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At just shy of two hundred pounds the Vulpine Cotton Rain Jacket could be seen as quite a spend, especially as it doesn't have all sorts of 'technical' features that believe they can command a premium. But it works out as better value if you consider you're getting both a casual rain jacket and a cycling rain jacket all in one.
The attention to detail, smart styling and intelligent features make it a pleasure to wear, and If you want a jacket for riding around town that can shrug off most of what the weather can throw at you without screaming 'Look At Me, I'm A Cyclist, I'm Epic' (explosions) then it's thoroughly recommended.
In these days of technical everything; jackets, shorts, gloves, socks, it could be seen as madness to launch a cycling jacket into the world that's made of boring cotton, which whilst being very nice in certain casual applications can get quickly out of its depth in the sweaty and damp demands of riding a bike.
Thankfully the Vulpine jacket isn't made out of plain old normal cotton but from Epic Cotton™. Blaboooooooom! You have to make explosion noises when saying 'Epic'. Kapooooooooooey.
(Explosions) Epic Cotton™ (Explosions) is a fabric created by applying a microscopic silicon coating to the cotton before weaving, this makes the (Explosions) Epic (Explosions) perform like ordinary cotton in that it breathes well because air can escape though the holes in the weave, but it's also water and wind-resistant. Best of both worlds then - waterproof but without the boil-in-the-bag tendencies of some man-made fabric jackets that guarantee you get wetter from sweat than rain.
The Cotton Rain Jacket is groaning with the same amount of attention to detail as the Vulpine Soft Shell we tested recently.
The cut is that urban practical mix between cycling and casual, useful enough to ride to where you have to get to but without looking like a cycling nerd when you get there.
The reassuringly heavyweight jacket is tailored a little lower in the front and longer in the back so it fits well when you're hunched on the bike but not so much so that you look awkward off it. There's a large rear vent in the back for exhausting warm gasses on the move with a netting inner layer underneath that covers the top half of the jacket.
The hem and midriff have adjustable elasticated drawstrings that pull taut into little internal Vulpine Green string-locks so the jacket can be drawn tight to seal against the elements and provide a less flappy fitting. The large roomy collar is held shut by a pair of magnets and it also has a drawstring so it can be left wide for breezy breathability but then cinched up to stop rain gushing down there.
The Rain Jacket has a pair of pockets in the front, both zipped and further protected from the elements by magnetic-closing contrasting green flaps. The front zip is waterproof and with a further weather resistant baffle behind it, and the zip-pull is large with a Vulpine logoed tab that's usefully big enough to find with gloved fingers.
It's all busy in the arms: the right forearm has a small pocket in it, zipped and flapped (magnetic, natch), perfect for frequently used keys, in fact there's a small carabiner sewn in there specially for them. The cuffs are lined with a soft highly reflective Scotchlite fabric so you can turn them back at night for extra visibility, and it makes them ideal for more obvious arm indication. The cuffs also have internal soft fleece baffles to halt wind in its chilly tracks.
Staying with the visibility theme, the shoulders have stylish reflective slashes across them, there's a reflective rear light tab on the back and the Bright Red splashguard that folds down from the rear (should you prefer to ride without mudguards but still want a dry bum) has a reflective hem and a large reflective V logo in the centre.
The nicest thing about the Vulpine Cotton Rain Jacket, and there's a lot of nice things about it, is that it doesn't feel like a rain jacket, or even a cycling jacket. Its heavy weight, casual styling and cotton construction makes it look and feel just like a normal jacket, a well made smartly designed normal jacket. It's not a lightweight plastic rain jacket for rolling up and sticking in a back pocket, and it takes up a fair bit of room in a bag so it's not really something you take with you just in case. It's a jacket to wear anyway, you know - like a jacket, and if it rains when you're out and about, on your bike or not, it doesn't matter.
The stout weight and tight weave of the jacket make it sufficiently windproof and the Epic Cotton™ (we've run out of explosions) really does work. Rain beads up on the jacket instantly and it does a great job of keeping the worst of the rain off. It can get overloaded in a determined downpour, but no worse than some other water-resistant jackets that are supposedly sealed with all sorts of man-made cleverness. Likewise breathability was great up to a doggedly-fighting-into-a-headwind point when the jacket started to get a little damp with effort inside. However the cotton fabric made this more bearable by not getting cold and clammy like more plasticky jackets.
But it wasn't all cotton candy kisses, there are two criticisms with the Cotton Rain Jacket. If you're generously limbed in the arm department you'll find the sleeves too short by some irritating margin, leading to cold and wet wrists. And the magnets involved with keeping the drop-tail tucked up inside the jacket seemed to have some polarity issues and it would constantly flap down when not wanted leading to no end of annoyance and the Red Baboon's Arse of Embarrassment. (Trombone noise)
Typically well designed water resistant jacket from the 'ride and destination' cycle crew.
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Make and model: Vulpine Cotton Rain jacket
Size tested: Medium, Charcoal
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?
Vulpine say the Cotton Rain Jacket is a crisply finished jacket influenced by British and military tailoring. Constructed from microscopically treated Epic Cotton™ for water resistance.
It is indeed a smart looking jacket, good looking enough for casual wear and a comfortable twist on being technical enough for cycling in the rain.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Microscopically treated Epic Cotton™ for water resistance, stain resistant, large rear vents, magnetic neck and pocket closures, magnetic reflective pull-down splash guard, fold-back reflective cuffs, waterproof zip, zipped front pockets with contrast lining, ear reflective light loop, adjustable neck, waist and hips, contrast lined inner seams, flapped arm pocket with key carabiner. Available in Charcoal and Indigo.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
For a jacket that you could wear on and off the bike in the rain without looking like a faux-rugged urbaneer it was great. Epic™ without being Epic.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The cut and the look, the detailing, the feel of the cotton.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The arms are too short for me, and that weak magnet on the bum flap was really flippin annoying.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Age: 42 Height: 180cm Weight: 73kg
I usually ride: It varies as to the season. My best bike is: The one I\'m on at the time
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: road racing, cyclo cross, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Fun
Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he's not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for road.cc and when he's not doing either of those he's pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he's agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours don't He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.