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Verdict: 
Great jacket for general riding not just commuting, but sleeve length may be a touch too generous for some
Weight: 
499g
dhb Flashlight Force Waterproof Jacket
8 10

The dhb Flashlight Force waterproof jacket is the top model in the range. Aimed at the 'serious commuter', it offers considerable bang for moderate buck. On me the sleeves are a little on the long side, but that could suit you perfectly.

Materials/specification

This is a three-layer waterproof. The main is made from 100% polyamide, the membrane 100% polyurethane. Taped seams run throughout, emphasising its water-repelling credentials.

dhb Flashlight Force Waterproof Jacket.jpg

dhb Flashlight Force Waterproof Jacket.jpg

A waterproof rating of 20,000mm and breathability of 15k suggest you should be able to hammer along in torrential weather and remain comfortable. There are also long side vents to allow some instant, cooling air should conditions dictate.

dhb Flashlight Force Waterproof Jacket - vent.jpg

dhb Flashlight Force Waterproof Jacket - vent.jpg

The outer shell has a very tactile, brushed texture, typical of this price point, which to me at least is infinitely preferable to the glossier, synthetic feel of cheaper polyesters. I must say I prefer the red to fluoro yellow, although fully admit to its usefulness when things turn really murky; it's also available in black/blue.

Fit and features

Sizing is generous, but so long as you've referred to dhb's chart there shouldn't be any surprises. Standing 181cm, I'm broader across the shoulder and shorter in the torso than typical. The sleeves are just a fraction longer than I'd expect, otherwise, the medium was perfect. It's probably worth chatting with Wiggle before adding to your shopping cart, if you're unsure.

dhb Flashlight Force Waterproof Jacket - back.jpg

dhb Flashlight Force Waterproof Jacket - back.jpg

dhb doesn't talk in terms of 3D fit but, rather, stresses the fabric's stretchy, unrestrictive nature. A drawstring waist enables further tailoring to suit size and clothing. Let it out a bit if you're scooting a couple of miles in civvies, draw it in when wearing figure-hugging roadie kit. Something of a social chameleon, it blends slightly better than some racier models when riding a touring/hybrid setup, yet still looks 'right' on a road, cross or audax bike.

dhb Flashlight Force Waterproof Jacket - toggle.jpg

dhb Flashlight Force Waterproof Jacket - toggle.jpg

All the pockets – and there are plenty: two at the hip, one breast, two open-top internally, and the classic poacher – are waterproof, standing up to a few minutes' close range hosepipe testing. Pockets can be tricky to get right, but here I found the hip ones perfect, and the stiffer fabric went a long way in reducing that annoying bounce, especially when you're whipping along the open road. The square poacher's pocket was a pain to tackle while riding, when wrestling a set of gloves/mitts or energy bar free, for example, but that's on par with the majority.

dhb Flashlight Force Waterproof Jacket - pocket 1.jpg

dhb Flashlight Force Waterproof Jacket - pocket 1.jpg

Strangely, while all the pockets use high quality YKK zippers, the main zipper tag doesn't sport a nylon loop for easy command in winter-weight gloves. I got around this by using a cable tie; a minor thing, but it's annoying at this price point.

dhb Flashlight Force Waterproof Jacket - chest.jpg

dhb Flashlight Force Waterproof Jacket - chest.jpg

The hook and loop cuff closures lack the outright pull-on-and-go convenience of elasticated designs, but form a super-dependable seal with most gloves, including mitts.

dhb Flashlight Force Waterproof Jacket - sleeve.jpg

dhb Flashlight Force Waterproof Jacket - sleeve.jpg

Acres of Scotchlite ensure phenomenal presence from all angles. It lacks the outright punch of the Showers Pass Men's Hi-vis Torch jacket or the more comparably priced Funkier WJ1322 soft shell windstopper jacket but it's extrovert enough for most people I've spoken to while riding along.

dhb Flashlight Force Waterproof Jacket - reflective 2.jpg

dhb Flashlight Force Waterproof Jacket - reflective 2.jpg

Performance

Many jackets are genuinely waterproof but can leave you feeling decidedly boiled in the bag, given 30 minutes at a decent tempo. No such problem here, at least on chill autumn mornings where the fibres have kept pace with my own efforts.

I wasn't surprised to feel a little moisture around the armpits and lower back after 25 minutes at 17-18mph, with a few climbs and traffic lights, but I arrived at my destination, 10 miles later, looking and feeling pretty fresh. When the mercury has crept above 15°C or so, it's been necessary to whip the front zipper down; warmer still and I was pretty quick to whip open the side vents, which scoop cooling air through with much greater efficiency – closer to a racing shell – than mesh-lined budget commuter designs.

> Buyer's Guide: 20 of the best waterproof cycling jackets

As far as waterproofing goes, I've remained very dry during 90 minutes of heavy rain – a little was blown in through the vents, but nothing to write home about. And so long as you've tweaked the bottom drawstring up sufficiently, soggy back/sides haven't been a problem, even when hunkered down low on bikes without mudguards.

Bombing along, there's some minor flutter around the vents, but unless I'd forgotten to tether the cuffs properly, I've never had wind or rain funnelled inside.

Some wearers have found the collar a little baggy, suggesting it allows cold air and rain to creep inside, but I've had no such problems, and during cold and damp outings the thin-pile fleece offers some additional comfort.

Conclusion

The Flashlight Force is a very practical jacket for day-to-day general riding that delivers a much drier experience than a traditional 10k breathable/waterproof commuter model. That said, there are lighter, packable jackets with two-layer fabrics boasting 15k breathability/waterproof ratings for less than a ton; these have the edge if fast-paced chain-gang, training runs or sportives are your primary focus.

Verdict

Great jacket for general riding not just commuting, but sleeve length may be a touch too generous for some

road.cc test report

Make and model: dhb Flashlight Force Waterproof Jacket

Size tested: Medium

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?

dhb says: "The dhb Flashlight Force Waterproof Jacket is the top spec'd jacket in the dhb Flashlight Range. It is packed with multiple features including full waterproofing and 3M™ Scotchlite™ prints to keep you dry and visible in extreme conditions.

Designed for the Serious Commuter

The dhb Flashlight Force Jacket is the highlight of the dhb Flashlight Range. This top spec, high performing jacket will keep you dry on the wettest of commutes, with critically placed high quality 3M™ Scotchlite™ reflective prints and logos providing you with the highest level of reflectivity in these low visibility weather conditions. Hook and loop fastened adjustable cuffs and an adjustable drop hem seal out the elements, while a welt rear pocket will protect your valuables from the rain. The stylish, fluoro colour accents along the zips further enhance impact to the jacket making it an excellent all rounder you will want to be seen in. With a relaxed commuter fit, there is room for you to layer up when the weather turns cold and plenty of space to give you unrestricted freedom of movement. A full length YKK zip gives you further ventilation when needed and offers ease of entry/exit."

It's a well made waterproof jacket that also breathes efficiently – better than most I've used at this price point.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?

dhb lists:

New and improved version of the previous Highline jacket

Highly technical 3 layer construction and fully seam taped is high performing, durable, and reduces weight

Critically 3M™ Scotchlite™ positioned reflective print and logos and trims provide 360 degree visibility low light conditions

Stretch fabric for increased comfort and freedom of movement

Zipped side vents can be opened or closed to allow for quick temperature regulation

Two zipped hand pockets and one chest pocket with YKK Aquaguard™ Vislon zippers

Additional welted zip pocket at the rear

Hook and loop fastened adjustable cuffs to seal out the elements

Adjustable hem with dropped tail gives protection from road spray

Fleece lined collar for comfortable, abrasion free neck coverage

Rate the jacket for quality of construction:
 
8/10
Rate the jacket for performance:
 
8/10

Waterproof and very breathable by competitor standards. Excellent for longer commutes and day rides.

Rate the jacket for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the jacket for waterproofing, based on the manufacturer's rating:
 
9/10
Rate the jacket for breathability, based on the manufacturer's rating:
 
8/10
Rate the jacket for fit:
 
8/10

I found medium perfect for my frame. Sleeve length is more generous than typical.

Rate the jacket for sizing:
 
9/10

Perfect for me, although quite generous in the sleeves.

Rate the jacket for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the jacket for comfort:
 
7/10
Rate the jacket for value:
 
7/10

How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?

Very straightforward to care for. Pop in the machine at 30 degrees and allow to dry naturally.

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

The Flashlight Force is better than most sporting the commuter tag. Its breathability means faster rides are comfortable and it's as waterproof as most riders would want, with sufficient protection at the sleeves and round the back when hunkered low on the drops. Pockets are perfectly designed for carrying stuff without impeding a decent tempo.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket

Really well conceived. Much more than a commuter jacket too – great for general riding and winter training.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket

Nothing per se, given the price and design brief.

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

This is a great jacket for more spirited commuting and general riding.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 43  Height: 1m 81cm  Weight: 70kg

I usually ride: Rough stuff tourer based around 4130 Univega mountain bike frameset  My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road

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

I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking

Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)

2 comments

Avatar
Dr_Lex [459 posts] 4 weeks ago
0 likes

Flash light always makes me think of Parliament 

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=UkLYlrE2lPs

(On topic: Branding on the arms looks overdone to me)

Avatar
Alessandro [155 posts] 4 weeks ago
0 likes

I bought this jacket last year for my commute in and around Edinburgh. Prior to moving here, I'd never bothered with hi-viz or overly reflective stuff but the lack of infrastructure here and a population wedded to cars encouraged me to get this.

The main selling point for me was the much bigger reflective area on the arms compared to other commuter jackets. Most other jackets wouldn't be great when you stick your arm out to indicate in the dark but I feel as though drivers can see me with these big reflective areas. 

Contrary to the reviewer, I still find this to be a bit boil-in-the-bag sweaty. Perhaps I've got it out of the wardrobe a bit early this year and it's not quite cold enough for it, but I tend to find that I'm pretty damp by the time I get to the office. I have a shower at work so that's not an issue for me but if you've got a particularly long commute and/or no shower in the office then it's something worth considering. That said, I doubt it's any worse than other similar jackets. 

If I hadn't bought this jacket last year, then I suspect that I'd probably end up buying one this year, primarily because of the big reflective patches and the better fit compared to other commuter jackets. It's not cheap but it's sturdy and feels as though it'll last for a few winter commuter seasons.