Castelli Elemento 7x(Air) jacket  £275.00

9/10

Innovative breathable jacket for cold, dry winter weather

Weight 427g   Contact  www.saddleback.co.uk

by Mat Brett   December 13, 2013  

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Castelli's new Elemento 7x(Air) is an innovative jacket for cold, dry winter weather.

What you can't miss about this jacket are the ridged 'Windshear inserts' of the 7x(Air) fabric, used for about 50% of the panels.

'What are Windshear inserts?' you ask. Well, the outer layer of the fabric used here is windproof and, while breathable, it's not THAT breathable. That's always the tradeoff with windproof fabrics. So what Castelli have done here is stitched it into rippled panels. All the little stitching holes add up to make the fabric much more breathable in those areas. Castelli say that it's seven times more air permeable than the Windstopper fabrics that they use, hence the 7x(Air) name. See, it all makes sense.

Castelli also reckon that the pockets of air formed within the ridges provide extra insulation without adding to the weight. Plus, the fabric is very stretchy so you can get a close fit to stop excess air getting in and cooling you down.

It's pretty clever, and what you end up with is a jacket that's warm enough for winter use but also noticeably more breathable than a normal windproof. Castelli make other jackets vaguely similar to the Elemento but without the 7x(Air) fabric, the closest relation probably being the Espresso Due.  The Elemento isn't quite as warm as the Espresso, but it is significantly more breathable so you can wear it in slightly milder conditions or when you're doing a more intense ride.

I've been wearing the Elemento a lot over the past few weeks and I'd say that it's suitable for when the temperature is somewhere between 2°C and 10°C – a bit lower if you don't tend to feel the cold.

While the 7x(Air) Windshear inserts are definitely the big selling point here, the Elemento is by no means a one trick pony; it has high-quality features throughout. Wrist zips allow you to get a good seal around your gloves, for example, and you can open them up for extra cooling. That's a really effective way to reduce your temperature if you start to overheat. The zip on the left side of the chest is for a pocket but it's mesh lined so you can use it as a vent too, rather than opening the front zip.

You get three more pockets in the lower back along with a zipped fourth one for storing your valuables. There are a couple of small, reflective tabs back there too.

The tall collar stops cold air getting in up top and there's a flip-up panel at the back of the neck to add a little extra warmth. The only small amount of wear on this jacket after several weeks of use is where the elasticated waistband has rubbed a little on a label of a pair of Castelli tights that I've been been wearing. It's virtually nothing.

The flipside to all the breathability provided by those needle holes is that water can get through them. The fabric's DWR (durable water repellent) finish helps shed light rain but this is certainly a jacket for cold, clear days rather than damp ones.

The price (yes, we always mention the price) is clearly high, but there's a lot of innovation on display here and that doesn't come cheap.

Verdict

Innovative breathable jacket for cold, dry winter weather.

road.cc test report

Make and model: Castelli Elemento 7X Air Jacket

Size tested: Large, Black, 2 sent

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Here's Castelli's write-up...

 

"The Elemento 7x(AIR) Jacket was made for cold weather riding, keeping you warm and dry. The revolutionary 7x(AIR) fabric is 7 times more air permeable than our Windstopper fabrics so we build this jacket with 100% protection front and back. The 7x(AIR) fabric is so breathable that we've only covered about 50% of the jacket with this fabric, creating venting zones throughout the jacket.

 

"The extreme stretch of the fabric means that we could cut it slim. This actually makes it warmer since there's less un- wanted air flowing on the inside of the garment. Pockets are external, so they're easy to access in every condition.

We built this into a jacket that's designed for those five- hour winter training rides where you're planning your July conquests. But it works equally well for the one-hour lunchtime ride that you manage to sneak into your busy day, since it only needs a base layer underneath and it's ready to go.

 

"There must be a downside, right? We definitely wouldn't take this out on a rain day since rain will come through the quilting stitching, though the fabric is DWR treated and will shed light spray.

"A new standard in balancing stretch, breathability and warmth Castelli-exclusive fabric with WindShear inserts

- Fleece lined for warmth Flip-up

- Thermoflex collar

- Zippered chest pocket

- Wrist zips for extra ventilation and easy closure around gloves

- 3 External rear pockets plus zippered key pocket

- Close-to-body aero fit

- Jacquard elastic at waist

- Reflective tabs"

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10

It's a clever design that's well put together.

Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
7/10
Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
 
9/10
Rate the product for value:
 
7/10

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

It does exactly what it's supposed to – provide warmth with a good level of breathability.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Lots: the breathability, the warmth, the fit. I like the looks too, although I can imagine some people won't.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The price is high, although the amount of innovation and the work involved here help explain that.

Did you enjoy using the product? Certainly.

Would you consider buying the product? Yes, it really is a bit special.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.

Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?

The exceptional performance outweighs the high price, for me, which is why I'm going for such a high overall mark.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 43  Height: 190cm  Weight: 75kg

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,

 

5 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

I'm usually sniffy about the "How much?! You could buy a bike for that!" brigade but that really is an awful lot of money for a jacket that lets the water in. A whole £100 more than the Rapha winter jersey (which I bought 2nd hand, for £50) and which does a similar job by the look of it. Who'd have thought eh? Rapha being cited as the sensible cheaper option Smile

Martin Thomas's picture

posted by Martin Thomas [570 posts]
13th December 2013 - 9:09

61 Likes

I'm a big fan of Castelli winter jackets - on the basis they use top-quality Gore fabrics which are very durable and colour-fast - my original Espresso with white panels is still gleaming despite the numerous, filthy winter rides. Newer Rapha stuff has frayed apart in lesser time, with fabrics grubby and worn.

Make mine an Italian with Campagnolo on the side

posted by monty dog [365 posts]
13th December 2013 - 16:09

50 Likes

Love it but wouldn't buy it. Would be too scared coming off and scuffing it...

gazpacho's picture

posted by gazpacho [83 posts]
13th December 2013 - 20:22

51 Likes

gazpacho wrote:
Love it but wouldn't buy it. Would be too scared coming off and scuffing it...

Funnily enough I tore my castelli winter jacket on the mountain bike a couple of weeks back, my RH+ bibs have more holes and knicks in than I care to count.

I believe they call it giving them character D Oh

William Black's picture

posted by William Black [196 posts]
13th December 2013 - 20:42

52 Likes

I'm off to Aldi/Lidl to spend €36 on a winter jacket or 10....much as I like the Castelli stuff...I'd still look like an oompa-loompa in >€300 'worth' of polyester finery...only to be ripped to shreds in a 'single off'....'character' or otherwise...I'd feel a bit pissed off if that happened...and as it's winter the chances are fairly high...
Worried

The_Kaner
FREEEEEEEEDOM!

The _Kaner's picture

posted by The _Kaner [438 posts]
16th December 2013 - 13:15

47 Likes

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