Blending mainstream fashion and cycling clothing can be a difficult recipe to perfect, but Vulpine may have struck gold with their Harrington Rain Jacket, a design classic that performs superbly well whether you're on the bike or strolling through town.
Presley. Weller. Albarn. Wiggins. Four names, four generations, one iconic jacket: the Harrington. Some designs are timeless and come round again and again in the constantly shifting world of fashion, and the Harrington is one of them.
The Harrington burst onto the fashion scene in the 1930s and throughout its various revivals the design has barely changed. Vulpine's take on it stays very loyal to the original. It has a slim, tailored fit with a waist-length hem and features the trademark high collar, clean lines, simple cotton panels and a muted colour palette. The one slight break with tradition is the lack of tartan lining – in fact there's no lining whatsoever. It's simple, smart, and can be worn on almost any occasion.
Obviously this is no ordinary Harrington. Vulpine have given the jacket a cycling twist with a few subtle features that make it more comfortable in the saddle. The back panel is vented to allow better air flow. There are good sized zipped cargo pockets on the front, a button-fastened chest pocket, and a rear valuables pocket with a magnet-fastened rain flap. The back of the jacket also features waist adjusters to bring the jacket in slightly for a closer fit, and these are piped with reflective fabric for increased visibility.
On the bike the Vulpine Harrington is a superb fit: slim in the body so it's not flapping about in the breeze, but roomy enough to allow space for movement when pedalling. The sleeves have a bit of extra length and the cuffs are cut with a scalloped shape to keep your wrists covered, even at full stretch. It's cut high around the neck, which fits closely to keep out the elements.
Off the bike the cycling features are barely noticeable. They're subtle enough that they blend into the background and the 'cycling Harrington' becomes a sharp and stylish 'regular Harrington'. Unlike other jackets that fall into the same category, it has very few compromises on or off the bike.
The jacket is made from Vulpine's trademark material of choice: Epic Cotton. This is a durable and water-resistant fabric, every individual fibre of which is treated with silicone. This means the water-resistance is part of the fabric's make-up rather than a treatment applied as a final process, making it less likely to wear off over time. The cotton panels are joined by bound internal seams that, hidden from view on the outside, are piped on the inside with Vulpine's signature bright green colour, an aesthetically pleasing feature shared with other pieces in the Vulpine range.
The Epic Cotton certainly does a good job of keeping out the weather. Although it's not technically waterproof, it is highly water resistant. Vulpine claim the jacket will 'withstand all but 2+ hours of heavy rain or persistent torrential rain'. It certainly kept out some heavy showers during the review period, with rainwater satisfyingly beading on the surface of the jacket. Its main zip and those on the two front pockets are fully waterproof, another good line of defence against the weather.
The advantage of the jacket not being totally waterproof is that it's breathable, something pretty essential for a jacket made for year-round riding. It's really quite impressive, too. At first glance it looks the sort of jacket that could get quite warm once you get going, but the combination of the Epic Cotton and the rear vent help to regulate your body temperature well.
As with other pieces of Vulpine clothing there are some neat nuggets of attention to detail that really set the jacket apart. The scalloped cuffs, the collar, and the pocket interiors all have a fleece lining that provides an extra bit of comfort against your skin and a slight feeling of luxury. The magnetic closures on the collar and rear pocket make them super-easy to open and close, and they shut with a reassuring snap. A flap running down the front and covering the zip gives extra protection against the wind, as well as simplifying the look of the jacket. I like the lack of labels, too. The washing information is printed on the inside of the jacket – nothing groundbreaking, but labels can look clumsy and irritate and this is a far more elegant solution.
This is the third year that Vulpine's Harrington has been available, and the second iteration of the jacket. There are just a few small tweaks from the original: the shaped cuffs and zip flap are new, and the chest button has been reinforced with V-stitching.
It comes in sizes XS to XXL, fitting chest sizes from 35in to 48in, and is available in a range of sophisticated and muted colour; we had the Classic Navy version, but there's also Maroon, Oak Green, and Charcoal.
The price of £195 seems pretty reasonable for a jacket of this ilk. Looking around at offerings from similarly placed brands, it falls just about in the middle. The difference here is that you're investing in a tried and tested design classic that's proven to outlast the fast changing fashion world. More importantly than that, it performs superbly well as a cycling jacket and just as well on a stroll through town, with very few compromises.
The Vulpine Harrington Rain Jacket is a design classic with a cycling twist. Comfortable, stylish and practical
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Make and model: Vulpine Men's Harrington Rain Jacket
Size tested: Medium, Navy
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?
Vulpine say: "Our Harrington Jacket is a beautifully tailored and finished cycling garment for all-year round wear. Our best selling jacket is the ultimate urban cycling and commuting garment, based on a British Mod classic design"
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- Made from brilliant water, wind and stain resistant Epic™ Cotton
- Magnetic collar and pocket closures
- V-stitched button closure chest pocket
- Darted rear back air vent
- Fully waterproof zips
- Large inner front storage pockets
- Rear button waist adjusters with integrated reflectivity
- No scratchy labels as all info is printed inside
- Fleece lined cuffs, shaped for riding
- Bound internal seams
The jacket has a real quality look and feel to it. The stitching is on display, rather then being hidden away, and is physically robust.
Almost faultless. Comfortable and practical for riding in and for everyday use.
Daily use during the review period hasn't shown any signs of wear and tear.
Really comfortable on and off the bike.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Excellent performance on the bike, comfortable to ride in, with some nice features that really help create a good cycling experience.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The styling and subtlety of the cycling features, so the traditional Harrington design isn't compromised too much.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Cant' think of anything
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Most definitely
Age: 29 Height: 5'10" Weight: 76kg
I usually ride: KHS Flite 100 Singlespeed/Fixed, Genesis Equilibrium 20 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed,
Oli has been a road.cc staffer since day one. He's the graphic design and photography force behind the site, and has got a keen eye for good quality, well designed cycling kit. You'll find him on his bike everyday whatever the weather, he's got a penchant for a steel frame and has had 'fit mudguards' on his To Do list for nearly 6 years now. Likes: cold toast, gin, rugby. Dislikes: fitting mudguards.