Sportful's Hot Pack Ultralight is an incredibly light jacket, just 50g, that is fully windproof and water resistant. It can be rolled up into it's own integrated bag and will disappear inside a jersey pocket. With jackets like this we're running out of excuses to cancel the ride when the weather is looking iffy.
Hot Pack is Sportful's name for a range of lightweight emergency shells. The sort that can be stuffed in a jersey pocket and whipped into service at a moments notice when the wind picks up or the rain starts. The jacket is the newest addition, and represents one of their most advanced items of clothing to date. It's some 31g lighter than the regular Hot Pack jacket and 17g lighter than the Hot Pack Vest.
This low weight is important because this is a style of jacket that is designed to save you when the weather makes a sudden turn for the worse. The one constant about the British weather is that it can always throw you an unexpected curve ball. With a jacket so extremely light and compact you have no excuse to not take it with you on every ride. It could be you start your rides very early in the morning, and need an extra layer of defense for the first couple of hours. If you're riding all day and covering a lot of distance, you can expect to see the weather change a lot. A jacket like this Hot Pack Ultralight is a good companion for such rides.
It's not the sort of jacket you're going to wear all the time, but I have put it on at the beginning of the ride, fully expecting to take it off once I've warmed up. Five hours later and I'm still wearing it. So it's versatile, and breathable, enough that you can wear it for prolonged periods. Essentially it offers you some extra versatility when preparing for a ride. Dressing correctly for all the conditions you'll face on any given ride is so difficult, nigh on impossible sometimes. The Hot Pack Ultralight simply gives you a few more options and a bit more flexibility.
The fabric is the star of this jacket. Sportful use a fabric with yarns as fine as seven denier – one square metre weighs just 24g. And because it's so thin, it can be weaved very tightly which makes it windproof, and compactable. It feels incredibly thin between the fingers, but here's the thing, it doesn't feel fragile or weak. I've been testing this jacket since I received one at its launch last September, and it's proved highly durable in the months since. I've not made any particular effort to look after it, it's been chucked about, buried in my kit bag, pulled roughly out of a jersey pocket, and gone through countless washes. And it still looks like new. There's no detectable damage, the seams are all good.
It's also how it's so very windproof too - this jacket literally stops wind, very welcome with the ice cold winds battering the country lately. A DWR water repellent finish is applied to give it a degree of water resistance. It's not waterproof, but I did call upon its service on several rides when I was caught out by unexpected rain, and it did a sterling job of keeping the worst of the rain off. I even managed one 3-hour ride in non-stop rain and the jacket kept me mostly dry by the time I got home.
You don't get, nor do you want, many features on a jacket designed to be extremely light. That said, there's some nice high quality details, like the side panel vents and the mesh lining in the collar. There's a full-length zip, it weighs just 12g. There's a few reflective details around the jacket.
The fit is Sportul's usual excellence, which is to say it fits really well. A medium is a proper medium, not a large. The waist and wrists are elasticated to keep them in place and stop cold air seeping underneath your layers. It's roomy enough that it can be worn over two or three layers, no matter how bulky your main outer layer is.
No matter how long I leave the jacket unpacked, it always looks very creased and a bit messy. This appearance isn't so bad once you've been wearing it for a while, and is a small price to pay for its outstanding performance.
Such advanced fabric and design as this doesn't come cheap, but if you do a lot of riding and want one of the best emergency jackets, they don't come much better than this. Yes there are cheaper jackets designed to a similar brief, but few are quite as lightweight, packable or protective against the elements as this.
Stunningly light and compact jacket that laughs in the face of bad weather. Just 50g yet it's completely windproof and water resistant
road.cc test report
Make and model: Sportful Hot Pack Ultralight jacket
Size tested: Medium
Only 50 gr.
Folds to the size of 3 gels.
Breathable side venting.
Folds into own compression pocket.
Elastic wrist cuffs and waist band.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The world's lightest, windproof, water repellent shell jacket. Weighing a mere 50g. The Hot Pack Ultra Light Jacket is something pretty special. They say the best jacket is the one you have with you. At 50g you may well forget it's in your pocket
On, it's windproof and surprisingly waterproof. Off, it vanishes into a jersey pocket
Despite how thin and light the fabric is, it's very tough and bombproof
One of the lightest windproof jackets currently available
A race fit means it's very good comfortable on the bike. It'll go over whatever you're wearing without any restriction of movement
Yes it's expensive, but considering how good it is and how invaluable it has been over the winter, and even more so heading into spring, this is a good value top
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Exceeded my expectations
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The fabric, fit and performance
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The arms get a little flappy sometimes. Always looks a bit creased, but it does spend a lot of time squashed up
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: 31 Height: 180 Weight: 67
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mtb,
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.