to have added some helpful structure.)
Based on Podia’s sizing chart, I am at the lower edge of a Large, but would not recommend sizing down. Also without stretch, the cuff does not fit super tight against the wrist (so you can get your arms in & out of the sleeves), even with gloves. Riding in cold weather, cold air does sneak in. But this is a transition season jersey so I wouldn’t expect to be wearing it much below freezing anyway.
Review: Podia Navy Merino jersey – Final Thoughts
All-in-all the Podia Navy & Olive Merino jersey has become one of my favorite jerseys for this time of year (autumn & also spring) for road, gravel & cross-country mountain bike riding. Its natural merino wool fibers have treated me well on multi-day bikepacking trips where I didn’t have to worry much about stinking up camp after a day of riding. I’ve even pulled it on for a lightweight layer and a little protection for short, intense colder weather efforts.
No other long sleeve merino jersey I have worn offers as smooth a transition for riding on days when it warms up mid-ride. And paired with a lightweight, bright-colored vest, the Podia Navy & Olive Merino jersey is my ideal choice for layering up to ride in cooler weather, as shorter autumn days loom on the horizon.