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The Le Col Pro Rain Jacket is a very good option for intense rides in biblical rain, with excellent waterproofing and good breathability. The fit wasn't quite right for me – perfect on the arms, shoulders and chest, a little baggy at the waist – but the long dropped tail is great when you're not running mudguards, and the bright orange colour is nice on a dull day. The price is quite good too, compared with others, though some are more packable.
Rain jackets are something that, in my opinion, should be invested in. If you can afford to, buy once and buy well – then you should have something that will last you a number of years, helping you through many a rainy mile.
Gore's C7 ShakeDry Stretch is the gold standard for me, but it does cost more than the Pro Rain Jacket. And while I don't think the Le Col matches the Gore for breathability, packability or (for me) fit around the waist, it does come in this orange colour. Combine that with the excellent waterproofing and this becomes a great option if you want a rain jacket that will add to your visibility.
A rain jacket's primary job is to keep cold rain from soaking you to the bone. I've been out in some incredibly heavy rain while using the Pro Rain Jacket and it's been doing its job very well. I've managed to stay completely dry – well, everything covered by the jacket has.
Le Col has used a three-layer fabric from ITTTAI for the jacket, and while I can't test its claim of being waterproof to a standard of 10,000mm, it has held off some huge downpours. Being a three-layer construction makes it thicker than the ShakeDry material. While we're here, I might as well talk care instructions: you'll need to zip it up, turn it inside out and wash on 30 degrees before tumble drying on a low heat. Do this and the waterproofness will stick around.
Staying dry from the outside is no use if a jacket turns into a sauna at the first sight of a hill. You'll be pleased to know that I put this to the test, smashing a few local 5 to 8-minute climbs at well above threshold. I hate going that hard at this time of year, so you're welcome! The jacket caused no excess sweating above what I'd usually expect, and when simply riding at a normal pace I found the breathability to be very good. I wouldn't say it's quite on a par with the C7, but that is absolute perfection.
There is a bit of stretch in the fabric, giving a brilliant fit around the shoulders, arms and chest. It's a very close fit, suggesting the jacket has been designed around racing where only a thin layer is worn underneath. The benefit of this is a distinct lack of flapping of material when riding at faster speeds. Even under the November rain some riders like to hammer along, so it'll interest those who want to retain some sort of aero performance when donning a jacket.
That said, considering the material's stretch, I'm slightly confused as to why the waist section is slightly looser. It might fit you perfectly, of course, but it's not an issue I usually have with jackets. Perhaps Le Col wanted to provide enough room under the tail for stuffed pockets, but the number of times that happens isn't, for me, enough to justify the baggier cut here.
Elsewhere, I found the fit very good, with a short front and long tail giving great rear end coverage.
The neck is brilliant – close enough to stop cold air and loads of rain getting down into the jacket, but not so close as to be restrictive.
There is also plenty of length in the sleeves, which means no gaps open up when wearing gloves.
At £240 the Le Col Pro Rain Jacket is one of the more affordable options at the premium end of the market. It's £40 less than the Gore C7 ShakeDry Stretch I keep banging on about, which is £279.99. That's a fair old chunk of cash extra, but I found the C7 a better fit around the waist, slightly more breathable and a bit more packable too. The Le Col is far better in terms of visibility though.
You can also throw Rapha's Pro Team Lightweight Rain jacket into the ring too, at £220. That gives you the Gore-Tex ShakeDry fabric, but without the stretch panels. For those of you who want a brighter design, it also comes in an EF pro team colourway for £240, the same price as the Le Col.
Overall, the Le Col is a very good jacket among a range of very good jackets. Which you go for will likely come down to the fit. If you can try the various options on, then you should. Certainly, if you want as aero as possible it's well worth considering.
Very good waterproofing and very visible, if not quite as packable or breathable as some
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Le Col Pro Rain Jacket
Size tested: Small
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?
Le Col says, 'The Pro Rain Jacket is born out of an obsession to make the ultimate rain jacket, form fitting, waterproof and breathable. The UK offers the perfect conditions for testing and refining all elements of this jacket, with countless hours spent on wet, windy, and testing conditions ensuring it lives up to the brief.
'Constructed from a 3 layer stretch fabric, the inner layer works to quickly move moisture away from your body, moving through the outer layers to keep you dry on the inside while the fully taped outer layer keeps water and wind firmly out. The magic is in the stretch construction, ensuring a form fit that moulds to your body like your favourite summer jersey, eliminating flapping as you fight your way through the challenging conditions the jersey was designed to excel in.
'With a shortened front zip designed for an aggressive riding position, the Pro Rain Jacket is perfect for riders who spend most of their ride pushing the pace. While the longer back with a dropped tail ensures full coverage and protection from road spray, even in an aggressive riding position. A high collar ensures no wind works its way down your back as you push on, keeping your temperature regulated.
'Single minded in its focus, this jacket is designed to excel in the worst conditions, keeping you performing at your peak while your competitors waste training days waiting for better weather to come their way. While designed to wear from the off, when conditions are set to remain wet and testing for the entirety of your ride the jacket also packs down to easily fit in your jersey pocket should conditions change, or conversely the perfect jacket to reach for as you crest a mountain pass and require extra protection as you descend off the back.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Le Col lists:
Fully waterproof, windproof 3Layer taped fabric
Stretch fabric for a tailored fit
Dropped tail for added protection at the rear
High collar to keep out the elements
I'd have expected to pick the small, I did, and it was pretty much bang on.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
It's fine. You just need to zip it up, turn it inside out and wash on 30°C before tumble drying on a low heat. Do this and the waterproofness will stick around.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well, kept me dry and happy.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
Yes, the waterproofing is much appreciated, but the fact that it comes in a nice visible colour is great.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
The fit around the waist was a bit loose.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's £20 more than Rapha's Pro Team Lightweight Rain jacket, but £40 less than Gore's C7 ShakeDry Stretch, and far cheaper than the Castelli Idro Pro.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes, I was very happy to be in it when the rain was pelting down.
Would you consider buying the jacket? No, it'd be the C7 for me.
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Yes, if they wanted visibility.
Use this box to explain your overall score
Le Col's Pro Rain Jacket is very good; its waterproofing is excellent, I really like the colour for visibility, and the breathability is impressive, even if it isn't quite as good as Gore's ShakeDry. Just check that the fit suits you.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Di2 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, I specialise in the Cafe Ride!