From time to time I’m asked to try some new kit out. Sometimes I get trade rates (not often enough), sometimes there’s no charge. In this case it’s the latter. Either way, if I post about it, I’ll always be honest, just like I’ve been through 15 years of recommending kit when coaching and guiding. I figure that if you like what you hear, you might tell somebody or you might even buy it. I won’t never ever call myself an influencer though!
I’ll get one thing out of the way right from the off. I can’t wear wool. It’s not because I can’t bear to think of all those little fluffy clouds on legs getting sheared then shivering, naked in the fields. It’s because it itches and irritates me like an itchy irritating thing.
Merino though, is different. Well, mostly. I’ve worn some thick coarse Merino that makes me feel like I’m paying a penance for some heinous previous wrongdoing (as if!) and I’ve worn some Merino that feels as smooth as silk and I almost can’t tell I’m wearing it. This range from Vulpine is definitely towards the finer end of that range.
For the history nerds out there it seems the origin of Merino is still disputed but one version is that the herds were originally from Morocco followed by cross breeding in southern Spain in the 12th and 13th centuries and more recently they were cross bred with Kiwi fruit in New Zealand giving rise to modern Merino.
Some of the above may not be true and you shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet.
As a slight aside, I’ve bought items from Vulpine in the past using my hard earned cash. Well, if you can call ‘hard earned’ getting paid for riding bikes, teaching people how to be mountain bike gods and generally promoting cycling. One thing that always stands out with Vulpine clothing is the quality and attention to detail. Sure you can buy cheaper, much cheaper, but the old adage rings true, you get what you pay for. My Vulpine Harrington Rain Jacket is a thing of sartorial elegance and gets compliments every time I wear it (can you be jealous of your own jacket??). In fact it’s so nice, it never gets worn on the bike. Based on that previous experience, I was keen to see how their Merino range stacked up in terms of quality.
So out of the box they all had that lovely soft feel and I had to try on straight away with a fashion show for the family. Sashaying (“walking in an ostentatious yet casual manner, typically with exaggerated movements of the hips and shoulders”) around the kitchen much to the amusement (or derision?) of my teenage daughter.
I was immediately drawn to the Alpine Long Sleeve which is a wonderful piece. It fits close without feeling super tight (I’m usually a medium so I went with a medium), shorter at the front and longer at the back so it feels just right on the bike. It doesn’t bunch at the front and it’s just right at the back where the silicone waist gripper keeps it where it should be. The stitching around the jersey and pockets shouts quality. It has a lovely zip which feels like it will last forever (zip nerd alert), a zip garage to stop rubbing and a nice leather zip puller.
It’s not super heavyweight merino so it’s great for spring and autumn and cooler summer days. I’ve ridden in it on the commute (even taking the long way home) from 8 centigrade to 17 centigrade and it felt great. Any cooler and I’d layer it up, any warmer and I’d go for the short sleeve version. So it’s a big tick for top number one.
Second out of the pack was the Long Sleeved Polo. I have to admit that I wasn’t immediately drawn to it as I’ve never really been into long sleeve polos. Once I put it on though I was won over. The fit and feel is great. I probably wouldn’t wear it on the bike (though obviously you could) but it will be a regular casual top in autumn winter. The stitching is great and if you look closely even the buttons are sewn on with a ‘V’ thread pattern. Now that’s attention to detail. Overall it looks great, fits well and flatters (it’s a slim fit) and it even has a little pocket at the back to let people know I’m a cyclist! Oh, and thankfully the collar has enough weight and ‘flop’ (is that a fashion world term?) so doesn’t go all curly like with most polo shirts.
Third out was the Men’s City Jersey. What struck me at this point was that what I especially like about the Vulpine range is that they like to use colour. So many ranges out there are plain, dull colours like black, grey and navy. Borrrrrrring! I’m a veteran of enough biking photo shoots to know that “it’s colours that count if you want to stand out©”. Did I just coin a phrase there??
Anyway, back to the City Jersey. It’s definitely a looser fit than the first two so if you like your food as much as you like your cycling, you may prefer this cut. I wore it for the commute and it did the job well. It’s relaxed and doesn’t scream lycra roadie when you turn up at the office and like all good Merino, it didn’t fill the room with that ‘eau de cycliste’ hum by the end of the week.
Last but not least was the Men’s City Crew. Like the City Jersey this is a relaxed fit and just as at home off the bike as on. I prefer a closer fit, especially when on the bike, but I’ve been wearing this as some supersoft apres bike chill out wear. Random comment – my wife “loves that colour” on me!
“It’s colours that count if you want to stand out”
So you’ll have gathered I’m pretty impressed with the kit. Whether you like your climbs or you like your pies there’s a fit that will suit. There are styles suited for on the bike, some for off the bike and most work well for both.
Vulpine definitely isn’t the cheapest out there but it’s not the most expensive either. It has enough attention to detail to make it feel special and it’s a brand that feels just that little bit different to some of the more mass market cycle wear companies.
When I first heard of the company I wondered whether the name Vulpine was purposefully chosen for its Fox related origins with use of the word to denote foxy, crafty, and cunning. I think that kind of makes sense, when I sit, clothed in quality Merino, with a knowing Vulpine smile 🙂