The ETC Arid Force 10 Rain Jacket is a competent and well-conceived waterproof for commuting and/or newer riders on a budget. It's genuinely waterproof, and breathability has kept pace on middle distance commutes at a steady 16-17mph. The slightly relaxed cut means it will also double as a walking and general outdoor jacket.
You gets what you pays for, and typical of this price point we have a polyester shell. Panels are a mix of fluoro yellow and retro-reflective, which means it'll stand out in dull, overcast conditions and along pitch black roads. There's also a tab around the back for mounting an LED.
Detailing elsewhere is standard enough. A fleece collar is designed to sit flush against the neck, preventing rain and chill from creeping inside. A long drop tail protects the lower back, and cuff straps achieve a reliable seal between gloves and sleeves. Inside, mesh netting serves to retain welcome warmth while assisting wicking and protecting the shell from premature wear.
Breathability is cited as being 10,000g/sqm, which is pretty much the going rate for this end of the market. I'd suggest looking towards 15,000g/sqm or higher if you really want to blast along/race others on your commute. Thankfully, there are ventilation panels should conditions rule out dropping the zipper slightly.
Pockets are plentiful and sensibly proportioned. There are four in total: the classic poacher at the rear, two at the hip for parking the hands when mooching around, and a chest pocket capable of swallowing a wallet or compact camera.
Zipper tags are decent lengths too – the sort easily opened and closed wearing full finger gloves and while riding at a reasonable pace.
It's a looser cut than many, but the drawstrings mean it's easily adjusted for a more tailored fit. There's ample room for a long-sleeve baselayer and middleweight long-sleeve jersey beneath, although it was slightly closer around the shoulders than I'm used to.
On the bike, there was no bunching, gathering, or restriction when alternating between tops, hoods and drops. I'm short in the torso, so wasn't surprised to find the tail offered ample coverage from gusty wind and rain (although obviously, full length mudguards go a long way to preventing this). And no issues with the front getting caught on the noses of saddles either.
The sleeves are similarly sensibly proportioned, offering decent defence from blustery showers, especially when hunkering low on the drops, and the adjustable tags mean they can be tailored to suit different glove cuff types.
I've also noted that the nylon LED mount is correctly aligned, so lights are positioned optimally, though heavier/bigger models such as Moon's Shield X Auto tend to bob about a bit, while something like Niterider's Sabre 50 was unobtrusive, in the best possible sense.
No worries on the waterproofing front: I've been belting along through two to three hours' persistent rain and it's stayed firmly on the outside, beading up and rolling away.
A sudden dip in temperature towards the end of April meant a return to long sleeve base and mid layers. For the first 20 minutes riding at 18mph there was that familiar misty glow around the armpits, back and chest, after which the fabric 'woke up' and began chucking it out. In milder weather, say mid-teens, and with short sleeved base and mid-layers, the dampness is more palpable, though I've never felt boiled in the bag on a 20-mile loop, averaging 17-18mph.
Thanks to the fit, there's been no annoying flutter when the wind's gathered momentum, and the shell fabric has done an excellent job of insulating against some raw, early morning chill and crosswinds.
The jacket's very straightforward to care for, given the materials – it's simply a case of doing up the zippers and popping in the wash at 30 degrees with minimal detergent when it starts looking and smelling a bit 'lived in'. In common with fluoro jackets generally, oily/grimy patina tends to build up around the cuffs and sleeves. The majority will shift given a gentle pre-washing agent, but inevitably there's a fine layer that clings on.
Organic muck just disintegrates and, thus far, the ETC has emerged looking and smelling refreshed. Bargain on a few hours to dry at room temperature (90 minutes on the line) before flinging it on again – and dodge the drier.
There's not much direct, level-pegging comparison at this price point, although something like Altura's Nevis waterproof jacket offers a similar specification for a tenner less. I'm still using the Nevis III a few years down the line.
Ultimately, the ETC Arid Force 10 is hardly cutting edge but it's a competent and well-executed commuter/starter jacket for those on a tight budget. Cut, sizing and features are all favourable, and it seems genuinely waterproof, though some armpit vents wouldn't go amiss for those milder/wetter/changeable commutes.
Competent budget commuter jacket with some nice touches
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road.cc test report
Make and model: ETC Arid Force 10 Rain Jacket Yellow
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?
ETC says, "Designed to keep the worst of the Elements at bay. Combining Style, Practicality, and Reflectivity, the ETC Arid Jacket range has been conceived with Riders' comfort and safety in mind."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
* Weatherproof with Reflective Panelling
* 10000g/sqm*24hr Breathability
* Seam Sealed for added Waterproofing
* Deep Tail Splashguard Protection
* Adjustable Cuffs
* Elasticated Waist Band
* Fleece Lined Inner Collar
* Reflective Zipper
* Rear, Side and Chest Pockets
* Mesh Inner Liner
* Rear Vent
* Light Loop for attaching small rear Light
* Machine Washable
Seems generally solid.
Overall performance is reassuringly good by price point standards. It's more waterproof than breathable, but by the same token I've not felt "boiled in the bag" on quicker-paced outings. Smaller detailing is also better than I've come to expect from this end of the market.
Has kept 2-3 hours' persistent rain at bay.
Breathability doesn't rival the waterproofing, especially when temperatures climb to the mid-teens. Nonetheless, it does a reasonable job of maintaining a comfortable inner climate.
Reasonable and still allowing scope for layering or casual clothing on shorter commutes.
Medium was more precise end than I've come to expect. Check the returns policy or try before you buy if you fall between sizes or are unusually proportioned.
Breathability lags behind waterproofing but the fabric does a good job of blocking chill winds and I've never felt uncomfortably clammy at a moderate pace. The back offered good defence against rain and spray (although full-length mudguards/similar features certainly help) and I've never felt restricted when alternating between tops, hoods and drops.
Some nice detailing sets it apart from otherwise very similar competition.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very straightforward. Draw up the zippers, pop in the washing machine at 30 degrees with minimal detergent. Organic grime and spatter vanish without trace, though an oily patina tends to cling to the shell's texture and fade, rather than disappear altogether. Not unusual, especially with fluoro colours.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, it's a competent commuter jacket with some nice detailing. Performance in terms of waterproofing/breathability is reasonable and typical of the price. Waterproofing is better than breathability but it does a reasonable job of expelling rider-generated heat, at moderate paces. Pockets are plentiful and sensibly proportioned, and the cut also makes a reasonable transition to walking/general outdoor use, should you upgrade later on. Detailing – zipper tags, LED tab and so on are also better than I've come to expect from budget models.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
Pockets and other small yet significant detailing.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Nothing really stands out, given the price point and design brief. That said, armpit vents would be welcomed.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?
There's not much direct, level-pegging comparison at this price point, although something like the Altura Nevis offers a similar specification for a tenner less. I'm still using the Altura Nevis III a few years down the line.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Pleasantly indifferent.
Would you consider buying the jacket? No
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Worth considering if they were commuting/starting out and on a tight budget.
Use this box to explain your overall score
Competent commuter jacket with unremarkable technical specification, but superior detailing than I've come to expect from budget/base models.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
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: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)