The Skin Windbreaker from Italian brand Santini is one of the better race cape style jackets out there – not in the way it blocks the breeze but the way it lets the heat escapes. Its breathability far outweighs its water resistance, for sure.
- Pros: Breathable, windproof, light
- Cons: Not very water resistant, pricey for a windproof
The Skin is one of those jackets you tend to stuff in your back pocket until you need it, which is where its weight and packability excels. At 95g (coming up even lighter on the road.cc Scales of Truth than Santini's 140g claim), it's not one you're going to notice at all, even when taking on the steepest and longest of climbs.
The material is so thin and soft that it packs down really neatly and quickly. Some jackets like this have a really plasticky feel to them which means they tend to slide around when you're trying to fold them up, but the Santini doesn't have that man-made feel about it. You can literally bundle it into a small square while you're still in the saddle and stuff it into your pocket.
Of course, though, it is man-made. The main structure is 100% polyester, with the side and underarm panels having 8% elastane added for a bit of stretch to create a closer fit and allow the jacket to move with you when you are changing position on the bike.
While we're mentioning the cut, it's worth pointing out that the Skin Windbreaker has quite a generous fit, more akin to a UK brand's sizing rather than whippet thin, mountain goat style usually associated with Italian manufacturers. Just follow the size guide on the website and you'll be fine, as it is spot on.
It's still more racer than relaxed, which means you don't get much flapping when travelling at speed or pushing on into the wind.
You get a slightly dropped tail to keep your lower back covered and the sleeves are a decent length too, as they should be on a jacket like this: the type of garment you'll be sticking on before hurtling down a long descent stretched out on the drops.
Both the hem and cuffs are held in place with elastic, with the former being reflective all the way around for a little bit of visibility when riding in the darkness.
The zip is full length and easy to use thanks to its plastic tab, making it easy to adjust even with winter gloves on. There's no garage to cover the zip at the top, which means at times it can just catch your neck.
The fabric is great at keeping the wind out, even those really biting cold northerlies, especially when paired with a jersey and baselayer. With this setup I found the Skin Windbreaker breathable up until about 10°C; any higher than that and it gets a little overwhelmed and you'll get damp, but to be honest you only really realise when you stop. Unzip it for a bit and let the breeze through and you'll dry quickly.
Santini mentions a resistance to light rain, but after testing in various conditions I'd say don't rely on it. Drizzle, a bit of fog maybe, will be kept beaded on the outside for a while, but anything resembling actual precipitation will be through the material pretty much straight away.
Saying that, though, it does keep you warm.
With regard to value, we've seen lots of these jackets around the £35 mark from the likes of Boardman and B'twin although I would say the Santini does have some of the best breathability I've known from a race cape.
It does sound very similar to the Giro cape we tested a while back at £79.99, and I'd agree with Dave that 80 quid is pretty pricey for what is basically a wind barrier.
Excellent against the wind but take the 'resistant to light rain' with a pinch of salt
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Santini Skin Windbreaker
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the jacket is for
Santini says, "High-performance race fit windproof jacket for aerodynamic performance. With under-arm lycra inserts to enhance the fit. Extremely lightweight and easily foldable inside your pocket. Designed to provide optimal wind protection while descending and to keep you dry in light rain conditions.
"Made in Italy."
The Skin Windbreaker is very light indeed and is reasonably breathable for this type of jacket.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Fit - Race cut windbreaker engineered with the lightest available fabrics so you barely notice you're wearing it, the underarm side panels are made of lycra to provide added freedom of movement.
Performance - Among the lightest wind jackets around, tipping the scale at a mere 140g. It can be folded and stored in your back pocket and makes the perfect accessory for any ride.
Comfort - This jacket was designed to provide optimal wind protection while descending and to keep you dry in light rain conditions.
Durability - The high quality fabrics chosen for the garment guarantee that the technical characteristics and the shape remain constant even after prolonged wear and numerous washes. Made in Italy by our highly skilled production staff.
The overall fit is quite generous for an Italian brand.
The sizes correspond well to the manufacturer's guide.
Even lighter than Santini claims.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Thirty degree wash and avoid all kinds of heat like ironing and tumble drying. There were no issues with mud staining or the like.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
As a wind jacket it works really well, but I wouldn't rely on it for keeping the rain out (Santini does only say 'light rain').
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
It's breathable for the type of jacket.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Drizzle is about its water resistant level.
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 overall score
You can get this style of jacket for half the price but the Santini manages to keep the wind out while maintaining decent levels of breathability, which makes it better than most. It doesn't deal with even 'light rain' well, though, so it's pricey for what is effectively just a windproof.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: Kinesis Aithein
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.