If the forecast is looking a little indecisive, a lightweight, packable jacket is the go-to for any cyclist. The Boardman Women's Packable Jacket pretty much has you covered, unless the rain turns torrential, with a good fit and decent protection, and it fits easily into any back pocket or saddle bag.
The jacket is reasonably breathable and was comfortable in most conditions, although I came home from a couple of rides on days above 18 degrees and was unable to tell whether the rain had come through or I was just damp with sweat. I particularly hate that clammy feeling of sweating in a non-breathable jacket so I imagine I struggled more than most in the recent rainy yet warm weather. Nonetheless, on some slightly chillier mornings when I took the jacket out, breathability wasn't an issue and it kept the wind and showers out and a little warmth in.
Riding in occasional showers and light rain, water droplets mostly rolled off the polyester/elastane material, which then dried out within a few minutes of the rain stopping. Only in more persistent, heavy rain did water start to pool and eventually permeate the fabric. For a water-resistant jacket, I was very satisfied with its performance and became unusually enthusiastic to head out on drizzly days with this in my pocket.
The fit is reasonable, though not exceptional, and leaves some material to balloon and flap about in the wind. It has a little extra length at the back to protect from spray off the road and doesn't ride up, though I would have liked it to be slightly longer. The sleeves were also of a sensible length with the cuffs sitting comfortably around my wrists. Size-wise, I wore a 10, and while I felt it was relatively true to size, I'm in between an 8 and 10 and probably could have worn an 8 (note – it's not me in the photos).
I was particularly impressed with the weight of this jacket, which packs up smaller than the dhb packable jacket I currently use. Incidentally, I also found it to be more breathable than dhb's offering so it's safe to say I was a fan.
The reasonably sized zip was easy to undo while riding and it packs away into the large pocket on the rear right hand side, although it was far easier to stuff it straight into my jersey.
Smaller details include a soft fleece lining around the high collar, which was really comfortable and served nicely as a bit of extra protection from the elements. The jacket also features a series of reflective strips on the front, sides and sleeve cuffs along with a large reflective logo on the back, making you very visible in dark and rainy conditions. I liked the bright turquoise colour, too.
Although the Boardman Packable Jacket is towards the budget end of things, with an RRP of £35 it isn't the cheapest out there, and both dhb and BTwin have some cheaper options. However, it's a more than fair price and if you're on the market for something that packs up small and keeps the elements out, I would certainly give this a look.
Weatherproof, lightweight and affordable jacket, great for those 'will it, won't it rain' days
road.cc test report
Make and model: Boardman Women's Packable Jacket
Size tested: 10
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: "Windproof, water resistant and packs into a jersey pocket - ideal for changeable weather."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Boardman lists these features:
Windproof and water resistant
Relaxed fit for comfort on the bike
Packs into integrated zipped pocket, small enough to fit in a jersey pocket
Definitely water-resistant as claimed and worked really well in reasonably heavy showers.
Compared with similar jackets it's not bad at all, but I don't enjoy that clammy, sweaty feeling and found myself suffering a little in anything over about 18 degrees.
Not restrictive anywhere and generally a good fit with a little extra length at the back to protect from spray.
I tend to vary between an 8-10 and wore a 10 in this jacket. It came up pretty true to size, though there was some room and I imagine I would have fitted into an 8.
Really lightweight and easy to pack into a pocket.
You can find some great deals on similar products from dhb and BTwin, but £35 is a very fair price for what you get.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Washed well at 30 degrees and so far has retained its water-resistant capabilities.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very lightweight and easy to stick in a back pocket as an extra layer which kept out the elements well. Not breathable enough for milder days though.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
Very light and easy to stick into a back pocket and throw on when the need arises.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
I found breathability to be an issue on a couple of warmer, wet days, but no more so than I would expect from a packable, windproof jacket of this kind.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Mostly
Would you consider buying the jacket? Yes
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
Fits well, easy to stick into a saddle bag or back pocket, and provides a great weatherproof layer, all at a pretty reasonable price. Not much can go wrong!
About the tester
I usually ride: Planet X London Road My best bike is: Bowman Palace:R
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, commuting, club rides, track
Ashia is a Maths student at the University of Bath and has been riding and racing bikes for the past 6 years after a track taster session at her local velodrome had her hooked. Most weekends, she can be found out racing, be it track, road, criteriums, time trials, triathlons, or cyclocross. Whilst she is fiercely competitive and loves to race, she is still on the look out for anyone hiring a "full time cafe rider" when she graduates.