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dhb's Aeron Rain Defence jersey is the Wiggle own brand's attempt to deal with Autumn's damp weather, with mixed results. It keeps out the rain, but its breathability could be better.
Lets deal with its ability to deal with rainfall first. On this front it's very good. Hydrophobic, as long as it's washed with technical wash or, at the very least, a delicate soap, it'll keep the elements out in an impressive manner. It must be said that's partly down to the thickness of the jersey, in that it takes a lot of water to penetrate through the fabric. In a fairly heavy early autumn downpour it stood up to the challenge even when the beading had become a sheen on the surface of the jersey.
As a result, you feel protected when the heavens open, and thanks to its mid-weight nature feels like a layer of armour over your skin. Additionally, it's supplemented with a decent-length storm guard, zipper wind guard and high collar to keep out water and draughts, both of which perform well; the neckline is especially comfortable, and doesn't chafe even when zipped right up to the top – even if it was slightly restrictive on my thicker neck.
Naturally, this has a downside, in that breathability is limited. While the Aeron Rain Defence jersey features small mesh panels under the rear shoulder flaps, they're a bit like trying to get water out of a sink using a pipette. They don't allow moisture and heat to escape in anything like the required amount to be able to call the jacket 'cool' in mild conditions.
That's a shame, because dhb themselves claim the jacket to be breathable as one of its headline perks, a claim it, in my view, just doesn't live up to. On one particularly fresh morning (just into double digits), this became less of an issue as the protection afforded by the mid-weight, almost softshell-like fabric worked as a welcome insulator, but nevertheless in general early-autumn weather, it really can't cope.
So then, it's really a jersey for when the weather starts teetering towards ten degrees; a temperature much more likely to be seen mid-autumn and onwards in the UK. However, there are question marks about whether it's truly suitable for deep winter riding too. The cut is relatively slim, meaning it'll probably be your innermost layer, base layer notwithstanding. That means fans of layering will probably be stuck with it, regardless of its breathability level – equally important in the very cold to stop your clothes getting soggy with sweat, and subsequently making you irretrievably cold anyway.
As the cut it slim, it fits snugly around your arms, shoulders and waist. The 'Aeron' name hints towards this; it won't flap around you, and as a result does keep you at least slightly efficient when cutting through the air. That's a positive for people who like to get a move on, even in the winter.
Other useful features on the jersey include three decently-sized pockets, lined with high-visibility trim, and a zipped fourth pocket that is described as 'water resistant'. Why this isn't fully waterproof on a jersey like this escapes me, but it's hardy enough to trust your phone and money to, as long as you keep those in their own covers as well.
It's a decent-looking jersey, too. The all-black version is sleek and stylish with branding decals on the outside of the forearm. If that's not your bag, you can also choose a version with red arms and shoulders for a splash of colour.
At £95, this isn't a cheap garment, and for that kind of money I'd hope for a good all-rounder in terms of performance. It falls short of that mark, because of the lack of breathability when the weather isn't distinctly cold (and dry).
Wiggle claims that in the Aeron Rain Defence the 'performance of a jacket meets the fit and feel of a jersey'. In some areas (primarily the water resistance, build quality and cut) it achieves this. However, it's short on breathability despite claims to the contrary, which is a shame for a garment that thus has limited appeal outside of winter.
To be fair, few of its rivals in the category of 'jerseys that are like the Castelli Gabba' are highly breathable either. The idea is that by protecting you from cold air when you're riding tempo, they keep you comfortable, even though you may get a bit damp. The Aeron Rain Defence jersey does a decent job of that, and it's the cheapest in its class.
Decent quality, good water resistance in a protective jersey, but lacks breathability in mild weather
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road.cc test report
Make and model: dhb dhb Aeron Rain Defence Short Sleeve Jersey
Size tested: Medium, Black
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?
"The performance of a jacket meets the fit and feel of a jersey. When the intensity is high and the heavens open the Aeron Rain Defence jersey will keep you protected and performing at your maximum.
Five years since we launched our award-winning Aeron Pro Bib shorts, 2016 brings an all-encompassing evolution of the Aeron Collection, now expanded to an extensive range to keep you comfortable whatever the conditions. High performance fabrics, supreme fit and a keen attention to detail: your new wardrobe staple.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
"If it's definitely looking like rain but you know you'll be riding no matter what then the Aeron Rain Defence jersey is just for you.
"Waterproof Fabric Using a mid-weight waterproof fabric dhb have created a jersey that keeps out the elements for use on your high tempo rides or in very changeable weather. The mid weight fabric isn't so heavy as to make you overheat and feel uncomfortable even at higher intensities.
"dhb's designers have specified a fabric with excellent breathability allowing you to push the pace without feeling damp and uncomfortable. Seams are not taped as this ultimately increases breathability still further while only diminishing wet weather performance marginally. Should things really warm up then the full length zip gives you the option to expel warm damp air and circulate fresh cooling air. Hidden rear vents also allow warm air to escape adding more comfort to your ride.
The combination of rain protection and breathability makes it the ideal jersey for hard and high intensity training sessions and races in the rain where you don't want to be wasting energy putting a jacket on and off.
Wet weather design details
With an extended storm guard rear panel you get extra protection from wheel spray; a considerable advantage when compared to a standard jersey, aiding your comfort for wet hours in the saddle. We also know you'll likely be carrying ride spares and nutrition so dhb have given you three rear pockets, protected by their own storm guard to keep as much moisture out as possible. For valuables you also get a secure zipped rear pocket that is water resistant.
A final detail designed for the low light conditions often associated with wild, rainy days is a reflective insert and binding to be found on the rear storm guard.
Built to withstand winter, it'll do just that.
Rain resistance is excellent, but breathability less-so, limiting its overall appeal.
It'll stand the test of winter, just be sure to wash it kindly to maintain performance.
I like a slim cut, but if you don't you could always size up. However, I don't think this'll do the breathability level any favours.
Slightly small, in line with a slim cut, but it remains comfortable.
261g is very heavy for a jersey, but on a par with jacket, which you could argue this garment is designed to be a cross between.
Decent here, if you like a slim cut.
£95 for a jersey that, for me at least, will only work in wintry conditions, is expensive. However, it's quite versatile, boosting value a touch.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Fine - I stuck with delicate and technical washing to maintain its waterproofness.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Reasonably, but breathability disappoints.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Water resistance and the cut
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Breathability is overrated,
Did you enjoy using the product? In parts - breathability and ventilation is key for me as I run hot.
Would you consider buying the product? Not for me, but if you want good insulation then it's worth considering.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Possibly.
Use this box to explain your score
A good thick jersey, but isn't as breathable as it really should be.
About the tester
I usually ride: Specialized Allez Sport My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,