There's much to like about the Nalini Ergo Shield Jacket, a race-fitting garment with distinctive looks that offers technical performance as well as style. It's (fairly) light for the warmth – Nalini rates this jacket for use from -3 to 5°C, and that feels about right, although with a lightweight wicking baselayer I could see myself using it well into spring for lighter and shorter rides. There's certainly sufficient ventilation for warmer days, generously zippered under the arms, and a couple of vented flaps on the back and one on the front, and I'm not beyond riding with the front zip at half-mast.
For more options, check out our guide to the best winter cycling jackets.
> Buy now: Men’s Ergo Shield Jacket - Black for £171.50 from Occhio
I think the temperature had just snuck into the negative when I took the Ergo Shield out for its first ride, and I was delighted to find I was toasty. In that bitter and dry, biting cold that you can feel in your chest as you breathe, I was plenty warm enough on my torso. Most significantly, I didn't feel the chill of the rapidly moving air.
I actually noticed the chill only because I felt it on my knees; the Nalini was succeeding where my old tights were failing me, not in the warmth quotient, but in the wind resistance. I only discovered on my return that Nalini gives it a 5 out of 5 for wind resistance (and thermal insulation), and this is worth highlighting.
In performance fabrics, there's a push and pull relationship between insulation and breathability, (and between transpiring/wicking and waterproofing). The Ergo Shield Jacket does indeed shield you from the wind, but gives up some breathability in the trade-off.
In the cold, I was delighted to have such robust wind-resistance and found strategic zip management was more than enough to maintain a warm but unclammy torso.
Fabric & feel
The jacket outer is made from 97% polyester and 3% elastane, and it has Nalini's proprietary Manto DWR coating. The outer feels quite definite, quite structured, and there was a surprising amount of (very) firm elasticity to the jacket.
The top surface is that familiar texture I most associate with treated neoprene, though the fabric is substantially less weighty, and there's the unmistakable texture to it of a bonded multi-ply that's sandwiching a water-resistant/transpiring membrane. It doesn't have that distinctive crackling of a rain shell, but you can hear there's some sort of clever ply unseen between the fabrics. (The second one in the vid below.)
I was really pleased with its cold weather performance; the wind-breaker effect to me is the most significant thing I look for in warm cycling gear, and the Nalini was excellent.
Waterproofing & wicking
The other balance it's necessary to strike is between waterproofing and wicking/transpiring. The holy grail here is to do both consummately, but, in reality, like with breathability versus insulation, there are compromises to be made.
The jacket's shoulder seams are taped, though not the rest of them, and as well as the water-resistant membrane, Nalini also uses a DWR treatment, as I said above. This kept a little pool of water beaded up and prevented it from being absorbed into the fabric. DWR treatments degrade with age, use and washing, so you're getting a surface chemical water repellent rather than a structural one.
It didn't really rain in the cold snap we've been having, so in the interests of science, I donned the jacket and headed for my shower. While the jacket kept out the small pool of water sitting on it admirably, in the driving deluge of a power shower, it was overcome and the fabric became waterlogged quite quickly. To be fair, it did provide reasonable protection to this very harsh test, and the membrane kept the majority of the water from passing through. My front was kept almost bone dry while hunched over in a riding position, despite water pouring over it, but there are points of entry – the neck, the sleeves, and the back vents – where water under pressure noticeably (and as expected) made its way in.
Nalini says it's water-resistant, rather than waterproof, and this is an important distinction with which I'd concur. The combination of the DWR coating and the internal membrane means on damp days, or if it starts spitting while you're riding, you'll be kept dry and warm, but if it starts to drive with pressure and angle, water will find a way in. For these situations, it will not replace a rain shell.
I have to say, to me this doesn't count against it one iota. I didn't expect it to be any more waterproof than it was, and my criteria in a winter jacket are more skewed to warmth, wicking and breathability. Still, in the interest of completeness, it's worth noting the limitations of the jacket.
There's a nice attention to detail in the jacket, and flourishes as befitting such an expensive product.
There are vents aplenty, the YKK zips used are the gold standard in terms of function and durability, and they're conspicuously well integrated with a 'garage' both top and bottom.
Furthermore, the zip itself is backed by a lovely soft synthetic material to prevent snags and chafe, and there are more soft fabrics at the neck and cuffs for the same purpose.
It also has the ’standard’ three pockets on the back, with two further small pockets cut into the outer surface of the left and right one. The small pockets are the perfect size for a gel or a bar.
The outer material of the pockets is reflective, and there’s a thoughtful mesh on the bottom so that any condensation on your bottles runs down and out of the pockets (or evaporates in the airflow), rather than pooling on your lower back.
The pockets themselves were retentive, and aided by the firm elasticity of the of the jacket material.
It is a good, perhaps very good cold-weather jacket, but Nalini is elbowing its way into the well-populated top tier of premium cycling here, and there's a fair bit of choice from premium brands who all do similar black and white winter jackets.
Rapha, Assos, Castelli and Le Col all include a version, and there are a couple of notable, if hard to quantify, differences: Rapha uses Gore-Tex, as does Castelli, and Le Col uses Polartec, both dependable giants in tech-fabric space. Assos uses its own proprietary waterproof membranes too, but there are two of them in its jacket, and the company has built such a technical reputation that the specifications read like a scientific abstract.
Nalini is something of an outlier here, at full rrp (though it is currently on sale). Yes, it's cheaper than the Assos (£300) and the Castelli (£320), but it's more expensive than the Rapha (£220) and only £15 less than the Le Col (£260), and without the 'big-name' technical fabrics to fall back on. It seems, much like its Campagnolo countrymen, it's competing not merely on price or performance, but appealing to the Italophiles who'll adore the increased rarity, and perhaps even smile at the quirks.
Fit & looks
The final points to discuss are completely subjective: the fit, and the aesthetics.
Being on the broader side, cycling clothing for me is particularly troublesome, and as Nalini itself states, the racing fit is very square, and it was very tight across my shoulders. I think it's a little more aggressive even than the Rapha pro team fit; perfection for me would have been a half size larger than my 'normal'.
Noticeably, the fabric is cut asymmetrically to give it shape. The arms at rest reach forward with a natural bend in the elbow, rather than hanging loose, and it's obviously cut longer at the back, and has a pre-formed roundedness to the lower back to help with the curve, and a grippy silicone strip keeps it from riding up.
As for the aesthetics: I love the look of a stealth black jacket, and it's clearly popular as evidenced by its ubiquity amongst the brands. And you do get reflectives – as well as the rear suite of pockets, the logo is reflective, as are the stripes across the shoulder for oncoming traffic.
All in all, it's a well-made and refined bit of kit that's warm and as windproof as that third little piggy's brick house. The fit is aggressive and race-orientated which might suit your build, and the aesthetics will appeal, or they won't. At full rrp, perhaps it seems over-priced when stacked up in the competitive market of stealth black winter jackets, though at sale price it's a good buy and benefits from lack of ubiquity. But let's face it, this is the Campagnolo of clothing, and no one buys Campag for value.
Expensive, but refined and well made, with nice detail flourishes, and really warm and windproof
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Make and model: Nalini Ergo Shield Jacket - Black
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?
Clearly aimed at the affluent, niche-loving Italophile. Claimed -3 to 5 degree weather suitability, which seems right. Nalini claims it's water-resistant rather than waterproof, and this echoes my findings. I found it plenty warm enough in the recent cold snap that edged into the negatives, but didn't take it out beyond its suggested lower 'limit'. I was also not too hot riding in 9 degrees, and zip management was enough to keep me cool.
Nalini says: "The Ergo Shield Jacket is a superbly engineered ergonomic winter jacket that creates a full shield thanks to the 3 layers of fabric that protect the rider from the cold, wind and humidity."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Triple-ply proprietary material sandwiching a breathable membrane. Very warm, soft finishings where it'll contact your skin, and a clever asymmetrical cut to give it a forward leaning pre-formed cycling position.
Transpiration is facilitated by two openings on back and two with zip in the underarm area. These 4 openings allow ventilation and consequently the drying and transpiration of sweat. Ventilation can be modulated by opening when climbing and closing them in downhill descents. This jacket allows you to be out on a bike also with temperatures that go from -3°C to 5°C.
Nalini has also created 2 extra pockets on top of the three standard rear pockets, so with 5 pockets available the rider has at hand all what he needs without having to reach the pockets of a jersey or bibtight
Reflective fabric on pockets and reflective logos ensure high visibility.
* Ergonomic jacket in 3L fabric, membrane and fleeced inside
* Full-length reverse cam-lock zipper YKK® with inner windproof flap and zipper garage
* Water and stain-repellent fabric at cuff
* 2 Adjustable zippered underarm ventilation openings, plus two ventilation openings with flap on back
* 5 back pockets obtained d by multiple layers of fabric and the 2 opening that are also a graphic element
* Reflective fabric at pockets and reflective logos
* Elastic band with silicone gripper at bottom hem
* Below the pockets there is 3D mesh for water flow in heavy rain
Treatments * MANTO D.W.R.
Membrane * MANTOTEX
Suggested temperature (°C) from -3° to 5°
Rate the jacket for quality of construction:
Very well made, but its own fabrics lack the reassuring brand recognition of big names like Gore-Tex and Polartec.
Rate the jacket for performance:
Very good if you value warmth and windproofing over absolute waterproofing.
Rate the jacket for durability:
Feels sturdily constructed and well made.
The DWR coating (like all DWR coatings) will degrade over time. It can be reapplied, but I was not able to test its absolute longevity in the test period, though it stood up well to soakings and washings, and dried very quickly.
Rate the jacket for waterproofing based on the manufacturer's rating:
Nalini is fair here. This is not a waterproof jacket, and it's not advertised as such. It is water resistant. The shoulder seams are taped, but the others are not, though I found the water entry points were actually in the neck and cuffs more than they were through the fabric or seams.
Rate the jacket for breathability based on the manufacturer's rating:
On the scale of breathable to windproof, this is more towards the windproof end. This is exactly what I would expect and look for in a jacket, and I'm more than happy to manage breathability with zip usage.
Rate the jacket for fit:
If you're broad shouldered, or the silhouette of a sprinter rather than a climber, you might be uncomfortable in Nalini's racing fit without going up a size...
Rate the jacket for sizing:
Rate the jacket for weight:
Packs a punch in terms of warmth per gram. Very pleasing.
Rate the jacket for comfort:
Rate the jacket for value:
It's around the same price (more than some, less than others) as competing brands, but without the big-name technical fabrics behind those. To some, there's great value in the exclusivity of the name, and perhaps there's a 'value' component to that too.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Synthetic fabrics are unfazed by washing, it's just the DWR coating that will deteriorate. This suffered no worse than expected. It dried very quickly from the washings and the repeated soakings.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
A very windproof, quite waterproof, very warm jacket, with lovely attention to detail. I tend to avoid riding in the rain, so for me, Nalini has hit what it's aimed at.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
Premium feeling jacket.
Some rarity to the brand.
Design and material flourishes.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Fit for me was not ideal. A fault with my shape rather than the jacket, though.
Perhaps petty and entirely subjective, but I didn't love the "Where's Your Finish Line?' that adorns the left arm. It feels a little twee to me.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?
At sale prices this is an expensive jacket, at full rrp I think it’s too expensive, even with the lovely expensive flourishes. As Dave’s extensive guide to the best winter cycling jackets proves, you can get a jacket that’s going to be nearly as ‘good’ for less than half the price. The dhb jackets leap to mind. What we’re talking about with the Nalini, is the marginal gain/performance that a lot of extra money buys you.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes
Would you consider buying the jacket? No, purely based on fit for me.
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Technically, this jacket is competitive if not standout. But a lovely feel doesn't fully justify the high price. The Nalini name has a lot of weight to shoulder in justifying the price.
Age: 45 Height: 177 Weight: 95
I usually ride: Custom titanium gravel My best bike is:
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, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
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