The dhb Classic Rain Shell Jacket does what it says on the tin, at a price that would get you an arm and half a collar from some other brands. It's not loaded with tech – in fact there's almost no tech on show – and there are a few gotchas, but if fifty quid is your budget it's hard to go past.
What defines a classic? Is it function over form? Value for money destined to make something popular with the masses? To be good enough at something that most will never look further? The dhb Classic Rain Shell Jacket ticks all these boxes without pretence or look-at-me flair. If what you want is a jacket that fits in a pocket and will keep you dry in a downpour, look no further.
Waterproof fabrics have come on amazingly in the last few years, and now if a fabric doesn't have a hydrostatic head of 10,000mm and vapour transmission of 30,000ml per square meter per day, it's just rubbish. dhb have specced a no-brand fabric that meets this performance minimum, and have tape-sealed no fewer than twenty panels into a more-or-less snug fit on the bike; I'm a 37in chest / 33in waist, and it fitted near perfectly.
The collar sits pleasingly high and stiff enough to keep water off the neck, and it's lightly brushed for comfort. There's a hanging loop on the outside for the locker-room wall after commuting, and a few splashes of reflective trim on arms, chest, back and bum to highlight yourself on the road. The thick red stripe around the chest will do nicely for 'styling'.
The arms end in elastic (no thumb loops, velcro, laser-cut gauntlety-bits or whatnot here), and they do the job. Even on pretty nippy descents the arms didn't balloon or ride up. My stupid-long arms fitted reasonably well, so anyone with a normal height-to-armspan ratio will be fine.
The tail doesn't drop far at the back, so if you're thinking to ride in the wet sans mudguard there won't be much to keep your bibs dry.
There's also no slash zip for access to your jersey pockets, so you'll have to do the lift-and-feel thing. There is a pocket in the jacket itself accessed by a vertical zip on the right, which is actually designed as a stuff sac for when the jacket's not needed. Once stuffed inside there's a fair bit of spare room left, but it can then be folded in half and put into even small pockets quite easily.
When worn the pocket easily swallows spares, food and phone, but the off-centre location might mean it would drag down to the right if loaded. The fabric's the same 2.5-layer waterproof as the rest but the zip is not waterproof, so don't think this is a safe place for an uncased mobile or electronic car keys. The main zip has a small backing flap, but again it's not waterproof so possibly after a number of hours you'd see ingress there. The YKK zip pulls on the main zip and the pocket aren't the largest, so you might find winter gloves a hassle.
One bonus of leaving out pretty much every technical feature imaginable is the resulting garment is light, a scant 180g, and rolls up small. If you don't want/need adjustable cuffs, pit zips, funky slash-access pockets or whatnot, look no further. Recently we reviewed the frankly stuffing Endura FS260 Pro SL shell, which came in at 225g and nearly three times the price. Yes, the fabric's technically twice as waterproof, but just how hard a rainstorm are you actually going to go riding in? Speaking of which...
It never rains, but it pours
May is a good time to test waterproofs. It's not freezing which means you can push the limits of fabric breathability hard, and there's always something nasty passing through one week or the other to get out in.
One ride was memorable for flooding parts of roads I'd never seen with standing water. I could see the line of advancing rain cutting visibility down the valley like a grey blanket held down by the Gods of Cycling Apparel Testing. Sitting up and unzipping/unfurling the dhb shell from its stuff sac was easy, and it went on as the first few drops hit.
The ride was an upper-Zone-2-heartrate effort of a few hours, so I was working reasonably consistently in 15-17 degrees; certainly enough to be warm, with a long-sleeved baselayer under a summer jersey. Quickly I had to flip the casquette brim down as the rain built to hurty-face proportions.
The noise was incredible, amplified by the large drops battering the jacket's arms down to outline my feeble guns. I confess to anticipating – almost willing – the inevitable feel of a trickle here, a damp patch there, but nothing came. Over the next 75 minutes I rode on at a good pace, including several 100m climbs out of valleys, but, no, everything felt comfortable.
The neck stood up to the deluge even with frequent shoulder checks to look for following cars as they couldn't be heard above the apocalyptic watery din, and if any water did get in it was on par with sweat so went unnoticed. I used the zip towards the top of a few climbs to get some air into proceedings, but certainly things weren't getting close to boil-in-the-bag feel.
Once the rain abated and a few patches of sun emerged the jacket dried quickly, looking dry after maybe ten to fifteen minutes. Pedaling on in the cooler post-front aftermath I left the jacket on as a windproof shell, no excess flapping heard and comfortable on the hoods and occasionally drops for descents.
All in all, for £50 you can't go wrong; if that's your budget you won't be disappointed. And if you're after a B-jacket for commuting or muddy bridleway bashing where the risk of errant branches tearing sleeves puts you off wearing the Wet Sunday Best, the dhb Classic Rain Shell Jacket is just the ticket.
For fifty quid the dhb Classic Rain Shell Jacket redefines what a mid-priced waterproof can be
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road.cc test report
Make and model: dhb Classic Rain Shell Jacket
Size tested: Medium, Black/Red
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?
It's for people on a budget who want small, light and waterproof.
When the weather is doing it's worst to keep you from riding with wind and rain, it's time to don your dhb Classic Rain Shell Jacket. The high waterproof performance and high breathability comes at incredible value.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Technical and lightweight 2.5 layer waterproof jacket
Very high breathability rating of 30,000m2/24hrs
Waterproof rating of 10,000mm
Fully taped seams
Strategically placed reflective details for high visibility in low light conditions
Single rear zipped 'Stuffit' pocket for storing ride essentials
Jacket can be packed into the 'Stuffit' pocket
Shaped drop tail for extended coverage when on the bike
Micro fleece lined collar
It's very well put-together.
It kept rain out in frankly ridiculous scenarios. The tail could be longer, which would let it down if you weren't expecting to need mudguards.
After a month's wear and a few washes it looks like new. Time will tell how the fabric and construction stands up.
Hard not to give it full marks - couldn't detect a drop getting through. But the zips aren't waterproof.
It's not perfect and I needed to vent a bit compared to jackets three times the price, but for the money it's hard to beat.
My gripes here are the arms come up a bit short for me, as does the tail.
dhb think I'm a small at 37" chest/33" waist - I wore a Medium, a small would have been too short in the arms. It's pretty snug, so I'd go a bit larger for most folks.
Wow. 180g. Wow.
Again, the arms are a bit of a let-down for me.
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
For the money, it sets a new bar.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
The fact it fitted well, looked good and kept the water on the outside.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Arms and tail could be more generous. And the pocket needn't be so big. And give us access to jersey pockets please!
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
I mark it down for slightly-stingy arms, short tail, no jersey-pocket access and no waterproof zips. Any one of those being sorted would have made it a 4.5-star. But hey - for fifty quid it's still great value.
About the tester
I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc 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: cyclo cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mtb, Dutch bike pootling.