It was only a couple months ago that we saw the Swedes of Void debut their new wet weather Armour kit. For our EU team based in the Czech Republic, getting out to ride from fall through winter and into spring often means many chances to get wet on the bike, both on the road and in the forests. So riding gear to keep us comfortable in foul weather is always a welcome addition. It’s always a little bit harder to be motivated to start a ride in the rain, but the Armour kit did a pretty good job getting me motivated to get out the door and served me well through a couple of colder months, in both rain and shine…
So Void’s Armour kit is specifically targeted at blocking out rain, but luckily it wasn’t all wet and cloudy rides this winter. In fact the side benefit of a waterproof kit is that it is also usually windproof, and if the fit is good a bit aero as well. The Armour long sleeve jersey, bib shorts, and leg warmers seemed to deliver well on all those accounts. While I only really wore the Void kit when the weather was forecast to be cold, windy, and wet, we lucked out on several occasions and ended up with some blue skies along the way.
In fact, looking in the direct sun gives us a pretty good breakdown of the Void Armour kit that I’ve been testing. The 160€ long sleeve jersey is the lightest piece out of the set and uses a 180g/m22 fabric that is a little less shiny than the shorts & legs. According to the numbers it actually appears to have twice as thick of a polyurethane membrane to block incoming wind and water. That membrane is decently permeable to let sweat out, but also gets paired with mesh armpit panels to keep good breathability.
The 160€ bibs shorts and 65€ leg warmers are quite a bit thicker and share the same 290g/m22 fabric that gets a bit more of a shine to it. They essentially use the same materials for a polyester/lycra/TPU membrane bend just in a different ratio that makes for a slightly heavier, more insulated feel and a supportive compressive stretch. While they didn’t seem to noticeably let in more water than the jersey, rain didn’t seem to bead up on the legs anywhere near as much as the jersey. The shorts and legs claim breathability as well, but really it is less noticeable, and I was more appreciative of them keeping wind and rain outside where it belongs.
With their breathability, it also means this isn’t a fully waterproof kit. Between mesh vents in the jersey and the lack of taped seams anywhere the kit is really just water-resistant. That said, both main waterproof fabrics did well to keep rain out, and kept me dry for the most part in all conditions.
The jersey has a good bit of stretch and a close fit. I have a 100cm chest and am 185cm tall with long arms, so I was temped to size up to the large jersey, but Void recommended that I stick with the Medium which is closest to their size chart. That seemed to work out well, with the torso fitting snuggly (without being compressive) and the arms having a bit more room without feeling loose. More to the arm, the sleeves did a good job of always staying in place and covering the cuff of my gloves without sliding up in any position on the bike. That sounds like a no brainer, but not always the case on long sleeve jerseys and jackets for me. The fit of the sleeves was a little loose over my forearms and a bit more so over my biceps, but I never felt like they were flapping around. I tend to run hot no matter the weather, so I only wore the jersey on the bike with short sleeve baselayers, but that little extra room made it possible to pull the jersey on comfortably over a long sleeve merino baselayer that would surely extend its operable temperature range.
As for the shorts, on the dot with a 87cm waist, the Medium bibs were a perfect fit, with comfortable support from the completely mesh bib straps and a snug compressive fit over my thighs. The fit on the Medium Armour leg warmers was generally good as well, but their cut and detailing wasn’t quite as snug (and Void tells us they are actually working on improving it for next year.) The diameter of the Legs around my thighs and through the knees was good, but the narrow and slightly tighter top gripper left a bit to be desired. Also as you move down from the calf to the ankle the fit becomes generally more loose around the cuff where a zipper place to the side would have allowed them to be cut more snuggly.
Overall the Void Armour kit has a number of nice small details. It isn’t the flashiest kit out there, but does the job with a couple of small flourishes. On the jersey, even without taped seams, it does include a nice tall collar with a soft inside mesh against the skin. This did well to keep cold air and rain off my neck, as did the storm flap behind the front zip, that when opened up reveals the only bit of color in the kit. Pocket layout is a pretty standard 3+1 design, with deep pockets and a small side zip pocket.
Very limited logo printing (mostly on the front) of the jersey and leg warmers offers a bit of visibility, but is certainly something we’d like to see a bit more of in this foul weather, all-black kit. On the shorts the really wide leg gripper did a good job of keeping everything in place, but was actually so grippy that it was sometimes a chore to pull them on over the leg warmers.
Of course riding the Armour in the rain was where we were going to get the real impressions of the kit. Overall you can get a sense of a slightly rubbery feel to the entire kit. It was more pronounced with the shorts and leg warmers that seemed to stick a bit more to the legs, but they were never actually uncomfortable or clammy feeling, although I didn’t get the sense that I would want to wear them on warm and wet days.
The jersey had less of a rubbery feel, being soft against the skin, but had more of a stretchy sensation when I started stuffing the pockets full. The rear pockets are deep enough to haul pretty much anything you could think you might put on your back, and stretched enough to keep accommodating a larger and larger load. No problem to stuff another packable outer layer, plenty of snacks, tools, tube, a phone and spare gloves & cap inside. I really just kept putting more and more stuff inside them, although the stretchy fabric is pretty grippy making it a bit difficult to pull out just one smaller item when the pockets are totally packed.
Unlike some other waterproof kits, the pockets do not include drain holes. Without taped seams they never were full of water at the end of a ride, but when I overpacked the pockets to see what I could haul it did seem to allow more water to accumulate inside during a heavy rain. The side zip pocket did a good job of keeping my wallet & keys dry, but anytime I wore this jersey I made sure to keep my phone in its own 100% waterproof pouch.
The first thing I always noticed about the jersey riding in the rain was that water immediately started beading up and running off. And riding along, the instant it would stop raining, wind would have blown every water droplet off and it looked dry again. That certainly gives the impression that water is being kept outside, which was backed up by staying dry on the inside. With that said, after long hard rides in a mix of rain and sun, my baselayers were never completely dry. The jersey does a good job of keeping rain and cold winds out, but that of course comes mixed with a loss of some breathability. I didn’t get the feeling that this was the most advanced fabric I’ve ever worn, and I certainly was sweating a bit inside.
At first the shorts themselves seemed a bit less advanced in cut with different panel layout than we are used to seeing that results in both the front and back of the legs looking like one smooth panel. But in reality paired with the fabric the V panels on the side gave a comfortable fit that offered support and never moved around or noticeably bunched. Likewise, the unfamiliar multi-density chamois did its job well on short and long rides offering well padded support that disappeared from thought and didn’t chafe (even on the last day of a long-distance off-road touring trip.)
The only really issue I had with the kit as a whole would be the sausage effect of the leg warmers. Besides not looking good by squeezing my upper leg, the tight silicone gripper left a good impression in my legs after wearing them for 10 hours one day on an extended trip. Surely a solution like the wide gripper on the shorts would have been more comfortable and would not have needed to be so constrictive. The only real nit that I’d pick at the jersey would be that I would have liked to have drains in the pockets. I got the feeling that carrying spare clothes in the rain was just going to end with me hauling around a soaked baselayer and gloves if I didn’t haul them in a sealed bag.
Perfect waterproofing, perfect breathability or not, the reason I would reach for the Void Armour kit is to stay comfortable riding in wet & windy weather; and that is where this kit does the job. Whether it was 5°C and raining or just as cool but sunny and windy the Armour kit kept me comfortable. When I was putting in a harder effort or on an extended climb, unzipping a bit let enough cold air blow in and out the pit vents to keep me from overheating, and with a quick zip up I was cozy again against wind & rain.
If you ride in the rain for any extended periods of time, it is hard to argue against a set of waterproof shorts and leg warmers. While inevitably water will find its way in eventually, these kept me dry enough to enjoy the ride and warm even when water does creep in, much like a wet suit does. For the top, I appreciated being able to wear something lighter like a jersey instead of opting for a heavier jacket when it wasn’t yet freezing out, and even though I almost always carried an extra taped-seam vest in the rear pocket, I never felt it was really necessary on my rides. The short sleeve variant combined with arm warmers of the same fabric might offer a bit more versatility, but seeing as how the breathability of the fabric isn’t extremely high I wouldn’t see riding in the jersey often in weather that wouldn’t already be better with long sleeves as well.
I think throughout the remainder of spring riding up to around a wet 15°C, and then again as soon as it cools off in the autumn, the Armour long sleeve jersey will do pretty well to replace a light jacket as it seems to have a broader range than a either dedicated rain jacket or insulated jersey on its own. And the way the weather has been going up and down in Europe over the last several weeks, it’ll be good to have both on the road and mountain bikes.