Standing in the shower wearing the BTwin 700 Women's Warm Cycling Jacket felt distinctly odd, but it was the best way I could think of to test its waterproofness without sweat confusing things. It confirmed what I had been thinking: this is an extremely good barrier against rain (and wind), but it's not so good at letting moisture out.
Even so, when I saw the price for this jacket I was rather surprised. Yes, plenty of BTwin items are at the lower end of the market, but it also has a few that are pricier (including the men's Aerofit 700 Warm Cycling Jacket for £99.99), and I was expecting this to be one of them.
For starters, it's extremely windproof. I've worn this in very strong, very cold winds, and the only place you can feel any air creeping in is at the neck – but even then it has a hard job because the 700 comes with a detachable 'snood', a neck and lower face protector.
I initially thought this was just a gimmick, but then realised it was quite nice to have when there's a real chill in the air. (Note: pull it up too high and you will steam up your glasses.)
Although windproof, the fabric of the jacket isn't particularly insulating. It has a nice fleecy inner, but on really cold mornings you can do with a long-sleeve baselayer underneath otherwise your arms can get chilly.
The excellent windblocking isn't paired with quite such excellent breathability, and unless it's freezing, you will sweat. A lot. The technical details suggest 'mechanical vents' under the arms, but I couldn't find them; the only touch of venting our test jacket had was the mesh backing to the rear pockets. Even on a shortish ride you can get pretty damp, and I was convinced it was from the inside rather than the outside. Hence the testing in the shower.
In the shower I wore it with a cotton T-shirt underneath, and after a good few minutes' soaking the only part of my T-shirt that showed any sign of damp was the small of my back, where water must have run into the middle of the three rear pockets and through the mesh backing. Nothing anywhere else, even blasting water straight at the zip.
That middle pocket has a zipped 'water-repellent' pocket sewn into it, complete with hole for headphones, but I would urge caution before entrusting it with expensive gadgets. I worked up a bit of a sweat on just a half-hour ride and my phone was slippy with moisture.
The fabric of the jacket is quite stiff. The label says 100% polyester; there's a bit of give but it's not at all clingy and the sleeves are roomy. But it all appears well made, and although the seams aren't flatlock stitched nothing feels uncomfortable – and you're unlikely to be wearing this without a baselayer.
The zip, occasionally a bit reluctant to engage, has a double-fabric baffle and a neat garage at the top, always appreciated. Soft 'inner cuffs' slip into gloves easily, with the elasticated sleeve ends sitting over to create a tight seal.
I found the jacket a good length and I like the elasticated but not too tight fluoro waistband. With a thin strip of silicone gripper, it stays in place well.
At the time of writing, the only colour option available on the Decathlon website is black. That might appeal to some of you more than this grey and blue combo but have others up in arms, and I have to say it's not overflowing with reflectives – just two thin strips along the sleeves – although the big logos and fluoro waistband (on the grey/blue option) stand out.
One last word of warning: if you've been wearing the snood, remember to pull it off over your head before you try to remove the jacket. Otherwise you look very silly...
Keeps wind and rain out superbly and at an excellent price, but you'll undoubtedly end up moist on the inside anyway
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road.cc test report
Make and model: BTwin 700 Women's Warm Cycling Jacket
Size tested: Medium/Large, Grey/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?
BTwin says: "intensive cycling in cold weather (rides of 3 hours and over).
"This women's cycling jacket protects you from the cold with its full, insulating membrane and elasticated waist. High collar protects the face. Mechanical vents under the arms. 3 pockets + 1 secured"
Not sure I agree about the '3 hours and over' - I'd go shorter because of the jacket's lack of breathability. It does protect you from the cold well though.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Main fabric : 100.0% Polyester (PES)
Machine wash, do not tumble dry.
A very good jacket for cold frosty mornings, on shorter rides/commutes.
Nothing to suggest it won't last well.
No claims about waterproofing, but not sure why as it's excellent. Although rain tends to be accompanied by a rise in temperature, and then things get sweaty...
Not so good. Even on short rides, if it's not freezing then it gets quite clammy quite quickly.
It's roomy around the shoulders and sleeves. The sleeves are very long - which is better than being short.
Quite stiff fabric, but not uncomfortable - and chances are you'll have a baselayer on underneath.
Less than £40 for such wind (and rain) protection is excellent.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Performs best when it's colder and your sweat levels are lower.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
The way it completely blocks the wind, especially on cold mornings before you've had a chance to warm up.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Lack of breathability. Not overly keen on the colour options (even when available).
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes
Would you consider buying the jacket? Maybe
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
A great value jacket, better for really cold days and shorter rides when you're not building up a sweat.
About the tester
I usually ride: Vitus Venon My best bike is: Paulus Quiros
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, sportives, general fitness riding
Tass is our production pedant, who boldly goes hunting for split infinitives, rogue apostrophes and other things up with which she will not put. She joined road.cc in 2015 but first began working on bike magazines way back in 1991 as production editor on Mountain Biking UK, then deputy editor of MTB Pro, before changing allegiance to road cycling as senior production editor on Cycling Plus. She's ridden off-road but much prefers on, hasn't done half the touring she'd like to, and loves paper maps.