Five of the best: Waterproof Cycling Jackets
If you are fortunate enough to ride your bike throughout the year without encountering a single rain shower, then you are either a committed fair weather cyclist or living in hotter climes! Or perhaps you are just one of those lucky people for whom the sun always shines, but for the majority of us there is always the chance that a rain shower will seek us out and in the colder, wetter months ever changing conditions can catch out the unprepared.
Keeping an eye on the weather forecasts before you head out on a ride are especially important in the winter. If heavy rainfall is forecast then a more substantial rain jacket is vital. If, however, the forecasters are only anticipating passing or localised showers then an effective packable waterproof is a must-have. Nowadays, many winter jackets and jerseys have a decent degree of water resistance and can cope with light, sporadic rain, but if you encounter a sustained shower, then it’s reassuring to know you can pull on a thin waterproof to increase your defences. And a waterproof, especially those that offer some wind resistance, can combat a chill headwind too, helping to keep your torso warm.
Modern textiles have resulted in the development of lightweight waterproofs that pack down to a very small bundle and there are many on the market vying for a place in our rear pockets. But it’s not all about weight and how tiny they scrunch down. They also have to perform! Water, we all know, has a tendency to leach through the most microscopic of gaps, so ensure the cuff fastenings are tight, the collar comes up the neck and the rear of the garment is cut to cover your lower back. Taped seams are a bonus, so check that the garment you are considering offers that important defence and the zips are robust and well protected.
A packable waterproof cycling jacket is more a functioning piece of equipment rather than a stylish accessory, so ensure it fits well over a more substantial winter jersey or jacket and does not restrict the movement of your torso, the stretch of your arms and the collar and cuffs are not so tight that they cut off your circulation! The more expensive examples will incorporate a full stretch fabric that allows for a more ergonomic, performance cut, but even those that incorporate stretch panels will provide an impressive level of movement.
Our selection of five lightweight cycling jackets currently on the market will give you some indication of the range available, but if you have a packable waterproof you rate then let us know! (If you would like to submit a more extensive review then email us and we will give you a few pointers as to what to consider when assessing your recommendation).
Craft PB Rain Jacket
Swedish company Craft know a thing or two about ever changing weather conditions and their clothing has a sound reputation for dealing with the harshest elements. The Craft PB Rain Jacket (the ‘PB’ stands for Performance Bike) is a case in point and offers excellent protection and some great features too. At 170g (in medium) it is lightweight and packs down into its own rear pocket to create a bundle that can be squashed down for easy storage. The cut is ergonomic and the stretchy side panels provide excellent flexibility of movement, even over a more substantial winter jacket. It certainly ticks all the necessary boxes: the combination of an elasticated and velcro cuff ensures a tight, snug fit on the wrist. The collar is tight, without being constrictive and ventilation is impressive too, with vents under the arms and on the top of the back. There is plenty of reflective detailing, including a large Craft logo on the back, which will ensure you will be clearly visible in murkier conditions. Taped seams, silicon hems, a mesh lining on the neck and a storm cover over the rear pocket zip are four details that round off a well thought out garment.
The Craft PB Rain Jacket is available to buy online from Chain Reaction or Visit Craft Sportswear for UK stockists and the Craft website for more information on their entire range of cyclewear. It retails at £90 and is available in black, neon and white (the latter two are quite transparent) and comes in sizes S to XL.
Endura Photon Packable Jacket.
The Scotland based manufacturer Endura has just taken over the role of official supplier of kit to the Moviestar team and when a UCI ProTour team comes knocking on your door then you know you are producing something special! With both a men and women’s version available, the Photon feels substantial and robust, but thanks to the neat little stuff sack, it packs down to a small size. There is no venting on the jacket but it breathes very efficiently and when ridden in light rain it performed admirably – keeping the undergarments bone dry and providing noticeable protection from the wind too. Taped seams and a well protected front zip ensure there is not water ingress. Both the cuffs and the neckline have soft elasticated strips that help to make the fit tight, but comfortable. The cut for the both versions is roomy, without being baggy and the elasticated hem keeps the jacket down on the hip area and the arms are a good length and don’t ride up even when on the drops. There’s a great zip tab on the rear pocket – easy to find even when wearing bulky winter gloves and the storm flap over the pocket keeps contents protected. The reflective strip detailing is minimal, but we particularly like the two strips of piping down either side of the front zip – a nice touch. A great looking jacket and when you consider the overall quality and style, it has a price tag to match!
With a RRP of £69.99 the Men’s Endura Photon jacket is available to buy online from Chain Reaction in sizes S-XXL and in three colours; black, red and neon.The Women’s Endura Photon jacket is also £69.99 and is available to buy online from Chain Reaction and comes in three colours, pale aqua (pictured), black and neon in Sizes XS to XL. Alternatively visit the website for stockists.
Available in both a male and female version, Wiggle’s in-house brand dhb unveiled their new Cosmo Waterproof Jacket this winter and it’s already proving a match for their highly rated EQ2.5 jacket. The Cosmo boasts and impressive waterproof rating of 20,000mm and 30,000 m²/24 for breathability, thanks to the 2.5 layer fabric specifically developed for dhb, making this a jacket that will allow you to withstand the heaviest of downpours, yet cycle in relative comfort. And, as anyone who has bought dhb products will testify, the brand always delivers high performance clothing that can stand shoulder to shoulder with far pricier items, but at a smidgen of the price. The cut is very sleek and aerodynamic – more of race cut in fact – yet the look is understated and classic. A fleece-lined high collar and elasticated cuffs ensure good protection from both rain and wind and the rear pocket is roomy and has a generous tab for opening. A decorative reflective detail on the shoulder and rear pocket may not appeal to all tastes, but it is a little break from the norm, so let’s not be overly critical of that little innovation and it’s made of 3M™ Scotchlite™, so is really high quality too! We particularly like the look of the Vapour colour – a greyish-silver that looks very slick and is available in both the women’s and men’s version.
The Cosmo Waterproof Jacket is available exclusively from Wiggle and is priced at £59.99, though they are currently discounted. Sizes for the men’s version range from XS to XXL and Size 8-16 for the women’s version.
Castelli Squadra Long Cycling Jacket
At only £40 the Castelli Squadra is by far the cheapest of our five jackets, but just oozes that undeniable Italian swagger. The price is a reflection that this is a very lightweight jacket – weighing in at a little over 110g – but it provides a good level of protection from both rain and wind and the long back (hence the name) will ensure your bum is kept dry too. The jackets are deceptively transparent but the colours are Castelli staples – black, neon and white. Details are kept to a minimum on this jacket – again a reflection of the price, but the elasticated cuffs and a high collar ensure good protection from the elements and though the reflective piping has been kept to a minimum, the distinctive Scorpion logo keeps its place! At the other end of the Castelli spectrum is their stunning Pocket Liner Jacket which has been developed by the Italian manufacturer in conjunction with professional riders of the Garmin team. The jacket is arguably the most advanced packable jacket on the market, but you’ll need to stump up an eye-watering £290 to pull it on!
Altura Vapour Waterproof Jacket
This winter saw the unveiling of Altura’s stylish Vapour Waterproof Jacket, which comes in a black and a red version. Get the correct size and it is a close fitting, ergonomic cut, but the stretch fabric ensures that it is comfortable and doesn’t tug in the wrong places, especially under the arms and the silicon tape on the hem keeps the jacket down over your back. It breathes well, though at higher tempo or on longer climbs there can be a bit of moisture build up. The performance in wet weather is excellent though – cycling in torrential rain we found the jacket did the job perfectly – no water managed to pass through the elasticated cuffs and well protected zip. The collar, though a little on the loose side, is high enough to provide protection and though a little loose, does offer some venting. When the downpour finally subsided, the undergarments were perfectly dry. There is a single zipped pocket on the back and one useful inside chest pocket (large enough to take a phone) and some good hi-viz detailing on both the front and back. Expensive, but top drawer.
Available to buy via several online stores or visit Zyro to find your nearest stockist.
RRP: £119.99 and available in sizes from S to XXL, to suit both sexes and most shapes.