Our pick of wa­ter­proof jack­ets

Rain doesn’t re­quire much coax­ing in the UK, but with win­ter around the cor­ner there’s even more call for a light­weight wa­ter­proof layer

Cycling Weekly - - Contents -

What

A pack­able win­ter jacket is prob­a­bly the most use­ful weapon in your win­ter ar­se­nal. As the outer layer it has to be wa­ter re­sis­tant if not wa­ter­proof, wind re­sis­tant — which gen­er­ally fol­lows if a fab­ric re­pels wa­ter — and breath­able. Be­cause UK weather con­di­tions can and do change through­out the course of a ride it also needs to be able to pack down small enough to fit in a jer­sey pocket when the sun comes out. Some win­ter pack­ables have their own sys­tems for do­ing this, whether that’s us­ing a sep­a­rate stuff­sack, zip­ping into one of their own pock­ets or us­ing a loop of elas­tic sewn to the col­lar.

It’s vi­tal to pay at­ten­tion to the fit: a high col­lar is good for keep­ing out the draughts, cuffs that over­lap gloves and ideally a tail to catch spray. A jacket that’s more than an emer­gency rain cape, that may be worn all day, also needs to fit well with no wind flap.

Why

Dress­ing in lay­ers rather than whack­ing a heav­ily padded win­ter jacket over a thin base layer is the best way to dress for the UK off-sea­son. Since, with win­ters get­ting pro­gres­sively warmer, there’s only re­ally one cold snap each year, a pack­able shell will see far more use than a ded­i­cated win­ter jacket so it’s im­por­tant to choose one that ticks all the boxes.

How

We tested some of these jack­ets at the end of last win­ter so we’ve done plenty of chilly miles in them all and have been able to get a han­dle on their dura­bil­ity as well as their per­for­mance. Some fab­rics can lose their wa­ter-re­sis­tant prop­er­ties after a few wash cy­cles so for a win­ter jacket the laun­dry is just as im­por­tant a prov­ing ground as the claggy lanes.

The jack­ets we’ve se­lected for this grouptest range in price from £75 to £220, so we’ve taken a good look across the spec­trum at what’s avail­able. Will a cheap jacket do or should you pay top dol­lar to stay dry, warm and com­fort­able this win­ter? We took into con­sid­er­a­tion all of the above points and of course fac­tored in value for money along­side per­for­mance when we rated them.

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