Meander's Nomad Bomber jacket offers a fashionable take on the urban cycling outer layer. However, with its strange waterproofing and poor breathability, it won't be for everyone. And don't mention the price.
Edinburgh-based Meander Scotland promises sustainable technical clothing 'for everyday adventures' and has an interesting range of carbon neutral men's and women's kit. Although the company only started in 2018 on Indiegogo with the original Meander jacket, the selection has grown to include trousers, T-shirts, sweatshirts and this Nomad Bomber jacket.
The Nomad is a curious garment, effectively soft to the touch, and made in Portugal from a luxury two-layer premium Italian wool with a recycled polyester, tencel and kapok lining. Kapok is a sustainable organic fabric that is naturally antibacterial and hypoallergenic, which might come in useful as the Nomad is dry clean only. Despite that woollen and part polyester construction, Meander claims the Bomber will protect you from the elements by being both waterproof and breathable. It also comes with a lifetime guarantee and you can send it back after 30 days risk-free if you don't like it.
Before we get to its technical abilities, it's worth saying that the outer fabric doesn't really feel like anything I've encountered before. As I mentioned, it's soft, but it has a slightly odd nature to it. The only way I can describe it is: a bit like fuzz-free felt. Anyway, it's perfectly comfy to wear.
Fit is good, too. The Meander website says the Nomad sizes up small but I tested an XXL suitable for 46-48in chests and it's plenty big enough for my 46-48in chest. There's good length in the arms, although – as is the nature of a bomber jacket – it's a bit short in the torso. It's not quite my personal style – I like a bit more body length in my jackets – but it's a nice alternative option.
The length at the back is augmented by a fold-down reflective flap. It's impressively visible but I would question the flap-up retaining system of two Velcro tabs.
With the hooked Velcro attached to the inner side of the flap, you'll have to be careful what kind of trousers you wear. If, for lord knows what reason, you've decided to rock the 'bomber jacket and bib-tights' look, be prepared for that Velcro to destroy your Lycra.
I recently tested the Pearl Izumi Rove Barrier jacket, which also has a drop-down reflective tail but with a much more sophisticated magnet retaining system, so no chance of Velcro-mageddon. The Meander option seems a little basic in comparison.
Otherwise, the Nomad is beautifully put together and does feel like a premium product. It's not hugely practical as a pure cycling jacket, with only one small poppered pocket at the inner chest and two open hip pockets, but that might be the price you pay for style.
On the bike, performance in the cold and dry is decent. The Nomad isn't exactly form fitting, so it catches the wind, and at 860g it's quite a hefty bit of kit. Insulation from chilly breezes is good, though.
With its wool construction, I had my doubts that the Nomad Bomber would be able to provide much water resistance, but in drizzle and showers it puts up a good fight with water beading on the surface. As soon as you get a concerted pelting, though, that outer fabric is liable to get soggy.
So it lets the water in, right? No, not exactly. Rather like the Chrome Storm Signal jacket I tested earlier in the year, the outer retains the damp but the liner doesn't let moisture reach you. I have to say, I'm not a fan – you still look like you're soaked, and after sucking up water, that 860g garment starts to weigh a fair bit more.
Incidentally, the collar and cuffs are proper wool so they therefore get properly wet, which is not a comfortable sensation while riding, or not-riding. And because the material is pretty thick, it doesn't dry too quickly either.
Possibly a bigger issue than environmental moisture, though, is self-produced sogginess. In terms of breathability, the Nomad's inner liner is rather poor. I've used it with layers; with just a T-shirt; and I even went out for a spirited stroll wearing only my most breathable baselayer underneath. Each time I returned home clammy with sweat.
Whatever qualities and misgivings I've had about the Nomad are put into even greater perspective – or perhaps become irrelevant – when you consider the price. At £245, this is a garment that is only going to interest a relatively small percentage of prospective buyers. Probably because of that niche appeal, there's not really much that's similar on the market.
If you're looking for a slightly more sporty and fitted take on the short jacket, my personal favourite is the £200 Vulpine Softshell Harrington – although it's not quite perfect in terms of weatherproofing, it has enough cycling-specific performance and off-bike style to be a daily jacket. Otherwise, the £220 Chrome Kojak Convertible Jacket can be converted from a long coat into a short (I'd say very short) jacket and is actually excellent in the wet.
In that company, the Meander Nomad falls a little short. It's an interesting option, it's very well constructed and if you really want a bomber jacket for riding in, you're not exactly spoiled for choice. But it's also expensive and, in terms of technical performance, it fails to deliver everything that it promises.
Interesting take on a bike-friendly bomber jacket let down by breathability and price
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Meander Nomad Bomber
Size tested: XXL
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?
This is a cycling friendly bomber jacket, aimed at the stylish urban rider. Meander says: "We designed the bomber for those with a sense of adventure looking for protection from the elements. The Nomad Bomber is made from a luxury wool 2 layer fabric that is waterproof and breathable. The breathable lining is made with recycled polyester, tencel and kapok - a sustainable organic fabric which is naturally antibacterial and hypoallergenic providing comfort and odour protection. There is a fold down reflective panel at the rear for cycling that can be folded down when needed and easily hidden when not required."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Outer: 60% Wool, 20% Polyester, Polyurethane
Lining: 55% Recycled Polyester, 25% Tencel, 20% Kapok
Waterproof rating: 5,000mm
Breathability rating: 51,000 g/m2/day
Dry clean only
Very well made.
Despite Meander's stated waterproofing and breathability ratings, performance wasn't as good as I'd hoped.
Feels well put together and comes with a lifetime warranty.
While you don't get wet, because the outer layer does soak in water it feels strange.
Despite trying everything with my other layers to enhance breathability, I've ended up sweaty every time I've used the Nomad during a bit of exertion.
Arm length is good. Body length is rather constrained by the bomber styling, although the flap-down rear helps.
Meander's website says it sizes up small, but I'd say it's on the money or even a little big.
Not particularly light – there's a lot of fabric here.
Very comfortable to wear – no complaints.
It's rather pricey, even compared to other high-end alternatives: the Vulpine Softshell Harrington is £200 while the Chrome Kojak Convertible Jacket is £220.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Dry clean only. Bit of a pain.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Windproofing was good. Waterproofing was good, but strange. Breathability was poor. Comfort was excellent, though.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
Warmth and comfort.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Price and breathability.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The £200 Vulpine Softshell Harrington isn't quite perfect in terms of weatherproofing, but does have enough cycling-specific performance and off-bike style to be a great daily jacket. Otherwise, the £220 Chrome Kojak Convertible Jacket can be converted from a long coat into a very short jacket and is actually excellent in the wet.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? No
Would you consider buying the jacket? No
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? No
Use this box to explain your overall score
To be fair, there's probably a good reason why bomber jackets and cycling aren't best bedfellows – they're a bit short and woolly for our uses. Meander has had a good crack at overcoming both factors but it doesn't quite work for me and, ultimately, the Nomad's technical performance is just too underwhelming.
About the tester
I usually ride: Islabikes Beinn 29 My best bike is: 25-year-old Dawes Galaxy
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: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb, Leisure