Specialized's Deflect Jacket with SWAT is a lightweight windproof that's surprisingly good in the rain. It wouldn't be your first choice for proper wet conditions but if there's a shower or two in the offing, or you're starting or finishing when it's chilly, it's a useful extra layer.
The Deflect is a packable windproof, and the SWAT in the name tells you that it's designed to be used with Specialized's range of bikes with integrated SWAT storage. You probably don't have one of those, but no matter: there isn't masses of space in them, and so this jacket packs up pretty small. It's not the smallest I've seen, but it'll easily slip into a jersey pocket or frame bag.
The jacket has just one pocket, which doubles as the stuff sack. It's on the chest, and it's big enough for a smartphone.
The Deflect is mostly constructed from Pertex Quantum Air fabric, which is a lightweight ripstop nylon. The styling is pretty neutral; the reference to 'shredding singletrack' in the blurb on the Specialized website suggests it's aimed at mountain bikers but you could happily wear it for a commute, or for touring/bikepacking.
The cut isn't the best for more aggressive road riding, but you'd expect that given its remit. The L size was more or less spot on for me (1.89m, 93kg) and there's plenty of length in the arms.
There's a reinforced panel on each arm, some subtle reflective details front and back, and a hood designed to work under a helmet. And that's your lot.
The fabric has a bit of stretch to it, and it's comfy enough next to the skin. Pertex is generally pretty windproof, and that's the case here: it's not an absolute barrier but it's plenty good enough to take the sting out of the first chilly descent of a morning ride, or give you some shelter on an exposed mid-ride stop.
I don't normally set my expectations too high with jackets like this, and that way I'm not disappointed, but actually the DWR coating on the Deflect is pretty good. It survived a couple of rainy runs to the office with no leakage at all, and after that I gave it the hose treatment in the back garden. There was the odd bit of damp sneaking in along the seams and the front zip, but the wet-weather performance was quite a lot better than I'd anticipated. The hood works okay under a helmet (although I never feel particularly comfortable like that) and it's fine on its own too.
I found the breathability to be pretty good too. I'd be more likely to use this in a commuter setting, or maybe as a spare layer on an audax, so I wouldn't expect to be busting a gut while riding in it. If you were hoiking your bikepacking rig up a long off-road climb or something you might start to test its limits but for the most part I found myself comfortable enough; it could maybe do with a simple rear vent so you could crack the zip and get a bit of airflow going through.
Is this a useful jacket? Yes, it's a good option for dry days that start or finish cold, where you need an extra layer but don't want to carry anything bulky. It's also good on changeable days where you might need to throw on something to shrug off the rain for a bit. It's light, easy to carry, and effective.
Although £100 is a fair whack for a jacket that's not really a waterproof (even though it does a decent enough job of being one most of the time), you can certainly spend more: Ashmei's Emergency Jacket is £128, and Rapha's more road-specific Pro Team Shadow Jacket is better in the rain but costs twice as much. On the other hand, Decathlon's Van Rysel 900 Ultralight jacket is only £35; it's not as breathable but it covers a lot of the same ground the Deflect is covering here.
Overall, I've enjoyed using the Deflect jacket for the more upright cycling I do. It's a genuinely useful emergency layer that's more waterproof than I expected. It's not one for the proper wet days but in changeable UK conditions you're likely to get plenty of mileage out of it.
Good lightweight, packable outer layer for more upright riding
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Specialized Deflect Jacket with SWAT
Size tested: Large
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?
Specialized says, 'Your relationship with the weather forecast can be touch and go. Sometimes the forecast is right, but often times, not so much. And for when the weather doesn't want to cooperate, there's the Deflect™ Jacket with SWAT™.
'Pertex Nylon was used for its breathability and wind resistance, and with a DWR coat, it's also water-resistant. To add to its mountain capability, we've added abrasion-resistant panels to the arms of the jacket, so it won't rip or tear easily when you're shredding singletrack.
'Unlike many of our other SWAT™ products, this jacket doesn't house a myriad of pockets. Instead, it has one - simple and clean. While it may seem like a normal stuff pocket, it's actually been designed in a rectangle shape to fit into the down tube of our SWAT™-equipped bikes.
'The Deflect™ Jacket with SWAT™ is sure to be your go-to variable weather jacket, both on and off the bike.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
The Deflect™ jacket uses lightweight Pertex® Quantum Air fabric engineered to offer wind and water resistance with best-in-class breathability for hard efforts.
Minimal bulk and a built-in pocket helps it fit into any pocket, pack, or bike equipped with SWAT™.
Pertex® nylon fabric is coupled with a DWR treatment to protect against water.
Abrasion panels are designed to protect the jacket through the toughest trail conditions.
Under helmet integrated scuba hood with fixed elastic binding creates added protection with the perfect fit.
Fabric Content: MAIN BODY: 100% Nylon with DWR, OTHER: 85% Nylon, 15% Spandex
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Best to wash with a technical fabric detergent to preserve the DWR coating.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Pretty well – a good emergency layer for on-off use.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
The waterproofing is more effective than similar jackets I've tried.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
It's a bit on the pricey side, and it's a shame there aren't more pockets.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Some (Rapha, Ashmei) are considerably more expensive, some (Decathlon) are considerably cheaper.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes
Would you consider buying the jacket? Maybe
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Overall, it's good. It's not especially great value but it's a useful packable layer that will certainly get some use.
About the tester
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Kinesis Tripster ATR, Merida Scultura, Dward Design fixed
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.