Sometimes a proper review just takes a long time. Why? It’s because I like to really put products through their paces before I say anything. Only then and when I have a firm opinion, do I even start the all the research, writing, and photography. Just that part alone can takes a few weeks of focused attention.
This review of the 7mesh Corsa Softshell Jersey is one of those types of reviews. This jersey first arrived to me almost a year ago as part of a shipment of product to review in the fall/winter 2017 season. It's been a long time coming but I hope you'll see that it was worth the wait.
So first things first. What is the 7mesh Corsa Softshell Jersey? That's a simple question which is kind of hard to answer. The name implies that it's a jersey, which it is - but it's not just a jersey. Through a near year of practical use I've come to identify the Corsa Softshell as an ideal garment across a broad range of weather conditions including both temperature and moisture. That’s why the Corsa Softshell is like no other jersey I’ve tried. A bold statement that I'll back up with details.
When taking the Corsa Softshell Jersey out of the package it is incredibly clear that this is a super technical garment. The jersey is made from a light and crisp WINDSTOPPER composite fabric which is far from ordinary in cycling. Looking around the jersey you'll quickly spot another obviously differentiated feature. There's only two, but deep, pockets on the back with small drain pockets. Check inside and you'll easily spot the fully taped seams which are a hint to theuse case conditions of the Corsa Softshell Jersey.
When I slipped on the Corsa for the first time, I got the impression that the shaping is even more articulated than other 7mesh garments I've tried. Because of this, the jersey really begs to be set in the riding position. The ample sleeve length and drop back are further evidence to the conditions in which the Corsa Softshell will shine. And finally, the tall collar back connects well with a skull cap to keep you dry and warm.
Design & Construction
Even when draped over a hanger, it's hard to miss the fact that the Corsa Softshell has a unique shape. Like I've described in past 7mesh reviews, the pre-articulated shape is done to ensure that this garment performs best when in the proper riding position. Somehow 7mesh have managed to create this technical shaping with just 7 panels - including the drop tail and collar. A secret to this is that the front chest and arms are a single panel made possible through creative seams. An element of the Corsa Softshell design that sets it apart from others is the drop tail. This extended back provides greater coverage around your butt for warmth as well as keeping road spray off your backside.
The entire Corsa Softshell is made from 3 layer WINDSTOPPER composite fabric from W.L. Gore & Associates. When I say the entire thing, I mean the entire thing. Not just the front, but all the way down the arms and across the back. To be specific, the WINDSTOPPER product is a softshell 174p, similar to what is used in the Strategy Jacket. For reference, the material has a GSM (grams per square inch) weight of 174 grams, making it fairly light considering it's made of 3 layers. Let's talk about those layers.
The WINDSTOPPER membrane in the middle has 1.4 billion micro-pores per square inch to allow water vapor (your sweat) to pass through while blocking much larger water molecules (rain) from migrating inward. That WINDSTOPPER membrane is sandwiched between a texture knit inner and a smooth knit outer layer. But what makes this composite pretty unique is that both the inner and outer layers are polyester based (hence the P in 174p). This is important because polyester holds only a fraction of the water nylon does when wetted out. The benefit to the rider is less weight being dragged around on your body. Pretty important when you're designing a jersey for unideal weather conditions right?
The thing is though, just using a technical fabric like the poly poly WINDSTOPPER 174p isn't going to cut it. Seams are like tiny little entry points for wind and water. For that reason, 7mesh have secured the Corsa Softshell Jersey with fully taped seams throughout. The stretch taping cuts down on bulk and shuts the door on the elements for greater weather protection and increased durability.
Earlier I commented that it was hard to miss the two large pockets on the back. When I asked VP of Design at 7mesh, Ian Martin, why they moved to the double pocket setup, he said this was their most hotly contested design choice because everyone is just so used to three. The changeover to two oversized rear pockets was about function. The larger openings allow for easier access with gloved hands while the generous volume provides a place to keep your cap and or gloves when conditions change. Smart! You may be asking yourself, "why not one large cargo pocket then?" I had the same follow up question. The answer is that a single pocket tends to bag out too much and can be hard to find things when you need them.
Of course there is technical attention paid to the pockets as well. Some people may have pieced together that a water resistant material such as the WINDSTOPPER 174p beads water because the ePTFE membrane won’t let rain pass through, plus the outer polyester knit material it is DWR treated. Therefore, the pockets may make for unwanted water basins. But 7mesh designers have thought of this and incorporated laser cut drain holes in each pocket so that water which beads down your back will have a way to escape. That means your valuables and supplies won’t be taking a swim while you’re busy riding.
Upfront the Corsa Softshell Jersey is closed with a full length 3S sized YKK Aquaguard Vislon zipper with a pull cord for easy management. This is the same weather protected zipper used in the 7mesh Strategy Jacket. Again another example of design carryover from the 7mesh range of apparel.
The full length sleeves have a 2cm wide dynamic stretch hem with a rigid tab of soft brushed material. I had assumed this was to help aid with pulling off the sleeves with gloved fingers, but when I asked Ian about this, he said that was a curious little benefit of a design choice. The WINDSTOPPER material is not edge stable. That means a raw edge deteriorates over time and therefore needs to be reinforced. 7mesh chose to use the same soft brushed material that is used in the inside of the collar to finish the cuff. The resulting buildup of the layers creates a bit of bulk that acts sort of like a rigid tab for pulling.
If you're like me, you love and appreciate the little details. One of those little things about the Corsa Softshell is the internal tab of webbing for hanging on hooks to store or dry the jersey.
Finally weight. The claimed weight for the Corsa Softshell is a scant 264 grams but my size large tips the scale at 282 grams.
Visuals & Branding
7mesh has always been focused on solid colors rather than complex graphics. In an earlier interview with them, they explained that sublimated graphics restrict their choices in materials as well as the freedom they have in delivering the ideal pattern. So it's no surprise that the Corsa Softshell is available in 3 solid color choices - Red, Blue, Black. Apparently though, the red will be replaced with a high vis yellow this fall!
Beyond the color choices available, the branding on the Corsa Softshell is minimal, non-offensive, and consistent with the Synergy Jersey, S2S Jersey, Strategy Jacket, and the other apparel I have from 7mesh. However, they have applied a reflective 7mesh logo to the left front chest and another one center upper back. Rather than printing the logos on, these are preprinted and then adhered to the jersey at high heat. There is also a small WINDSTOPPER logo on the edge of the left rear pocket. But it's pretty easy to miss.
Further branding and product information is included inside the jersey back. Here you'll find a 7mesh logo, garment sizing, and manufacturing origin.
Rider visibility is aided by the addition of gunmetal edging on the lower hem. This darker reflective material is the same as what is used on the G2 Jersey or the Strata pants, and while it's far darker than what is used for the logo applications, the gunmetal retains 75% of the same luminance. You'd easily think that the reflective properties on this Corsa Softshell are reduced in comparison to the larger rear patches on the G2 for example. But you'd be mistaken. Apparently in total, the full gunmetal edge on the Corsa Softshell actually provides more light reflecting surface area, plus the benefit of nearly full 360 degree coverage.
The first thing that should be noted about the fit of the 7mesh Corsa Softshell Jersey is the complete absence of lycra. If you've read my previous reviews of 7mesh garments, this may sound repetitive, but it's important. Rather than relying on the dynamic stretch of lycra to create a formed fit, 7mesh use detailed patterning to help form the jersey to the rider’s body. This far more technical approach helps the jersey to fade out of mind, because who wants to think about their clothing rather than the road ahead of them?
Overall I would describe the fit as modern without being overly race cut. At least that's how the Corsa Softshell sits on my frame. For reference, I'm a 41.5" chest/33" waist and the size large fits me quite well.
The sleeve length is ample to cover for my 34” arms with a bit of extra to spare. So if you're long and lanky you should be just fine. The lower hem on the sleeves is comfortably snug and prevents unwanted wind and rain from creeping in. And those rigid tabs of soft brushed material make it easy to pull on and off. Visually, the extended tail creates a much more dramatic rise to the front of the jersey, although I assure you it is a normal length.
On The Road
So what are the right outdoor conditions for the 7mesh Corsa Softshell Jersey? From my experience I found a functional range from about 0 degrees Celsius to about 10 degrees Celsius - with a sweet spot around 5 degrees. To really extend into the lower extremities of that range I used a thermal base layer but at times knew that a winter jersey like the Callahan Jersey or a thermal jacket, like the Strategy Jacket, would have been a better choice for me. The 5cm high and soft lined rear collar provides good neck coverage and meets up well with skull caps or winter riding caps should you wear one.
A temperature range of 0-10 degrees may directly overlap with say, the Synergy Long Sleeve Jersey, but temperature isn't the only weather condition to consider. Wind chill in particular can completely change the parameters of gear choices. That's where the Corsa Softshell Jersey steps up its game. The WINDSTOPPER material blocks out the chilly wind while allowing your perspiration to escape. So on days when the winds are blowing and making it feel colder than the mercury may indicate, I've found myself reaching for the Corsa. To be honest though, on days without the wind chill, I've found the jersey can get a bit stifling during high output efforts.
And finally…. Rain. With a waterproof membrane and taped seams, it may be tempting to consider the 7mesh Corsa Softshell Jersey as a rain jersey. But it's not - there are rain jackets for that! So with all these factors to consider, think of the Corsa as most suitable for rides when you may see mixed conditions, wet roads with road spray being thrown at you, and cold winds prevailing.
This section is always a hard one to write because it's intended to be constructive. So while I only review products which I would recommend, sometimes I still find things I would change.
The 7mesh Corsa Softshell Jersey only has 2 pockets. Albeit they are large and well sized, my typical setup is designed for 3 pockets. So I find myself confused on how best to leverage a 2 pocket layout. I tend to keep heavy and less often used items such as tools and spares in my middle pocket with my phone on the left and food on the right. What goes where now? The explanation of why the jersey only has two pockets makes sense but I find myself perplexed by the setup and spend too much time worrying about balancing out the weight.
Speaking of the pockets, the elasticized webbing on the pockets is unsewn on the bottom - leaving a loose edge inside the pocket. This isn't isolated to the Corsa Softshell because I've mentioned in reviews such as the 7mesh G2 Jersey. Again I understand why the jersey is constructed this way but functionally it presents a problem because when you're reaching in the pocket to pull out items such as a gel or a food bar, they tend to get snagged or caught under the webbing - especially with gloves on. A minor annoyance but I feel it's worth mentioning.
A lot can, and has been said, about the 7mesh Corsa Softshell Jersey. It's a bit of a jersey with an identity issue. Is it a jersey? Is it a jacket? Is it both? Hard to say.
The detailed pattern which creates the articulated shape of the Corsa is a work of minimalist art. They've managed to incorporate some of the best elements of their other kit while adding to it with things like fully taped seams, drop tails, laser cut drainage holes, and 360 reflective visibility. How they continue to maintain this design foundation while pushing functional boundaries is impressive.
At the end of the day the Corsa Softshell Jersey is a piece of kit that can help extend your riding into the shoulder season and give you peace of mind to ride in unpredictable weather forecasts. But where the 7mesh Corsa Softshell Jersey has an advantage over other insulated jerseys is that the WINDSTOPPER 174p material and taped seams means it can serve double duty (a bit of a 7mesh trend) should you find yourself in foul weather. If you’re looking to maximize versatility while minimizing the number of kit pieces you purchase, this is worth of strong consideration.
Add to all of this that with the recent announcement of the partnership of 7mesh with Canadian athletic powerhouse, LuluLemon, they will be afforded access to their sports labs and manufacturing facilities. Looking forward, I'm excited to see what these two brands can do together because they have a truly impressive foundation to build upon.