The Chapeau! Red Echelon Jacket brings together some really nice features combined with good performance and an excellent fit, even if it looks a little Star Trek-y.
One of the key points of judgement for the Red Echelon, as with any other jacket, is how well it performs in bad conditions. Luckily, testing in the UK in December means it's been put through its paces.
In terms of windproofing it works really well, with Chapeau! choosing a fabric that kept even the fiercest wind off. I was really surprised by how effective it was, simply because it is so thin – it can't be thicker than a regular sheet of A4 paper, but managed to keep the wind off even in the freezing cold. It is genuinely impressive.
It is worth noting that the jacket is not an all-out waterproof, with Chapeau! describing it as showerproof. Despite this, the seams are taped throughout and the cuffs slightly elasticated to keep rain and draughts out. I used it in a variety of conditions and rain intensities, though not quite torrential, and despite the jacket not being claimed as a waterproof, it held up well with nothing getting through.
The fit isn't quite racing cut, but it's certainly closer to racing than casual. The diagonal YKK zip works well both at keeping things out (it's a taped zip) and keeping everything in place. It is worth noting that because of the thickness of the material I was wary of catching the material in the zip, especially when stowing it into its pack.
The jacket has one of the longest backs I've seen in a while, something I really like as it gives plenty of coverage but also allows you to stuff your jersey pockets underneath. There are also drawstrings around the hem at the back, which allows for a certain degree of adjustability, also a nice touch.
When not needed, the jacket packs into its own pocket, a nice idea. It makes packing it down to fit into a jersey pocket easy, although it ends up about the same size as most jersey pockets, so can require a little bit of reforming to fit properly.
I think it's a good looking jacket, although this shade of red, combined with the black cuffs, is a little reminiscent of Star Trek... It's available in blue too. At the rear there are some reflective elements that do their job well, and there are other nice little touches too, such as the patterned inside, which pulls everything together nicely; it's not necessary at all, but shows the attention to detail.
At £149.99 it's not a cheap buy, but it's in line with other high quality, high performance jackets, and if you are looking in this price range, I'm sure you won't be disappointed. I was really impressed with it, from the material choice and performance to the pattern on the inside. And it's currently available at half price...
A really well thought out, packable design that keeps out the elements
road.cc test report
Make and model: Chapeau! Red Echelon Jacket
Size tested: Large
Tell us what the jacket 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?
A high quality jacket that can be left in a jersey pocket or used to protect against the elements.
Chapeau! says: 'Lightweight and packable this slim fitting windproof jacket is just the item to reach for to add that extra layer of protection.'
An accurate description, it manages to both fit in the pocket and protect from the worst of the weather.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Lightweight (177g for a size medium)
Packs into own pocket
Breathable stretch fabric
Really well made, with taped seams, and there's even a pattern to the inside of the fabric.
Performed really well throughout the review period.
Seems well made and even though the material is thin it feels like it'll last – if you keep it out of the zip.
Only meant to be showerproof, but nothing got through while I was wearing it.
Didn't ever feel like I was overheating or too sweaty while wearing it.
Really nicely fitted, complete with long back which adds protection and allows for full jersey pockets too.
The large size tested fitted exactly as I would have expected.
Nice and lightweight thanks to the good material choice.
It is expensive, but around the price I would have expected.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Easy; wipes clean when needed.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well, it packed down nicely and, most importantly, kept the elements out.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
The fit and extra long back.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes
Would you consider buying the jacket? Yes
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
It's a really well made, well designed and innovative jacket that performed superbly throughout the review. Not cheap, but worth the money and does enough in my opinion to warrant a 9.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Evo 6 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
George spends his days flitting between writing about data, running business magazines and writing about sports technology. The latter gave him the impetus (excuse) to get even further into the cycling world before taking the dive and starting his own cycling sites and writing for Road.cc.
When he is not writing about cycling, he is either out on his bike cursing not living in the countryside or boring anybody who will listen about the latest pro peloton/cycling tech/cycling infrastructure projects.