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If you're determined to get out no matter how cold it is then you'll need something that's up to the job of keeping you on the road. The RXL 180 softshell jacket from Bontrager may just fit the bill. It offers ample protection against the wind and cold, is fitted and stylish. It also provides some waterproofing for when the heavens open. Not bad value for a jacket that costs £90.
Made from a mid-weight Profila Softshell fabric, the RXL keeps you more than warm enough when the mercury dips. To make the jacket more breathable the panels under the arms and the back of it are made from a Profila Thermal material that aids heat retention but allows regulation so you don't cook. It is suitable for temperatures just above freezing.
It is fitted, streamlined to prevent creating any additional resistance so you can concentrate on the job at hand. The full length zip has a snug closure and the pull has a logo badge to make it easier to close.
To make the RXL more bike orientated, it has an 11cm drop tail and the elasticated hem is quite taut so will prevent any riding up and ensure you keep the bottom of your back warm. To add to the warmth, the jacket has thumb loops on the sleeves to keep your wrists and hands warm and dry.
You get reflective elements on the rear of the jacket and the upper part of the arms to aid visibility. Storage wise, you get two zippered pockets and three open ones. The secure pockets are on the chest and the right hand side of the rear. The three open are where you'd expect to find them on the back. They are deep enough to stash the usual paraphernalia.
For those who like their stats, it is waterproof to 10,000mm and has breathability of 10,000g/m2/24hr. Those are good mid-range values. The very best waterproof/breathable fabrics run 20,000mm and 20,000g/m2/24hr, but you don't get them in jackets that cost under 100 quid.
The RXL does give the appearance of a tuxedo jacket in terms of cut, with the long tail it finishes quite short in the front. The hem keeps it in place and it wears very comfortably and really does keep you warm. The zipped pocket on the chest is a nice touch and provides additional storage.
Given how mild spring has been, the temperature has been low enough to thoroughly test that element of it's performance. It has however been effective at keeping out the rain and certainly is warm.
Warm, waterproof; a decent jacket that fits and works well
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Make and model: Bontrager RXL 180 Softshell Jacket
Size tested: Medium, Black
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?
Bontrager's marketing spiel describes the RXL 180 softshell as uber-functional and stylish with its supple, windproof, water-resistant softshell front and sides, plus added rear vents for breathability. That's quite a lot for one jacket to live up to. All aspects of the jacket performed as you'd expect with the weather proofing, it kept me dry and warm. On top of that it fitted well with the cut being well adjusted to provide plenty of coverage from the elements but should have enough breathability to prevent overheating.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The Bontrager RXL 180 has been designed to resist the wind and rain to a decent level and to those ends it works very well. It is waterproof to 10,000mm. All this means is that in terms of waterproofing it's resistant and rainproof under light pressure and can withstand light rain, average snow and light pressure. To prevent you getting too hot it is capable of allowing plenty of water vapour through the material to the extent of and in terms of 10,000 g/m2/24hr. In layman's terms it keeps out a lot of rain and allows a decent amount of sweat to pass the other way.
Made from a mid-weight Profila Softshell fabric the RXL keeps you more than warm enough when the mercury dips. To make the jacket more breathable the panels under the arms and the back of it are made from a Profila Thermal material that aids heat retention but allows more heat regulation. It is suitable for temperatures just above freezing.
When the elements are against you there are certain pieces of clothing you want to know you can rely on. The Bontrager RXL is ideal in that the cold and wind are kept at bay. It also offers some waterproofing so it's ideal for those less than perfect days when the weather is against you.
The RXL has withstood a battering from the weather and obviously many washes to retain shape and performance.
The jacket's mix of Profila softshell fabric and thermal material don't combine to add any significant weight to it. It is comfortable and not something that feels bulky or awkward when you're riding.
The mix of fabrics and material used to make a jacket that certainly keeps you warm but does offer regulation to prevent over heating. The only word of warning would if the temperature is on the mild side you will get warm.
You get a good quality jacket for your money. Made well, performs well and that adds up to decent value.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
I was seriously impressed with the performance of the Bontrager RXL, it did a decent job of keeping out the elements including a few heavy showers.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
There are a couple of nice touches such as the longer sleeves with thumb loops to ensure there aren't any drafts on your arms. The chest pocket makes storage for essentials easy and close to hand.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The only issue that caused any concern was if you get the sizing wrong you may find the jacket feels a little short in the front.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
Decent performance is matched by a stylish look and not too heavy on your wallet.
Age: 45 Height: 178cm Weight: 80kg
I usually ride: Currently riding a Pinnacle Evaporite Three My best bike is: As above
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, commuting, sportives, mtb, Not yet but looking to dip my toe in the world of TT