Reviewed: Morvelo Covert Series Apparel
- Brand: Morvelo
- Model: Covert Stormshield Bib Shorts, Ambush MTB Base Layer & MTB Gilet
- From: Morvelo
- Price: £105 (bib shorts), £45 (base layer), £85 (gilet)
- Tested By: Wil
- Test Duration: 6 months
Launching back in 2009 selling cycling-oriented T-shirts, Morvelo has certainly come a long way. The UK brand is still relatively small, with a team of only four people running the show down in Brighton.
We’ve been big fans of the Morvelo apparel range for a good while now, both for gear to use on the road bike and on the mountain bike. And it’s likely this shared attention to detail throughout the entire range that has led to Morvelo’s success. Rather than distinguishing itself with just road or mountain biking, Morvelo simply refers to itself as “a cycling brand”. Indeed the company tag line is #rideeverything, and from what we’ve seen, the company lives by that statement.
For its more standard line of apparel, Morvelo works on a six month rotation for each of its new collections. However, the Covert Series is a standalone range.
Designed with the sole purpose in mind of reducing your reliance on the backpack, the Covert line is all about stealthy storage. For the most part, the Covert series is designed for off-road mountain biking. However, there are features and quality here that we think are just as desirable for those gracing the gravel on drop bars too.
Covert Stormshield Bib Shorts
- Price: £105
Made in Europe, the Covert Bib Shorts are available in sizes from Extra Small through to XX-Large. They offer a fairly standard cut, though it’s worth noting that they are on the tight side – I normally wear a size Small in bib shorts, though I typically need to upsize to a Medium in most Morvelo pieces. I’d like to say it’s because I’ve been bulking, but sadly it is not. So take care if you’re ordering online, and follow Morvelo’s excellent sizing guide.
The Covert Bib Shorts come in two versions; regular and Stormshield. I’ve been testing the Stormshield ones, which are designed for cool weather riding. If you’re after a summer-weight bib short, the standard Covert Bib Shorts are thinner, lighter and £5 cheaper.
Overall the Covert Stormshield Bib Shorts provide a lovely and snug fit, and once on, they stay put too. Made from a thick Italian fleece backed lycra fabric with a multi-panel design, the contoured fit no doubt helps the garment’s ability to remain steady. Wide and thin mesh shoulder braces are just-right for tightness, and they come together on the back in a large brace that helps to spread the load comfortably. The soft silicone leg bands also achieve the Goldilocks balance of being sticky enough to stay put, whilst being flexible enough to avoid pulling and rubbing on this mountain biker’s hairy legs.
The padding itself is a dual-layered number that’s also made in Italy and perforated for ventilation. This is the same chamois used in Morvelo’s road bib shorts, and is one of the standout features of the Covert Bib Shorts.
As for the Covert part, that refers to the three mesh pockets on the rear of the bib shorts that sit just above your bum. They’re made from a stretchy mesh fabric, so you can pack quite a lot into them – gels, keys, a wallet, spare tube – whatever you need to port along with you on a ride.
If you’re wearing baggy shorts, Morvelo has considered that too. The flappy pockets are only stitched along the top, so you can tuck the waistband of your baggy shorts underneath the pockets, giving you access to your bib short cargo whilst riding.
As for comfort? Well, the Covert Stormshield Bib Shorts are quite possibly the most comfortable bib shorts I have ever worn. Seriously. The combination of a multi-panel design and the luxuriously soft Italian Lycra makes these an absolute pleasure to put against one’s skin. If I know I’m going to be in the saddle for multiple hours, these are the shorts that I’m reaching for every time.
Because the lycra is on the thicker side with a fleece-lining, they are lovely and warm for use in the colder months. Having worn them through autumn, winter and spring, I’ve found them perfectly usable throughout most seasons aside from glaring sunny summer days.
Ambush MTB Covert Baselayer
- Price: £45
Based on Morvelo’s short sleeve road baselayers, the MTB Covert version uses a similar construction that draws on a lightweight fabric that’s made with elastane. Also available in sizes from X-Small through to XX-Large, the Ambush MTB Covert Baselayer offers a highly stretchy fit that hugs the body for a close-to-skin fit.
The fabric itself is made with an open mesh construction, which aims to absorb sweat from your skin and spread it over a bigger surface area to help increase cooling when riding in warmer conditions. As the name, suggests, it is designed to be worn under another layer, but it will just about pass as a jersey on hot days. Tech Ed Tom took the Ambush out to the Alps last summer for the Torino-Nice Rally and appreciated the airy nature of the top while riding in 30ºC+ heat every day. However, for the UK it is more likely that the Ambush will be worn underneath other layers for colder riding conditions, where it serves as nice thin and lightweight undergarment. It also means that you can choose to wear a non-pocketed jersey or top like a merino t-shirt over the top for street styles, but maintain the ability to carry a spare tube.
There’s a full length zipper down the front of the base layer, which makes it quick and easy to fit or remove as the temperature fluctuates throughout a ride.
On the front of the baselayer you’ll find two small stretch pockets that are secured with velcro tabs. Combined with the Covert Bib Shorts, this increases the amount of supplies you can carry on your body, particularly food and sports nutrition that you may want quick access to. Personally, I wasn’t a big fan of stowing that many goods on the front of my tummy, but lightweight things like a bank card or cash were a-ok.
On the back are three conventional jersey pockets, with a nice and wide opening for jamming my hand in to fish around for car keys or a mobile phone. There’s a load of room inside these pockets, so you can really jam ’em full of crap if you feel the need to carry an extra spare tube or another piece of cake.
Stealth Covert MTB Gilet
- Price: £85
A good quality gilet (I prefer ‘vest’ personally, but then hey, I’m not making apparel am I?) is the keystone piece to riding comfort in a wide variety of conditions. Keeping your core warm and protected from the elements can go a long way when things turn south.
Designed to be compact enough to fit inside the back of a jersey pocket, or your commuting backpack, the Stealth Covert MTB Gilet is a highly versatile protective layer for your torso.
Like most of Morvelo’s apparel line, the Stealth Covert MTB Gilet is made in Europe, and it’s constructed from a rather fancy feeling windproof fabric that also happens to be water resistant. The back of the gilet is made from breathable mesh, allowing heat to exhaust off your back as the riding temp begins to increase. If things warm up significantly, a full-length zip can be opened up to increase airflow as needed.
With its high collar and dropped tail, the Stealth Covert MTB Gilet offers loads of coverage to keep you shielded from the elements. It remains relatively close-fitting and flap-free, though thanks to the panelled construction and a slight amount of stretch to the fabric, it never feels restrictive. As with the Covert Bib Shorts I’m also using a medium size in the gilet, so don’t forget that sizing is on the small side with Morvelo’s gear. Don’t be put off by the MTB tag; as far as we can work out, this just means the jacket is slightly longer than Morvelo’s road version. This means it plays a little nicer with baggy shorts, but certainly doesn’t look out of place with lycra.
On the back of the gilet are three generous pockets, and they’re topped with an elastic hem to keep the pocket contents stable on your back. A fourth concealed pocket uses a small zipper to keep particularly jumpy contents secure.
As with the bib shorts and base layer, the Stealth Covert MTB Gilet fits wonderfully. It’s a well-tailored garment that is not only functional, it also looks quality too. It’s also supremely versatile. I wear it for commuting, road riding, mountain biking, ‘cross racing, and anything else on two wheels really. It’s nice and compact when not in use, so it’s an easy one to stash in a backpack or inside a handlebar bag, ready to be whipped out when the sun disappears behind the clouds and the temperature starts dropping.
Morvelo’s Covert Series combines clever hidden storage features with the kind of quality fabrics and tailoring that the brand is known for with its regular apparel line. As such, the Covert line makes for some of the most versatile riding kit going – the bib shorts and gilet in particular have been regular staples in my cycling wardrobe. And with the ability to swallow up all the supplies you need for an afternoon of two-wheeled exploring, I’m more than happy to kiss my riding pack goodbye whenever possible.