The Albion Insulated Jacket 3.0 is an effective garment for days when it's cold and/or the weather is varied but you're working hard. Its low weight and packability make it better suited to long rides where you would use it as a backup, but it also works well as a standalone piece on its own, or over the top of a jersey. The lack of rear pockets and reflectivity are drawbacks, though.
This third version of the jacket features a durable water repellency (DWR) coating. Albion claims it's a 'do everything' garment, and it sits alongside the slightly older Ultralight Insulated Jacket in the range, which is ostensibly similar, though it's even lighter and more packable. Presumably, there's slightly less insulation and an even lighter fabric, though it's hard to say, not having tested it.
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The Insulated Jacket 3.0's main attributes are its super warmth-to-weight ratio (it weighs just 174g), and its ability to pack down small when not in use. It achieves this by having strategically placed insulated panels, featuring Clo Eco Vivo recycled insulation.
These panels feature in the arms down to the elbows, in the chest area, in the collar, and in a strip that runs down the length of the spine. It doesn't feel like much when you put it on, but it's surprisingly effective in use.
Packed down, the jacket is about the size of two tennis balls (in terms of volume), and will just fit inside the rear pocket of a jersey.
The fabric is Bluesign-approved nylon, which is windproof and highly breathable. It doesn't have a waterproof membrane, but what you do get is a good quality C0 DWR coating. If you were heading out and there was going to be a high probability of rain, you would want to pack a waterproof jacket instead, though the Albion does shed water surprisingly well.
There's considerable concern about the environmental impact of durable water repellent coatings made by the old C8 process, so manufacturers have switched to C6 and, in this case, C0 which is less harmful (the number refers to the length of carbon chain in the precursor chemicals used to make the coating; C8 is also known as perfluorooctanoic acid, a toxic and highly persistent pollutant).
Caught in a 20-minute downpour, I felt dry underneath, save for a small area around my right wrist where the material started to wet-out. I would guess that more than 30 minutes of torrential weather would see you pretty soaked. Still, it's impressive given waterproofing is not one of its intended qualities. For occasional rain on longer rides, you'd be well covered here.
The fabric also dries very quickly, which you wouldn't be able to say for other similar garments, such as a softshell jacket.
Though the jacket isn't quite as cosseting as a softshell, it offers exceptional insulation from the cold given its lack of bulk – the combination of the windproof fabric and light insulation is just right, even down to temperatures as low as zero (with a jersey and baselayer underneath). You could easily wear it up to about 9 or 10°C with just a baselayer, depending on how hot you run.
Thankfully, even if you do get a bit sweaty, the breathability of the material is first class. Even on long, steep climbs, temperature regulation is superb, which is amazing given how toasty you feel the rest of the time. On one particularly gruelling climb, my forearms did get a little warm, though that was wearing thick arm warmers underneath. I can see why Albion chose not to put insulation in this area.
In terms of storage, the Insulated Jacket 3.0 offers two small zip pockets with cord pullers on the chest area – big enough for a smartphone in each, plus a little extra, allowing you to carry a wallet and/or a snack bar, if you like.
The left pocket also has a divide, so you can separate two items if you need to. The only issue with these pockets is their location means that if the items are a little on the heavy side (my iPhone weighs 204g), the material does tend to sag a bit – I could feel the phone bobbing about as I was riding – more so if you favour a racier position. Lighter items are fine, but I prefer to stow bigger items in rear pockets, or on the bike, for that reason.
On the front of the jacket there's a YKK Vislon two-way zip, enabling you to unfasten the zip from the bottom when you want some extra cooling. As with the chest pockets, both zips utilise cord pullers. They're colour-coded, which is probably more form over function, and easy to operate on the move. The lower zip can't be operated with one hand, simply because the light weight fabric deforms when you try to do so. Two-handed is no issue, however.
Though Albion's Insulated Jacket is available in some pretty bright colours – Moss Green and Earth Red, along with a not-so-bright Black – there's a distinct lack of visibility for when the sun goes down. You get a very small reflective logo on the lower back section, but nothing else to light you up at night.
A draw-cord hem allows you to adjust the fit at the waist, which is a good thing because the sizing of the jacket means you'll probably need to (more on that below).
Fit is bike-specific, so the front is slightly shorter and the dropped rear gives you more coverage to protect your lower rear from spray. The internal rear gripper keeps the jacket gripped to your back, without it riding up.
The overall fit is really good – a good length in both the body and especially the sleeves, covering even my ape-like arms to my wrists. It's a slim-fitting garment, but not overly so – there's just enough room for a baselayer and a jersey underneath. The material doesn't flap when you're in a riding position, either.
Sizes go from XS to XXL, which is pretty broad. I tested an XL, and I'm normally an XL in dhb's Aeron Lab range, which tends to be slightly on the smaller size compared to some other brands, so you might want to size up from your usual.
The only slight negative, for me, is that the waist is a little bigger than I'd like. I don't have much around this area, and wear jeans with a 32-inch waist. Thankfully, the adjuster at the waist allows you to fix that, so it's not a huge deal. It's just not a perfect fit for me, but then cycling garments rarely are for anyone.
> Buyer’s Guide: 55 of the best winter cycling jackets
The only other problem with the Insulated Jacket 3.0 is knowing exactly when to wear it. It's an excellent jacket, but as I prefer to carry my phone in a rear pocket, I found myself discouraged from wearing it over my usual go-to softshell in cold (but not freezing) weather.
The Albion is more versatile, though, allowing you to carry it and wear it as needed, whereas with a softshell you're sort of stuck with it if it gets warmer. I think the weather protection is marginally better with Albion's jacket, too. The lack of visibility does narrow its usable range slightly, and it's probably not the jacket for a high-end commuter.
Albion's jacket is currently discounted at £123, but even at its full price of £165 there's a lot on offer here, and the fit and quality shine through.
If you do want a softshell, Stu recently reviewed the Monton Men's PRO Joes 3-in-1 Thermal Winter Jacket. I've picked out this one in particular because it's a bit more versatile than your average softshell, having a removable quilted gilet on the inside, giving it a similarly broad range of use as the Albion. Price-wise it's about the same, but it only comes in black. There's not a lot of reflectivity, either.
Gore's Torrent Men's Jacket is a highly-protective option that is only a bit heavier than the Albion (190g for a medium vs 174g for an XL). It offers better weatherproofing but it doesn't offer any insulation, meaning it's a better backup against rain, rather than cold. Its £230 price tag makes the Albion look like a bargain.
This is a great jacket whether you're looking at using it as a standalone or backup garment. On certain days you might prefer something you can fit-and-forget, like a softshell, carrying a lightweight rain jacket as your backup, but where Albion's jacket excels is its low weight and packability, so it's a better option for long rides or big-distance trips.
High-performance, versatile jacket that's effective as a standalone piece or as a lightweight backup on long rides
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Make and model: Albion Insulated Jacket 3.0
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?
Albion says, "Whether it's a long ride in cold conditions or a multi-day tour in the mountains, the Albion Insulated Jacket has been created for riders seeking ultimate versatility and performance from a lightweight, warm and packable 'do everything' jacket.
"Using Clo's innovative Eco Vivo recycled insulation concept, this jacket has been engineered to give the wearer warmth where it's needed whilst also optimising breathability and packability.
"Also featuring two front chest pockets and a 2-way front zip, this jacket is packed with features and will keep you warm and protected when riding through countries, continents and weather conditions.
"Version 3.0 now features a C0 Durable Water Repellency (DWR) coating on the face fabric as well as trim upgrades."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Engineered fit - insulated and lightweight panels combined to optimise warmth and breathability
Lightweight, breathable fabric with C0 Durable Water Repellency (DWR) coating made in Japan
Clo™ Eco Vivo recycled insulation
YKK Vislon 2-way zip
Two zippable chest pockets with cord pullers
Easily packs down into a rear pocket
Adjustable draw-cord hem with internal rear gripper
On bike fit - shorter front and dropped rear
Reflective logo trim at the rear
Fabric - 100% bluesign® approved nylon
Made in China
Rate the jacket for quality of construction:
As with other Albion products I've tested, the quality is very good.
Rate the jacket for performance:
Great warmth for the weight, but also very breathable, and it packs down pretty small.
Rate the jacket for durability:
No issues so far – it still looks new even after being used for many rides in the winter.
Rate the jacket for waterproofing based on the manufacturer's rating:
The DWR coating is very effective – it kept me dry in a 20-minute downpour, even though it's really only designed for lighter rain. It also dries very quickly.
Rate the jacket for breathability based on the manufacturer's rating:
Excellent breathability – even on big uphill efforts I stayed relatively cool.
Rate the jacket for fit:
Slim, but not race fit. Long arms and good length in the body. There's no flappy material, either.
Rate the jacket for sizing:
Almost perfect fit in an XL for this slender 6ft 4in frame. Minor points deducted for a slightly larger waist, though that might not be a problem for other riders.
Rate the jacket for weight:
Very light given its warmth.
Rate the jacket for comfort:
No issues here. It's not quite as snugly as a softshell with just a baselayer.
Rate the jacket for value:
Even at full price (it's currently reduced to £123) it offers a lot of performance for the money against other premium competitors.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Just wash it at 30 degrees.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It performs well across a range of temperatures and conditions, and is equally good as a standalone jacket as well as a backup.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
Excellent temperature regulation.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Lack of rear pockets, though I appreciate this is the same with emergency waterproof jackets.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's a similar price to the Monton Men's PRO Joes 3-in-1 Thermal Winter Jacket which we tested recently. This jacket is similarly versatile. It's a lot cheaper than Gore's pricey Torrent Men's Jacket, which is a better backup jacket for heavy rain, but not so good in the cold.
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 very good: very versatile and the performance is great. It's an ideal option if you need a backup for longer rides, and it's also great as a standalone – though you might struggle deciding whether to go with this or a softshell jacket as your do-everything garment for winter riding.
Age: 39 Height: 6'4 Weight: 175lbs
I usually ride: Condor Italia RC custom build My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, mtb,
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