About 15 years ago I have gotten a Pearl Izumi Pro Softshell jacket for Christmas. It looks exactly like this one, although I was unable to find it on Pearl Izumi’s site. (I’m confused why it seems I can still order it online.) It is by far my favorite piece of cycling-specific clothing. I have brought it to three continents, I have worn it in Canada when it was < -20 degrees and in the summer on descents.
It has served me very well, but it is becoming quite old. It has a hole in the left arm (my fault, a crash), the fabric lost its spring and has become quite stretchy, there are wear marks all over and the zippers get stuck sometimes.
So I was thinking about replacing it, especially when winter sales come around. But it has a few nifty features that many softshell jackets these days don’t come with:
A warm fleece liner.
A front pocket for my iPhone.
“Glove extensions”, which block wind from coming in via my sleeves.
Does anyone have any recommendations? If e. g. people do more layering these days, I’m cool with that, too. Even though it seems I can buy the same jacket, I don’t want to miss out on ~15 years of progress.
Ornot magic shell. I wear it with just a jersey up to 55 and down to subzero with different layers. Isn’t technically waterproof but is not chemically treated and is water resistant. Easily my favorite price of kit. Worth every cent.
Single back pocket with zipper, double zipper, and don’t have to worry about washing cycles eventually reducing utility of the jacket.
Fits like a race cut long sleeve as well so not baggy like older jackets.
I like my Endura softhell jackets for commuting mainly because they’ve got decent front zipped pockets. Mine are all ancient and I suspect no longer made but you might find something in their line. Jacket | Endura
I just got the Rapha Brevet insulated jacket and it’s great. Already had the vest and thinks it is one of the greatest cold weather cycling garments ever… so hopefully the jacket turns out to be as impressive.
I have a 15 yr old Craft fleece/soft shell. It’s form fitting, has wind blocking fabric on the front, and a high and tight neck that blocks out wind. My wife bought it as a present for me back in my mountaineering days.
I layer it with a very thin and wind blocking Arcteryx layer for winter riding.
I have looked at many of the new fleeces and soft shells, and nothing comes close.
I do think that occasionally, outdoor gear companies luck into a piece of clothing that is perfect for some applications / users, but they don’t realize it, and they end up changing it for the worse.
Example: the Craft jacket I recently tried on at the local ski shop was baggy, no windstopping on the front, and had a neck opening as big as my thigh. Major fail (and not cheap). Seems like it was designed for casual / non-athletic use.
Unfortunately, I think good outdoor clothing is like a unicorn. Very hard to find, and when you do, it disappears.
That’s what it feels like, to be honest. I looked around, but nothing
I bought a 7Mesh “softshell” jacket, but that’s a very different affair. It is very good, but only in a very narrow range of circumstances. It is great when I wear the right layers underneath and am moving. As soon as I stop, it’ll get cold, quick. The cuffs are tapered, but that doesn’t nearly work as well as the “gloves” my Pearl Izumi comes with. Plus, my 7Mesh Corsa is definitely a piece of road bike clothing. I wouldn’t want to take it off road.
In contrast, my Pearl Izumi softshell is very versatile and almost always in my backpack when I venture into the mountains.
I bought a Cafe du Cycliste jacket second hand on a whim and it’s become one of my favorite things in the world. I looked at their website to see if I could get another, and I could, but boy is that stuff expensive. That said, they seem to have some front pocket options worth looking at (if you can afford to!), and mine has long sleeves with nice cuffs.
I’d disagree with the Ornot lacking pockets being a bad thing… There are zero use cases where I wouldn’t be layering either the Magic Shell, or Micro Climate over a jersey with pockets, whether its a short sleeve or long sleeve jersey. I personally find it a bit annoying when you have two layers with pockets. The two way zippers allow you to zip up a few inches from the bottom, and easily reach back and get into your now protected pockets.
Maybe one more parameter: about half of the suggestions seem road-centric, i. e. open pockets without zippers and no pocket(s) in the front.
I’ve searched a little, and apparently 7Mesh’s Guardian has received very good reviews. Although it is eye-wateringly expensive. One interesting feature are the “cross-reach pockets” in the front, which seem to address your smart phone falling out of your pocket while riding.
That one baffles me, too. It seems Pearl Izumi figured out a pretty damn good jacket 15 years ago, but has moved away from it in its design iterations?!? Why?
I think having pockets easily accessible is a huge plus. If I layer up, I like to put extra layers of clothing “inside” and have stuff I need frequently easily accessible, but perhaps more exposed to the elements. That’s another reason why pockets with zippers are great in bad weather: they keep your stuff dry.
I can’t say enough good things about Spatzwear. Their Heatr 4-season long sleeve jersey is more directly suited to the question. However, when combined with the race base layer and/or Burnr gilet, you should have enough options to take you below freezing.
I’ve slowly acquired all the above in addition to their Pro 2 overshoes and mad-warm Hotsokz, and the only time I need an additional shell is if it’s sub-20 F or raining cats and dogs below 40 and windy.
I’ve had Perfetto which is very good for a wide range of weather and I have lots of Assos gear. Now, Assos is my go-to for bibs, jerseys, etc. and Spatzwear covers the rest.
I’m so comfortable on rides I feel guilty looking at the others shiver or sweat.
I’m a few years into using it all and so far there are no snags, loosened or tightened areas, or fading from use and washing.
I have an Assos Schlosshund jacket, which is intended for rain and has flaps on the back so you can access your jersey pockets. Zips up per normal also you can unzip from the bottom up for temperature regulation. That model is on close out so you might not be able to find it in your size.
Runner up and another one that won’t be made anymore is Gorewear Shake Dry.
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