This jacket doesn't offer the ultimate in waterproofing but it keeps you dry in most conditions and has the advantage of being hugely breathable. See it as an all-round jacket rather than as simply a rain jacket and it starts to justify its price tag.
For the changing of the seasons and indeed, year round use, a convertible windproof jacket and gilet combo like the Sugoi Versa Jacket makes a handy addition to a cyclist's wardrobe. More sophisticated jackets of this type often have some sort of removeable yoke/bolero type affair while simpler models just have sleeves that zip-off. How well they work and how easy they are to convert on the fly depends on the individual design.
The Rapha Wind Jacket (formerly the Stowaway Jacket) is made from a windproof, water resistant and extremely breathable 100% Nylon fabric, the cut of its jib is classic cycling with a long-cut back for a better fit on the bike and a dropped tail too, the sleeves are tailored and long enough to be stretched in the drops without wrist-gap creeping in.
Described by Gore as “a trendy and light attractive all-round and tour jacket” the Countdown Active Shell available in both men's and women's versions is an unusual proposition. It’s not often that you see a seriously insulated (using incredibly effective synthetic Primaloft insulation) jacket aimed squarely at the cyclist, rather than the more general outdoor user.
Soft shell jackets are, on the whole, pricier than more traditional ‘hard shell’ or fleece/Roubaix style non-waterproof jackets. They offer a compromise between the warmth and breathability of a non-waterproof training top and the out and out weather protection but potential sweatiness of a waterproof.
This impressive windproof jacket from Castelli is a top option for use through the autumn and winter.
The main material used here is a Soft Shell fabric from Gore’s Windstopper range (Windstopper comes in several different flavours – it’s not one specific fabric). All the red and white panels are Windstopper, it’s just the black sections on the underside of the arms and across most of the back that are a fleecy and more breathable Roubaix.
A fabulous design, the Gore Bike Wear Oxygen SO is among the best jackets of this type that I’ve ever ridden in.
The Oxygen is made from Gore’s own Windstopper soft-shell fabric, which blocks out cold air superbly and, with a fleecy inner face, adds a decent amount of warmth. Unlike some similar jackets, it has Windstopper rear panels rather than a more breathable Roubaix fabric back there, so it works well in cold and windy weather when you want all-round protection from the chills.
Known for bringing a little street chic into cycling, women’s specific brand Cyclodelic specialize in lovingly made, carefully designed pieces of fashion that are functional too. The Edwardian Waterproof Jacket is a good example. Conceived to be a winter conditions waterproof that looks as good off the bike as on, it’s anything but ‘just another waterproof’.
Now that the clocks have gone back if you’re commuting there is a good chance one, if not both legs of your journey are going to be in the dark. Lights are one way to go but even when you are light up like a carnival float you’ll still get the SMIDSY shout, what you need as a backup are good reflectives. New brand Proviz have gone for plenty of both. Roadcc reviewed the Proviz rucksack recently and the waterproof jacket here follows in the same vein, a hi-viz and hugely reflective piece of kit whose party piece is electroluminescent strips.
Altura’s Flite jacket is a new addition to the Night Vision range. Aimed at ‘the fast commuter or safety conscious road rider’ it fills the gap between the full blown Night Vision Evo waterproof and the Night Vision windproof jackets.