Billed as fully waterproof and breathable the Polaris Quantum jacket is aimed primarily at mountain-bikers, but it’s a well-made piece of kit ideal for winter touring and commuting, though a bit on the hot side for brisker rides.
I picked a perfect day to test it: my 20-mile ride home was on a mixed bag of roads, the skies were gloomy, there was a chill November wind, and it was raining. Not Majorca then.
The first few miles were through the city streets of Bath. I felt nice and visible among the traffic wearing this ultra-bright item – the next best thing to a flashing orange light on my head.
Soon I was on quieter roads, out of the traffic, but the rain was really pouring down. The jacket was certainly waterproof, and seemed to be breathing nicely. I was totally dry inside. So far, so good.
Then I started climbing – a couple of miles of steady uphill into the Cotswolds. The jacket was just too hot, and made me perspire profusely. OK, the climb was a bit of a grind, but I ride up here a lot, and it doesn’t usually turn me into a sweat-ball. And I had only a base layer and a jersey underneath. Even though it was still raining, I had to undo the zip to let some air in. That kinda defeats the purpose.
Up on top, I hit more rain and a fierce wind. Bowling along on the flat, the jacket did the business. I felt fully protected from the winter elements. But as soon as I got to another hill, it was just too hot again.
So this jacket is perfect if you do more gentle riding on the road, but not if you push the pace a bit (or, if you do, don’t wear too many layers underneath). That isn’t to criticise Polaris – the Quantum features in the ‘mountain’ section of their catalogue, and is presumably aimed at hardy off-roaders spending more time in the high hills than tootling round on forest tracks. For these guys, as well as for commuters, tourists and maybe expedition riders, this jacket does the job very well.
Features I like include the mesh-liner, the reflective dots and piping, the ‘under-arm’ vents (although they’re actually down the side of the jacket) and the stiff plastic tabs on the Velcro round the cuffs – much easier to grip when wearing gloves. The little flap of material over the top of the zip, so it doesn’t dig in your throat when fully done up, is a nice touch. There’s a big zipped pocket at the back, and another smaller on the chest – although it’s too small to hold a map. But then I’m old-school. Maybe everyone carries a GPS these days.
The cut is very nice: short enough at the front so it doesn’t ruck up round your waist, long enough at the back to keep your rear-end covered. The sleeves are plenty long enough too. The Quantum is well-built, and will last a long time if treated well.
On a slight downside, the hood doesn’t fully tuck away into the collar – just under a flap on the inside – so feels a bit bulky round the neck. But when the hood is up, three elastic cords mean it’s a nice snug fit, so vision isn’t obscured.
The Quantum is also available in black, and some may prefer that, but I’ve never understood the tendency for riders and manufacturers to favour dark colours for jerseys or jackets, when bright colours are obviously safer.
Overall, this a great piece of kit for commuting and easy rides. I’ll take it with me on gentle club-runs, and when cycling with my kids. I’ll also probably take it with me on more serious mountain-biking trips - not so much to wear when riding (except perhaps on long chilly descents) but because it’s always nice to have a bombproof layer to fall back on in case of emergencies.
This jacket is well constructed, ideal for commuting and touring, as well as for winter mountain biking).
road.cc test report
Make and model: Polaris Quantum jacket
Size tested: M, Fluo Orange
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
Age: 49 Height: 5ft 10 / 178cm Weight: 11 stone / 70kg
I usually ride: an old Marin Alp My best bike is: an old Giant Cadex
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, club rides, sportives, mtb,