The Howies Brenin jacket has left me somewhat torn. Objectively £100 is a lot to pay for a featherweight polyester shell that feels as if it will rip come the first skirmish with a vindictive bramble. On the flip side, it's been the most comfortable jacket I've ever used, with superb moisture management that keeps tempo with increasingly spirited efforts.
Made from 100% polyester, 80% of which is from recycled sources, the thin membrane explains why it breathes so well, yet still manages a reasonable degree of shower protection thanks to a hydrophobic coating designed to shrug at those squally showers that typical of early season spring rides in the UK.
Like many other showerproof jackets, it features a single breast pocket that it folds into genie like so you can easily stuff it into a jersey or wedge pack when not required. When it's not holding itself the pocket will take the usual creature comforts-mp3 player, smart phone – I even managed to get a super-zoom travel compact cameras in there without feeling overburdened.
A fleece-lined collar adds a little additional comfort, stopping rain and chill in their tracks, while carefully positioned reflectives aren't obscured by hydration packs/larger rucksacks, providing some extra visibility in traffic.
Our sample was a medium and ordinarily I'd feel a bit confined around the shoulders in a jacket that size but a looser, more moutain bike inspired cut means this was ideal for road duties; albeit limiting layers to base and long-sleeved race jersey. Check out what Howies have to say about sizing but for most spring and autumn days.
In the saddle, I've been charmed by it's performance. Medium it may have been but ours had sufficient length in the tail, protecting my lower back from chill when crouched low on the drops, while the elasticated cuffs stop it fluttering liker a bin liner riding into those coastal headwinds. Water repellence has been similarly impressive, resisting persistent rainfall for half an hour or so, by which point you'll hopefully be at your destination or nursing a café' stop cuppa until it passes.
Contrary to my initial fears, bombing through overgrown bridle paths brambled while playing a few blood-curdling tunes has made little actual impression upon the fabric and to date it machine washes beautifully at 30 degrees.
Beautifully executed race cut showerproof but pricey compared with similar jackets
road.cc test report
Make and model: Howies Brenin Jacket
Size tested: Black, Medium
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?
"Lightweight, active-fit sports jacket made with recycled polyester. Stretch in arms and side panels for unrestricted movement and incredible breathability while doing sport.
Outer zipped chest pocket with earphone cable slot on inside and clip for keys. Reflective bars on cuffs and side panel that make you visible if you're out in the dark running or on the bike. Adjustable cord on hem. Inner collar lined with tricot for warmth and comfort. Rolls up into itself for packing into a small space. Body panels treated with a hydrophobic coating, to help splashes roll off.". Faithful to its blurb, very likeable but nonetheless, I find the asking price difficult to stomach
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
80% recycled polyester, 20% polyester | 200grams (Medium)
Made in China | Machine wash
202g by my scales
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
For such a thin emergency jacket, the Brenin boasts a very classy, tailored fit and resists most light to moderate early season showers/wind without leaving the rider feeling boiled in the bag. Sizing is to taste-one smaller than usual for a road specific cut, regular for mtb or more generic outdoor duties.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Competent, lightweight and chic performer.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Not at full rrp
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, if money wasn't a consideration.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
Superb jacket in terms of performance and practicality but I baulk at £100 for a race cape, no matter how good
About the tester
Age: 38 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb 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, mtb,
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)