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Verdict: 
Remarkably capable convertible jacket-cum-jersey for general riding, slightly let down by baggy cuffs and short sleeves
Weight: 
457g
Contact: 

The Aldi men's soft shell cycling jacket is a convertible design that transforms from middle-weight jersey-cum-jacket to gilet courtesy of removable, zippered sleeves. It's also highly water-resistant and offers pretty good defence against windchill too.

At £17 there are some compromises and minor niggles, but overall performance sets a new standard for bargain kit, wheel-sucking several established brands' £50 fare. In fact, I mistook it for a popular brand's jacket when I first opened the packaging.

> Find your nearest Aldi store here

> Buy this online here

Available in two colours – ubiquitous fluoro, or this infinitely more alluring blue – it's made from a rugged, easy to care for polyester/elastane mix with impressive detailing. Round the back, we have a huge cargo pocket perfect for dumping pump, banana(s), spare tubes, keys and quite a lot more besides. Some segregation would be welcome – it does feel like you've two playful Labrador puppies fighting in there – and being picky, I'd like an LED tab too.

Aldi Mens Softshell Cycling Jacket - pocket.jpg

Classy looking and well-conceived Scotchlite detailing brings it to life, and an elasticated, silicone hem anchors it nicely. Round the font, we've a full length zipper to regulate temperature and generous collar to keep draughts out, coupled with an equally generous Nelson pocket – perfect for big zoom compact cameras, medium sized smartphones, wallets or similar valuables. This is also sealed from the elements and given a Scotchlite border for nocturnal presence.

Aldi Mens Softshell Cycling Jacket - collar.jpg

Fit is surprisingly good – snug with sufficient room for base and mid layers – although the cuffs were a little baggier and the sleeves a little shorter than I've come to expect. Not a problem with long-cuff winter weight gloves, and they've never fluttered like a builder's tarp, even on some seriously blustery descents, but enough to allow a little breeze inside. Otherwise, climate control has exceeded my expectations.

Aldi Mens Softshell Cycling Jacket - cuff.jpg

An uncharacteristically chill May saw temperatures stagger between 12 and 17 degrees in my locale, and the fibres have certainly kept pace. Like most polyesters, it takes about 20 minutes before the wicking magic starts. After that, paired with more sophisticated synthetic/merino baselayers and at a steady 17-20mph, things remain temperate, with only trace dampness around the lower back after two-hour outings.

Aldi Mens Softshell Cycling Jacket - riding.jpg

Waterproofing is very good in the everyday sense and I've remained perfectly dry during some very intense downpours, although sustained close range blasts from the garden hose eventually crept inside. On the subject of water, so long as you stick to 30-degree cycles and gently agitate grimy patinas with cleaners first, it washes very well too.

> Read our guide to the best waterproof cycling jackets

Using it as a gilet has been my preferred mode on chill mornings and dry, breezy evenings, keeping chest, neck and back protected, even when hunkered low on the drops for long periods. The sleeves detach and fold very small, and are easily parked in that cavernous rear pocket. The whole garment packs small enough to join with tube, tools, lock, snacks and other essentials in a 14 litre commuter pannier.

Aldi Mens Softshell Cycling Jacket - sleeves off.jpg

Bottom line, comparisons with more sophisticated garments are unfair. However, paired with better quality baselayers, performance wasn't far behind some established brands' entry-level models.

Verdict

Remarkably capable convertible jacket-cum-jersey for general riding, slightly let down by baggy cuffs and short sleeves

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Aldi Mens Softshell Cycling Jacket

Size tested: Medium, Blue/Black

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?

Aldi says: "This Men's Softshell Cycling Jacket is breathable, waterpoof and wind resistant - ideal for cycling in all sorts of weather conditions. It features zip-off arms to convert to a gilet, along with reflective details for greater visibility."

Features

* Ultra compact

* Breathable

* Waterproof

* Wind resistant

* Elastic inserts

* Reflective details

* Zipped chest and back pockets, with YKK zips

* Removable sleeves

Cheap but remarkably cheerful jacket cum gillet for general riding.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?

* Material: Polyester, Elastane

* Pockets: Chest & Back Pockets

* Product Type: Jackets

* Size: S, M, L, XL

* Tumble Dry: Do Not Tumble Dry

* Washing Temperature: 30 Degrees

* Waterproof: Fabric

* Wind Resistant: Fabric

Rate the jacket for quality of construction:
 
7/10

Remarkably well made for the money.

Rate the jacket for performance:
 
7/10

Does most things very convincingly, though sleeve length and elasticated cuffs would benefit from revision.

Rate the jacket for durability:
 
7/10

Seems very durable and washing beautifully to date.

Rate the jacket for waterproofing, based on the manufacturer's rating:
 
7/10
Rate the jacket for breathability, based on the manufacturer's rating:
 
7/10

There's some typical lag before the polyester fibres kick in and start wicking, but I've remained surprisingly temperate, even in milder conditions.

Rate the jacket for fit:
 
6/10

Good but sleeves shorter than ideal for me.

Rate the jacket for sizing:
 
6/10

About right, could have been longer in the arms though.

Rate the jacket for weight:
 
6/10
Rate the jacket for comfort:
 
6/10
Rate the jacket for value:
 
9/10

Excellent, when you take into account that it converts to a very competent gilet.

How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?

Has washed very, very well so far.

Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Overall, there are some minor niggles here – the sleeve length being the most obvious for me. However, detailing is far superior to that found on some established brands' entry-level jackets costing considerably more. Wicking and water-repellence have been pleasant surprises too. Sure, there's that familiar clamminess before the fibres start trafficking rider-generated coolant but I've felt refreshingly temperate even when the mercury's nudging 17 degrees.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket

Nicely designed with good pockets. Brilliant as a gilet.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket

Sleeves and cuffs need revising.

Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes, much more than I expected.

Would you consider buying the jacket? Possibly

Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Yes, if they were on a tight budget.

Use this box to explain your score

Remarkably good value with some excellent touches that I'd expect on models commanding £50. The sleeves are a little on the short side and cuffs left my wrists exposed, which could be a deal breaker during the colder months.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 42  Height: 1m 81cm  Weight: 70kg

I usually ride: Rough stuff tourer based around 4130 Univega mountain bike frameset  My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road

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: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking

Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)

3 comments

Avatar
tritecommentbot [2266 posts] 2 years ago
1 like

Thought it was Rapha's classic windproof jacket at first glance. eBayed a yellow one recently for night riding and it's really similar from the front. Actually if I didn't see this article, and saw someone coming the other way, I'd probably have thought we were wearing the same posh jacket but in a different season's colours..

At 17, for a softshell.. can't beat that. Especially as it's looks decent. Fit's not bad either.

Avatar
Yorkshire wallet [2428 posts] 2 years ago
1 like

£8.99 in the clearance section in my local. Bargain.

Avatar
alg [186 posts] 2 years ago
1 like

My chance to praise Aldi because I think they deserve it; and no, I have no vested interest in them.

I bought one of these (in blue) some weeks ago and I cant believe how good it is. 

Not a performance fit I would agree, but I bought it for commuting because I am tired of trashing more expensive kit on the daily ride/train journey and figured I could afford to replace it every year if necessary; I dont think I will need to though.

It keeps the weather out, its versatile, it seems to put up with the punishment and it looks the part too. For the money it is brilliant