Providing plenty of warmth with a stylishly understated design, the Giara Softshell Jacket from Italian company Sportful is an ideal top for fending off the cold weather. Its relaxed fit should also appeal to a broader range of cyclists put off by second-skin, race-focused clobber.
- Pros: Nice styling, extremely warm, relaxed fit
- Cons: Fit might be too relaxed for some
Sportful launched the Giara range to provide a stylish and muted alternative to its more race-orientated clothing, to appeal to the growing band of adventure cyclists, who are less concerned with average speeds and KOMs and more interested in being comfortable (and looking good while doing it).
What I've taken away from this range of clothing is that it looks great and works well for any type of cycling; I've used it for everything from club rides to gravel events and even mountain biking. It's well-made kit that performs excellently.
The Giara Softshell is designed for cold weather. The front-facing panels (chest and sleeves) are made from a SoftShield fabric, and there's a brushed ThermoDrytex thermo back panel material for extra breathability.
On the road or trail, the jacket provides really good warmth. I've not been cold once when wearing this jacket in a temperature range from close to zero to barely into double digits. Worn in cold weather over just a baselayer, the level of insulation it provides against the chilly reality of cycling at this time of year is excellent. And thanks to the relaxed fit, there's space for a mid-layer as well if you need to layer up for really cold weather.
The front panels keep the wind out, making it an excellent choice for bitterly cold winds. We've had a lot of that recently. There's no rain protection to speak of, but it does hold up well in a short shower so you won't need to instantly reach for a waterproof at the first sign of a nimbostratus.
It's quite a chunky jacket but the fit is good: a little less racing snake and more leisurely cafe stopping cycling. Some of you might want to size down – I opted for a Small and found the fit more generous than typical race-focused clothing, but it is really comfortable. It's ideal for rides where the focus isn't on average speeds and power outputs.
The waistband is elasticated with a silicone gripper tape to keep it all in place. Other features include three pockets plus an additional zipped pocket, and I like the tall collar for adding extra neck warmth.
The sleeves are a generous length, with no exposed wrists even when stretched out in the drops. There are also reflective details and a high-quality YKK Vislon zipper that is easy to use and reliable.
On value, the Giara Softshell isn't bad, comparable with other high-quality jackets offering similar levels of protection, such as the Bontrager Velocis S1 Softshell Jacket at £119.99 and the top-scoring Madison RoadRace Apex softshell, which has an RRP of £114.99. You can buy cheaper – dhb's Aeron Hybrid Softshell is £80 – but you can also spend more, like £150 for Gore's Power 2.0 Windstopper Soft Shell.
Where the Giara Softshell jacket comes into its own is steady tempo cafe rides in the cold. Some jackets rely on you riding at a high intensity to generate heat, but the materials employed in this jacket ensure it keeps you nicely insulated even while riding at easy and modest speeds.
Combining understated styling with a relaxed fit and a highly insulating material makes this a fine jacket for cold winter riding when the focus is on enjoying the ride and scenery and stopping for cake and coffee rewards.
Stylish, warm and comfortable softshell jacket
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Sportful Giara Softshell Jacket
Size tested: Small
Tell us what the jacket is for
Sportful says, "Sophisticated styling conceals a techncal softshell jacket. Highly breathable construction with wind resistant brushed softshell front and rear in stretch ThermoDrytex. Styling that would look at home off of the bike with a techncial construction designed for all of your cool season bike adventures.
"The Giara Softshell Jacket features a highly breathable construction with a wind resistant brushed Softshell front with the rear in high stretch and breathable ThermoDrytex. This makes for a versatile jacket that functions perfectly as an outer piece in cool weather or the perfect warm mid-layer on colder days.
"With classic styling that looks just as good on the bike as it does off, this jacket will see you from bike to a food stop to the campsite at the end of the day's adventure. Its technical construction will keep you warm and sweat free making for mile after mile of comfy cool weather riding."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Sportful lists these features:
Wind resistant SoftShield fabric on front and sleeves
Brushed thermo back for breathability
3 high-capacity rear pockets with 1 zipped
Gripper elastic on waistband
YKK® Vislon® zipper
It's reasonably priced at RRP but it's always worth shopping around.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Oh it's very easy indeed.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Excellent warmth in cold weather.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
Relaxed styling and fit.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Can I come back to you on this one?
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
It's a very good winter and spring jacket with a relaxed fit and styling. It's not as waterproof as some, but I still think its excellent warmth and design warrant an 8.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
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: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.