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Apparel

Upper Downs Neo Jacket

The best designed mountainbike waterproof on the market?

We’ve just had one of the new Upper Downs Neo waterproof jackets through the door here at Dirt. We looked at a pre-production sample last summer and gave Matt from Upper downs plenty of feedback and comments on their design.

Fast forward six months and here we are with a jacket from the first production run. With yet another storm brewing outside, we’ll have plenty of opportunities to give it a proper test. Before we get it filthy, here’s a look at the details.

DESIGN

Upper Downs is a new brand from the UK (based in the South Downs) who focus solely on mountainbike clothing. This isn’t a company trying to cover all bases, they ride the same bikes, tracks and bike parks as us and know what is needed from your kit. They’ve been through plenty of clothing too, finding loads of compromises in many designs on the market and this led them to the start of the brand and the Neo Jacket.

There is a deliberately clean, stylish look to the Neo. A ‘less is more’ approach that kicks out the the clutter, reduces weight and ultimately improves the performance.

Upper Downs started with a clean sheet, addressing all the issues they had with jackets they had been using. The fit is close, allowing good freedom of movement with long articulated arms and a great cut around the shoulders. If you’re between sizes you may want to go up a size, especially if you want to add bulky layers below whether on or off the bike. A removable hood (with hidden zip) sits under a helmet and doesn’t mess with sideways visibility. The Neo has no lower adjustable draw cord at the hem. Why? The jacket sits well and Upper Downs feel that it’s not required, having one often leads to a jacket riding up your waist when it’s snugged in around the waist.

FABRIC

Upper downs have gone in at the top when it comes to materials and chosen Polartec Neoshell, a top quality three layer fabric with outstanding waterproofing, breathability and long term reliability. There are plenty of pretenders when it come to technical fabrics, but you can rely on Polartec for going the distance and this is what you want if you are laying down serious cash for a jacket. It washes well, keeps beading water (and therefore maintaining breathability) and bounces back for more.

The fabric is light and tough as well as offering high performance and this is reassuring for hard off road use. With filthy wet winters like we are currently experiencing, you may well be hammering a jacket like this week in week out.

DETAILS

Storage has been well thought through too. A rear zipped pocket sits low and should not interfere with your pack. Internally, you’ll find a security pocket (with google wipe cloth) and a clever ‘phone chute’ sleeve. Two zipped front hand pockets increase the off-bike versatility, something Upper Downs have focused on.

‘A great jacket to throw in your kitbag for a road trip’

Ventilation is a lot less relevant on a jacket as breathable as this, however if you need to get some air flow then two side zips sit well placed below your pack straps. The zips are all the best quality from YKK and are waterproof where needed.

The Portuguese factory they’ve chosen is one of the best with excellent quality and manufacturing consistency, important on a top end jacket like this.

WHAT DO WE THINK?

A top end jacket for sure, made from one of the finest waterproof fabrics available and with plenty of attention to detail. We’re looking at the best available here, and the price, when compared to competing jackets in Polartec Neoshell is the same or less.

We’ll hit the trails and report back on the Neo’s performance.

SPEC:

FABRIC: Polartec Neoshell 3-Ply

WEIGHT: 318g (Size Large including hood)

POCKETS: 4 + Phone Chute

COLOURS: Storm grey (Limited edition Atlas Blue due in March)

SIZES: XS – XXL

PRICE: £269.99

www.upperdowns.com

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