Whether it be a pre–ride cockpit tune or post–ride pint, there’s always a need to keep the core warm. In the middle of all this the mid–ride stop–off is the place to pull out a high performance, lightweight, warm, windproof jacket that’s been packed into a small part of your hydration pack – loosing heat rapidly (especially at this time of year) is something all riders are susceptible too. Here’s a selection of the very best crackers that are all up for healthy abuse, there’s certainly no winner because they all do the job brilliantly well. It’s down to you on colours, weight, features and fill material preference.
DIRT ISSUE 131 – JANUARY 2013
Words by Steve Jones. Photo by Steve JonesDOWN, AND NOT OUT!: BERGHAUS ILAM
Obviously we couldn’t run a feature on insulated packable jackets without including a down version – well we could, but we just assumed they’d get a beating and get wet. Wrong. Enter the exclusive Hydro down technology and the Ilam Jacket from Berghaus. They say it is as water resistant as any synthetic insulation and boasts an exceptional market leading warmth to weight ratio. We’ve heard that for many riders it has replaced the synthetic jackets that have been in Camelbak’s for the last 10 years. Having a hood makes it the cosiest, although Rab offer this option too, and in a very striking blue aster/Intense blue – a pretty amazing jacket.
Rapha are spot on when they say that their Transfer jacket is for pre and post–ride, travelling and sitting outside cafes, but this is another we’ll be taking everywhere. Like many transition style jackets it uses Prima Loft One, a synthetic down used for warmth, water resistance, softness and compressibility. Packing down into itself Rapha’s beautifully cut offering comes with water resistant zip, dropped tail and a lovely feel to the front pockets. It’s definitely the most fitted with a super smooth exterior feel.
Featuring fleece lined collar and cuffs, filled with Prima Loft Infinity, protected by a ‘Windstopper’ membrane, Gore’s Path is superbly fitted and hard wearing. Having pretty much lived in this one for over a year, the quality is unquestionable – it’s part of me on nearly every ride and photoshoot. It dries out quickly, sheds water pretty well and just hangs right. They say it can be used on and off the bike but I think of it as a Norwegian commuter jacket in that respect.
Last year I took Rab’s Xenon to the Trans–Provence, and since then have used it for a high level week in the Pyrenees. It’s still going strong and it is used as intensely as the Gore. The jacket you can throw into a corner, pocket or handbag for that matter. This latest offering from the northerners, the Generator Stretch, is filled with Rab eco3D rather than the Primaloft (as used in their Generator), and is designed for more active use. It uses a little less insulation and the inclusion of Powerstretch Pro on the sides gives more movement and breathability. It still offers protection from the front, this could be a winter ride/summer sit–around option.