Galibier's Mistral foul weather jacket will cover off nearly all of your winter rides if you like to work up a sweat. It's windproof, waterproof, breathable, close fitting and exceptional value. For me, only the pockets let it down.
Fully black winter jackets aren't always that visible on murky days, and if you wear full neon and it's sunny some enterprising defence lawyer will probably claim your jacket was camouflage. So the best bet is probably a mixture of the two; the Mistral has plenty of neon on the back and the arms, as well as a substantial reflective panel on the pockets. The zip piping on the front is fluorescent yellow too, but other than that and the embroidered logo, the front is black.
It's a decent-looking top, all told. The fit is for road riding: tight sleeves, short front, dropped back. It's excellent on the bike, with very little flapping even at high downhill speeds, and plenty of length in the arms even for an ape like me.
The Mistral has a three-layer membrane with a waterproof rating of 8,000mm and a breathability rating of 10,000gr/m2/day. That's both more breathable and more waterproof than the previous version, and it's also treated with a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating to help it shed water. The seams aren't taped, and it's not as waterproof as a full hardshell, but it's plenty waterproof to be a good choice on rides where you know you're going to get wet, especially if it's cold and showery and you don't want to be pulling a rain cape on and off. On a long ride some water will make it inside, normally around the shoulders. But not much.
The material is an excellent windblock too. It's not especially thick – although it's thicker than Castelli's Gabba and other full-race softshells – but it is very warm. I wore it with a Nalini long sleeve baselayer and that was enough clothes for temperatures down to not far off zero, if I was doing a bit of work on the bike. With a thick winter baselayer I could probably ride until it really wasn't safe to do so any more, well below freezing.
If it warms up later in the ride then the Mistral is okay if you get a bit sweaty, doing a decent job of not getting too clammy. You can open the full length zip for a bit of ventilation too. Galibier claims it'll be comfortable up to 15°C which I'd say is probably a bit high if it was sunny, although on a rainy day at that kind of temperature it'd be ideal.
If there's a downside to the Mistral, for me it's the pockets. They're nice and deep, and they have mesh bottoms to drain water if it's torrential out. However, they're a full 15cm from the bottom of the jacket. Some of that's the dropped tail, but they're still about 7cm above the seam that would be the bottom of the jacket without the tail. That and the deep design means I found it difficult to access them. It wasn't impossible, and my flexibility isn't the best after breaking one shoulder and freezing the other, but it was noticeably harder than other winter tops. On the plus side, they're nice and stretchy and you can fit a ton of stuff in them.
Overall, though, the performance is excellent. If you like to go out in the winter and ride hard, this jacket is ideal: it'll cover off 90 per cent of the rides you do. If you're out at a more leisurely pace when it's cold, it's still a good choice for dry rides, although you might want something a bit warmer if it's raining and you're not generating a lot of heat.
So, if the Galibier was competing on an even playing field with the likes of Castelli's Gabba and Sportful's Fiandre Extreme then it'd certainly be worth a look. You can have three of these for the price of one Fiandre, though, and still have change for cake and coffee. So in terms of value, it's a steal. The only thing that really comes close is dhb's Aeron Hybrid Softshell which is less waterproof.
For the performance, at this price, you can't really go wrong. Fix the pockets and it's full marks next time.
Top performance from a great winter jacket that's fantastic value
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Galibier Mistral Foul Weather Jacket
Size tested: Large
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?
Galibier says, "The possibilities of roads not yet ridden, sits open. We should not let the weather dictate our saddle time.
This Mistral is the forth evolution of our Foul Weather jacket and has evolved directly from customer feedback and new material technology. The key to the garments success is the three-layer, German membrane, which is only 1.2mm thick; with only a light base layer you can train in comfort from only 5 to 15 degreesC. The technical material will block fierce north winds and keep you warm in November downpours.
The garment just works to protect you cycling .....when it's not summer. 'Best money I have ever spend on anything cycling'
Following the effectiveness of our Mistral Pro Deep winter jacket, the material is now DWR treated before production, giving the material a lasting water shedding treatment. Ask around or search for reviews and comments from cyclists who use this jacket. There are lots of soft shell fabrics out there, The goal of this jacket is to keep you warm while riding in ALL conditions and the latest Mistral is does this seamlessly. We are delighted to also offer a female specific cut with this garment.
The soft-shell is water resistant, but due to the superior body stretch of the material, the seams cannot be internally taped, so in downpour, the rain will eventually get through. The magic of the Mistral is that you will not get cold, being 100% windproof and with a breathable rating of over 10,000."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
8000/ 10000 Triple layer membrane (WP/VP)
Windproof anti-stick zip.
At least 3 meters of technical fabric in each jacket.
A zip garage to protect the neck from irritation.
Articulated fleece collar to gently wrap around the neck in every cycling position
Rear pockets, with 3M reflective trim to increase visibility.
Full windshield double cuff.
3 high stretch rear pockets with Mesh drainage feature.
Silicone waist band to keep the jacket locked in place.
Double stitching throughout.
Extra side, zipped security pocket
Well made from good quality fabrics.
Good in cold weather whether it's sunny or raining.
No issues during testing, although it's a good idea to reproof after every few washes.
Some water gets in around the shoulders in prolonged rain, but not very much.
Good; not best in class but still comfortable when you're working hard.
Excellent fit for road riding.
Size L was perfect on me (1.89m, 92kg).
The ideal weight for the type of riding it's designed for.
Really comfy across a range of conditions.
You can't really go wrong for £72.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Washed fine on a 40° cycle; after a few washes the performance of the DWR coating was diminished so it could do with reproofing now.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
Everything except the pockets.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Erm, the pockets.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Some comparable jackets are three times the price (Sportful's Fiandre Extreme is £275).
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 not perfect, but if the pockets were a bit easier to access it basically would be.
About the tester
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Kinesis Tripster ATR, Merida Scultura
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.