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The Sportful Fiandre Strato Wind Jacket is perfect if you like to keep the cold out without having to bulk up with lots of layers. The combined setup blocks the wind without seeing you overheat on the climbs, and the race cut means you won't have to worry about fabric flapping about when you are in the drops. I would like a little more protection on the arms on colder days, though.
From the front the Strato looks like you are wearing a gilet over the top of your jersey, but in reality what you have is a jersey/jacket made from a lightweight breathable fabric with the front and side panels created from Gore-Tex Infinium Windstopper material.
The appearance of the 'arm holes' at the top gives the double garment illusion but actually benefits your range of movement, as the base material is a little more flexible than the Gore panels.
The Gore fabric works brilliantly. Before each ride I check the weather and see which way the wind is blowing before coming up with an out and back or looped route to take advantage of a headwind out and a tailwind back.
Leaving the house chilly and straight into a northerly wind showed instantly how well the Strato works: while the rest of my body tried to deal with the shock, my core and internal organs were basking in a normal body temperature.
At times I wanted a little more protection for the front of my arms, which felt cold in relation to the rest of my upper half, but I think in reality that was more to do with how well the Gore sections were working.
With the rear of the Strato being a lighter weight material, you don't overheat when working hard in the cold. It felt pretty breathable and it was only on the steepest of climbs that I felt it getting overwhelmed.
When things do start to warm up a little, there are two large chest zips that work well at funnelling cold air in – unless you are hauling your way up a hill.
If you should get caught out in the rain you also have Sportful's NoRain protection to fall back on. It isn't fully waterproof, but it repels light rain and showers with ease and adds another dimension to the Strato.
When it comes to a size for size comparison, the Strato comes up a little small. I'm usually a medium in the majority of the brands, and although I was comfortable enough in the medium on test here, I would probably nudge myself up to a large for a slightly more comfortable fit. It does have a race cut, though, and is designed to be worn close to the body. If you stick with Sportful's sizing guide you should be fine. (It's not me in the photos, by the way.)
Like all top-quality kit, the Strato fits best when you are in the saddle. The back is dropped for coverage and there is plenty of length in the sleeves for when you are stretched out in the drops, plus the narrow elasticated cuffs fit nicely inside gloves.
You get a reasonably high neck too to keep out the draughts.
For storage you get the traditional layout of three pockets, which are deep and roomy and have enough tautness to stop your cargo from bouncing around as you ride. It would be good to see a zipped valuable pocket here for this kind of money, though. It's not a dealbreaker but I do like to have somewhere safe to store my keys and the like.
I'd also like to see a bit more in the way of reflectives – other colours are available, including orange, and blue, but the back is still mostly black whichever colour you go for.
As you'd hope for £155, like the majority of Sportful kit I have tested, the overall quality is absolutely top notch: great materials that feel great to wear, all sewn together with neat and tight stitching.
It's not cheap, but its price is comparable to something like the Lusso Aqua Pro Extreme jacket at £164.99, though the Lusso does have very good water resistance. Lusso is well known to offer good value for money for its products, so to see the Sportful competing is pretty good.
It also comes in at a tenner less than the Assos Mille GT Spring/Fall jacket. Although that doesn't have the gilet/jacket look, it does a similar job using a windproof material for the front panels like the Sportful.
Overall, the Fiandre Strato Wind Jacket might look pricey at the outset but it really is a great option that will cover a huge range of conditions just by tweaking the weight of the baselayer you are wearing underneath.
Hugely versatile jacket that covers plenty of temperatures and conditions – just add a baselayer
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Sportful Fiandre Strato Wind 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?
Sportful says, "DOUBLE-LAYER PROTECTION FOR RIDES OF ANY INTENSITY
"The front protection is now in Gore® Windstopper®. The Strato Wind Jacket is a winning concept that has been appreciated in many different racing situations. The double layer on the front returns in this new version, with more freedom and comfort for the arms. Now, the protective vest is in Gore® Windstopper® for even higher efficacy, with the same thermoregulation ability that has always characterized this jacket. Or this vest. This piece is so amazing that a single definition would be too limiting."
It's an excellent 'do it all' winter jacket.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Sportful lists these features:
NoRain fabric for maximum comfort and warmth
Front Gore® Windstopper® layer with 2 hidden chest zippers for ventilation
Double cuff for comfort
Reflective band for increased safety
3 back pockets
Elastic waist for great fit
Sizing is small compared to UK brands, but follow Sportful's size guide and you should be fine.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Washing in a 30 degree cycle saw it come up clean with no issues.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Deals with everything winter can chuck at you without having to wear loads of layers.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
So toasty for such a lightweight jacket.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Your arms can get chilly when riding into the wind.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Ten quid less than the Lusso Aqua Pro Extreme and Assos Mille GT Spring/Fall jackets, to name a couple, so while not cheap the Sportful doesn't actually come across as that expensive.
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 really good: it could do with a little more protection on the arms, but for the majority of winter riding it is all the jacket you'll need.
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
As part of the tech team here at F-At Digital, senior product reviewer Stu spends the majority of his time writing in-depth reviews for road.cc, off-road.cc and ebiketips using the knowledge gained from testing over 1,500 pieces of kit (plus 100's of bikes) since starting out as a freelancer back in 2009. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 170,000 miles on road, time-trial, track, and gravel bikes, and while he's put his racing days behind him, he still likes to smash the pedals rather than take things easy. With a background in design and engineering, he has an obsession with how things are developed and manufactured, has a borderline fetish for handbuilt metal frames and finds a rim braked road bike very aesthetically pleasing!