Pactimo's Men's Alpine Thermal Jacket packs a lot of warmth and windproofing performance into a lightweight package. Breathability is excellent, too, but the DWR coating didn't stand up to wetter weather and it took ages to dry.
If you're looking for a more weatherproof option, check out our guide to the best waterproof cycling jackets.
> Buy now: Pactimo Men’s Alpine Thermal Jacket for £180 from Pactimo
The Alpine Thermal Jacket falls into Pactimo's 'Cool Weather Collection', good for temperatures between 5 and 15°C, it says, though in testing, and with a good baselayer, I was comfortably warm on days when the thermometer never rose above -2°C.
The two key reasons are the built-in panels of Polartec Alpha insulation, a fuzzy liner which adds a lot of warmth but not much weight, and the excellent windproofing throughout. Pactimo doesn't tell us much about this outer fabric, other than that it's a 'stretch-woven' fabric and made from recycled materials. It looks good and seems snag-resistant; I wore it on some mountain bike rides through the winter brash and thorns and it came out the other side unharmed. Sticking to less undergrowth-heavy riding should see this jacket last years.
Pactimo describes the positioning of the thermal lining as 'Zone-application of fill', which is American for 'putting it in the right place'; that is, where you are most exposed to cold: across the chest, down the arms (top and most of the underside); across the shoulders and three-quarters of the way down the back, as far as the pockets. If I was designing this garment, I might have opted for less of the thermal lining down the underside of the arms, where I'm less likely to overheat, though I'm hardly going to complain about being too warm in -6 degrees!
The side panels are left unlined and have a grid of pinholes (lazer-perforated, apparently) up towards the armpits for added breathability, though it's difficult to separate their effectiveness from the generally excellent breathability of the overall garment. Even in fairly high-intensity activities I never felt like the jacket was collecting water inside, and the lining material also seems excellent at transferring any moisture. This matters particularly with this style of jacket, because you don't want to be taking it off as it won't fit easily into a jersey pocket.
The mid-height neck is also lined with Polartec Alpha, and fitted me closely enough to keep out draughts without throttling me, though I caught some skin in the zip a couple of times. That was despite the zip-pull port, which perhaps needs to be a tad bigger.
Otherwise, the YKK zip seems sturdy, with a mid-sized tab that I sometimes had to grope about for when wearing heavy gloves. It's a two-way zip, too, handy for accessing jersey pockets. The internal zip baffle kept all the draughts out.
Designed in Colorado, the jacket has been put together in China, and to a very high standard. All the outer panel stitching is tidy and tight, with a double row of stitching used here and there. Inside, the panel seams are mostly sewn flat, though not flatlocked. Wearing it without a baselayer I couldn't feel any lumpiness or rubbing against my skin, and with the excellent stretch and good length it was one of the most comfortable jackets I've tried.
At the waist, the hem is stretchy all round, and lined with a silicone strip which ensures a good, secure fit.
The cuffs are rather simple affairs, just elastic trapped inside a small hem. There wasn't much stretch and I found they wouldn't grip my thin wrists particularly well, and I also found it a pull to get them over the wrists of my thickest gloves.
The jacket comes in seven sizes for men and five for women. I fell somewhere between a medium (waist) and large (chest). The large size sent for testing fitted me well, though not particularly closely. Looking at the pictures on Pactimo's website, that's how it should be. I didn't mind this, because there was plenty of length in the sleeves and plenty of space inside for warm baselayers. I did notice, though, that when standing, the middle pocket at the back gaped a bit, and suspect a tighter waist may have helped with this.
Talking of pockets, the three elasticated ones are generous and there's a fourth, zipped pocket that's well concealed behind the right-hand one. There's a good long cord on this to pull on with gloved hands.
There's a smattering of reflective strips, either side of the pockets, on one breast and between the shoulders; also a flash on the sleeve which also bears the words 'COLD.DRY' – a reference to the kind of conditions this jacket excels in. It's unfortunate Pactimo doesn't play up this point in the website description, where it's more eager to talk about the C0 DWR Coating. This, it says, is a less environmentally harmful take on a water-repellent finish. Sadly, it doesn't seem to work as well either. On a cold, wet day between Christmas and New Year, I found the jacket wetted out within 20 minutes, and after an hour and a quarter was wet through. It also took several hours to dry.
Rebecca tested the women's cut and we reached similar conclusions, though she found the pockets too tight and I complained they were a bit slack...
Aside from this natty pale blue, the Alpine Thermal Jacket comes in a sage green and black. The blue is not particularly eye-catching; I imagine the green isn't either. Maybe a fluoro option for those who desire it would be a good addition.
At £180 this isn't the most expensive jacket we've tested on road.cc, but there are cheaper options that are also more weatherproof.
This winter, I also tested Pearson's very similar Test Your Mettle Road Cycling Insulated Jacket; this also has the Polartec Alpha lining and has a closer fit than the Pactimo. Its water repellence was much better, weight almost identical and it's £35 cheaper at £145.
The Albion Insulated Jacket 3.0 that Hollis tested last winter packs down smaller than the Pactimo, is even lighter and also had a reasonably effective DWR coating. It's slightly cheaper at £165.
Overall, I thought the jacket performed very well in some extremely cold weather, and I really liked the look. Personally, I'd be put off buying it by the fact that, even after spending £180, I'd still have to invest in something else for wet days. If you don't go out much in dirty weather, though, you might find it very much up to the job.
Excellent warmth, windproofing and breathability, but the wet weather performance is less impressive
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Make and model: Pactimo Men's Alpine Thermal Jacket
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?
Pactimo says: "The Alpine Jacket is a particularly versatile piece to have in your Winter kit and can be added on any number of layering options to provide a huge range of operable temperature. With zoned application of the Polartec®Alpha® Direct fill, there's insulation where you want but avoiding excessive overlapping of insulation like over back pockets.
For shoulder season chilly rides or for people who run cold, the Alpine Jacket is perfect over any number of lightweight jerseys and Alpine Thermal Bib Shorts. For deep-winter, frigid rides the Alpine Jacket can be layered over our Alpine Thermal Jersey and Alpine Thermal Bib Tight to provide a breathable but warm package."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Shell: Recycled, lightweight, stretch-woven fabric with C0 DWR coating.
C0 is a non-flourocarbonated chemistry that is far less harmful to the environment than traditional C6 or C8 DWR.
Insulation: Polartec® Alpha® Direct, a revolutionary insulation that is lightweight, compressible, fast-drying and excellent at regulating warmth.
Zoned-application of fill strategically insulates while not overheating.
Mid-height, Polartec® Alpha® Direct lined collar is soft and comfy.
Two-way, YKK Vislon zipper provides smooth, durable action and allows for ventilation from both the bottom and top, also allowing easy access to jersey pocket contents.
Zipper placket and zipper garage enhance comfort and wind resistance.
Three large pockets for all-day ride storage and a hidden security pocket with glove-compatible zipper puller.
360 reflective including two large reflective strips on the back pockets, reflective logos front and back.
Laser-perforated under-arms for increased moisture vapor transfer.
Low-profile, elasticized wrist fits under or over gloves.
Lightweight and breathable elastic gripper with silicone print to keep the Vest in place.
Rate the jacket for quality of construction:
Rate the jacket for performance:
This depends on how you use it. In cold, dry conditions it's excellent. In wet weather, it was wet through in about an hour, regardless of the water-repellent coating. On the whole, though, it performed very well in most of the conditions I tend to ride in.
Rate the jacket for durability:
The shell fabric, though thin, seems tough, and the Polartec lining is well protected.
Rate the jacket for waterproofing based on the manufacturer's rating:
My understanding is that Pactimo has used a DWR that contains no fluorocarbons, which are likely to be widely banned on environmental grounds. Garment manufacturers are scrambling to find alternatives. Judging by the performance of this one, there's a way to go.
Rate the jacket for breathability based on the manufacturer's rating:
Both the Polartec lining and the shell fabric were excellent at transferring moisture. One of the best jackets I've tried in this respect.
Rate the jacket for fit:
Good length in the arms, though the cuffs don't have much range of stretch, in my opinion. The body fit was comfortable rather than sporty.
Rate the jacket for sizing:
Slightly big for a large – more like a UK XL – but I probably wouldn't have sized down because I liked the sleeve length.
Rate the jacket for weight:
Light for the amount of warmth it delivers; it doesn't pack down particularly small.
Rate the jacket for comfort:
Very pleasant to wear, even against bare skin.
Rate the jacket for value:
Here's the problem: even at £180 you'll need another jacket for wet weather riding.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
I used Grangers Performance Wash in the hope it would help maintain the DWR coating. It had already had three washes before I got a proper soaking wearing this jacket, so either the coating didn't like being washed or it wasn't too great to start with.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The "COLD.DRY" motto on the sleeve suggests these are the conditions that this jacket is best in: even at well below freezing, and out on the Durham Moors in a snowy December, I was warm and, crucially, dry thanks to the excellent breathability. In wet weather, hmmm.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
Good body and sleeve length, warm, comfortable. Well cut and well put together. Excellent breathability.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Slightly slack middle back pocket (which may have been to the slightly loose fit). The DWR didn't keep the rain out for long.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?
This winter, I also tested Pearson's very similar Test Your Mettle insulated jacket; this also has the Polartec Alpha lining and has a closer fit than the Pactimo. Its water repellency was much better and it's £35 cheaper at £145.
The Albion Insulated Jacket 3.0 packs down smaller than the Pactimo, is even lighter and has a reasonably effective DWR coating. It's slightly cheaper at £165.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes, mostly.
Would you consider buying the jacket? No; too expensive for the limited range of conditions it's best in.
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Possibly
Use this box to explain your overall score
If you avoid riding in wet weather but enjoy cold, bright conditions you may very well love this jacket. The Polartec Alpha lining gives it warmth without bulk and doesn't compromise the excellent breathability. Windproofing is great, too, with well-sorted zip and baffles. It's comfortable to wear and, most of the time, I was very happy with the Pactimo. However, the water repellency is disappointing and I wouldn't want to have to buy another jacket to reserve for wet-weather use if I've already laid out £180 on this one.
Age: 57 Height: 6'2 Weight: 75kg and rising
I usually ride: Cannondale CAAD10 My best bike is: Tomassini Prestige
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,
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