We love riding in the sunshine but it’s inevitable that if you’re riding in northern Europe, you’ll get caught out by a shower or persistent rain at some point. Many cycling clothing companies have strived to develop a jacket that keeps you both protected and comfortable for such weather. Sportful, with the help of their sponsored professional teams, set about the task of creating a jacket that offers complete wet weather protection, without the boil in the bag effect. The result, the Stelvio Rain Jacket was born. Keen to see how the jacket stacked up against a showery British spring, we set off in search of rain.
At the premium end of the spectrum when it comes to price, the Stelvio has a lot to live up to. The first test was to see how the jacket performed in heavy downpours. Often jackets become overwhelmed when they are dowsed in water, leading to moisture penetrating the seams. Sportful have addressed this by using RainWick Stretch, a light, packable and, most importantly, waterproof and breathable fabric.
Even after more prolonged downpours I found the jacket showed no signs of letting water in. Pros can often be seen making regular trips back to their team car to take a cape on or off, valuable time that could be better spent at the sharp end of the race. Sportful’s design team wanted to create a jacket that can be used for the duration of the race, as practical to be worn ascending a mountain as it is racing along the flat cobbles of Paris-Roubaix, the Stelvio was just the jacket the team had long been searching for.
Road spray can often leave your rear feeling damp and uncomfortable, so the inclusion of a long cut rear hem is a welcome addition.
A full-length water-resistant YKK Vislon zipper makes getting the jacket on and off a simple task and is easy to operate even when wearing gloves. I found this zip also handy to regulate body temperature when switching between climbing and descending. The internal storm flap adds that final touch of protection, where you need it the most.
Making a waterproof jacket is one thing, making a waterproof jacket that doesn’t make you feel like you’re wearing a bin liner is another thing altogether. Rain jackets have long had a reputation of leaving you in a clammy state, which in turn leads to you feeling damp, cold and uncomfortable on the bike.
Fully taped seams and a light mesh finish work together to ensure moisture is wicked away quickly. The 50,000 g/m2/24hrs breathability rating allows for just enough airflow to pass through the jacket to keep you dry.
Riding in April showers was the perfect test for the jacket’s breathability credentials. With a 125km ride that provided me with everything from warm sunshine, to heavy and persistent downpours and temperatures ranging from just 7 degrees to 14 degrees, the jacket performed admirably, keeping me cool enough when the sun came out for me to leave the jacket on yet warm enough when the temperature dropped.
Although breathability is impressive it is worth considering layering options when riding in this jacket. I opted for a short sleeve jersey and arm warmer combination underneath and found this pairing worked perfectly with the jacket.
In colder conditions, or through winter, a long sleeve jersey would be a good choice to balance warmth with breathability.
We’ve all seen it, the pros are flying down a mountain descent with their race caps flapping uncontrollably in the wind, creating drag and ultimately slowing them down.
Sportful have paid careful consideration to the cut of this jacket, with a performance fit, ensuring there is no excessive material. This fit is far from restrictive though, as I found it easy to wear over a fully laden jersey.
No detail has been overlooked on the Stelvio. A common problem I find, with my long arms, is that the sleeves of a jacket often ride up, leaving my wrists exposed and allowing moisture to seep in. I was rather pleased to find the team at Sportful have added two elastic bands to the end of the sleeves to eliminate this issue. This inclusion also ensures the jacket is easy to get on when wearing gloves.
When the pace is on, getting your jacket off is key to being able to follow that move, so the Stelvio’s stretchy fabric is a welcome addition.
Packability is often a major factor when deciding what rain jacket to purchase and Sportful recognises this. The Stelvio, although not as packable as the Hot Pack 5 Jacket can still be folded incredibly small, allowing you to store it in a rear jersey pocket when the clouds part and the sun comes out.
The Italians have spent countless hours refining the jacket, bringing its weight down to just 165 grams.
Yes, there are more affordable rain jackets on the market, but when protection, breathability, fit and packability are taken into consideration there aren’t many jackets that rival the Sportful Stelvio when it comes to offering the complete wet weather package. As versatile being raced in a wet Tour de France stage as it is on a grim Sunday morning club run, it’s no surprise the jacket has picked up a EuroBike award and can often be spotted in the pro peloton, being worn by a grand tour contender or classics superstar.
Offering sublime wet weather protection, a performance fit and easy packability, the Stelvio will be my go-to jacket for those changeable spring rides, typical British summer days and grim winter commutes.