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Verdict: 
A great option for riding in cold and damp but not too wet weather
Weight: 
410g

The dhb Aeron Full Protection Softshell is a seriously warm jacket for very cold rides. Pick your weather carefully.

Regular readers of this website might have picked up that I suffer from the cold. Being 6ft tall but only 70kg there's not much insulation on my frame, a combination not helped by also having the peripheral circulation of a drugged sloth, even at a redline heart rate. So when I get into cold-weather testing it's with a sense of dread and usually a back pocket or three stuffed with backup layers of insulation.

dhb Aeron Pro Full Protection Softshell - riding.jpg

The Aeron Full Protection Softshell claims to 'keep you warm and protected in harsh weather conditions' – and I can attest that it does this in spades. The combination of an insulating material that's also totally, absolutely windproof makes this a jersey-jacket that will keep you eerily remote from your environment. Wind? What wind?

dhb Aeron Pro Full Protection Softshell - chest.jpg

Feature-wise the Aeron is standard winter jersey-jacket fare: tight-fitting cuffs keep breezes out, a long tail keeps your bum free from spray (but on me it could have been a bit longer), and there's a full-length locking zip with garage, to adjust open or closed depending on how hard you're working.

dhb Aeron Pro Full Protection Softshell - back.jpg

The cuffs are generous and not fleece-lined, the material folded over to provide the tightest-possible seal. The collar definitely is fleeced, standing high to keep your neck toasty warm.

dhb Aeron Pro Full Protection Softshell - collar.jpg

dhb departs from the norm by using a laser-cut mesh-protected open vent across the back of the shoulders, with a decent overlap to keep rain out. It works – I was able to do repeated Zone 5 maximal heart rate drills in 5-10°C without building up noticeable quantities of sweat. That's not to say I couldn't feel moisture – even with a high-quality mesh merino baselayer I could tell the fabric wasn't letting air in to aid evaporation.

dhb Aeron Pro Full Protection Softshell - vent.jpg

This is the tradeoff in cold-weather performance kit – how to manage moisture while maintaining warmth. Now if you are working hard the argument goes you need to shed excess heat, hence the act of sweating, but it's a fine line between enough insulation and too much cooling. The Aeron manages to tread this line well, and the combination of front zip and back vent makes for a top that doesn't billow out while allowing just enough airflow to keep things on an even keel.

dhb Aeron Pro Full Protection Softshell - shoulder.jpg

The fabric is 'water resistant', and shrugs off light showers with ease, but a heavy downpour will see it wet out and ultimately you'll feel the water. With the aforementioned insulation being so good, putting a waterproof shell over the top would remove the effect of the back vent and likely see you boiling if you're going all-out. Remaining comfortable while working hard in seriously wet weather calls for a special combination, either super-breathable thin layers or a single wetsuit Gabba-like strategy. If that's what you need, this jacket probably isn't the top you're looking for, but for everything else below 10 degrees it's a good option.

> Read our guide to the best Gabba-style jerseys

Other features include three generous pockets with reflective trim across the top and a dozen tiny laser-cut drainholes underneath each one, and a zipped valuables pocket on the right that's just large enough for an iPhone 5. The rear flap is backed with a wide grip-strip to keep spray at bay. I felt that the rear didn't come down as far as it should on a jacket purporting to protect your rear from winter spray; the size guide has me at a small for chest/waist but large for hips, a bit strange but that could be me.

dhb Aeron Pro Full Protection Softshell - pocket zipped.jpg

The medium tested could have done with an inch more in the cuff, but that's a known issue with my appendages. Using a winter glove with a decent cuff (the fab Castelli Gara) there was no issue with exposed skin despite lots of in-and-out-of-the-saddle work. The sleeves are certainly snug-bordering-tight, so set yourself up on the bike to make sure everything fits right when stretched out and use Wiggle's returns policy if needed.

dhb Aeron Pro Full Protection Softshell - cuff.jpg

Overall, for 100 quid the Aeron Full Protection Softshell will keep you riding, fast, through cold, windy and occasionally wet weather. And it looks sharp too, a recurring theme in a clothing line I reckon is going from strength to strength.

Verdict

A great option for riding in cold and damp but not too wet weather

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road.cc test report

Make and model: dhb Aeron Full Protection Softshell

Size tested: Medium

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 going slow or fast in cold, occasionally rainy weather.

dhb says: "The ultimate winter softshell from dhb. Their most advanced and protective style yet, this windproof and water resistant jacket features an ultra warm brushed back softshell fabric to keep you warm in cold, winter riding conditions.

"Don't compromise on comfort this winter. The dhb Aeron Full Protection Softshell is a must-have winter riding jacket that really does do what it says on the label. Offering wind and shower protection with high-level thermal performance, it will keep you warm and protected in harsh weather conditions. The addition of a hidden laser-cut back vent helps to optimise air flow and keep you ventilated on hard efforts. You'll also find a rear drop tail that provides welcome additional protection against road spray on those wetter riding days. Finally the rear tail has been finished with a wide silicone gripper designed to widen the area of pressure for a more comfortable, secure fit as well as ergonomic cuffs to further seal out the elements."

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

Main:

85% Polyamide(Nylon)

15% Elastane(Spandex)

Mesh:

85% Polyester

15% Elastane(Spandex)

dhb Performance level kit

Windproof and water resistant

Ultra warm brushed back softshell fabric

Laser-cut back vent construction for breathability

Full length, lock down YKK zip with chin guard

Ergonomic shaped cuffs

Wide silicone waist gripper to stop riding up

Hi-visibility reflective binding on rear pockets

Rate the jacket for quality of construction:
 
8/10
Rate the jacket for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the jacket for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the jacket for waterproofing, based on the manufacturer's rating:
 
7/10

It's not 'waterproof', but shrugs off showers.

Rate the jacket for breathability, based on the manufacturer's rating:
 
6/10

It's not really 'breathable', more 'easily-vented'.

Rate the jacket for fit:
 
7/10

Bit strange as noted, but that could be just me.

Rate the jacket for sizing:
 
7/10

I could possibly have gone to a Large.

Rate the jacket for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the jacket for comfort:
 
8/10
Rate the jacket for value:
 
8/10

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

Looked good, didn't show any signs of having been washed.

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

Very good. Did the job.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket

The vent – if that wasn't there it would probably kill you through a slow broil.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket

The sleeves could be longer, as could the rear flap.

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

£100 isn't the cheapest, especially for something that's not actually waterproof. But the combination of fabric and features, for the use case, adds up to a winter-wardrobe staple.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 43  Height: 183cm  Weight: 72kg

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, mountain biking, Dutch bike pootling

17 comments

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bendertherobot [1543 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

When you say wet, wet from where? dhb describe this as water resistant but the fabric is to all extents and purposes water proof. The seams aren't taped so those will always be the ingress points. The fabric will wet out but it should not penetrate the fabric itself save for the ingress points.

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arckuk [113 posts] 3 years ago
1 like

I bought one of these last winter, and rode it all the way until spring, it's a fantastic, well fitted, jersey/jacket. It keeps me warm below 10 degrees with a variety of base layers depending on the actual temperature. Below 3 or 4 degrees I'll probably put a gilet on top. It was great this morning on a breezy day at 6 degrees with a long sleeve base on a vigorous hour long commute with no sweat build up. It keeps light rain off with me still snug inside. Cuffs are very well sealed, gloves go over them nicely. Easily unzipped with thicker gloves on the move for ventilation. I reckon it's a real bargain, even if you have to pay full wiggle price!

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KiwiMike [1431 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
bendertherobot wrote:

When you say wet, wet from where? dhb describe this as water resistant but the fabric is to all extents and purposes water proof. The seams aren't taped so those will always be the ingress points. The fabric will wet out but it should not penetrate the fabric itself save for the ingress points.

Wet from the sky. Usual place. And no, the fabric is not 'to all extents and purposes water proof'. If it were I'd have said so, as would dhb/Wiggle. If you wear this in the rain it will soak up water and you will get wet. This is different to an actual waterproof fabric (or one treated with waterproofing a la Gabba) that isn't sealed and acts like a wetsuit once water gets in or is created by sweating. 

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fenix [1211 posts] 3 years ago
1 like

I've just spent a couple of minutes holding the sleeve under a running tap.  It's waterproof.  Apart from the cuff anyway. Oops.

 

Fantastic jacket in my experience.

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bendertherobot [1543 posts] 3 years ago
1 like

Indeed. I questioned the description a year ago when I first bought it. I think it's a case of Wiggle playing it safe where others play a little loose with what we term waterproof. It comes with a windtex tag but Wiggle don't up play that connection. I've worn it in torrential rain, ditto the Mossa, Mossa.2 and I've just received the Lusso Max Repel Extreme. All windtex (variants) and all waterproof. But, on all of them, it will get through the seams eventually and there will be some damp.

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The shark [3 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Just to echo a couple of points above. I've worn this since ~ last Feb, many, many times in torrential rain for extended periods and its never soaked through. Its more waterproof than my Sportful Fiandre NoRain tights  for example.

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bendertherobot [1543 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes
KiwiMike wrote:
bendertherobot wrote:

When you say wet, wet from where? dhb describe this as water resistant but the fabric is to all extents and purposes water proof. The seams aren't taped so those will always be the ingress points. The fabric will wet out but it should not penetrate the fabric itself save for the ingress points.

Wet from the sky. Usual place. And no, the fabric is not 'to all extents and purposes water proof'. If it were I'd have said so, as would dhb/Wiggle. If you wear this in the rain it will soak up water and you will get wet. This is different to an actual waterproof fabric (or one treated with waterproofing a la Gabba) that isn't sealed and acts like a wetsuit once water gets in or is created by sweating. 

 

Save that it's made from Windtex. Which is waterproof. And DWR coated, like the Gabba. So it bears a discussion. Did you see that windtex label when you cut it off? Have you looked at where the rain came in? When you say it's different, is it different to Gore windstopper? How about the Gore 150 of the Alpha? Or the full on Gore on the Alpha jacket? All those will, to all extents, do the same job because of the membrane.

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Jez Ash [254 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Seems like big value compared to some other Windtex jackets.  Although the warmth available here suggests that it's a heavier weight fabric than that used in the Le Col one, maybe something more like the this one, which only comes out when it's below about 4 degrees.  I'd say both of these are waterproof bar the seams, which sounds like what's on offer here.

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arfa [859 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

I have commuted in mine over the last year and would describe it as water resistant. It will keep a light shower out for half an hour but a heavy down pour will leave the material sodden and in need of drying. Commute in the morning in heavy rain and you will be pulling on a cold wet jacket in the evening in the absence of drying facilities. My conclusion is that is good for all conditions other than heavy rain.

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KiwiMike [1431 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

.doublepost.

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Disfunctional_T... [462 posts] 3 years ago
1 like

This guy actually knows what he's talking about:

Waterproof Breathable Fabric – Explained
http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=4556

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KiwiMike [1431 posts] 3 years ago
1 like

Ok, let me clarify:

"The fabric is 'water resistant', and shrugs off light showers with ease, but a heavy downpour will see it wet out and ultimately you'll feel the water"

The key here is *feel*. The fabric absorbs water on the top layer. This is fact. You can see it, droplets sit on the surface for a while then soak in as you move and stretch. I accept that OK, water might not get *through* the fabric, but in heavy rain this is irrelevant as it will have soaked through the seams and spread around the inside of the jacket. I agree with Bendertherobot, that Wiggle/dhb are playing it safe as any mention of 'waterproof' fabric will see people buying it on the assumption the whole thing as a system is waterproof, then returning it when they end up wet. 

And as Arfa describes, prolonged wear in heavy rain will leave you with a soaked jacket. Something worn so close to the skin, even if there's no water on the inside, will feel yucky to pull on. Critically, you will loose precious muscle warmth heating up the water inside the outer layer.

 

This is as opposed to a normal, breathable jersey underneath a proper waterproof hardshell, that does not absorb anything. That is the only way to remain dry and not loose energy heating up a layer unneccessarily. If you're going flat-out and then jumping into a shower or team bus then a wet Gabba or Aeron softshell is OK - you're probably going to get wetter from sweating than from ingress, and if you are going flat out then it probably helps with temperature control.

But for all-day comfort, riding below the red line, in and out of heavy rain, this probably isn't the jersey you need - it'd be way too warm under a hardshell for more than the briefest of times, and would leave you feeling damp for the rest of the day if you did get plastered in a downpour.

Ah the wonderul Mandelbrot-set-nuanced sands of cycle clothing discourse  1

 

p.s. I've asked dhb for comment

 

 

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bendertherobot [1543 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

Thanks Mike. I think the problem is probably endemic in the industry in what we call things. So we work with what we have. And your clarification is appreciated. FWIW, I agree with that. Some work better than others. The Mossa takes a lot longer to wet out for example, the Gabba wets out very easily. I'd rate the Aeron somewhere between those two. I've just received a Lusso Extreme Repel which is windtex storm shield. Guaranteed water proof withg DWR but, of course, no taped seams. So it will get in, in the end.

I actually commend dhb for not giving it the description and not building up false hope. Ironically Castelli never ever talked about the Gabba being water proof but the cult of the internet seems to have built it into something that it isn't. Though, again, being a membrane, it's essentially a fairly good barrier let down by the limitations of sewing stuff together.

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Anthony.C [278 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

I have had Windtex tights for years, it's good stuff, warm, quite breathable and water resistant but heavy rain definitely gets through.

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arfa [859 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

The review is spot on. It is my go to commute wear from Autumn to early spring but not in heavy rain. The fact its breathability is limited is notable too as on my commute, my base layer accumulates sweat. Both can be dealt with by hanging up during the day but let's say you are out for a long day with a stop start type of ride, it probably won't be the right solution as you will have a soggy base layer which will feel cold if you stop for lunch/cake for too long. If these limitations won't impact your usage, I would highly recommend it.

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KiwiMike [1431 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

This just in from dhb:

"The Aeron Full Protection Softshell is built from a Windtex fabric with a waterproof and windproof membrane, which has also been treated with a DWR coating on the outside. In heavy rain the DWR can be overwhelmed, but whilst water will soak into the softshell fabric it won’t get through the membrane (which has a waterproof rating of over 10,000mm hydrostatic head). The DWR can wash out after several washes but can be renewed with a technical wash.

We don’t however advertise this garment as ‘waterproof’ because without taped seams this can’t be completely true as in sustained rain some water will get in via the seams. 

Key distinction: built from a waterproof fabric, but the garment is not fully waterproof. We never overstate what our garments can do, and as some commenters have suggested perhaps  we have played it a bit too safe on this one"

 

So now you know  1

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bendertherobot [1543 posts] 3 years ago
1 like

I did, see post 1  4