dhb has got everything right: the Aeron Lab Ultralight is a truly packable, superbly performing rain jacket. The navy colour is very chic but the option of a brighter colour with more reflectives would be nice.
Nice slim fit
Only available in navy
By Simon Smythe published
The dhb Aeron Lab Ultralight waterproof jacket is part of the British brand's new premium range, launched this summer, dedicated to producing kit that is faster, lighter and more aerodynamic.
The Aeron Lab collection has been two years in the making and has been field tested in a variety of environments and by a range of riders including the pros of the brand’s sponsored Canyon-Eisberg team. Since, according to dhb, it has sourced the best fabrics, construction methods and minds to offer a complete pro-level range, the price is higher than you'd normally expect.
The dhb Aeron Lab Ultralight waterproof jacket certainly looks the part as well as doing what it says on the tin, weighing just 103g for the size small, having a skinny fit with long arms and narrow shoulders and keeping out rain incredibly effectively.
It uses a three-layer waterproof fabric with a DWR coating, as is standard for this type of garment, but since dhb’s is so thin it packs down smaller than most other packable jackets. Of five jackets we reviewed in the September 20 issue of Cycling Weekly, including the Castelli Idro Pro and the Assos RS Equipe, the dhb Aeron Lab Ultralight was lightest and, as we found, its waterproofing properties were not compromised to achieve this.
There’s a fleece-lined collar for extra insulation, which also stops water trickling down; all the seams are taped and the lightweight YKK zip works smoothly. The drop tail is perfectly judged, exactly covering the bum area from wheel spray.
The Aeron Lab Ultralight only comes in navy blue with small reflective gold dhb logos front and back and a bigger reflective Aeron Lab graphic on the drop tail.
dhb Aeron Lab Ultralight: ride
The first time I wore the dhb Aeron Lab Ultralight I was caught in a heavy downpour on the way to the meet point of an evening ride. Waterproofing proved to be excellent, with raindrops beading on the surface and running off. The rain began to stop as we rode out and the temperature dropped, but since the jacket had kept the rain out of the original deluge I stayed dry and warm for the rest of the ride.
Breathability was also great – I've experienced none of the dreaded 'boil in the bag' beyond what you'd expect when wearing an outer shell layer and working hard, and if a jersey or base layer gets sweaty the jacket does allow moisture to escape.
It's worth noting, though it's embarrassing to admit, that during testing I had a tumble from stationary onto hardpacked, stony mud and despite the fabric being very light it didn’t rip or even mark.
I have to say I was slightly alarmed by the lightness of the zip, but it has worked flawlessly.
DWR coating will wash out eventually (and can be reapplied) but after the dhb Aeron Lab Ultralight's first wash cycle it is as waterproof as it was before – but clearly it's best to wash DWR-coated garments as infrequently as possible.
dhb customers who have been attracted by the brand's low prices may be disappointed that the Aeron Lab Ultralight waterproof jacket is comparatively expensive, but I would suggest the expensive is justified since its performance combined with its look and feel puts it up there with jackets from more established premium European brands.
Simon Smythe is Cycling Weekly's senior tech writer and has been in various roles at CW since 2003. His first job was as a sub editor on the magazine following an MA in online journalism (yes, it was just after the dot-com bubble burst).
In his cycling career Simon has mostly focused on time trialling with a national medal, a few open wins and his club's 30-mile record in his palmares. These days he spends a bit more time testing road bikes, or on a tandem doing the school run with his younger son.
What's in the stable? There's a Colnago Master Olympic, a Hotta TT700, an ex-Castorama lo-pro that was ridden in the 1993 Tour de France, a Pinarello Montello, an Independent Fabrication Club Racer, a Shorter fixed winter bike and a renovated Roberts with a modern Campag groupset.
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