Fat Lad At The Back's Next Gen Cycling Winter Long Sleeve jacket offers great year-round ability. Get past any initial reservations about fit and you'll find it's an impressive and high-performance bit of kit dedicated towards larger riders, which should protect you from all but the very worst weather.
Pros: Very comfy on the bike, fantastic weather protection, fairly flattering
Cons: Feels and looks a bit weird off the bike, cuffs need sorting out, not cheap
I must admit, my initial impressions of the Next Gen jacket weren't favourable. On first wearing, the cut around the chest and armpit area had the same effect as a push-up bra with this particular full-bosomed gentlemen. I went from having just a relatively big chest to being fully moobed, which isn't really the look I'm going for right now. Certainly, it's significantly tighter across the chest than the FLATB Hexy Jacksey I tested recently. But – and it's a very big but – these concerns only apply off the bike.
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As soon as you're in the saddle reaching for the handlebar, you forget about feeling like a Dolly Parton tribute act, because your arms are in exactly the position that the jacket has been designed to accommodate. What's 'unusual' when standing straight with shoulders back becomes absolutely perfect when you're leaning forward on the hoods or drops.
Arm length is perfect and the fit around the lower half of the torso is good, with a bit of room for chaps with even larger tummies than me.
The flap at the rear is substantial – possibly a touch large – but it protects backsides with aplomb. Effectively, this really is a well-designed high-performance jacket for larger riders and in use it feels fantastic.
Material quality is also excellent. The soft touch three-layer rain and windproof fabric doesn't feel thick but exhibits very impressive technical properties. I used it with just a long-sleeve baselayer in temperatures that hovered around 5-6°C and I think most people could easily get away with that setup. Windproofing is particularly good, with little to no chill getting through the front. Waterproofing is impressive, as well. In fact, it was so good in typical daily drizzle I had to put the jacket under the shower to see how far it would go, and it stood up to that, too. Only rain-magnet cuffs let the side down.
None of this performance comes at the cost of breathability. There are vented front pockets and deep stretch panels under the arms and along the sides to aid perspiration control. These sections aren't waterproof, but their inclusion means that, with a fair idea of your personal preferences and requirements, it's easy to maintain warm but not moist riding conditions.
There are also some little extras that further recommend the Next Gen jacket. In terms of practicalities, there is a good selection of pockets: one zipped either side and three open at the back. FLATB's trademark inscribed soft collar makes for a comfy closure at the top.
The blue colourway we have here is smart – there are also high-vis yellow and ultra-reserved black options – and comes with reflective piping on the tail hem. And something that really should not be overlooked is the fact that the black stretch side panels are rather flattering and tend to slim the wearer up. Every little helps!
It's not entirely faultless, though. The biggest criticism I have with construction is something that also applies to the Hexy Jacket: those soft Lycra cuffs that are prone to getting soggy are also too loose and really could do with tightening up.
Then there's the question of value, because at a penny shy of £160 this is not a cheap option. I mentioned in my other FLATB jacket review that the Galibier Mistral offers much the same performance yet is incredible value at £72.76. And it's not just Galibier: the Sweet Protection Crossfire and the excellent Lusso Aqua Extreme Repel V2 both come in below £160.
> Buyer's Guide: 18 of the best winter cycling jackets
However, none of those brands go up to 52in chests (although Galibier does go to 50in and Lusso 48in). Also, there's something rather endearing about FLATB kit – it's not quite novelty, but it is certainly fun and a little quirky. Of course, it would be even more fun at a cheaper price. But if you're looking for a really solid multi-season outer layer to go round your ample frame, Fat Lad At The Back's Next Gen jacket won't disappoint.
Impressive performance and good fit from this all-season softshell jacket designed for big (and not so big) riders
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Make and model: Fat Lad At The Back Next Gen Cycling Winter Long Sleeve Jacket
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?
An all-weather jacket designed for larger gentlemen.
Fat Lad At The Back says it is: "Our next generation and most versatile crappy weather jacket yet, designed to provide the utmost flexibility across the seasons, layer up and down as the temperatures change. We've gone back to the drawing board for our new Winter Long Sleeve, combining our exceptional curve-friendly cut and flattering pattern placement with a complete redesign of this winter staple to meet the needs of today's cyclist. This will be your go to jacket whether you're riding for pleasure or training."
I think that's pretty much correct.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Jersey like, soft touch 180grm three-layer membrane provides protection from the wind and rain (10,000+ waterproof and 12,000+ breathability)
Deep stretch jersey panels to under arm and sides for superior wicking and breathability (not waterproof)
Vent front pockets for additional ventilation
3 large rear pockets
Drop tail with reflective detail
Soft Lycra cuff
Beautiful hi-vis design with flattering pattern placement
Rate the jacket for quality of construction:
Nicely made. No complaints at all.
Rate the jacket for performance:
Does everything it sets out to do very well.
Rate the jacket for durability:
Looks well made and durable.
Rate the jacket for waterproofing based on the manufacturer's rating:
Really good – only the cuffs let it down.
Rate the jacket for breathability based on the manufacturer's rating:
Rate the jacket for fit:
Feels very strange off the bike when you first put it on. Feels great once you get in a riding position.
Rate the jacket for sizing:
Rate the jacket for weight:
Doesn't seem unduly heavy, but it's no absolute featherweight.
Rate the jacket for comfort:
Rate the jacket for value:
Slightly on the dear side, but if you're big enough to need one of the larger sizes, you may not have many alternative choices.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Yup. Put it in the washing machine at 30 degrees, don't tumble.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Really well. Kept me warm and dry and happy.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
Technical performance is perhaps better than you'd imagine from a slightly niche brand.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
I don't like Fat Lad At The Back's cuffs – I wish they'd make them tighter!
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
Fat Lad At The Back's Next Gen jacket is something of a revelation, offering very accomplished technical performance from a brand better known for its niche focus. There are a couple of improvements that could be made, and it's not cheap, but if you want a proper cycling jacket for bigger chaps, this is it.
Age: 39 Height: 6'0 Weight: 16 stone
I usually ride: Islabikes Beinn 29 My best bike is: 25-year-old Dawes Galaxy
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking, leisure
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