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The Specialized/Fjällräven Thermo Anorak is the item of bikepacking gear you never knew you needed. Super warm, lightweight and turns into a pillow, it's an incredible piece of kit if you're doing the sort of adventuring where it's appropriate. But it's extremely expensive and decidedly niche – perhaps a bit too niche for our best cycling gilets buyer's guide.
If year-round bikepacking and adventuring are your thing, then a packable thermal layer such as the Specialized/Fjällräven Thermo Anorak could be a godsend for rest stops or for when the mercury really drops while you're riding.
It's made from lightweight, silky polyamide fabric, and filled with a polyester insulating material.
There's an insulated hood, press stud-fastening neck, a zipped kangaroo-style front pocket that the jacket packs into and a drawstring at the hem to cinch it in. Counter-intuitively, the sleeves are short and quite loose.
Designed as part of the Specialized/Fjällräven adventure/urban collaboration, this definitely sits more naturally at the adventurous end of that spectrum. You could pack it into a work bag for chilly commutes, but with its short sleeves and quite loose smock style, it looks more in place at a wild camping spot or beside a bonfire than when you're popping to the supermarket after work.
It packs down very easily into its front pocket (which also has an internal mesh sleeve pocket for a mobile phone) but the resulting package is better suited to a pannier, rucksack or roomy tail pack rather than a rear pocket or compact saddle bag. However, the package does work well as a pillow, which makes it ideal for adventurous overnights.
It was incredibly quick and easy to put on, pulling over the top of whatever kit I already happened to be wearing thanks to the roomy unisex fit (the size Large worked well for me as a roomy option for my high-street 14-16 frame) and short sleeves.
This meant that it quickly became a favourite for longer rides where I had some sort of bag with me, as a cosy rest-stop layer that kept out the elements long enough for a pause, and it also dried very quickly.
Cinching in the drawstring at the bottom kept draughts out, and the hood was cosy too, with its high collar. It was easy to keep it on when riding too, on those occasions where I'd overestimated the temperatures.
I'd have liked some sort of soft lining to the kangaroo pocket, though, to increase its usefulness as a handwarmer pocket.
At this price, there's no ignoring the fact that the Specialized/Fjällräven Thermo Anorak is definitely a premium piece of kit. Of the insulated jackets we've tested, only the mega-versatile MAAP Equip Primaloft Down Jacket came in more expensive when George tested it, at £250.
Others like the Stolen Goat Olive Women's Adventure Down Jacket that Anne reviewed, has versatile zip-off sleeves and costs £160, and the much more compact Albion Insulated Jacket 3.0 that Hollis tested is a fiver more than that at £165.
That said, none of these options – which are jackets rather than pullovers – are quite as adventure-focused as the Specialized/Fjällräven Thermo Anorak, which aims to live up to the wilderness pedigree of the Fjällräven brand and looks the part too.
When compared with some of the other insulated options available, this does feel like a lot of money, but if you have the dosh and you want to really feel like an adventurer, while also having a handy pillow option along for the ride, the Specialized/Fjällräven Thermo Anorak is well made, does just what it sets out to do and does it well, and is a very handy piece of kit for adventurous longer rides. Though for this quite hefty price, I'd have liked a soft lining to the kangaroo pocket.
A warm and effective outer layer for adventurous rides but very expensive. A cosy lining to the pocket would have been good
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Specialized/Fjällräven Thermo Anorak
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?
Fjällräven/Specialized says: "Optimized for long bike rides as a reinforcement layer for both men and women
Unisex fit. Part of the Fjällräven/Specialized series for urban rides and bikepacking adventures."
However, I'd say that it's definitely more adventure-focused than urban.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Packable, lightweight insulated unisex anorak. Lightly padded with synthetic insulation with outer layer in pliant, recycled polyamide. Optimized for long bike rides as a reinforcement layer for both men and women. Adjustable cinch hood, and cinch for adjusting the hem to stop air from flowing up. Packs into kangaroo pocket. Unisex fit. Material: 100% polyamide
88% polyamide, 12% elastane
Lining: 100% polyamide
Filling: 100% polyester
Fill weight: 80g
1 kangaroo pocket with zipped access and mobile phone sleeve
Press stud fastening to collar
Very well made and featuring great quality components and materials.
Does a great job of being an easy-to-use warm over-layer for adventurous rides.
Good build quality and not much to go wrong – so should last well.
Not designed to be fully waterproof, but it does a reasonable job of keeping out showers and dries very fast.
Loose and roomy unisex fit. It's perfect for pulling on over the top of whatever you're already wearing, but it's definitely not fitted.
Unisex sizing and fit. Size L was roomy but decent for a female who usually wears clothes in a 14-16 high-street size.
Very light, but surprisingly bulky when packed into its pocket.
Very snug and cosy. Lost a point for there being no soft cosy lining to the kangaroo pocket to facilitate hand warming.
It's far-from inexpensive and it's quite niche, but it does what it aims to do very well and is extremely high quality.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Washed well at 30°C and tumble dries on low, which was handy.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Performed very well.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
Its ease of use and how handy it was as a warm outer layer (and pillow!) for adventures.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
The lack of a soft lining to the kangaroo pocket to make it useful for warming the hands. That and the cost...
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?
At this price, there's no ignoring the fact that the Specialized/Fjällräven Thermo Anorak is definitely a premium piece of kit. Of the insulated jackets we've tested, only the mega versatile MAAP Equip Primaloft Down Jacket came in more expensive when we tried it, at £250 (currently available for £150), while others like the Stolen Goat Olive Women's Adventure Down Jacket with its versatile zip-off sleeves and the much more compact Albion Insulated Jacket 3.0 were significantly less at £160 and £165 respectively.
The Endura GV500 Insulated Jacket, with its superb Primaloft Gold, insulation is only £149.99.
That said, none of these options – which are all jackets rather than pullovers – are quite as adventure-focused as the Specialized/Fjällräven Thermo Anorak, which aims to live up to the wilderness pedigree of the Fjällräven brand and looks the part too.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Very much
Would you consider buying the jacket? Probably not unless I was really doing a lot of bike packing adventures
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Yes, especially keen bike campers
Use this box to explain your overall score
This is a well-made and effective warm outer layer for adventurous rides. It does what it's intended for very well indeed but unless you're doing a lot of adventurous riding or want to really feel like an adventure rider, then there are much less pricy options available out there. If you have the money though, it's a good piece of kit. At this price I'd have liked a warm lining in the kangaroo pocket though.
About the tester
I usually ride: Liv Invite My best bike is: Specialized Ruby Elite
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,
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.