The Vermarc Extreme SPL Rain Jacket is a very light, very thin jacket that manages to pack in a load of technical features at a reasonable price while fitting into a jersey pocket. And it keeps you dry too.
Belgian brand Vermarc have been around since 1977 and outfit a number of pro teams. The feedback they gain from these relationships will inevitably result in products that facilitate riding fast in poor conditions, and that's what the Extreme SPL jacket does.
What you notice when trying on the SPL for the first time is what isn't there: no pockets, no vents, only one zip, almost non-existent branding and very little weight. At 209g for a medium size the SPL seems almost too light. The fact that it can scrunch up and be put into a jersey pocket without much fuss would lead you to think that this is not a serious contender for keeping you dry come a UK winter. Or spring, or the other two seasons, come to think of it. You'd be wrong.
The SPL is definitely a race cut. On a six-foot tall road.cc reviewer when standing straight the front is perhaps a few inches below the navel, the rear an inch or so below the gluteus maximus. On the bike this translates into no excess fabric around the tummy when in the drops and decent coverage out back. The hem is elasticated on either side to give a snug fit.
Your reviewer suffers from an Ape Index of 1.04, meaning I have an armspan of 6ft 4in, beating out Michael Phelps and quite a few NBA players in the knuckledragging stakes. This usually means cycling products that fit around the shoulders and particularly the chest/waist are laughably short at the wrist when on the hoods or even worse, the drops. The Extreme SPL cut is generous in this regard but not overly so. Those of normal stature will not be faced with an excess of sleeve, while those of a simian persuasion will enjoy dry wrists without resorting to Marigolds. For the medium size the underarm length from pit to cuff is 61cm, and from top of collar to bottom of back drop, 88cm. Vermarc's sizing guide pretty much bears out the reality of the fit.
Fortunately black is still the new black, and as the Extreme SPL is only available in black the choice is easy. Avoiding the christmas-tree-vs.-fashionista debate, Vermarc have for safety's sake added subtle grey reflective piping from the collar down to each armpit, front and back. These are very bright under car or bike headlights.
The combination Thermosquare/Windtex fabric is ever-so-slightly shiny and stiff. Above about 20MPH you will notice some noise as any loose areas ripple in the wind. The zip is waterproof, as well as being backed by a layer of the jacket fabric to block anything that did get through. At the top there's the obligatory zip garage, and the collar stands reasonably straight thanks to the material but isn't overly snug.
A Buff or similar can be worn around the neck without feeling too tight (your neck may vary, other necks are available). The cuffs have half their circumference elasticated for ease of on/off. The other half has a perfectly good velcro closure; the tab is just long enough to lie flush on the cuff when fully closed without sticking out. When open a decent breeze can be admitted up the arms for cooling. All seams around the arms and sides are tape sealed, but not the seam between the collar and back/front.
On the bike this jacket demands to be ridden fast. The race cut, the light weight, the features plus knowing you look the business make for enjoyable thrashing. Over a 2 1/2hr run at 85% maximum heart rate in thick 6 °C fog the SPL performed perfectly. With a thin Merino base and long-sleeved Merino jersey underneath the Extreme SPL maintained a comfortable body temperature, with no clamminess around the arms. The zip was used to adjust temperature when attacking hills, and is easily adjusted with one hand.
On a 90-minute run in 2 °C rain the design showed its pedigree. The collar was just right to facilitate head movement without admitting draughts or noticeable quantities of water, the back flap prevented soaking of the bib pad and the cuffs were just long enough to fit over the generous gauntlet of a pair of Sealskinz Handlebar mitts. Arriving home from this ride it seemed the jersey was wetter than would be expected, leading to the suspicion that the untaped seam along the collar may have admitted some water. However it was raining hard the whole ride, so this may well have been the result of sweat plus the inevitable trickle of water down the head/neck. Certainly when on the bike in what were by anyone's measure miserable conditions it felt like the jacket was doing its job admirably.
Riding in warmer temperatures up to 12 °C a small amount of condensation was apparent on the inside, but certainly nothing noticeable whilst riding. As the temperatures warm the benefit of adjustable cuffs to get a draught going becomes apparent. If you run particularly hot & sweaty the lack of vents may make this jacket sub-optimal for you. That said, if Vermarc added vents it would gain weight but critically would almost certainly not fit into a jersey pocket anymore.
For an MSRP of £83 the Vermarc Extreme SPL is very good value indeed. The combination of fabric, cut and features adds up to a jacket you will want to ride in. The light weight and jersey-pocket-ability means you aren't constrained to days you know it's going to pour and therefore will wear it the whole ride.
You could almost treat it like a gilet, it's that small and light. For the price, getting technically-cuffed arms and tape-sealed waterproofness almost renders a gilet superfluous to your wardrobe. When the sun comes out it can be easily stuffed into a pocket, keeping your temperature down and increasing the aero quotient on that last descent to the cake. Thankfully the elastic hem will accomodate, should you over-indulge. Win.
Very light, very thin jacket that manages to pack a load of technical features in a small, light package
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Vermarc Extreme Rain 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?
This jacket is for riding fast in poor weather, but not paying a fortune for good performance. Vermarc say: Vermarc guarantees Italian quality, efficiency and versatility. Vermarc means true Made in Italy craftsmanship but also means technological innovation. We are leaders in development of technical cycling clothing, they dress the greatest champions and have a lot of passionate cycling fans. The ultimate performance rain jacket. Tight fit keeps it close to your body, preventing it from flapping about from being too loose, allowing your movement to be more free, while the brethable, waterproof and windproof material stops your body from overheating while keeping you warm and dry.
Tight Fit: Cycling garments designed with a slight compression effect to provide a tight fit that moves with your body while performing.
Breathable: Advanced fibres and fabric construction block cold air and moisture from coming in while still keeping a high level of breathability.
Waterproof: Innovative microfibre fabric that ensures high performance and completely waterproof base layer fabrics even under extreme conditions of use.
WIndproof: 2 layer fabric with hydropholic membrane that ensures resistance to wind and light rain while maintaining a high level of breathability.
High Visibility: The garments have reflective logos, strips or are available in a fluorescent colour to increase safety when riding.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
A multi-layer fabric that works, well-put-together. Technical features such as cuffs and hem make for an enjoyable ride.
Rate the product for quality of construction:
Can't really fault it, apart from not being tape-sealed at the collar.
Rate the product for performance:
It works. I felt comfortable when riding hard in poor weather. Job done.
Rate the product for durability:
No reason not to think this jacket will last a long time.
Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
Very comfortable, and that's from a freakishly long-armed bloke.
Rate the product for value:
For £83 this is a steal. If you told me it was nearly twice that price I'd believe you.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very, very well. No surprises, apart from how comfortable I was in piss-poor conditions.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The fact that the arms fitted.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, definitely, caveat about sweaty folks aside. Buy this before buying a gilet.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
Buy one before Vermarc make it more expensive.
Age: 41 Height: 183cm Weight: 73KG
I usually ride: Charge Juicer My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: club rides, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, MTB, singlespeed and Dutch bike pootling
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