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Winter is coming, if you want to commute to work, then you need a good jacket to get through the winter. But what should you pay attention to?
We will introduce you to the basics including weatherproofing, fit and visibility to help you get a good idea of what to look out for in your next commuter jacket. To help us, we got three jackets from the Altura City collection to help us.
First, let's see what the jacket is made of. They are not exactly the same, and what works for you will largely depend on what you intend to use it for.
When buying a new jacket, you will see three main types of jackets. You can buy hard shell and soft shell jackets, as well as insulated jackets, which have become more and more popular in the past few years.
The hard shell may be what you call the most traditional cycling jacket. It will be made of fabric designed to be completely waterproof. Generally, like Altura’s Electron jacket, it is a membrane fabric that prevents rainwater from entering, but also allows water vapor to escape, so it won’t sweat during hard riding.
You will see water resistance and breathability ratings on such jackets. In the case of Electron, it is 10k/10k, but what does this actually mean?
The two numbers in this example are the same, but their meanings are completely different. Water resistance is something called hydrostatic head. Basically, it is a measure of how high the water column needs to be before it starts to penetrate the fabric. This is 10k, or 10,000 mm. It is a bit difficult to apply this number directly to riding in the rain, but the higher the better. 10k basically means completely waterproof. Jackets like this usually also have seams, because the seams at the seams are weak points through which water can pass.
What is the breathability grade? Well, the membrane fabric is designed to allow water vapor to pass through. The amount that can pass through the membrane will depend on how it is manufactured. The figure quoted here is how many grams of water vapor can pass through a square meter of membrane in 24 hours. Again, you don't really need to know this, but the higher the better.
You may see another way to measure air permeability, which is thermal evaporation resistance or RET coefficient. For that, the lower the better, because it means that the fabric has a lower resistance to the passage of steam. Anything below 6 is very breathable.
The jacket also breathes through the vents, usually on the back. You usually get overlapping fabrics so that water doesn't get in by mistake. Some jackets also have vents under the armpits.
Continue to use soft shell jackets, they are not surprisingly made of softer materials. Jackets such as Zephyr are usually designed to be more versatile than hard shell jackets. Shell fabrics tend to be more comfortable than hard shell fabrics, so they are more suitable for everyday jackets. You might wear this in a bar, but you will hang a hard shell jacket at the door. If you want something that you can wear more generally, not just for commuting, then softer colors would be more suitable for this.
The water resistance and breathability of soft shells vary greatly. Zephyr is waterproof and breathable up to 5k, so it is the kind of jacket that can get rid of the shower on the road in normal work, but it will not be as good as a hard shell in heavy rain. It still has tape seams, so it can still keep you dry for a long time.
Continue to discuss the insulated jacket, which is also a clue in the name. Usually, insulating jackets use two layers of thin fabric with some kind of insulating material in between. Going back in time, this would have gone down, but for riding where the jacket might get wet, it is better to choose synthetic insulation because it works better when wet. The Twister jacket uses insulating materials made from recycled bottles. The outer fabric is usually some kind of ripstop nylon, which is both light and strong. It will be sewn to the baffle like you see here, sewn inside and outside.
The baffle keeps everything in place, you can see, because this is a jacket designed for riding, the baffle is designed to help you get out of trouble, so they are smaller on the arm, for example in Where you need more flexibility.
Tear-resistant nylon is not particularly waterproof, and because you stitch on the jacket, this will also affect its rain resistance. The Twister jacket has a waterproof coating on the outside of the fabric to help water droplets and flow. But on cold and dry days, a warm jacket is better. Of course, if it is cold and wet, you can stack an insulating jacket and a hard shell.
Let us continue to cut in. The commuter jacket needs to be suitable for cycling, and it won’t look weird if you just walk around the city in it. There are some basic differences between jackets designed for cycling and jackets not designed for cycling. There are a few things to be aware of.
For basic tailoring, there are two main differences between cycling and walking. First, you bend forward. The degree to which you bend depends on the bike you are riding, so for commuter bikes, there are fewer racing bikes. Second, your arm is in front of you. Both of these things affect the way the jacket is cut.
If we look at the effect of forward leaning on the cut, it becomes obvious. The back is up, so it needs to be slightly lower to cover your lower back. For this reason, the men's cut of these Altura jackets lowers the back slightly. You can see that the lady's cut is more like a mid-length style, which is very suitable for covering, and there is a two-way zipper, so you can open the bottom of the jacket for horse riding. Or, if you prefer, you can sit at the bottom of the jacket.
Putting your arms in front of you means that the sleeves need to be longer, because moving your shoulders forward will shorten your chest span and make your back wider. If you are riding in a non-cycling jacket, you will usually find that the arms are too short and the front part here is loose because of too much fabric. All these jackets are tailored with this in mind: the front sleeve seams are more fitted, and the sleeves are longer. There is a little cloth behind. Similarly, wearing a commuter jacket, you really don't want to go too far, otherwise it will start to look weird in the bar.
This is not just a bar. Jackets with less aggressive cuts are also great for interdisciplinary riding because they work well on mountain bikes or gravel bikes, both of which have fewer locations than road bikes. So, for example, the Twister jacket may be suitable for your commute and some biking adventures, if you like that kind of thing.
If you have already determined what kind of jacket you are looking for, it is worth considering what features you can get to improve your daily commute. There are many things to consider.
Let us first introduce visibility. After dark, the reflection on the jacket is the most important. All these jackets have reflective prints, which really help you stand out, and it's not obvious when you get out of the car. The reflections in areas such as cuffs are really helpful because it helps you be seen when you signal.
During the day, many people choose high visibility, and most brands offer high visibility jackets in their collections. These softer colors are more suitable for versatile jackets you want to wear on your bike. If you want to be bright, but you also want something that can be worn to the store, then things like fluorescent vests are easy to hang on when you are riding a bicycle.
The Electron jacket takes it a step further because it also has integrated lighting: there is a battery in the pocket here to drive these light strips on the back and shoulders. Their design allows you to also use them with backpacks. This is very useful for adding some extra visibility.
You may also want a hood. Not necessarily suitable for riding, because most hoods and helmets do not work well together, but they are only suitable for general purposes other than bicycles. Some jackets (e.g. Electron) have a detachable hood, so you can open it when needed. Even if the hood is not removable, it usually does not hinder your riding, but if you ride fast, it may shake.
Of course you need pockets to hold things. Jackets for fast cycling tend to have pockets on the back like cycling jerseys, but for commuting, it’s best to put everything in the front. The chest pocket is very useful for your phone, make sure the pocket is zipped to avoid losing items on the way to work.
In cold weather, wind may come in, so look for features designed to prevent this. The baffle behind the zipper is really helpful, as is the adjustable cuffs, which can be tightened to prevent wind from blowing on your arms. The Electron jacket also has a fleece backing on the front, which is great once it starts to get cold.
Is there anything else you need to look for in your commuter jacket? Please let us know in the comments below.
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The son of a marathon runner and the nephew of the national 24-hour champion, racing genes have completely surpassed him. After joining road.cc as a reviewer in 2016, Liam quickly started writing feature articles and news reports. After living in Canada for a while, he spends most of his time eating broth in the UK and abroad, although he prefers the muddy fields of cross-country bikes. So far, his biggest game victory is to be at the front of the café queue.
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