review

Vulpine Portixol waterproof jacket

8
£100.00

VERDICT:

8
10
Stylish commuter jacket with the performance of a technical shell at a competitive price
Fabric is exceptionally waterproof and breathable
Chic styling
Lining can feel slightly clammy next to bare skin
Zip isn't as waterproof as the fabric
Limited colour options
Weight: 
300g
Contact: 

The Vulpine Portixol is a rain jacket rather than a packable shell, and as such is aimed more at the commuter than the hardcore roadie. The more casual, urban styling underlines this, but it matches technical hardshells in its performance.

Under its new owners, British brand Vulpine has been working on new designs and reworking some old ones. The Portixol jacket was originally a stripped-back, race-orientated shell that has been given an urban makeover, re-emerging with side pockets, an extendable flap, a two-way zip and a contemporary style that successfully blends fashion with on-bike functionality. Crucially, it retains the foul-weather capability that we praised the old version for in 2016

> Buy this online here

Vulpine uses a ripstop fabric that supplies that same level of waterproofing as the earlier version – 15,000mm, which is the height that a column of water can reach before it starts to seep through – and the seams are taped.

Vulpine Portixol waterproof jacket - taped seams.jpg

It has the crosshatched threads of a ripstop fabric, which makes it tough as well as fairly unyielding. It doesn't have the stretch of some modern waterproofs, but since it's designed to be looser fitting rather than figure-hugging, stretch is not necessary.

Vulpine Portixol waterproof jacket - riding 1.jpg

I mostly wore it for the tandem school run in March before the lockdown, as a top layer over ordinary clothing such as a T-shirt and shirt. The lining has a tackiness that feels slightly clammy on bare arms, but the collar has a fleecy band sewn into it, so no issues in that area.

Vulpine Portixol waterproof jacket - rear vent.jpg

As I mentioned, it doesn't really pack down small enough for carrying in a rear jersey pocket and at 300g is on the heavy side for that anyway, so it's the kind of jacket you put on and keep on – and its waterproofing and windproofness coupled with its breathability make doing that entirely comfortable.

Vulpine Portixol waterproof jacket - rear.jpg

I have to admit that I didn't get to test it in anything too biblical – by this point we were in that interim period between Chiara and Dennis and the lockdown – but in the rain I did catch, the fabric kept out every single drop.

> Buyer’s Guide: 20 of the best pieces of waterproof cycling clothing

Water beads off the surface of the fabric thanks to the DWR coating, and even a sustained under-the-tap test failed to wet it out. While bench-testing it in the bathroom, however, I did discover that if water is going to get in, it will come through the front zip. The previous Portixol had an AquaGuard-style genuinely waterproof zip, swapped out in this version for a two-way zip that still has a polyurethane coating but normal non-watertight teeth. However, in standard UK rain I found it was enough.

Vulpine Portixol waterproof jacket - collar.jpg

Like the other garments in Vulpine's latest range, the Portixol jacket is packed with thoughtful details.

The earlier version had no pockets at all, making it impractical as a commuter jacket. Now it has two well-placed zipped pockets on the front for keys, travelcard, phone and so on.

Vulpine Portixol waterproof jacket - pockets.jpg

There's an extendable rear flap held up inside the jacket with magnets that can be easily deployed on the fly.

Vulpine Portixol waterproof jacket - riding 2.jpg

It has printed reflective details and, although you can't spot this in the pictures, the back of the flap is in Vulpine's signature green colour – a quirky designer touch that adds character.

Vulpine Portixol waterproof jacket - rain flap reflective.jpg

There are ventilation flaps at the back of the neck and under the arms, and you can let in more air via with the two-way zip, which works very smoothly.

Vulpine Portixol waterproof jacket - armpit vent.jpg

The medium size was perfect for me at 1.85m and 68kg (it's not me in the pictures). The sleeves have enough length for reaching forward to drop handlebars, and the cuffs are elasticated and are comfortably close-fitting to stop rain getting in.

Vulpine Portixol waterproof jacket - cuff.jpg

Like the earlier version, it's still on the long side, meaning extra bunching at the front when you're on the drops, but Vulpine has clearly wanted to keep it looking 'normal' so that it can easily be worn off the bike without it looking like a cycling-specific garment.

Vulpine Portixol waterproof jacket - hem.jpg

The same approach seems to have dictated the colour schemes on offer. As well as this burnt orange – which is as close to brown as it is to orange in real life – it is available in 'charcoal'. I am not a high-vis evangelist by any means but I would like to see some stronger colours that make it stand out on the road a bit more.

Vulpine Portixol waterproof jacket - shoulders.jpg

DWR coatings will wash off and eventually need reapplying; I've washed the Portixol once, with no effect on its performance. 

Value

For a jacket that performs this well and looks this stylish, £100 is great value. Rapha's Commuter jacket is the same price, but Matt found it didn't perform well in terms of breathability. 

> Buyer’s Guide: The best casual cycling kit for commuting

The last commuter jacket I reviewed, the Showers Pass Transit CC, has an rrp of £160, while Vulpine's own Softshell Harrington is twice the price.

Conclusion

The Vulpine Portixol combines technical performance with urban style: it is not only waterproof, breathable and durable but also works as a casual jacket. The lining feels a little clammy next to bare skin from the off, so it wouldn't be my first choice for summer rainy riding, but as a rain jacket for the other three seasons over long-sleeved clothing, on and off the bike, Vulpine has done a great job. I would also like to see the Portixol available in some stronger colours than just burnt orange and charcoal. Overall, a very good jacket for the price.

Verdict

Stylish commuter jacket with the performance of a technical shell at a competitive price

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

road.cc test report

Make and model: Vulpine Portixol waterproof jacket

Size tested: Medium

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?

Vulpine says: "A lightweight fully waterproof essential for every season, the Portixol waterproof jacket has your back when the weather takes a turn. It uses a highly breathable and lightweight ripstop fabric offering 15K waterproofing and 15K breathability to keep you comfortable and dry when you need it. A waterproof zip ends in a snug fleece collar to firmly lock out unwanted cold and wet. Superb attention to detail as ever, with reflective logos and a splash guard that folds away neatly with magnets."

This is on the whole an accurate description, but it's not lightweight compared to packable waterproofs, which I would say makes it a bit heavy for the summer. Additionally, the lining feels sticky next to bare skin, making it better as a top layer in autumn, winter and spring over long sleeves.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?

Vulpine lists these features:

15,000 Waterproofing

15,000 Breathability

Durable Ripstop fabric

Fully taped seams

Reflective logos and splash guard for visibility at night and poor conditions

100% Polyester

Rate the jacket for quality of construction:
 
9/10

Very nicely made with neat embroidered logos.

Rate the jacket for performance:
 
9/10

Able to keep out the rain and wind very effectively with good breathability.

Rate the jacket for durability:
 
9/10

Ripstop nylon is very tough.

Rate the jacket for waterproofing based on the manufacturer's rating:
 
9/10

Superb waterproofing, although when pushed (ie run under the tap) the zip eventually let in water while the fabric stayed completely waterproof.

Rate the jacket for breathability based on the manufacturer's rating:
 
7/10

Breathability is good, but I found the vents and the zip worked better for temperature regulation than the fabric. With bare arms, the sleeves became clammy inside during a hotter ride.

Rate the jacket for fit:
 
8/10

The more casual fit is flattering and easy to wear, not looking out of place in a non-cycling situation. For sportier cycling you would probably want something more figure hugging with some stretch.

Rate the jacket for sizing:
 
10/10

In the size medium the sizing was perfect for me (185cm, 68kg). The sleeve length was spot on, as was the collar size.

Rate the jacket for weight:
 
7/10

It's not a lightweight jacket (as the manufacturer's claims) compared to packable shells.

Rate the jacket for comfort:
 
7/10

Very comfortable as a casual jacket in a non-cycling situation, but on the bike the front is long and it does bunch slightly – you can't have it all.

Rate the jacket for value:
 
8/10

£100 is a very fair price for the way the jacket performs and looks.

How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?

It has a DWR that will eventually wash off, so I have only washed it once in the test period. Our pre-production sample didn't have a label or printed instructions of its own, but we're told all jackets sold will.

Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose

There are lighter, more cycling-specific jackets with airtight/watertight zips that make them totally waterproof, but as a practical and stylish commuter jacket it offers very good performance indeed for the price.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket

The waterproofing is great, keeping out all the rain in the test period, only beginning to breach at the zip when held under a running tap. I also liked that the styling doesn't shout 'cyclist', making it perfect for non-cycling situations where you don't necessarily want your chosen mode of transport to become your entire identity.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket

The feeling of the lining against bare arms, mostly.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?

The last commuter jacket I reviewed, the Showers Pass Transit CC has a list price of £160, while Vulpine's own Softshell Harrington is twice the price. Rapha's Commuter jacket is also £100 but breathability isn't great. In the performance-to-price ratio the Portixol represents good value.

Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes

Would you consider buying the jacket? Yes

Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

The Vulpine Portixol is a good quality, stylish, non-packable commuter jacket with the performance of a technical shell. It does a great job of bridging the gap between the two arguably quite different types of outer layer, and the price is very competitive, especially since Vulpine has always aligned itself with premium brands like Rapha. I'm not keen on the tacky feel of the lining against bare skin, and I'd also like to see more colour options, but overall it's very good.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 50  Height: 178cm  Weight: 68kg

I usually ride: Racer Rosa custom alu  My best bike is: Colnago Master Olympic

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, School run on a tandem

Simon finished his Masters in online journalism back in 2003 when the internet wasn't very exciting or popular yet. So he got a job as a sub editor on Britain's biggest weekly cycling magazine, where as well as taking out commas and putting them back in again he got to review a lot of bikes and kit.

As a keen time triallist he has spent many hours riding up and down dual carriageways early in the morning and has a national medal, a 19-minute 10 and a few open wins in his palmarès.

He and his seven-year-old son do the school run on a tandem, beating the traffic in car-choked Reigate and getting a great workout at the same time (for one of them).

 

Latest Comments