A brutal climb up a 12% grade in the heat of Summer is demanding enough without a jersey that isn’t prepared to man up.
That’s the design brief on the $130 Castelli Climber’s jersey: a lightweight garment that keeps you as cool and dry as possible while you crank out major watts in soaring temperatures.
Developed for the Garmin-Sharp squad and riders like Andrew Talansky and Giro winner Ryder Hesjedal, the Climber’s major point of difference is their new Strada Light 3D Mesh fabric. It makes up the majority of the jersey, front, side and back. There’s even a bonus panel on the back of the neck. (Castelli’s Velocity Mesh brings a bit of stretch-fit aero to the shoulder section.)
Hold the Strada Light material between your fingers and you feel the 3D quality — that structure keeps the weight down, but more importably, most of the fabric will stay off your skin. When you go anaerobic and sweat pours off your body, it transfers to the outer surface where it will dry out more rapidly. That degree of breathability means you feel dryer, cooler and fresher — all things that keep you flying up a mountain faster.
In our experience this Summer in Northern California, the Climber does indeed work some magic when it comes to moisture transfer. The longer we rode, the more we noticed there wasn’t that clinging sensation you get when a jersey becomes loaded down with sweat. (Castelli claims a weight of 91 grams for the large size — in fact, it’s so light they recommend sunscreen underneath.)
Speaking of weight loss, the Climber’s zipper also gets in on the act. The Vislon zipper is fairly minimalist and low profile. That’s not really going to alter your power-to-weight ration but it’s nice to know the entire package is geared for climbing. The zip pull itself is big enough that quick tugs up and down are easy. Nothing regulates your temperature more effectively than that simple act.
On the style side, Castelli aways brings a bit of Italian style and tailoring. In our opinion, the sleeve bands with red strip and Rosso Corsa lettering show the nice detailing that separates the Climber from the rest of the peloton.
If there’s any question about the Climber, it would be the size of the three rear pockets. Castelli went with the traditional proportions but we wonder if a jersey dedicated to the Angels of the Mountains might have benefitted from stripped down pockets. By comparison, the lycra elastic trim across the bottom is fairly minimal so they obviously had overall weight in mind. That’s just a theoretical question for an otherwise excellent jersey.
In the final analysis, the question is how hard and fast do you want to climb and how hot is your mountain? Depending on that those answers, Castelli’s Climber’s jersey will likely be tops on the consideration set.
A word on sizing: Castelli tends to run euro-small so pay close attention to your measurements. There are six sizes and you can climb hard in three different color options: White/red/black, Black/yellow fluo/white, and Ocean/white/black.