Kitsbow Divide Jersey
Color: Mineral Blue
- Side abrasion panels serve double-duty as compartment storage with concealed zipper closure.
- Snap front
- Grip tape at inside back hem keeps the jersey in place, even on long, steep descents.
- 48% nylon, 46% Merino wool, 6% spandex
- Made in Vancouver, Canada
Reviewer: 5’9”, 155 lbs.
Test Location: Whitefish, MT
Test Duration: 7 rides
Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat: this is an expensive jersey. Every time someone asks me who makes the jersey, I say “Kitsbow,” and the conversation that follows usually involves a discussion of the price. For the record, yes, it came in a fancy box. And no, it did not include any sexual favors. Now you know.
So what do you get if you throw down the cash for this thing? About what you’d expect: a really nice jersey, made in Canada, from environmentally-conscious fabrics.
Features and Construction
The primary fabric is a blend: 48% nylon, 46% Merino wool, and 6% spandex. The result is a jersey that’s relatively heavy compared to most synthetic jerseys I’ve worn, but it still breathes extremely well.
When it comes to wool garments, there’s always some debate about pure wool vs. wool blends like those used in this Divide jersey. Wool (and particularly merino wool) has lots of great properties, but its durability can (arguably) be increased a bit by incorporating nylon, and the blended fabric can reduce the scratchiness that’s often associated with pure wool.
The other main selling point of wool is that it doesn’t take on a funky smell quite as quickly as many synthetic materials do. I haven’t had the Divide long enough to come to any final conclusions on this front, but so far so good. After a number of very sweaty rides, it still smells like … nothing.
The jersey has a fairly stretchy feel to it, and depending on how you size it, it could work well either as a somewhat loose fit, or as a more traditional, snug fit.
The bottom hem has a mild elastic in it, and there’s a line of grip tape to help keep the jersey from riding up, which for the most part, worked pretty well in my experience.
There are a couple reinforced areas on the jersey; it has some burly panels on the shoulders (presumably to limit abrasion from packs), and the same material is used in panels on the lower sides, which also house a pair of smallish pockets that nicely fit keys, a small tool, or a bit of food.
The Divide doesn’t have any pockets across the back, so you give up the ability to carry anything significant in the jersey. But it also means the jersey works well while wearing a pack.
The snaps that open up the collar probably aren’t quite as functional as a zipper, but people with more style sense than I have indicated that they’re cool, so I’ll take their word for it.
On the backside, there’s a subtle mesh panel just below the neck to aid in venting.
The construction is, as one would expect for the price, top notch. No loose threads dangling, and everything fits together nice and smooth. There also isn’t any weird bunchiness that you’ll sometimes find on less expensive jerseys.
I pretty much wear a Medium in everything, so I got a Medium Divide jersey. Lengthwise, it’s true to size: it overlaps my shorts by a couple inches, even when in a riding position.
In terms of the chest, I’m a pretty skinny guy and it hangs a bit loose on me. Since the fabric is a bit stretchy, once you’ve got the proper length figured out, I think it’d comfortably fit a broad range of body shapes.
Breathability and Comfort
I rode in the Divide in a wide variety of weather conditions, ranging from a cross country race in 90+ degree weather, to full day alpine rides where the temps dipped into the 50’s. In all situations, the jersey was super comfortable—noticeably more so than my normal coolmesh jerseys. It breathed when it needed to, and it insulated when things cooled off a bit.
I also found that it did a great job of regulating my temperature even when it was wet with sweat. Its ability to both cool and insulate didn’t seem to change all that much, even when it was soaked.
While I haven’t had the jersey long enough to really assess long term durability, I’ve ridden in it enough to at least know that it’s pretty dang comfortable.
While the Divide is a tiny bit scratchier than some of the fully synthetic jerseys I’ve worn, it’s by no means uncomfortable. Regardless of whether I was wearing a pack or not, I had no issues with the jersey rubbing or irritating my skin, even on a long ride in hot weather. And particularly with a pack, the Divide does really well. There are no seams or pockets that present an issue with a pack on.
There’s no question that the Kitsbow Divide is a really, really nice jersey. It’s very comfortable, and it has an understated look to it that’s an appreciated contrast to all of the super bright colorways that seem to be in vogue these days.
It’s a jersey that’s comfortable in a wide range of temperatures, and I’m pretty confident that it will hold up to many, many years of use. On top of all of that, it’s made in British Columbia, and you can avoid the moral conundrum of riding in something that came out of a sweatshop.
I can’t say that riding in the Divide jersey is a life-changing experience, but I can definitely say that it’s a very comfortable jersey with an understated style. You get to decide whether that justifies the price tag, but if you do throw down for the Divide, you can be sure that you’re getting a high quality piece of gear.