Polaris started life as a small outfit making mountain bike clothing about two decades ago, and since then has also branched into other cycling worlds, with the RBS range of clothing aimed at the road and commuter markets. The range includes this RBS Jacket. And a very nice piece of kit it is too.
First up, let's start with the colour. Because that's the thing you notice first. In fact, it's impossible to ignore. This jacket is bright day-glo yellow, with some even brighter day-glo orange bits, and some large silver reflective panels just for good measure. That's what the RBS stands for: Really Bright Stuff.
OK, you may look like a motorway traffic cone, but you are clearly visible, and that has to be a good thing - especially as we reach the season of gloomy weather, combined with the ever-increasing reports of cyclists being hit by dozy drivers. (Yes, I know, we shouldn't have to wear bright colours to avoid being crushed under cars. The responsibility should be on motorists to stay alert. But we also have to face the reality that life ain't like that, and take some steps to keep ourselves safe - that's my opinion anyway.)
Thought for the Day over.
Moving on from the colour, what are the other key features of the RBS jacket? It's billed as windproof, and does that job well. I've worn it on a few early-morning rides, when it's been chilly enough for gloves and oversocks, but this jacket has kept me at just the right temperature, combined with a base layer, summer racing jersey and arm warmers underneath. There's no venting at all, but it doesn't seem to need it. If you get too hot on a steep little climb for example, it's easy enough to undo the zip for a few minutes.
So this jacket is windproof, but it's not waterproof. However, it's not supposed to be, and that's its beauty. The lack of waterproofing makes this jacket very breathable, meaning you can wear it for several hours without sweat building up inside. Having said that, it will keep a few spots of rain off, and it'll definitely protect you from spray when you're out riding with mates and the bike in front hasn't got mudguards.
And that brings us to the next advantage. Because this jacket doesn't attempt to be waterproof, it's physically very light to wear. Apart from a bit of flapping round the shoulders on descents, I didn't know I was wearing it (the cars behind did though). When we get to mid-winter and the weather gets colder, I'll be wearing another jersey underneath, and then it'll be nicely close-fitting all over.
It's also compact to carry, so when the sun comes out and you can roll it up and stuff it in your back pocket very easily.
Other features are kept to an absolute minimum. There's a small pocket on the back, simple elasticated cuffs and a straightforward zip. No poppers or Velcro adjusters - but you just don't need them.
If I had one niggle, it's the baffle strip behind the zip. Yes, it helps improve the wind-proofing, but I found it got stuck in the zip a few times, especially if you're adjusting it on the move - such as zipping it back up after that steep little climb.
But, overall, I really like this jacket and will be using it a lot for early-morning rides this winter. The recommended retail price is a penny under £38, but you can get it for less at your local bike shop, and some of the on-line stores have the usual big discounts.
Excellent jacket for commuting and gloomy winter training rides - windproof, breathable, light to wear, compact to carry - and at a fair price too.
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Make and model: Polaris RBS Jacket
Size tested: Fluo Yellow/Orange - Medium
Tell us what the product 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?
The Polaris website says this jacket is aimed at road and urban riders, and lists the jackets features as follows:
'A fluorescent and reflective windproof jacket - great for commuting. Designed to be visible during daylight and night-time hours. Made from a breathable Micro-polyester which packs up small. Tailored with a slightly longer back. Full length front zip. Elasticated waist and cuffs. Rear zip storage pocket.'
And we can't argue with any of that.
Construction seems very good. Apart from some loose threads at the base of the zip which might snag, all the stitching was good and neat.
For me, this jacket's performance is perfect. It's the ideal outer layer for early-morning winter road cycling. Visible, breathable, packable. The same attributes make it ideal for commuting too.
Yes, if there's a thunderstorm you'll either need something fully waterproof, but it'll be bulkier and less breathable. Or something in between fully breathable and fully waterproof. As ever, for road cycling it's a question of balance, and a lot depends on your own priorities.
As mentioned, construction seems good. But at the end of this day, this garment is made from thin polyester fabric so won't last for ever. But treat it with care, rinse it out regularly (to get rid of microscopic salt crystals from your sweat, which can damage the fibres) and it'll do you for a couple of winters or more.
This jacket is light to wear, and light to carry. Even if you didn't wear it to go out, it wuld be a great thing to have in your back pocket in case the weather turns nasty or a puncture means you're still out on the road later than expected.
Comfort is very good. I like outer clothing to be close-fitting, and this jacket fits that bill. It flapped a bit on descents, but it wasn't a big issue. Our test item is size Medium, but I don't think I could squeeze into a Small. When we get to mid-winter and the weather gets colder, I'll be wearing another jersey underneath anyway, and then it'll be nicely close-fitting all over.
There are cheaper options out there, but this is a very fair price.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Excellent. Windproof, breathable, visible. light to wear.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
As above: windproof, breathable, visible. Plus light to wear and compact to carry - and at a fair price too.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Age: 50 Height: 5ft 10 / 178cm Weight: 11 stone / 70kg
I usually ride: an old Marin Alp My best bike is: an old Giant Cadex
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, club rides, sportives, mtb,