LIGHTWEIGHT BIKE JACKETS
When the weather’s unpredictable, a bike jacket that stuffs into your jersey and can withstand a shower is essential. Jack Sexty and Helen Webster test 10
As temperatures drop with the approach of autumn, keep the chills at bay with a bike jacket. We test 10 for men and women
Apackable bike jacket is often considered an essential emergency item that’ll see you through a shower, but not weather a storm; but thanks to the latest in lightweight, breathable waterproofing technology, all that is changing.
Gore are at the forefront of this, with their Gore-Tex Shakedry technology (appearing on one of the jackets on test here) being treated into the weave of the fabric so an additional durable water repellent (DWR) coating isn’t needed. This also cuts down on the weight of the garment, and makes it more breathable because there are less layers.
If you’re looking to buy a packable jacket, think about what you want: if it’s waterproofing, then you want a jacket with taped seams to stop water ingress. If you prioritise comfort, then more seams will lead to a better fit, but this means more entry points for water. Some brands will combine taped seams with more stretchy fabrics to give the best of both, a feature of high-end packable jackets with tech such as Gore-Tex. Also, be aware that DWR coatings will lose their effectiveness after a few washes, which means water will no longer bead off the surface. But you can buy DWR sprays to restore the water repelling properties of your jacket.
The range of options on test here represent everything from the big budget and cutting edge for serious weather protection on longer rides, to the simple and affordable for a Sunday spin where the weather might turn volatile.
How we tested
When it comes to our great British weather, one thing you can always count on is rain, and there was lots of it throughout our test period. All of the jackets here were tested on both commutes and training rides, so each was stashed in a jersey pocket and called on mid-ride. We looked at weather protection, breathability, fit, value, comfort and aesthetics to decide on our overall winners.
collar A high neckline is desirable in weatherproof clothing to stop the rain and wind from getting in. cuffs It’s key that these are tight, as you don’t want the sleeves distracting from your handlebar grip.