The Sportful Alpe Softshell jacket offers effective protection from the cold, with windproof panels that'll keep you warm in all but the coldest temperatures. We reckon it packs in a high level of performance for the cash.
The Alpe bridges the gap between jersey and jacket and comes with windproof panels at the front and on the top sections of the arms, but not at the back or on the underside of the arms. The reason, clearly, is to keep the cold air from getting in at the most exposed areas, while providing extra breathability elsewhere.
Sportful use two different softshell fabrics here, both of them pretty stretchy. The main difference between them is the depth of the fleece backing. As well as stopping the wind getting through, both softshell fabrics are highly water repellent – certainly to the point that spray from the road won't get inside.
The polyurethane that helps provide the protection isn't the most breathable material in the world, but the full-length YKK front zip offers you a decent amount of control over the climate. Zip it all the way up and you can shut out the cold air really well thanks to a tall, close fitting collar, while a flap behind the zip prevents any access there.
The back section and the underside of the arms are made from a polyester Roubaix-type fabric. You know the kind of thing: soft, stretchy, brush-backed, similar to fabrics you find on loads of other winter cycling clothes. It's fairly thick stuff so, again, it provides good insulation although wind can certainly get in here.
The stripes and logo on the back are reflective print and you get small reflective panels at the front of the shoulders too. A silicone gripper on the inside of the waist keep the hem from riding up while stretchy cuffs prevent draughts at the wrists.
Sportful call this a 'regular' cut which seems reasonable to me. It's slim but not to the point that only ultra-lean racing snakes will be able to wear it. The only peculiarity I found in the cut was that the sleeves were slightly baggy just above the cuffs – they didn't taper down quite enough for me. That's fine if you want to tuck the cuffs of your gloves inside the sleeves of the jersey, but a bit odd if you prefer to keep them outside.
All in all, though, you're getting a very good jersey/jacket for your money here.
Windproof softshell that'll see you through most autumn/winter conditions.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Sportful Alpe Softshell Jacket
Size tested: Large
Sportful say: "Front SoftShell protection with ThermoDrytex XP back for breathability make this jacket perfect for winter riding in all but the most extreme conditions.
* Softshell Stretch.
* Reflective inserts.
* Reflective screen print back.
* TDT Xp.
* YKK zipper.
* Aeroflow SoftShell fabric.
* Double cuffs to seal against gloves."
When they say 'double cuffs' it's actually the same fabric as used for the panels at the back and on the underside of the arms, but doubled over. You don't get an inner cuff and an outer cuff like you do on some winter garments.
You get a lot of performance for your money here. The Sportful range generally seems very reasonably priced to us at road.cc. There are definitely bargains to be had.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It does its job really well. The windproof fabric isn't the most breathable ever, but you do get that long front zip to let moist air out.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Effective windproofing, good cut, high neck.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The slight bagginess just above the cuffs doesn't do it for me although, as I said in the main body of the review, this does mean you can tuck the tops of gloves inside easily.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Would consider it, yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
About the tester
Age: 43 Height: 190cm Weight: 75kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.