The beautifully made Craft Essence jersey performs well in terms of fit and function, but finding a jersey that doesn't cost the earth financially or ethically is priceless.
Environmentally friendly manufacturing process
Beat the Heat Cooling fabric
Male and female specific fits
Small zip pocket
If there's one piece of cycling kit every bike rider owns, it's a short sleeved jersey. This essential piece of rider apparel is therefore the key piece of every cycling clothing manufacturers collection, and as a consequence the market is awash with them.
It takes something special these days to stand out from the crowd, so when the Craft Essence jersey landed with its environmentally friendly USP it certainly grabbed my attention.
Made from 100% polyester, the Craft Essence jersey has been designed to have comfort and function at its heart.
>>> Best women's summer jerseys: a buyers guide
The soft touch short sleeve jersey comes in male and female specific fits, and true to all Craft clothing, it's impeccably finished.
The almost shear fabric uses a classic design, with three cargo pockets at the rear and one small zip secure one, double cuffs at the sleeve and a siliconed backed elasticated band at the rear hem to help limit jersey movement.
All pretty standard so far you say, but it's the fabric where the Craft Essence jersey really stands out.
First up there's the functionality. Craft say their Beat the Heat thin and lightweight polyester fabric uses a channel system, designed to move moisture away from the skin to the outside of the fabric as swiftly as possible.
This is teamed with the mesh ventilation of the fabric to allow air in and a solid SPF factor 50 to reduce the suns effect on the body, and off course it's lightweight credentials, weighing in at just 118g for a size XS.
For me however, what makes these really impressive is that the Craft Essence jersey manages to do this using a sustainable manufacturing process, which means either that the core fabric is Solution Dyed, or uses recycled materials. The dyeing process uses less water, energy, and harmful chemicals compared to traditional processes. This system is used on all but the pink version, as it's not colour compatible. However, the pick Essence jersey gets the recycled material - so either option leaves a gentle environmental impact footprint.
Having checked the sizing chart (after ordering), I discovered that the brand are pretty true to it's sizing chart, I therefore could have done with one size up than the women's specific XS Craft Essence jersey that I tested.
It wasn't by any means uncomfortably tight, just more aero than the regular fit proposed on the swing tag.
Despite it's small size I was impressed with the size of the rear pockets, and was able to get tools, two spare tubes and my phone all safely nestled away, although I would have struggled with anything larger than a basic door key in the zip secure pocket.
Choosing to ride the Craft Essence jersey when blessed with warm late spring day, I felt comfortable at around 21-22 degrees. It's ventilation properties are noticeable, as is the almost shear fabric.
I opted for an undervest, but anything warmer and I'd suggest you ditch it, but that does leave you open to displaying a fair amount of torso. It's no biggie if you're happy to do so, but worth bearing in mind if you're after something more modest.
With a singlet base layer on, it was also a good test of the SPF 50 factor, and riding around the lanes of the pretty open moor land of the Peak District with little shade at times, I was pleased to discover that not only did I avoid over heating, I also avoided sunburn, unlike many other riders out that day.
With an RRP of £60, the Craft Essence jersey is a really great buy. It certainly matches jerseys with a bigger price tag in terms of fit and performance, but the feeling of riding in cycling kit that doesn't cost the earth in either monetary or manufacturing terms feels pretty neat.
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Hannah is Cycling Weekly’s longest serving tech writer, having started with the magazine back in 2011.
She's specialises on the technical side of all things cycling, including pro peloton team kit having covered multiple seasons of the Spring Classics, and Grand Tours for both print and websites. Prior to joining Cycling Weekly, Hannah was a successful road and track racer, competing in UCI races across the world, and has raced in most of Europe, China, Pakistan and New Zealand.
For fun, she's ridden LEJOG unaided, a lap of Majorca in a day, won 24 hour mountain bike race and tackled famous mountain passes in the French Alps, Pyrenees, Dolomites and Himalayas. She lives just outside the Peak District National Park near Manchester UK with her partner, daughter and a small but beautifully formed bike collection.
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