dhb has created an excellent bad weather top layer with its Aeron Lab Ultralight waterproof jacket. It keeps the weather at bay better than most, especially at this price and weight, plus it's packable too. It's quite an outlay, but I think it's justified by the very good performance.
- Pros: Tailored race fit, impressive waterproofing
- Cons: Water will get in eventually, no bright colours
The Ultralight is rated to 30,000mm on the waterproofing scale, which means that in laboratory testing the fabric could withstand 30,000mm of water from a one inch diameter sealed tube of water before it soaks through. That's pretty impressive, as most of the jackets we test here are around the 10,000mm mark.
That's all well and good in the lab, but how does that translate out on the road?
Writing this, I've just come back from the wettest ride to date in the dhb and while the rain was starting to seep through, I was still dry after two hours of constant heavy rain mixed in with road spray from lorries and puddles. And there was a pretty nagging headwind too, just for good measure.
The front of the sleeves and the shoulders tend to take the brunt of the wet weather as they are the parts out front taking not only the hit from the rain but all of that road spray. This is where the water had started to come through. The surface of my jersey was a little damp but it hadn't got through to my baselayer so I didn't feel uncomfortable at all.
I think it's quite impressive from a jacket that only weighs 111g and easily folds away into a rear pocket.
The quality is great – it's really well put together. It's constructed from a three-layer fabric, which is waterproofing speak for a fabric layer bonded to a waterproof and breathable membrane (two-layer) and then a durable scrim protective layer bonded to the inside of the membrane.
All of the seams are taped and dhb has added a durable water repellent (DWR) coating on the outside too.
It's reasonably breathable as well, but with higher waterproofing levels you often have to sacrifice some air transfer. I'd say the Ultralight is best suited to temperatures below 15°C when paired with a jersey and a baselayer. Anything above that and things start to get a bit clammy.
It does dry quickly, especially if you open the zip to allow plenty of airflow, and vents under the armpits also help.
Lab is dhb's new top-end race-level kit, so the Ultralight follows the same tailored cut as the jersey and bib shorts we've already tested. The shape and material aren't too restrictive, though, so I don't really think that you need to size up from the standard Aeron range. I certainly didn't.
It's cut close to avoid flapping in the wind, and that includes the arms as well as the main body. It has a nice high neck to stop draughts and the cuffs are snug with plenty of sleeve length too.
The front of the body is cut high so that the fabric doesn't bunch when you are in a racing tuck, and the back is really long to provide loads of rear end coverage if you are racing without mudguards.
As it's a packable jacket that you can just pull out when you need it, there are no pockets, and this dark blue is the only colour option. I know some riders like a little bit of brightness when riding in the gloom of a rainy day.
The Ultralight is priced at £150, which I don't think is too bad for the performance. We see lots of good waterproof jackets, lots of packable jackets and lots of breathable jackets, but rarely do we see all three.
It doesn't look to be in the same league for waterproofing and breathability as the Gore C7 Shakedry Stretch jacket (and its other iterations) – but it's not in its £279.99 price range either.
A closer competitor might be the Attacus Cold Weather jacket at £180, but it's too large to be packable and doesn't have the taped seems for waterproofing.
dhb has created a really good jacket here, which I would definitely recommend having in your jersey for those iffy days, or on your shoulders when you're heading out on one of those rain-filled rides that you, like me, might sadistically enjoy...
An excellent packable waterproof race jacket for emergency use or long rides in the rain
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road.cc test report
Make and model: dhb Aeron Lab Ultralight Waterproof Jacket
Size tested: 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?
dhb says, "Lightweight, packable and fully protective. With the Aeron LAB Ultralight Waterproof, you can have all three. Fully waterproof yet small enough that you won't notice it in your back pocket: why leave home without it?
The lightest 3 layer waterproof in cycling?
Weighing in at 110g (Men's size medium) this just might be be the most featherweight yet protective jacket on the road. By using a 3 layer fabric, dhb have made no compromise on protection from the elements, whilst also maintaining a weight and packability that you won't notice in your pocket all day. Until you need it of course!
Aeron LAB. Engineered in the best laboratory we know: out on the road.
Over two years in the making, the all new Aeron LAB collection combines rigorous real-world testing with the best components available, resulting in a collection tuned to the needs of demanding riders reaching for new levels of performance. Because when you're pushing yourself, you need kit that exceeds your expectations.
Aeron LAB Ultralight: Higher, Faster, Further
Ultralight is for those moments when you don't want to carry more kit uphill than absolutely necessary. By combining lightweight fabrics with minimalist yet robust construction methods, Aeron LAB Ultralight still has all the features you need for a big day out in the mountains, keeping you comfortable on punishing gradients and in testing temperatures.
Combining an ultralight, 3 layer waterproof fabric with taped seams means dhb have built a fully waterproof jacket – something rarely seen at this weight for a such a durable piece of kit. With exceptional breathability (30,000 g/m2-24hr) and waterproof (30,000 mmH2O) ratings, this is a special fabric which works hard to keep you comfortable in foul weather.
3 layer performance
When making lightweight waterproofs, brands tend to strip out layers to shed weight. This leaves the waterproof membrane exposed, limiting durability and longevity. This is not the case with the Aeron LAB Ultralight waterproof. By seeking out a lightweight 3 layer fabric, dhb have made sure the membrane is fully protected, meaning this jacket will stay waterproof for longer. A DWR treatment also adds an extra layer of protection from rain.
Race ready, second skin fit
Waterproof Jackets don't have to flap in the wind. Made for top level road cyclists with a cyclist's physique, Aeron LAB has a close, uncompromising second-skin fit. It's built for riding fast.
Designed to sit close to the body with no excess fabric to slow you down, Aeron LAB has a closer fit than the dhb Aeron collection. It will feel different: close and uncompromising. Once on the bike, Aeron LAB comes into its own.
With a shortened front zip length designed for an aggressive riding position, the LAB Ultralight Waterproof Jacket is perfect for riders who spend most of their ride pushing the pace. Longer at the back to keep the worst of the weather off,
Making a lightweight jacket doesn't have to mean sacrificing features that improve your ride. dhb have managed to maintain a comprehensive list of features to keep you comfortable, whatever the weather.
A lightweight zip doesn't compromise on packability. Underarm vents add further ventilation, while elasticated waist and cuff keep the jacket in place. A fleece collar adds a touch of comfort."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
3 Layer waterproof fabric
Breathability 30,000 g/m2-24hr
Waterproof 30,000 mm H2O
Slim aero fit
Shaped drop tail rear
The fabric feels tough considering its thinness.
I was generally impressed.
If you stick with dhb's size chart you will be fine.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
There aren't any special washing requirements so it's just a matter of bunging it in the machine. The DWR coating will eventually wear off but you can reproof it easily enough.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
I was impressed by its waterproofing for such a lightweight jacket.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
Good all-rounder against the elements.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Some people may like a brighter colour option.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's not cheap at £150, but many jackets we see that offer the same level of waterproofing aren't lightweight packables. Similar products from Assos and Gore may perform better but they are almost double the price.
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
If you ride in foul weather, this jacket performs really well, has a great cut and is very good quality. It's not quite up with the Gore Shakedry on waterproofing and breathability, but you pay another £100 (or more) for that. Overall, I think the dhb is a really good jacket, with a great blend of performance and (more) affordable price.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 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.