At first glance the Aqualite Extreme looks like a very promising cycling specific waterproof jacket, especially for commuter duties. It's extremely light, packs down small and comes in a fairly violent shade of hi-viz pink that'll certainly get you noticed. It has a good collection of features and it's not expensive.
The shape is contoured, with a nicely scooped tail and the sizing is pretty generous, but not overly so. I could happily go down a size to the 10, but for extra layers underneath, I'd probably want the 12. Features include the fact that it packs into its own pocket (ideal for a back pocket), it has plenty of reflective bits and bobs, there's an MP3 player pocket with headphone grommet, it has hem and neck drawcords and there's a detachable hood for sale separately if you want one.
But, and it's a pretty big but, the fabric really let this jacket down. After a pretty standard commuting ride (which is what the jacket is presumably designed for), in really quite cool conditions and not breaking any records for speed, the jacket was wetter on the inside than it was on the outside. This was entirely due to sweat and not the jacket leaking, as the rain actually slackened off to a drizzle towards the middle of the ride. I have never encountered quite the level of moisture as I did inside the Aqualite Extreme; it was literally running out of the sleeves when I took the jacket off.
Aside from the fabric, the fit was good, sleeve length was ideal (the thumb loops at the wrists were too long to be very useful), torso length was spot on and the features were well considered.
Taking into account the price, yes you wouldn't expect absolute breathability and high end performance for £49.99, but considering the Altura I tested recently was only £10 more, the difference in performance was staggeringly unexpected.
Nicely designed jacket, with some good features but let down by the poor breathability of the waterproof fabric.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Polaris Ladies Aqualite Extreme Jacket
Size tested: Pink Size 10
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?
Aimed at commuters and for general cycling use; here's what Polaris say:
Lightweight, breathable waterproof cycling jacket with fully taped seams
Full length front zip with a storm flap and zip garage
Integral stuffsack; the jacket will pack down into a very small mesh pocket on the sleeve making it convenient to carry with you
Fully adjustable for a great fit; elasticated cuffs, drawcord hem and collar
Zipped front pocket with media port
A removable hood is available for this jacket
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Full length front zip with storm flap
Detachable hood available
Zipped front pocket with MP3 player headphone port
Machine washable at 30 degrees
Available in sizes 8-16
Well put together but let down by waterproof fabric.
When I finished my ride the jacket was wetter on the inside than on the outside.
I get the impression it should last a while.
Very light weight.
The fit was good, but comfort of the fabric next to the skin during a ride was very much below average.
A good price, but probably marks the point at which less is no longer more. You get what you pay for and this isn't good value.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Performed very badly.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Style, fit, features
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Lack of breathability of waterproof fabric
Did you enjoy using the product? No
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Definitely not.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
Nice looking jacket with a good cut, but disappointing performance.
About the tester
Age: 37 Height: 1.65m Weight: 67kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, general fitness riding, mtb,
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.