While the Santini Beta Rain Jacket is a bit of a misnomer (it's less a pure rain jacket than a showerproof windstopper), it's a great performer when conditions are changeable – a Castelli Perfetto rival for a little less money.
Here we go again: another jacket that tries to do it all. Claimed to be water-resistant, windproof and thermally regulating while, potentially, removing the need to layer up. From the outset, it's clear that this jacket is a rival for the likes of Castelli's Perfetto and Sportful's Light Wind jackets.
The fact is that it does much the same job as those two excellent products. Where the Perfetto leans more towards the waterproofing side of things and the Sportful option arguably pushes breathability as its main focus through the fabrics used and their construction, the Santini Beta Rain jacket – ironically, given the name – feels a touch more like the Sportful than the Perfetto.
It uses a tri-layer Gore Windstopper fabric that features a DWR treatment for its water resistance, while also leaning on the three-layer construction to provide both insulation and water beading ability. To the touch, on the outside it feels a little more 'fabric'-like than the Perfetto, so I suspect that the Beta Rain Jacket might give up first, but not without a fight.
The brand itself claims 90 minutes of dry running in wet weather before it begins to let water sneak in – corroborated by use on the Trek-Segafredo pro team – and I can't disagree with that statement. Naturally, I took care of it to ensure that it remained water repellent, using a tech wash on a cool temperature.
Handily, the layered construction means that there's a real physical barrier between your skin and water ingress, and I have to say that it's remarkably breathable too. Worn on its own with just a long-sleeve merino baselayer underneath, it really can be used in the mild autumn conditions we've had lately reaching into the mid-teens without getting that soggy feeling underneath.
Without getting into too much detail, I'm a bit of a sweater, so breathability is key for me. With that in mind, I find it a shame that it doesn't feature zip vents on the side flanks for when the sun does pop out and the rain stays away – even though it's not the end of the world with this fabric.
It also keeps the worst of the wind off, although I think that it's a little more permeable than its competitors. That makes it good for slightly milder conditions than the Castelli or Sportful options, but once again there's not much in it and it does much the same job.
The black rear panel is a slightly sturdier version of the Windstopper fabric, which is handy in this key area that's subject to road spray and muck. The pockets are, too, including the internal fabric next to the skin, which serves to protect the contents from water from both within and without. They're capacious and easy to reach into when you're wearing thin full-fingered gloves.
One omission is a zipped pocket for keys – in a jacket designed to protect you, you'd hope for one to protect your valuables too. I suspect this could be product designers keeping an eye on the competition – Castelli didn't include one with the Perfetto either, so maybe Santini felt it didn't need to here. Either way, I think it's a good idea to have one, especially if you might not wear a jersey with one underneath it.
The collar is nice and high to help stop water sneaking down your back, and the sleeves are a good length to stop them riding up and ensure complete coverage. In the medium on test they were a few millimetres off being perfect on my long reach, and considering that I size between a medium and large, that's good going.
The zip is a sturdy waterproof model that, usefully, is easy to seat and do up and pull down on the move. Sometimes waterproof or sealed zips can be a bit of a faff to work, but not so here. The chinguard under the top of the zip is a bit big, though, and I actually found it a bit aggravating – certainly, I felt I needed to use a snood around my neck to stop it niggling at my skin.
Reflective seams that line the top of the pockets (in addition to a small logo in the middle of the back) add a little visibility in dark light, and tie off the Beta Rain jacket nicely.
All-in, you're asked £150 for the Beta Rain Jacket and in truth that's about the going rate for a jacket of this kind and this performance level. Certainly, that matches up nicely with the Sportful Light Wind Jacket, and undercuts the Castelli Perfetto.
If you're fixed at a budget of £150, then your decision will likely come down to the Sportful or this. With performance so similar, you really just need to get one on and try it for fit.
A very good changeable-weather jacket that can hold a candle to comparable rivals in the market right now
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Santini Beta Rain 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?
Santini says: "Complete thermal balance in different climatic conditions. This jacket offers an enhanced fit with increased thermal insulation. Built with Windstopper medium light weight triple layer fabric, (220 gr/m2) the Beta jacket is engineered to keep you warm when the mercury goes as low as 5°C (40°F).
"It feels like you're wearing both a jersey and a jacket, while being incredibly breathable and light enough for comfort in temperatures up to 18°C (65°F). Includes protection from wind and rain thanks to the Windstopper membrane. Allows you to ride under the rain and stay totally dry at least for the first 90 minutes. Used by World Tour Team Trek-Segafredo for training and racing in rainy conditions."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Versatility - Guaranteed comfort in cold, wet and windy conditions. Breathability in warmer temperatures
High Visibility - Reflective logo at the rear for safer riding in the dark
Protection and comfort - All-in-one Windstopper wind and rain resistant fabric
No problems that I can spot so far.
Great breathability and water resistance.
No complaints here either, it seems very well made.
Very shower resistant, for a good amount of time.
This is the jacket's strong suit, although waterproofness is hardly poor.
I really like the fit. It's slim, but generous enough to fit an extra layer underneath if you should need it.
Sizes about right. The medium on test was slim, as I'd hope.
A touch weighty, but it's hardly the end of the world. In fact, when showers do start it's nice to have a bit of protective bulk sometimes.
Good, but no fleece lining on the arms if you're not wearing a long sleeve baselayer...
It's about the going rate for a jacket of this type these days.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Easily, as long as you use TechWash to maintain the fabric properly.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Really well indeed.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
Protection from the elements, performance fit, breathability.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
The annoying chinguard stands out for me personally.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The Castelli Perfetto and Sportful Light Wind jacket as two key rivals. It matches up to the Sportful, while undercutting the Perfetto.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes
Would you consider buying the jacket? Yes, it's up there with the best.
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Yes, alongside both the Castelli and Sportful options.
Use this box to explain your overall score
David gave the Sportful Light Wind Jacket an 8, and there's precious little to choose between that and this.
About the tester
I usually ride: Canyon Ultimate CF SL 9.0 SL (2016) My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding