A decent jacket is one of the most important bits of cycling kit you can buy.
They have moved on miles from the flimsy and sweaty outerwear that used to be offered a few years ago. Nowadays there is a huge spread of designs offering everything from supreme wind and rain protection through to attention-grabbing fabrics that sparkle in car headlights.
A great rain jacket will keep out the damp while also allowing the moisture that builds up while riding to escape. Some have their waterproofing and breathability capabilities rated in terms of how much moisture the fabric can keep out or allow to pass through in the course of an hour.
If you see a garment rated 15k waterproof it will keep out a column of water an inch in diameter and 15,000mm tall for an hour. A 10k breathability rating means it can allow 10,000 grams of moisture to escape per square metre of fabric, per hour.
Softshells usually offer a degree of water resistance but are mainly used on drier, cooler days when you need to keep the wind at bay.
If you’re commuting, look out for jackets with a more generous cut that allow you to wear ordinary clothes underneath. Thinner fabrics are great for those obsessed with keeping weight down, but a thicker material will allow you to carry a rucksack or bag without damaging it.
We have been out on the road testing a range of jackets to find the best around, looking at how they perform in a range of weather conditions on all sorts of rides, from commutes through to full-on training sessions.
We have tugged at seams and zips to try to find any weaknesses, braved howling gales to see if they kept us warm, and even turned garden hose pipes on some of them to simulate biblical downpours.
Our testers have been riding in everything from windproofs designed to keep out the worst winter chills through to lightweight jackets that budding racers can keep rolled in a pocket.
For the new wave of bike commuters, we have also tried out a few styles that won’t look out of place in your favourite cafe or bar as well as in the office.
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