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The Boardman Men's Packable Jacket is a lightweight showerproof and windproof shell design that folds into its own pocket. This fits conveniently in a jersey pocket or saddlepack, ready for a heavy downpour or sudden drop in temperature. It works well generally, though I did have sizing/fit issues.
As I'd expect from this genre, not to mention price point, it's a lightweight polyester/elastane mix – the sort designed to keep the elements out but allow heat and sweat to escape. Relatively thin, it also seems fairly hardy, if my recent bridlepath and singletrack shenanigans are any gauge.
It resists relatively persistent showers for around 20-25 minutes, while lighter stuff either rolls off or only becomes apparent after 30-40 minutes. When rain does begin to permeate the fabric, it's mostly kept in check by rider-generated heat encouraging the fibres to react and get wicking.
More expensive garments sometimes sport perforated mesh panels, which makes for faster drying and improved comfort. Here, with a stiff breeze, it's predominantly dry again in around 20 minutes. It's infinitely preferable to crude old-school 'condom jackets', which would certainly keep the rain out but often leave you stewing in your own juices.
The jacket has a traditional cut with a long drop tail and shorter front, keeping your back dry and stopping the front from getting caught on the saddle nose during hasty mounting and dismounting.
It's a snug fit to prevent unwanted drag and annoying 'builder's tarp' flutter, but with enough room for fully loaded jersey pockets and a baselayer under your jersey. However, although I was able to alternate easily between tops, drops and tri bars, I found it restrictive around the chest and shoulders. This was particularly apparent with big flared drop bars – something I attribute to the slightly vague sizing.
According to the size chart, the small/medium on test should suit me fine, but although there's enough length in the arms and back, and it looks about right on, I felt rather constricted around my shoulders and chest area (it's not me in the photos – though I think from the pic below you can see what I mean). I would strongly suggest trying a few on for size – there is a big range to choose from, too, right up to 3XL, which should cater for most.
Despite the tight fit, I found it quick and easy to whip on or off while riding, up to 17mph, and the bonus was no annoying flutter, even at 30mph on a blustery descent.
Aesthetically, it looks similar to the Madison Stratos Sportive showerproof jacket, although it feels glossier – dare I say more synthetic – to the touch (then again, it is £15 cheaper than the Stratos). Bold retro-reflective graphics are well positioned and bring the garment to life in low light.
The full-length zipper has a tab big enough for faff-free operation, and has taken the inevitable everyday carelessness in its stride.
Detailing extends to silicone cuffs and hem, and a fleece-lined collar to prevent potentially cold and wet stuff trickling down your neck.
It's easy to care for too: wash at 30 degrees, with minimal detergent, and it emerges looking and, moreover, smelling packet fresh. I'd left ours a fortnight before washing, giving bacteria the chance to feast on sweat and other grime collected within the fleece collar…
Overall – sizing aside – the Boardman Packable Jacket isn't a bad effort and performs pretty reasonably for the price. You can pay a little more for a higher spec, such as the Madison Stratos mentioned earlier, and BTwin products always tend to give others a good run for the money – such as the 500 Ultralight at £19.99 – but the Boardman is well worth a look. Just make sure you buy the right size.
Reasonably capable jacket for contingencies, but try for size first
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Boardman Men's Packable Jacket
Size tested: Small/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?
Boardman says: "Relaxed fit for comfort on the bike
Packs into integrated zipped pocket, small enough to fit in a jersey pocket
Mens Packable Jacket Overview
Windproof and water resistant"
I'd say it's a lightweight wind and water repellent shell jacket with some nice touches, but the sizing is odd and it faces stiff competition from similar store brands costing £15-20.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Boardman lists these features:
Wind and water resistant
Folds into its own pocket for convenient storage
Water resistant in the showerproof sense, and infinitely preferable to an impermeable waterproof that leaves you feeling "boiled in the bag".
Generally good by genre standards, but doesn't cope so well when conditions are hot and wet.
How well it fits will obviously depend on your body shape, but it was too small around the chest and shoulders for me.
Going by the sizing it should have fitted me fine, but it was too tight around the chest and shoulders.
I found it too restrictive around the shoulders and chest over longer distances.
By no means poor, though the BTwin 500 gives it a good run for the money.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very straightforward. Responds well to 30 degree machine washes with minimal detergent.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It's a lightweight staple that can be thrown on and off with ease in the event of showery/blustery weather and is wind and water-repellent. Breathability keeps pace with your effort pretty convincingly in temperatures between 15 and 20 degrees, much warmer and I was left feeling decidedly clammy, with the restriction around my chest area only exacerbating my discomfort.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
Timeless design, bold reflectives, seems to fit the micro-jacket design brief pretty well.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Although the S/M fitted in length, I found it too tight around the shoulders and chest.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Pleasantly indifferent.
Would you consider buying the jacket? No
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Maybe
Use this box to explain your score
It's by no means a bad jacket, with good weatherproofing/breathability for the money, but sizing proved less straightforward than I was expecting.
About the tester
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)