The dhb Aeron Lab Winter Polartec jacket provides excellent warmth and breathability, whilst keeping water off, excluding extreme downpour. The tail could be longer and a brighter colour in the female fit version would be nice.
It's fair to say that the UK has been experiencing a particularly wet winter this year. Inconvenient as that may be, it has been useful for Cycling Weekly's tech team when putting items like the dhb Aeron Lab Winter Polartec jacket through their paces. We barely have to wait for a rainy ride - there's a wet one every day!
The dhb Aeron Lab Winter Polartec Jacket is available in women's and men's options, and I put the navy blue female specific version through its paces. The materials and features are the same, so all applies aside from comments on fit.
In its Aeron Lab range, dhb aims to provide its most sophisticated technologies, in this case teaming up with Polartec to use a selection of its highly researched, cold weather engineered materials.
The temperature range in mind is 0 to 12°c, and the expectation is that you'd team this softshell with a base layer alone.
On the inside, you'll find the woolly looking Alpha Direct fabric. This high loft material provides incredible warmth, whilst keeping weight and bulk low. The same magical material is used on the Aeron gilet, and I have been completely converted - this stuff keeps you warm without allowing overheating.
The true beauty of a quality garment is revealed by its ability to slip your mind. Typically, I'd ride in this jacket and forget all about it, until I came to a stop and realised it felt like I was wearing a small radiator.
On the outside, you've got 'NeoShell', a waterproof and breathable softshell layer which feels durable and stretches well for a great fit. It's not the softest material, feeling more like a heavy duty item when compared with Gabba style options available.
In light rain, this did an excellent job at keeping the rain from my skin. In heavy downpour, I found my chest and back stayed relatively dry, but the fabric on my arms was sticking to my skin and heavy with moisture by the end of the ride. Admittedly, this was the sort of atrocious downpour where hiding in a bus shelter feels wise, but it's always good to know where a garments threshold for performance lies.
At the back, side panels and underarms, dhb has sewn in Polartec's 'Power Shield Pro', with the goal of aiding breathability and the added bonus of a greater fit.
On the whole, breathability was spot on. On one occasion, purely in the interest of experimentation, I did team the jacket with the matching gilet. This is not advisable - whilst I actually felt quite comfortable when riding, a quick stop revealed unwanted trickles of sweat.
dhb has cut this item short at the front, with hard and fast riding in the drops the target. Finished with an elasticated gripper, it's also short at the back - in a winter garment, I'd prefer a little more coverage to cater for road spray. The cuffs are finished with a high stretch material, which did a great job of keeping the arms in place and provided a top end aesthetic.
There's four rear pockets, as you'd expect, plus a zip compartment. In terms of reflectivity, there are details on the arms and back. However, I do notice that the men's jacket is available in three colours - including a high viz orange - whilst women get only navy blue. Were the choice available to me I'd go for a brighter colour in kit designed for low light conditions.
I opted for a size 10 in this race fit jacket, one size up from the 8 I'd usually request from dhb - and I was glad I did, the range definitely comes up smaller, with aerodynamics and a racer's form in mind.
The Aeron Lab range from dhb is understandably more expensive than its usual value focused offerings. Whilst £180 is a notable investment, it is competitive against garments offering a similar level of performance.
Michelle Arthurs-Brennan is Cycling Weekly's Tech Editor, and is responsible for managing the tech news and reviews both on the website and in Cycling Weekly magazine.
A traditional journalist by trade, Arthurs-Brennan began her career working for a local newspaper, before spending a few years at Evans Cycles, then combining writing and her love of bicycles first at Total Women's Cycling and then Cycling Weekly.
When not typing up reviews, news, and interviews Arthurs-Brennan is a road racer who also enjoys track riding and the occasional time trial, though dabbles in off-road riding too (either on a mountain bike, or a 'gravel bike'). She is passionate about supporting grassroots women's racing and founded the women's road race team 190rt.
She rides bikes of all kinds, but favourites include a custom carbon Werking road bike as well as the Specialized Tarmac SL6.
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