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review

Craft Hale SubZ Jacket

6
£130.00

VERDICT:

6
10
Heavyweight, warm and weatherproof softshell jacket, but check the fit
Warm
Weatherproof
Great visibility
Fit won't suit all
Diagonal zip restricts pocket access
Baggy collar can let draughts in
Weight: 
460g

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The Craft Hale SubZ Jacket is designed for when the weather is really grim. The windproof and water-repellent fabric has kept me warm and dry in some pretty horrible conditions, and reflective accents aid visibility. However, the fit is a little odd, and the baggy collar lets a bit of a draught in.

At 460g the Hale SubZ is a true heavyweight, with fleece lining throughout and that water-repellent and windproof fabric. It also has to be one of the most visible jackets out there, especially in this fluoro yellow (it's also available in black). The bands around the shoulders are reflective, while the body and sleeves have a reflective fleck to provide 360-degree visibility. I have noticed that on Craft's website the yellow colour looks a little washed out, but this is not the case with the one on test which is bright and vibrant.

2020 Craft Hale SubZ Jacket - shoulder.jpg

After a very soggy few months of testing, I'm happy to report that the jacket is up for the challenge, keeping me dry in all but the most torrential prolonged showers. The fabric also performs well on windy days, keeping me nice and toasty.

Because of the soft thermal lining I was happy to wear the jacket with just a summer baselayer underneath, and found it suitable for rides up to about 12-13 degrees; with a thicker winter baselayer and jersey I felt comfortable in the jacket on frosty mornings down to about 2 degrees.

2020 Craft Hale SubZ Jacket - inside.jpg

One area that hinders the warmth of the jacket is the slightly baggy collar. I don't think I have a particularly small neck, and I have never had an issue with baggy collars on other jackets (it's not me in the photos here), but the Craft lets in draughts down the front as the spare material hangs down. Even in the photos on Craft's website you can see that the collar is roomy, and there is no improvement when in a riding position.

2020 Craft Hale SubZ Jacket - collar.jpg

Unlike a hardshell jacket, the material is stretchy, aiding fit and leaving room for layering underneath, though it isn't quite as race-cut as the dhb Aeron Lab All Winter jacket that I have also been using.

Fit is an extremely subjective thing, and for me the Hale SubZ doesn't really work – though that's not to say it won't work for you. All of my measurements put me in a medium apart from the chest circumference, where I sit right in the middle of small and medium. If anything, I would expect there to be a little more room around here, but what I actually found was that the jacket was extremely tight across the front of the shoulders, with excess material across the back.

2020 Craft Hale SubZ Jacket - back.jpg

Craft says it has designed the jacket to be ergonomic when in the riding position, but as a racer with an aggressive position I found that however low I got and hunched my shoulders, the same issue was evident. Having got a few of my medium sized relatives and friends to try on the jacket it would appear I'm not alone – they all found it tight across the chest, with all but the more rotund finding excess material in the stomach area when in an on-bike position. Again, that's not to say it won't fit you fine – perhaps you struggle with other brands' offerings.

2020 Craft Hale SubZ Jacket - riding.jpg

The rest of the jacket fitted well: the length is good, with ample coverage at the back, and I also found the sleeves a good length, with the elasticated cuffs providing a good seal with gloves to keep the chill out in this area.

On the rear of the Craft jacket, you will find four pockets: three segmented and one zip pocket. The three standard top-entry pockets are pretty large and deep, with plenty of storage space for long rides. They are also easy to find and access while riding thanks to a large elasticated cuff along the top. This also keeps the contents secure, but for complete peace of mind there is also a zipped pocket.

2020 Craft Hale SubZ Jacket - pockets.jpg

This has a large tag on it, which makes it easy to find while riding, but because the zip is diagonal across the pocket, its use is hindered. The pocket itself is big enough for today's smartphones, but actually getting one in or out is quite the challenge. After a few rides I stopped even attempting to access it while on the bike.

2020 Craft Hale SubZ Jacket - zipped pocket.jpg

Value and conclusion

At £130 the SubZ jacket sits about middle ground for this sort of softshell jacket, but you can buy some excellent jackets for less, such as the dhb Softshell Roubaix jacket (£90) or Van Rysel Cold Weather Extreme Racer jacket (£79.99).

For a similar price, Stu rated the Lusso Aqua Repel V2 jacket very highly, or if you can justify spending more then the dhb Aeron Lab All Winter jacket I mentioned earlier is a good choice if you're looking for something more aero.

> Buyer’s Guide: 14 of the best high-vis cycling jackets from £30 to £200

Although the build quality and material choices are well up there with more expensive options, for me the SubZ's overall use and value is let down by the fit.

Verdict

Heavyweight, warm and weatherproof softshell jacket, but check the fit

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Craft Hale SubZ 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?

Craft says: "Hale SubZ Jacket is a warm and weather-protective bike jacket designed for long and intense rides through cold sleet and drizzle. This functional bike jacket comes with ergonomic design for a perfect riding-position fit, three back pockets (one zippered), silicone-printed gripper at back that keeps the jacket in place and 360 degrees visibility."

I agree that the jacket is warm and gives good protection from the elements as well as providing excellent visibility. However, the fit doesn't seem right whether in the "riding position" or not, as you can see in Craft's own advertising photos.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?

Craft lists:

Windproof and water-repellent fabric (WP 8,000 and MVP 8,000)

Highly elastic and brushed thermal polyester

Body-comfort system with different fabrics in different body zones

Ergonomic design

Silicone-printed gripper at back

Reflective seam details at front

360 degrees visibility

Three back pockets

1 zippered pocket

Front Body: Face 100% Polyester Mid: 100% Polyurethane Back: 100% Polyester, Back Body/Back Sleeves: 87% Polyester 13% Elastane, Pocket: 90% Polyamide, 10% Elastane

Rate the jacket for quality of construction:
 
7/10
Rate the jacket for performance:
 
7/10

Material, windproofing, water repellence and warmth/breathability are all good, and visibility is also extremely good. For me the draughty collar made it colder than it should have been, and it's not as aero as some jackets out there.

Rate the jacket for durability:
 
8/10

No issues or concerns; material and stitching is robust and quality zips have been used.

Rate the jacket for waterproofing based on the manufacturer's rating:
 
7/10

It can resist some grim conditions and sustained light rain, but torrential rain will eventually make its way through.

Rate the jacket for breathability based on the manufacturer's rating:
 
7/10

Surprisingly good for a jacket this thick and warm.

Rate the jacket for fit:
 
3/10

Good sleeve and body length for full protection from the elements, but collar is baggy and lets the cold in. On me it also pulls across the chest and shoulders with excess material on the back of the shoulders and lower torso.

Rate the jacket for sizing:
 
6/10

I found it too big in some places and too small in others. My issue is with the fit rather than the sizing.

Rate the jacket for weight:
 
7/10

Quite heavy but the warmth matches this.

Rate the jacket for comfort:
 
5/10

For me, the pulling across the chest/front of shoulders lets this down. Roubaix fleece lining is soft and I found it comfortable with just a summer baselayer underneath.

Rate the jacket for value:
 
5/10

£130 is middle ground for a jacket like this; if the fit works for you then it's certainly worth considering.

How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?

Fine – I've followed the instructions and there's been no shrinkage or fading.

Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Windproofing and water resistance is good, material is capable even in typical British conditions and can be used from about 2-13°C depending on layering. For me, it's let down by the fit.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket

Material is good.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket

Draughty collar, and zip pocket not accessible while riding.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?

As mentioned in the review, £130 is middle ground for an insulated softshell jacket. You can find cheaper jackets for around £80, but there are also much more expensive ones out there. If the fit works for you then this is a very warm jacket, ideal for horrible conditions.

Did you enjoy using the jacket? At times.

Would you consider buying the jacket? No

Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? No

Use this box to explain your overall score

The SubZ jacket offers very good weatherproofing and visibility, the pockets are large and although I had a few niggles with the zippered one I'm still glad it's been included. My issue with the jacket lies with the fit: the baggy collar doesn't keep the cold out, and I also found the jacket too tight in places while having excess material elsewhere. If it suits your body shape it could be a very good option – but for me, the less-than-ideal cut reduces the overall score.

Overall rating: 6/10

About the tester

Age: 22  Height: 6ft  Weight: 74kg

I usually ride: Specialized venge pro 2019  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 5-10 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,

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