Polaris is a manufacturer with a huge range of clothing for all types of cycling, and this Sapphire jacket is described as being suitable for road, trail or urban use. It's a nice piece of kit, but can it really be so versatile?
From the very first glance, this jacket certainly looks great - thanks to its female specific cut and sporty colours. Wearing it feels great too; it's very comfortable, the back of the jacket is longer than the front, the fit is close but not too tight anywhere. The arms are long and cover my hands when standing normally, but they're just the right length when I'm stretched out on the bike.
So the fit is good, and it looks nice. But does it work?
To check the Sapphire's weather protection, I've worn it when cycling on a few wet and cold days, and can verify that it's waterproof in showers and medium rainy conditions. I haven't checked it in a thunderstorm yet. It's also very windproof.
But when I start to ride reasonably fast (for me - that means about 15 mph) the Sapphire is simply not breathable enough, the perspiration builds up, and inside the jacket it starts to feel clammy. This is made worse by the lack of ventilation - no flap at the back (as found on some other cycling jackets) and no under-arm vents (despite the description of the Sapphire on the Polaris website indicating otherwise).
So in response to the road, trail and urban claims, I'd agree that for gentle touring, off-road pottering or cold-weather commuting this jacket will be very good, but it may not be breathable enough for road cyclists bowling along at a reasonable rate, and definitely not for those that push the pace.
Another feature that puts this jacket more into the off-road and commuter category is the presence of a hood. Clever draw-strings with very neat grippers ensure it fits well, so I can turn my head without loss of vision, and there's a peak too, but the hood doesn't roll up very neatly when not in use, meaning it's bulky and untidy around the neck.
The Sapphire also has pockets. They're deep and roomy, but at the front of the jacket, so anything like a purse or phone bangs on the top of my legs when riding my road bike. Upright on a commuter hybrid or off-road bike, this may not be such an issue - and front-pockets are handy for access if you're wearing a backpack.
Despite not being suitable for my kind of road cycling, I really like this jacket, and it's become my first choice for active weekends away when I may be doing a bit of hill-walking or some easy mountain-biking, or both.
With a recommended retail price of £89, discounted to around £75 or less in bike shops and on-line stores, it's not cheap, so if you're looking for a dedicated road cycling jacket, you're better off spending your money on something else. But as stylish jacket for touring or commuting, and a good all-round item for non-strenuous multi-activity use, the Sapphire is worth considering.
Sturdy, stylish and comfortable jacket, waterproof and windproof, great for gentle touring or commuting - but not a first choice for faster road cycling.
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Make and model: Polaris Sapphire - Women's Waterproof Jacket
Size tested: Black/Bright Rose
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?
Here's what it says on the Polaris website:
Ladies specific waterproof cycle jacket
Manufactured in a Hydrovent Active fabric - a fully waterproof & breathable material
Full mesh liner to aid moisture transfer
Roll away adjustable hood
Waterproof contrast coloured zips
Two front pockets
Reflective print detail for night time safety
Fully adjustable hem, cuffs and collar
This is all true, except for the mention of underarm ventilation, and Im not convinced by the use of the adjective fully before waterproof & breathable.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
To be fair, the problem outlined above isn't unique to the Sapphire. All garments of this nature have to strike a balance. The more it's waterproof, the less it's breathable, and vice versa.
Construction of this jacket seems very good, with neat seams and tidy stitching.
For casual commuting and gentle mountain-biking this jacket performs well. For serious roadies, its limited breathability is a performance issue. So overall it gets an 'average' score.
The fabric is slightly heavier than some other jackets out there so will stand some wear and tear.
400g is very reasonable for a jacket of this nature, and (if you had to) you could pack it down and jam it in your jersey back pocket. If you're a tourist, off-roader or commuter, it'll easily fit in a saddlebag or backpack.
This jacket fits very well. Comfort is excellent. As long as you don't put anything heavy in the front pockets.
Recommended retail price is £89. It's discounted to around £75 or less in many bike shops and on-line stores, but still not great value for road cyclists, due to the breathability issue.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
For gentle leisure cycling or commuting, this jacket performs well. For faster road cycling, it's performce is not good, due to the limnited breathablity.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The fit, the look, the style.