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The Hoy Vulpine Randa is a well-made stretchy softshell for keeping out cold air and drizzle, and it's a bit of a steal.
The Randa is made from a mix of polyester and polyurethane with four-way stretch – and a generous amount of stretch at that. I found that I could wear it over just a baselayer, or on top of both a baselayer and a jersey without it feeling tight. Either way, it fits closely but it's not uncomfortable.
I sometimes struggle with sleeve length (gangly? me?) but found that absolutely fine here, and the same goes for length in the body. Both the cuffs and the hem are elasticated to help keep the outside world outside. I could have done with a bit more of a tail at the back for dealing with road spray when riding without mudguards (there's an obvious solution, admittedly), but that's less likely to be an issue on shorter riders.
While we're talking about fit, I found the high-cut collar to be about the right size to keep out draughts without causing asphyxiation. I have the medium sized model here and it measures 20cm in diameter, if you want to check that against anything you already own.
The fabric stops cold air completely and it's very water resistant. Road spray, mist, drizzle and light rain just bead up and roll off. The seams aren't taped, as is the way with softshells, but you have to be riding in proper rain for a lengthy period before anything gets in. I found the water first worming in at the shoulders, never through the water resistant zip with a storm flap behind it.
I wouldn't say that the fabric is the most breathable I've ever used but it still performs pretty well on that front. Vents under the arms help to keep the humidity level down and you can, of course, always open the front zip when things start hotting up.
Rather than the usual three cargo pockets in the lower back, the Randa is equipped with two that are larger than normal. It doesn't make a whole heap of difference either way, really, although you might need to adjust your usual pocket protocol (just me? Okay). You do get a third pocket back there: an outer zipped one that's waterproof. That makes a good refuge for your phone, cash, cards, or whatever.
The printed logos (chest, right arm, back) are reflective and so is the pocket zip I mentioned, which all helps to get you noticed when riding at night.
The jacket as a whole has a high-quality feel to it. The zips are from YKK with decent, easy-to-grab pullers, the collar is lined with microfleece, and all the stitching is really well done.
I've been using the Randa loads over the past few weeks and think it's an excellent piece of kit. For the majority of the British winter, you want something you can turn to for keeping out cold air, spray and unforeseen showers. This does the job really well at an excellent price.
Stretchy, well-cut softshell with good features at a very reasonable price
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road.cc test report
Make and model: HOY Vulpine Randa Softshell Jacket
Size tested: Medium, Cobalt blue
Tell us what the jacket 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?
Hoy Vulpine says, "The Hoy Vulpine Apparel Randa Softshell Jacket is an outer shell to rely on for hours of battling the elements. Wind and rain proof with great breathability for comfort on long rides. Two large under-arm vents, angled against the wind, remove warm moist air if you're working hard. Two large easy access rear pockets and a waterproof zipped pocket will keep your valuables safe. A beautifully detailed winter workhorse."
I'd say that it's the type of jacket you'll get plenty of use from over a British winter, even a mild one.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Hoy Vulpine lists these features:
Water resistant, wind proof, and highly breathable softshell fabric for hours of wintery weather
Construction: High cut collar to seal in warmth, with soft fleece lining
Pockets: Two large open access rear pockets to stuff pack with gear for a long ride, with additional reflective YKK zip waterproof valuables pocket
Reflectivity: Highly reflective logo prints on the lower back, chest and arm
The quality is high throughout.
It's lasting really well so far. It's a tough polyester/polyurethane mix.
It's not billed as waterproof, it's not supposed to be; it's water resistant. The seams aren't taped.
The fabric is reasonably breathable and you get a couple of vents on the sides, underneath the arms. There are certainly jackets out there with more vents.
I really liked the fit. I could have done with a longer tail, but that's my only real quibble. It's a slim, performance-type fit, with loads of stretch in the fabric to stop it feeling uncomfortably tight.
This isn't the type of jacket you're going to take off and put in a jersey pocket, but it's pretty lightweight and low bulk, and that helps with comfort.
The stretchiness makes for plenty of comfort.
The performance and the attention to detail make this exceptional value.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Easy. You just chuck it in the machine on a cool wash.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It's a bit of a star for rides when you want to stop the wind getting in. For me, that's on rides below about 11°C, usually, although you might well be different.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
The fit and the stretchiness of the fabric.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
I'd prefer three cargo pockets at the back rather than two, to be honest. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes
Would you consider buying the jacket? Yes
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
This is a jacket that performs very well and it comes at an exceptionally good price.
About the tester
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 been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, 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 winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.