Louis Garneau Course apparel >> $180 (short-sleeve jersey), $130 (sleeveless jersey), $200 (shorts)
The lowdown: A beyond-breathable and ultra-light women’s performance line
Pros: Sure to keep you as cool as any kit possibly could on a boiling-hot day
Cons: Sheer. No two ways about it, the striped mesh panels are barely there. Sunscreen is definitely necessary underneath
I know that December — especially here in Colorado — isn’t the ideal time to be writing about kit for blisteringly hot and sticky days, but when I opened the box of the Louis Garneau limited edition women’s Course line, I really didn’t want to wait to write about it.
Naturally, I haven’t tried any of the pieces on blisteringly hot and sticky days, but just looking at the jerseys, it’s obvious that they are only slightly less breathable than a jog bra — and nothing else. Why? Plenty of jerseys have mesh paneling, but the microfiber Microsens Mesh panels on the Course jerseys are so thinly-woven, they are nearly invisible.
In conditions hot enough to call for this level of breathability, nobody would wear a baselayer, and that’s where the Course jerseys get interesting. The mesh in the back follows the shoulder blades, and most jog bras would be hidden behind the solid strip between the shoulder blades. But on the front and sides, there would be no hiding what’s underneath. Works for some, but certainly not for all.
Garneau claims SPF 50 protection, which strikes me as incredible even through the solid fabric, which in white is still transparent enough to count my freckles through. But that claim certainly doesn’t apply to the tissue paper-thin mesh, so wearing sunscreen underneath the jersey would be a must.
The Coldblack fabric finish reflects sunlight, even off of dark colors, which the company claims protects from UV rays and keeps heat from building up in black fabric. It’s similar to the UV-protective and cooling In-R-Cool fabric Pearl Izumi uses on its top-of-the-line women’s jersey, the Women’s P.R.O. Leader Jersey, which also features net-to-skin fit, laser-cut vent panels on the side, reflective accents, a full-length zipper and a grip on the back.
The short-sleeve and sleeveless Course jerseys have a racy, next-to-skin fit, and have three tight — but deep, and very stretchy — pockets with small, reflective embellishments, and a hole through which to run a headphone cord. Silicone grippers on the back of the waistband hold the bottom of the jersey securely in place.
The short-sleeve jersey costs $180, and is one step below Garneau’s top-of-the-line jersey, the $200 Corsa. For the sleeveless option, knock that down to $130. When you’re talking women’s non-custom performance clothing, these offerings are as pro as any.
Shorts and Bibs
You’ll be glad to know that the shorts — not bibs, mind you — are totally opaque. They also feature Coldblack technology, so they should keep riders cool as well.
The company takes pride in the aerodynamics and comfort achieved by using very few seams, and sure enough, besides the waist band, there are only two seams that piece together the well-shaped shorts. In the interest of aerodynamics, the laser-finished hem is seamless and has no gripper. It doesn’t seem to need one, either, especially since the legs are quite long for women’s shorts and are less likely to hike up.
Sculpted and lightweight, the 3D chamois has a deep variation of thickness throughout its ridgeless surface, and is slotted in back for extra mobility. The shorts also feature reflective accents.
At $200 a pair, we expect solid performance and no doubt, they delivered.
In the bib department, I am most drawn to the Women’s Neo Power Fit Bib, because of the women’s-specific T-bib straps, even though it’s a couple steps below the highest-performance bibs Garneau has to offer. Rather than two straps up the front and a single down the back, like suspenders, these bibs reverse that and run a single strap up the center of the chest and two down the back. Hincapie offers a similar design in the women’s Power Bibshort.
Retailing for $140, they are compressive and have a perforated memory foam 3D chamois.