The Donda Torrential Jacket is a very likeable, useful outer shell for cold and wet rides. Though only 'water resistant' rather than waterproof – and lacking any DWR treatment – it keeps you comfortable in persistent rain, and breathes well enough to keep you happy on dry rides too. Though I personally love this bright orange version, it has a few unfortunate issues the black one won't.
First things first: read Donda's size chart and trust what it says. I started in my usual medium as I'm never a small in anything (I'm 6ft 1in with a 39in chest), but Donda's sizes are basically one step away from the majority.
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The guide says the small fits 38-40 chests – typically size medium measurements – and the guide is right. If you usually wear a small, however, there's unfortunately no XS to cater for you.
Finding jackets that aren't just either blend-with-the-hedges black or please-don't-kill-me fluoro yellow can be a bit of a mission, so I love this one: for me the orange and black is both stylish and noticeable. The large silver logos and stripes look cool while being highly reflective, too.
Inevitably that bright fabric shows stains, but the problem is it darkens when wet – and your sweat leaches out through the seams. Obviously rain will hide this, but on dry days it's unsightly. Worse still, the sweat marks remain once it's dried out.
Combine this with an eagerness to retain smells and you're washing this after every ride (it comes up like new at 30°C, at least). Donda says the fabric is 'anti-bacterial', and the pits do seem okay if you bravely get in there and sniff (testing isn't all glamour, you know...), but something in this jacket somewhere is one of the smellier synthetics.
The stained seams presumably wouldn't be visible on the black version, and it does at least have those impressive reflectives to help get you noticed, so that might be the better option for some.
Here comes the rain
Donda doesn't list any DWR coating to protect the jacket. Nevertheless, I found it stays warm and comfortable even in persistent rain, and I felt dry and protected even when I wasn't.
Presumably its decent warmth (at 10°C it's fine over a thin long-sleeve base), strong windproofing and effective breathablility are behind that; any dampness just feels like sweat, and you're warm in there. The fabric doesn't hold on to much water and feel heavy or soggy either, though it can get a bit that way across the rear pockets.
You get the usual three – made from a thin and stretchy fabric – and they work well, though the top seam is not elasticated. On the size small they felt secure enough for me, but in the larger size they tended to gape open a little and didn't fill me with confidence.
The vertical zip on the right actually leads to a huge inside pocket the size of all three outer ones, and it's presumably this double layer of mesh-like fabric, plus the outer pocket fabric, that holds the extra moisture and weight.
Even this isn't really a big deal, though, and somehow both my phone (in a case) and a Buff came out of this pocket after an hour of rain with just the tiniest sense of dampness to them. I know that sounds weird, but there it is...
To recap, this has no water-repellent coating and no taped seams, but Donda's 'water resistant' (not waterproof) claim is fair and it feels comfortable and protective even when rain gets in. Also, the inner pocket fabric has an almost mesh-like weave which is exposed to your body heat and moisture, but somehow seems to keep things pretty dry. I can only assume the fast-wicking, breathable and quick-drying nature of the main fabric is behind this – the humidity isn't hanging around and building up.
The cut is great with a good long tail, slim and glove-friendly cuffs on the neat sleeves, and a high 'race-fit' neck that's great for sealing out dripping water. On the downside there's just a bit too much fabric from the upper chest to the bottom of the neck, and it can sag a bit.
I also found myself wishing for a zip garage as I found this uncomfortable done all the way up, only to realise it actually has one. It just doesn't pad the metal enough. If you drop the zip a couple of centimetres it does stay put, at least, and the heavy taper of the neck means it's still well sealed.
Most of the similar jackets we've tested recently have been considerably more expensive – in fact, many winter jackets with no water resistance at all cost more.
The Specialized Men's RBX Softshell Jacket I tested recently is £150, for instance, and although it's warm, windproof, and breathable, the relaxed cut won't suit everyone – and it's got nothing if it rains.
The NVPA Storm Jacket is absolutely brilliant against rain and wind while also being very breathable, but then at £240 it flipping well ought to be. Plus it only comes in black with zero reflectives.
> Buyer’s Guide: 55 of the best winter cycling jackets
The Sportful Fiandre Pro Medium Jacket is both wind and water-resistant, and in red it's pretty striking too (if lacking in serious reflectives), but it, too, has gone up to £240.
The Assos Mille GT Winter Jacket Evo is barely less expensive at £225, and it lacks any zipped pockets.
For simple and packable waterproofing there's the Altura Nightvision Hurricane jacket, which is actually pretty capable under duress, though that's still more than the Donda at £140 rrp.
The Torrential is not without flaws – and arguably for truly torrential rain you'd want an actual waterproof – but if you're happy with black, the most visible ones are easily solved. Its performance and versatility are impressive, and the price is good. Just make sure to check Donda's size charts first.
Ideal for a lot of UK winter riding and attractively priced
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Make and model: Donda Torrential Jacket Orange
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?
Donda says: "A new premium all-weather Jacket set for multiple conditions. The Jacket is constructed with a thermal inside layer, whilst the water resistant and windproof outer layer protects you on those wet and winter rides."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Three section load bearing pocket
Easy-stick lining on sleeves and base
Reactive extra-stretch sleeve
Rate the jacket for quality of construction:
Solid build with a pleasing attention to detail.
Rate the jacket for performance:
Warm, protective and comfortable whether it's raining or not.
Rate the jacket for durability:
Rate the jacket for waterproofing based on the manufacturer's rating:
It's water resistant rather than waterproof, but the key thing is it stays warm and comfortable when wet.
Rate the jacket for breathability based on the manufacturer's rating:
Rate the jacket for fit:
It's generally very good, though a little baggy on me across the upper chest/lower neck.
Rate the jacket for sizing:
It's true to Donda's chart, but Donda's small is like most people's medium (and there's nothing smaller).
Rate the jacket for weight:
Rate the jacket for comfort:
Rate the jacket for value:
Plenty of winter jackets with no ability to deal with rain cost more.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Washes up well, but needs it after every ride. At least there's no DWR to wear away.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well – it's perfect for those cold days where it's neither guaranteed bone dry nor hammering down incessantly (most days, then).
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
It's well made, comfortable, versatile, attractive and a good price.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
The odd approach to sizing won't please the petite, the upper chest/lower collar fit is slightly off, and the seams leach sweat – which leaves stains.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Most of the similar jackets we've tested recently have been considerably more expensive – in fact, even winter jackets with no water resistance are typically well over £100.
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
If this was in the same £100+ range as its competition, the issue with sweat darkening the seams – alongside the lack of smaller sizes – would make it an overall seven. But it's considerably cheaper than many jackets with less versatile performances, and the black version still has impressive reflectives for visibility; the unsightliness issue can be worked around. Its quality, performance and usefulness combine with the attractive price to make it an eight.
Age: 48 Height: 183cm Weight: 78kg
I usually ride: Vitus Zenium SL VR Disc 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: general fitness riding, mtb,
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