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With the Sportful Allure softshell jacket you'll stay warm and dry, even as the temperatures dip towards zero or light rain gets added to the cocktail of British weather.
Sportful have continued to develop the popular Allure softshell jacket; modern fabrics and treatments make the Allure a tough-to-beat outer layer that will serve you from autumn right through to spring. Despite Sportful's claim that it is a jacket for 'cooler weather' it is one of the warmer pieces of kit I have ridden in this winter.
The Allure's cosy warmth comes from the fleece-lined softshell material used in the main body and upper sleeves-windproof, water resistant and breathable thanks to the polyurethane membrane. Although this softshell was not as soft and flexible as some on the market (like the Gore Power Trail Lady Windstopper Soft Shell Hoody), it did not feel overly stiff or bulky on the bike and was certainly warmer than many without sacrificing breathability.
Sportful have used Thermodrytex Plus on the under side of the sleeves, a slightly thinner, more stretchy material treated with a water repellent silicone finish. The jacket endured several 3+ hour rides in drizzle and temperatures of between 2 and 5 degrees and never once did I feel cold or sense excessive build-up of moisture. With one single thermal base layer I was perfectly warm at all times.
Sportful only give a 2 out of 4 rating for breathability, based on use in temperatures below 5 degrees (with a single base layer). I would have been more generous. With temperatures a little kinder, I was skeptical about the breathability of the jacket. With a short sleeved base layer the material used for the sleeves provides noticeable airflow to help regulate body temperature, it's really effective.
The breathability rating is more realistic at temperatures nearing double figures where any sustained efforts result in a slightly sweaty torso. You are likely to cook in temperatures above 10 degrees if trying really hard, below that you can tailor the jacket to your needs with appropriate base layers.
Sportful make a modest claim in their spiel about both softshell and Thermodrytex: they are 'water repellent'. Drizzle and spray water simply beaded and rolled off, even consistently light rain did not penetrate the soft shell outer.
Determined to see just how good this repellency was, I took the power shower to the jersey. The water did eventually stop beading, but even then there was no sign of moisture on the interior of the jacket. After several machine washes the jacket was still performing on all fronts.
The fit of the jersey did not impress me quite as much as its performance. The jacket is generous in length, both in the body and on the arms. That's fine and can be considered a plus. It also has a super high collar which is perfect for really cold days. However, while it fitted well I found it excessive around the midriff and arms. There was no real tapering in the cut that might be expected from female specific kit. Naturally this is down to individual body shape but you can see from the photos what I mean.
Aesthetically it is really attractive. The black/anthracite colour combination is not the most striking where visibility is concerned, it is most definitely very stylish and doesn't show up splatter stains. The other options (cherry/bordeaux and turquoise/ ocean) are certainly eye-catching if visibility is a priority for you. All three feature similar satin detailing across the chest, piping on the sleeves and collar and 3 ample rear pockets. The reflective logo and loops on the rear are minimal; more reflective detailing would be ideal. My other gripe would be the size of the zip toggle. Because the collar is high, unzipping it on the move helps regulate body temperature but it's a bit too small for use with bulky winter gloves.
The Allure lives up to the performance ratings that Sportful have assigned it: 4/4 for insulation and wind- and waterproofing, 2/4 for breathability. It is a quality piece of kit that lends itself well to use in a variety of weather conditions so is worth the investment if you know that a Sportful cut fits you well.
Outstanding protection in damp, cold and windy conditions, but could be better tailored to the feminine figure
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Sportful Allure Softshell Jacket (womens)
Size tested: Large
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?
Classic feminine styling with modern performance. Made for cool-weather riding, with protection on the front and extra breathability on the back.
I would say it goes beyond cool-weather, it performs equally well in cold conditions.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
*Fleece-lined SoftShell main construction.
*Arm insert in ThermoDrytex Plus.
*YKK® Vislon® front zip.
*3 external rear pockets.
*Reflective trim on rear pockets.
Outstanding in cold weather. Offers protection from chill with levels of breathability that certainly above average for a softshell jersey.
It washed well, dried quickly and still offered protection from light rain and dampness following several washes.
Sportful rate it 4/4 for waterproofing. In light rain the water just balled up and rolled off. Even in heavier rain the interior remained dry despite the water no longer balling and rolling off quite as quickly.
Sportful give it a 2/4 on the breathability rating and it most definitely lives up to this rating. Don't expect to be sweat free if pressing on in milder conditions.
I tested a large. It was great across the shoulders but far to big around the midriff. Sportful are generally longer in the body and arm but there could be more tapering around the waist. Obviously all down to personal body shape though.
A large would normally drown me all over, that this fitted around the shoulders actually suggests their 'large' is smaller than most manufacturers 'large'. Check the sizing charts before investing.
Light for such an effective winter jacket.
Lovely fleecy lining, stretch and give that you would expect from a softshell garment. Does feel bulkier than many softshell alternatives but this is down to the thicker interior fleece which is worth it for the warmth it provides.
This is a great piece of kit. The price tag is almost justifiably at the upper end of the range of comparable garments. Shop smart though: it's a steal at a cut price with many outlets at the moment.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Easy. Performance has not been affected.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Perfect in cool, damp weather; keeps you warm and dry while not allowing you to sweat excessively. A bonus that it stretched to use in cold weather too.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
The effective water resistance and the classy design.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
The excessive cut around the midriff. The small zip toggle, I didn't want the collar fully zipped all the time but the toggle is so small it's not the easiest to adjust.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes
Would you consider buying the jacket? At cut price, yes.
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Yes.
Use this box to explain your score
The cut is not as 'feminine' as it could be but it certainly provides outstanding protection in cold, damp weather.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road My best bike is: Carbon road.
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: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, Getting to grips with off roading too!
Emma’s first encounters with a road bike were in between swimming and running. Soon after competing for GB in the World Age Group Triathlon Championships in Edmonton in 2001 she saw the light and decided to focus on cycling.
After a couple of half decent UK road seasons racing for Leisure Lakes, she went out to Belgium to sample the racing there and spent two years with Lotto-Belisol Ladies team, racing alongside the likes of Sara Carrigan, Grace Verbeke, Rochelle Gilmore and Lizzie Deignan. Emma moved from Lotto-Belisol to Dutch team Redsun, then a new Belgian team of primarily developing riders, where there was less pressure, an opportunity to share her experience and help build a whole new team; a nice way to spend her final years of professional racing.
Since retiring Emma has returned to teaching. When not coercing kids to do maths, she is invariably out on two wheels. In addition to the daily commute, Emma still enjoys getting out on her road bike and having her legs ripped off on the local club rides and chain gangs. She has also developed an addiction to touring, with destinations including Iceland, Georgia and Albania, to mention just a few. There have also been rare sightings of Emma off-road on a mountain bike…