The aim of dhb's All Winter Softshell is to offer one jacket that can take you all the way through a winter season that can see temperatures range from below zero to double figures in the UK, and with additional layering for the worst conditions it has succeeded in meeting its goal.
While astrologers, weather forecasters and fashion designers might divide the year into four clear seasons (or more, in the case of those looking to take your money), as a cyclist I know that we can have days in February that feel like June, and days in June that feel like November. More specifically, the period between October and April (let's call it – and I'm looking at myself here – the lazy cyclist's off season) can throw temperatures at you ranging from -10 to +18°C.
To cope with that temperature range in the past required quite a good deal of kit, from which you would pick and choose on a given day. With recent advances in fabric and manufacturing technology, brands are looking ever more closely at delivering kit that can deal with whatever the season throws at you, and dhb looks to tackle winter with one jacket to take you through the timescale mentioned above.
Our elongated testing period took us from traditional deep winter into the early weeks of spring, and paired well with a good baselayer or long-sleeved jersey the dhb All Winter Softshell delivered comfortable riding on all but the very warmest days, when temperatures up into the teens would call for a regular jersey/gilet combo.
Made using a fleecy, grid-back softshell material, the All Winter manages to retain warmth with less bulk than you might expect, which of course aids all-important breathability. Where extra protection is needed across the chest and sleeves – the bits of your body that face the wind directly – that is provided by the use of warmer panels, while lighter weight, more breathable panels are placed under the arms to prevent overheating.
This construction works well, hitting a sweet spot of warmth, breathability and comfort that dealt with the 2-12-degree temperature range that dhb was aiming for. I found the underarm panels particularly useful in preventing overheating: there's not much need for weather protection here and it is an area of the body that generates a lot of heat. I'll never understand jackets and jerseys that don't employ a lighter fabric here.
The mix of fabrics also works well on the bike. The jacket is cut shorter at the front and longer at the back, with an excellent silicone gripper ensuring everything sits nicely in a riding position.
The sleeves are a good length for protecting arms stretched out on the hoods, and the laser-cut soft cuffs score well for comfort, practicality and style. There is enough stretch in the fabric to ensure the jacket moves with you when changing position, and while the fit is close there is plenty of room to add extra layers on colder days.
The jacket's lack of bulk also means it's easy to slip a lightweight, packable layer over the top in especially cold conditions. I did this with my ashmei Emergency Jacket on a few occasions; it made enough of a difference to stop me needing a thicker softshell in freezing conditions.
The collar is high enough to keep out the cold, and slim enough to slip a Buff over if you wish, while the robust YKK zip can be used to further regulate temperature if you do start to warm up.
Round the back you'll find a standard three-pocket setup, all of which are a good size, accommodating all I needed for four-hour rides. There's also a zipped valuables pocket on the hip, which I could fit my iPhone X in, but you might struggle with some bigger models. I don't think manufacturers can reasonably be expected to make pockets to take 'phablets', though, and apparently phones are going to start getting smaller again anyway...
The pockets feature reflective trim across the top and in the two outer, lower corners, plus there are reflective chevrons on the lower arms to aid side-on visibility. As this jacket is designed to be worn in what are likely to be low-light conditions, it's good to see dhb making the effort on visibility.
As usual for dhb, the All Winter Softshell is well priced but it does have competition – both from within the brand and without. dhb's Classic Thermal Softshell is cheaper at £85 but lighter, as is Rapha's Core Winter Jacket at £110 (down £10 since David tested it in 2017).
All in all, this is a fine winter jacket at a good price that balances everything a cyclist needs outside of the summer months – warmth, breathability, flexibility, visibility and, yes, style – to make a versatile package. From the looks of the construction and the way it has responded to washing, it will take you through several off-season cycles before it ever needs replacing, too.
Great choice for all but the very coldest days, and even then an extra-light jacket is usually all you'll need
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road.cc test report
Make and model: dhb Aeron All Winter Softshell 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?
dhb says: "dhb's most versatile winter softshell ever. The dhb Aeron All Winter Softshell Jacket combines three technical fabrics to provide a jacket focused on performing throughout the winter season"
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Suitable for a wide range of winter riding conditions between 2-12 degrees Celcius - Part of dhb's 'All Winter' wardrobe solution for winter
Combination of a lightweight, grid fleece-backed softshell fabric, with warmer panels in the areas you need extra protection
Breathable stretch panels under the arms
High-performance membrane for wind-proofing and water resistance
All fabrics have stretch for comfort and freedom of movement when riding
Three rear pockets plus easy access zipped side hip pocket
Full-length YKK zip with zip guard
Soft-touch, laser-cut cuffs for comfort
Reflective trims and logos on the front, back pockets and sleeves for increased safety in low light conditions
Silicone gripper on the waist for a secure fit
Back: 49% Polyester, 42% Nylon, 9% Elastane(Spandex)
Front: 53% Polyester, 37% Nylon, 10% Elastane(Spandex)
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
The jacket cleaned up well and kept its shape and performance after 30-degree washes, not that it ever got that filthy as I ride with mudguards.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The jacket kept me warm in single figure temperatures and worked well in fending off showers.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
Another stylish dhb product that provided excellent warmth without too much bulk and weight.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
That hip pocket might be a squeeze for those with bigger phones, if that's what you choose to store there.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It compares well on price but does have competition from within the brand and without: dhb's own Classic Thermal Softshell is cheaper at £85 but lighter, as is Rapha's Core Winter Jacket at £110. Endura's Pro SL Thermal Windproof II scored highly with us at a penny under £150, while dhb's heavyweight Deep Winter Softshell also scored well for the same price.
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
This is a stylish, comfortable and warm jacket that delivers on its promise to be able to take you from the colder days of autumn, right through the depths winter, to chilly spring outings.
About the tester
I usually ride: Genesis Equilibrium My best bike is: Look 585
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, The nursery run!