The Bike List

Endura Stealth jacket £170

Tested by Jon Adams, tester for The Bike List

If you like the idea of having just one jacket to throw on for cold and wet winter rides, then Endura's Stealth jacket is very unlikely to disappoint. In a word, it's superb, and offers a wind and waterproof softshell layer that you can wear on its own in cool conditions or with a base layer (or two) if it's really cold. The styling is perfect for any discipline - it's close-fitting enough for roadies and grungy enough for MTB riders - and you won't have to delve too deeply into the cycling fraternity to find someone who a) has one and b) loves it.

The Stealth isn't as breathable as many softshells, and the inside was a little damp after an hour's ride on an overcast morning in 2°C. The fleecy interior kept the jacket comfortable however, and despite the low temperature, it was perfectly warm, even though I only had a thin, long-sleeved base-layer underneath.  My next hour's ride was at night with the temperature down to -2°C, and it was the same score - a not-uncomfortable dampness - but a perfectly warm micro-climate provided you keep working. Like most softshells, the jacket doesn't feature too much insulation, so if you stop and stand around after a bout of exercise, you'll start to cool down quite quickly. For this reason if you're riding out in the wilds, or plan to take on more remote roads, it's sensible to take an extra layer with you in case of punctures or other roadside tasks that force you to stand around.

In terms of cold weather performance, this jacket is superb - just add extra or thicker base layers if it gets really chilly. Minus 3°C was as low as it got during our testing period, but I'd happily don this for even colder weather. Just make sure you've got gloves, shoe covers, head and face protection that can keep up when it gets proper chilly!

To prevent you overheating, there are pit zips and side zips under the arms. These work well to vent the jacket, and can be opened for climbs and for warmer conditions in fairly squally weather. There's also the full-length zip at the front if you really need to cool off, though this obviously isn't protected from rain as well as the pit zips. The vents are well positioned, too. Generate a bit of airflow on a descent and you can circulate cool air really effectively by moving your elbows outwards.

For stowing your bits and bobs, there's a breast pocket on the left side which sports an earphone grommet for phones and MP3 players, and round the back there's a large, side-entry zipped pocket which features an additional zipped security pocket on top. All zips are of the waterproof variety, and though this makes them a bit stiffer and harder to pull than your average zipper, it's nice to know that nothing 's going to get wet inside. Only the side zips have extenders on the zip pullers, though, which makes the pit and pocket zips hard to locate when you're wearing full finger gloves (and you almost certainly will be, given this jacket's operating temperature). Just above the rear double pocket is a great feature - a stiff tab for attaching a rear LED flasher. This is ideal for use on the road if you don't wear a backpack, and it puts your rear light a bit higher up than the seatpost too, which is good for visibility.

There's no hood on the jacket, as the idea is you'll be wearing a lid, but the collar seals up nice and tight under your chin. Not so tight that it's uncomfortable, but tight enough to stop rain running down your neck. The sleeves are cut long to ensure you're still protected when stretched out in an aero position, and on top of each wrist section is a waterproof zip. This enables you to seal the sleeve over a pair of gloves, but I'm not sure why the zips are on top of the forearm in the most exposed position. Underneath would be more effective, but perhaps wouldn't make so bold a design statement.

Overall though, I love this jacket. At £170 it sounds expensive, but it covers you for the coldest and foulest of conditions and with its venting options, is useable in the UK from November to March, provided it's not warmer than about 9 or 10 degrees C.  The retro-reflective flashes dotted around the front, back and sides reinforce this kind of use, and many regular cyclists like commuters will find this to be THE winter top, as it's perfect for a chilly start and a ride home in the dark. It's available in red and blue as well as the rather classy stealth black, and considering the protection it offers and the versatility it delivers, it's very good value.

You need to be a fairly serious rider to invest in this, as it's very much a put-on-and-keep-on top for cold and bad weather, rather than a 'just-in-case' number for fair-weather riders to carry. If you enjoy a long off-road hack in winter, or ride to work through all sorts of weather, then save up your pennies and buy one. It's brilliant as a late autumn, winter and early spring top - just don't expect it to go through the summer as it's simply too warm for milder conditions.

Buy from www.chainreactioncycles.com

Endura says:

We've combined the latest ultrasonic welding construction techniques and external seam-sealing technology to create the first ever and Eurobike award-winning fully waterproof, breathable soft-shell cycling jacket

  • Externally seam-sealed waterproof breathable soft-shell fabric with stretch Entrant® fabric front collar, underarms and side panels create a superbly well fitted garment
  • Ultrasonically welded seams offer ultimate comfort by creating a smooth internal surface
  • Flexible ventilation is provided via side and underarm zip vents (accessible even when wearing a back-pack)
  • Waterproof wrist zips ensure a snug-fit and facilitate closure over gloves
  • Waterproof zipped rear pocket and welded chest pocket with iPod® port
  • Reflective on chest, back, shoulders and sleeves
  • Waterproofness: 10,000mm
  • Breathability: 5,000gms
  • Available in sizes S-XXL

Find out more www.endura.co.uk

At a glance

Verdict Impressive, waterproof softshell jacket for cold and wet weather that looks as good as it performs. It sounds pricey, but with some base layer adjustment, it may well be all you need for 5 months of the year, so is great value, too.
Value
Performance