Let's talk epic. Vulpine have designed the Women's Original Rain Jacket around a material called Epic Cotton™. Unlike a waterproof membrane, like Gore-tex, or a durable water-repellent coating, Epic is a very special permanent treatment in which every cotton fibre is coated with silicone. It doesn't wash or rub off, and makes the fabric itself more durable as well as 'waterproof'.
So what's it like when this wonder fabric is made into a jacket? It's still a bit of a thrill to see water beading off a garment that feels like soft canvas and a quick shake on arrival dispells the surface droplets. Vulpine have chosen not to tape the seams so as not to impair breathability, so it's not entirely waterproof; torrential deluges or prolonged riding in heavy rain results in seepage on the front of the arms, but for a fabric jacket, it does work incredibly well.
It's been an excellent choice through autumnal drizzle, but the jacket really comes into its own on those dreaded unpredictable weather days where there is no way I'd want to be wearing a hardshell if I didn't have to, especially when hopping on and off the bike. The cotton weave is tight enough to be a good wind block, and the breathability is simply excellent for what is still a 'rain jacket'. Airflow is aided with a big vent across the back of the shoulders, which is mesh lined inside. I've been exceedingly comfortable in every wet, windy and mild situation over the autumn and deepening winter.
On occasional warmer days, I've relished the ability to wear short sleeves and slip my bare arms into the jacket knowing I'll be comfortable throughout the day; hardly a typical waterproof wearing experience. The 'boil in the bag' feeling is impossible, as it's essentially a cotton jacket after all. As well as being massively more breathable than other waterproof fabrics, cotton happily absorbs a bit of moisture rather than leaving a nice sweaty sheen on the skin when putting the hammer down.
That's not a likely scenario though; this jacket is stylish, and works most appropriately as a super-functional barrier against three-seasonal weather for any sort of city mileage with a destination in mind.
Proper female-specific tailoring is evident, and the cut of the Rain Jacket works beautifully well when riding, as well as smoothly transitioning to off the bike wear. The slightly dropped hem at the back is flattering on the hips and works well to keep off wind and spray. The hem has a run of elastic cord through it, which can be micro-adjusted on either side with low profile toggles to bring it in tighter around the hips if desired. The same design is worked into the back panel to allow adjustment around the waist. This beauty here is the flexibility of being able to layer up without sacrificing a flattering fit.
The slightly shorter front cut doesn't affect the looks off the bike - enough that I found myself perhaps wishing it to be cut a little shorter for riding stretched out or on the drops. Sleeve length is excellent; the anatomical cut of the cuffs drops lower over the back of the hands, and are kept in place by a comfy fleece inner cuff that grips the wrists.
There is much to love and appreciate with the detailing on the Rain Jacket. It's a highly functional piece of kit, and Vulpine have worked in some thoughtful touches that really make this an ideal jacket for actually riding in, as well as looking good. I really like the collar design; it's fleece lined for comfort, and has an elastic toggle on the back of the neck to draw in the neck. Two magnetic dots within the fabric secure the collar in a vaguely military style overlap which is extremely comfortable.
Despite being a jacket designed for urban riding, reflective overkill is cleverly avoided; a well placed strip of reflective fabric sewn across the arch of each shoulder lights up nicely in headlamps from the sides, front, and back. This is supplemented with cuffs which can be turned out to expose their fully reflective backing - a nifty touch. A small reflective tab on the back gives the option of attaching a back light too.
A bright red tuckaway splash guard snaps up into the back of the jacket with two magnetic dots, and can be removed completely by unzipping at the hem. The guard has thick reflective piping on both sides, and a reflective Vulpine V. As well as increasing visibility, it does work well to keep off spray, and Vulpine have even incorporated darts in the fabric to give some light rear-hugging shaping.
Carrying capacity and ingenuity is pretty high for a cycling jacket. The two generous pockets on the outside close with a sturdy water-resistant zip and beautifully detailed toggle as the main zip, with the added protection of a stylish magnetic snap-shut cover. It's a simple job to slide open and unzip with the faux leather toggle, perfectly finished - of course - with a Vulpine V rivet.
Each pocket lining also serves dual purpose inside the jacket, having been sewn in such a way as to make a deep pocket to slide in paraphernalia or a phone for easy access. There's another neat little pocket on the inside of the left arm too. It has the same magnetic shut cover as the front pockets, and a standard zip. Inside, a small carabiner is attached to a fabric toggle, and there's enough room to fit in a debit card as well as keys.
The Medium on test suits a standard size 12, and was a very snug fit on my larger hips. It's a pity that Vulpine don't make bigger sizes than Large, as the adjustability of the jacket would lend itself well to upsizing in winter, or for curvier women. The Rain Jacket is available in Indigo (with contrasting yellow zips) and as well as the lovely military green on test.
£210 is a lot for a jacket, but seriously worth considering if you need an outer layer that will see you through three seasons of on - and possibly even more importantly - off the bike wear. If you're out frequently enough to want one jacket that can cope admirably with the typical British weather and still look subtly stylish, this is probably it.
If you're out frequently enough to want one jacket that can cope effectively with the typical British weather and still look stylish and subtly distanced from cycling, this is probably it.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Vulpine Womens Original Rain Jacket
Size tested: Medium Military Green
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Super high-end breathable Epic Cotton™
Water and stain resistant
Magnetic neck & pocket closures
Styled rear air vents
Magnetic removeable splash guard
Zipped front pockets with plush lining
Large inner front storage pockets
Rear reflective light loop
Fold-back, lined reflective cuffs
Adjustable neck, waist and hips
Lined inner seams
No scratchy labels
Flapped arm pocket with key caribiner
Superb high quality construction that is easily on par with the very best in cycling and normal clothing. The devil is in the detail, and Vulpine have put a lot of thought into putting together this jacket with details that manage to be both utilitarian and beautiful.
Works wonderfully in the wind and light rain - an ideal barrier against British weather. Not entirely waterproof, so I'd prefer to call it a 'Shower' Jacket, than Rain Jacket. Very breathable.
Epic Cotton means it will keep its water resistant properties for life, and the fabric and construction is very durable, especially the zips and stitching.
It's not a 'pack in a bag' waterproof, and being thick cotton, it's fairly bulky - much easier to think of it as a 'normal clothing' jacket.
Extremely comfortable, both in fit and next to skin feel. Love wearing it off the bike.
If you wear it often enough, it's a good investment, and it will last for years. £200+ for a jacket is still a lot for a jacket though.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
All the little design details like light loop, pockets, shaped cuffs and their fold over reflectivity etc. The whole design oozes quality and durability.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I would personally prefer a slightly higher cut at the front, more colour and size options - but understandably Vulpine is a small company with smaller manufacturing runs.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
About the tester
I usually ride: Sabbath September My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, audax