No, it’s not from IKEA.
No, it’s not incomplete.
No, it’s not an April fools joke.
Yes, it is bloody good!
At first glance, it appears that the Quality Control department left early for the day, and the Warmfront Koselig slipped through the production process before anyone realised. I remember seeing the Warmfront for the first time and immediately thinking of the old Charlie Chaplin movies and the ‘dickey’ flipping up. Except this is a modern, warm, fleecy lined ‘garment’ for cyclists that has nothing to do with fashion.
But is just half a garment actually useful? Well, think about pro-riders of yesteryear passing the summit and being handed newspapers to stuff under their cycling jerseys for descent. Though we don’t see that any more in pro-cycling, and even if there isn’t a helper nearby with the latests tabloids the modern rider still needs wind and weather protection. Could the Warmfront Koselig garment be that missing-link you have always been searching for?
When you get a good look at the garment, it’s simplicity and lack of curves, sections, and even a back makes you wonder, ‘can something so minimal be any good’? While it appears unusual when it is lined up against a regular base layer, it is really about functional wear like the kidney belts worn by motorcyclists which provide back support and protect against wind chill. With this in mind, it is not about parading about on a catwalk but in practice it is also discrete like the kidney belt.
There are two versions available (in both men’s and women’s cuts). The Warmfront Ultralight is spec’ed at 51 grams. For Bicycles Network Australia I have been testing the Warmfront Koselig Thermal version which weighs 70 grams. The front is approx. 32 x 52 cm and is made from Polartec Wind Pro which is breathable and has a durable water repellent outer surface withstanding moisture and rain. There is a short collar with low-snag velcro closure.
Putting it on is as simple as fastening around the neck, tucking it beneath the jersey and you are ready to ride! The inside is fleecy and quite soft to the touch so you can wear it against your skin, whilst the front is smooth and blocks the wind, retains body warmth and allows breathability.
“But my gilet does exactly the same thing” I hear you snort in derision, “It’s only half a garment”! Well, yes and no.
The traditional gilet (aka cycling vest) typically has a thin wind blocking membrane at the front and a mesh back for breathability. Sleeveless soft-shell jackets are probably the closest to the Warmfront Koselig, but as a full-jacket they tend to be bulkier to stashed in the jersey pocket. So the Warmfront has its place as a more robust windbreaker than a cycling vest but is easier to stow away in the jersey pocket.
Effective or only half as useful?
My answer is a resounding ‘YES’… it is effective. Much of my riding in the Adelaide Hills of South Australia allows me to tackle a variety of short and long climbs, depending on the time I have available to ride. As winter approaches, the go-to cycling wear is a short sleeved base layer under the jersey along with arm warmers. The drawback on climbs, even with the jersey unzipped, is that I am toasty and sweaty by the time I reach the top. On the descent, the sweat cools fast and particularly on frosty evenings it gets very cold very quickly.
With the Warmfront, I can leave the base layer at home (but keep the arm warmers). They cycling jersey alone is enough for the climbs. Once crested, a quick pitstop to whip out the Warmfront from the back pocket, fasten and tuck, and the descent is quite warm. Whilst the body heat is retained by this garment, the wind-blocking properties of the Polartec® Wind Pro material keeps wind-chill away from the chest and shoulders. Arriving at the foot of the hill (warm and cozy), it is easy to get the Warmfront off and straight into the back pocket for the next climb.
It is a garment that works to put on or off on the go… not unlike the days of classic cycling I mentioned with newspaper used for protection… but better. With this in mind, it is the type of cycling gear that is well suited to locations and rides when varying conditions are expected. For example epic cycling tours in the Snowy Mountains of NSW or overseas riding in the Alps. And if a cold Arctic wind starts blasting, it is also a nice bit of chest protection that can also be worn comfortably for the the entire ride.
As a wind-breaker, the Warmfront Koselig trumps the traditional wind-blocking gilet in that it is more heavy duty but without the burden of bulkier soft-shell jacket so lends itself as solution for varying temperatures and wind conditions. That is not to say that it simply replaces a gilet or winter cycling jacket, rather it has its merits. The lightweight and simple format makes it easy to get on and off during a ride and this functionality really stood out for me as outstanding.
Another plus is the pricing and this ranges $39.90 for the women’s ultralight through to $49.90 for the men’s Warmfront Koselig Thermal vest which was tested. Once you get over the fact that half of the garment isn’t there, you’ll appreciate that sometimes less, is actually more.
The Warmfront garments are available in Australia through Full Beam. They are available in a single universal size and the website has guidelines to check the fit: fullbeam.com.au