The Castelli Pave is a high-performance lightweight waterproof shell, made of eVent fabric. That's expensive stuff, but still the price here is a bit of a shocker. It performs very well, though, keeping even heavy rain on the outside with an impressive level of breathability to keep you reasonably comfortable.
Castelli says the Pave is a simplified version of its (even more expensive) Tempesta waterproof, lacking that jacket's pockets and adjustable cuffs. The RRP is probably enough to put quite a lot of people off, no matter how much they like the pavé photoprint, but the fact is it can be found in many places at much-reduced prices, when it becomes a really decent option.
A number of brands use eVent fabric, with the goal of providing the holy grail of rain protection combined with breathability. It uses Direct Venting technology to allow water vapour to pass through microscopic pores even when the fabric is dry – eVent says that conventional polyurethane breathable membranes only allow moisture transfer when the fabric is wet, meaning that you need to get hot and damp before the sweat really escapes. This, it is claimed, makes eVent 30 per cent more breathable than its closest competitor.
Castelli says that the eVent fabric used in the Pave is an exclusive ultralight version. We weighed the large size at 221g, which is indeed a decent weight for a "proper" waterproof, though it appears there is lighter still – Dhb's eVent ASV waterproof jacket has a claimed weight of 133g for a medium, although I've not tried one and can't verify this. The Dhb jacket is, as you'd expect, rather less pricey than the Pave too, at £100. Vermarc's Extreme Rain Jacket, which Mike tested last year, is slightly lighter and significantly cheaper, being made of a less high-end membrane, which I suspect isn't as breathable as what we have here.
I wore the Pave in a wide range of conditions and it did an excellent job of keeping me dry, shrugging off rain and road spray for rides of a few hours without a problem. The zip is a waterproof YKK Vislon with a storm flap behind it, and this didn't let anything through either.
The jacket really does breathe particularly well, too – wearing it over a baselayer I stayed comfortable even when riding at pace with the temperature around 8-12°C. With most waterproof jackets, I tend to use them only when it's already raining when I set out, otherwise favouring a gilet or a softshell, depending on temperature. With the Pave I was happy using it even if there was only a threat of rain, as the usual downsides of a hard shell were largely absent.
It packs down very well - it was no trouble fitting it in a jersey pocket, so if you do find you're getting too warm, it's easy to stow. One thing you can't do is to wear it with a rucksack; Castelli says so explicitly. This is most likely because of risk to the externally-taped seams, but it may be that the fabric itself won't cope with the abrasion. I was initially concerned about the durability of those taped seams, but after a few months of pretty regular use they've not shown any tendency to peel or lift.
The eVent fabric feels softer and more comfortable than traditional hard shells – more like a thin windproof than a waterproof. It feels okay against the skin, but I'd still always opt for a long-sleeved baselayer or jersey underneath. It's quiet too, which is welcome, so you don't hear it flapping as much as some. Unlike the fabric used in the Bontrager Velocis Stormshell it isn't stretchy, but it is well fitted. It's certainly not race-tight, though – I had plenty of room for a couple of layers underneath with the large size. What happened to "Italian sizing"?
I've not yet really mentioned one of the most striking elements of the Pave, namely the rather bold photoprint across the torso. Pavé is French for cobbles, as seen every spring in the Classics races like Paris-Roubaix, and here, all over your jacket. I hated it at first, but feel less strongly by the end of the test period; other people's views could best be described as mixed. If it's not your thing, there are plain black and blue versions available too.
Only the cobbled version has the bright fluoro tail, but they all have the reflective tape at the very bottom around the back, which helps with night-time visibility. There is also silicone gripper strip to stop it riding up, located above the fluoro bum panel. The two scorpion logos are printed as part of the design rather than stuck on or stitched in place, so they won't come off.
From a performance perspective, then, the Pave certainly delivers. Excellent protection from wind and rain combined with high breathability means it is a viable option for any cool weather riding even if rain is but a distant risk. Personally, I preferred the fit of the less expensive Bontrager Velocis, which I was testing at the same time. The Velocis also has more comprehensive reflectives, a useful pocket and is better looking to my eyes. But now that the Pave can be bought for a lot less than RRP, it is on more even terms with the competition, and I'd say it is certainly worth considering.
High performance waterproof at a pretty eye-watering price; the pattern might make your eyes water too
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Castelli Pave Waterproof Jacket
Size tested: Large, Photo Print / Fluo
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?
Castelli says: "The Castelli Pave Jacket is simplicity at its best, take an exclusive ultralight breathable eVent fabric use it to make a fitted pro quality rain jacket and stop. This is a rain shell for riders who want maximum protection but without the Tempesta race jackets, bells and whistles. Sometimes less is more. The Castelli Pave Jacket folds up small so it fits in your pocket when not in use. Please be aware that this jacket isn't suitable for using under a rucksack. The Castelli Pave Jacket pure performance; Less is more."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The Pave Jacket the lightest fully waterproof jacket we do.
Exclusive eVent ultralight microfiber fabric
External seam taping for a total waterproof construction
Waterproof YKK Vislon zipper
Silicone gripper elastic at waist
Extra-long tail with reflective trim for 360degree visibility
Minimalistic lightweight construction - packs up small
Sizes Men's S-3XL size is snug designed to fit over a couple of thin layers,.
Weight 189g (L)
Comfort range 6-20c for racing/training in wet conditions
Please note the Castelli Pave Jacket is a ultra-lightweight waterproof jacket designed for road cycling and racing DO NOT use with a rucksack, always follow the care instructions supplied with the jacket.
Premium fabric and neat stitching. High-quality YKK Vislon zip with a baffle behind, letting neither wind nor rain through. If you look really hard (e.g. on the inside of the sleeves) there are a few loose threads, which there shouldn't be at this price.
Very impressive protection for such a lightweight jacket. Reasonably well fitted but not ultra aero (but very few rain jackets are). Italian sizing isn't what it used to be.
No issues during fairly extensive testing (including plenty of runs through the washing machine) so maybe I was wrong to be a little nervous about the external taped seams. Instructions say "wash me often", unusually.
Very lightweight for a proper waterproof jacket. This is down to the lightweight eVent fabric but also the absence of details like pockets, vents and so on.
Thoroughly decent for a waterproof jacket.
At the RRP, any way you look at it, this doesn't seem like amazing value. Yes, it's a premium fabric and a primo Italian brand, but that price...
But it tends to be available heavily discounted online, at which point it is decent value.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It did a grand job of keeping me dry and pretty comfortable through some pretty horrible weather.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
It's lightweight, packable, keeps the rain outside and breathes pretty well.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I'm not a huge fan of the cobbled print.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes, if discounted (currently around £140).
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
I was really impressed by the performance of the Pave and used it much more than I expected as a consequence. The fact that you can now buy it with almost £100 off suggests that Castelli rather misjudged the RRP, and it becomes a more convincing option, but at RRP it loses a mark for value.
About the tester
I usually ride: Commuter - something with disc brakes, drop bars and a rack My best bike is: Rose X-Lite CRS
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: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
Jez spends his days making robots that drive cars but is happiest when on two wheels. His roots are in mountain biking but he spends more time nowadays on the road, occasionally racing but more often just riding.