An extremely cosy winter jacket suited to the very depths of winter. The thumb holes are a nice touch and visibility is good, too. The pockets were hard to get into on the go and the fit was a bit boxy, but it didn't stop me reaching for this jacket whenever possible during the depths of deep winter.
Pockets can be tricky to reach
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The first time I wore Giro's Women's Chrono Pro Alpha jacket, it was not cold enough for the intended use. Within 10 minutes I was far too hot, and I spent most of the ride cursing my outfit choice. However, this was a mild autumn day, so I can only blame the experience on user error, and an eagerness to try a new jacket. Brought back out in the depths of winter, with the thermostat remaining stubbornly consistent between 1ºC and -1ºC, it's become my companion through the coldest December and January rides.
Giro Women's Chrono Pro Alpha jacket: construction
Giro has opted to build this jacket up using Polartec Windbloc fabric on the outside, with Polartec Alpha Direct Active Insulation on the inside along the chest and arms. The back panel forgoes the extra internal insulation, to allow for heat escape.
You'll often find Polartec on some of the best winter cycling jackets as an alternative to GORE or similar, so it's good to know it's a fabric well though of in the industry.
This was not my first experience of the Alpha Direct Insulation fabric, so I knew what to expect: this magical fabric has an immense ability to take on the qualities of a hot water bottle cover, where the human inside is the (very warm and cosy) hot water bottle itself, seemingly radiating heat and warmth.
I could not speak more highly of Polartec's Alpha Direct Active Insulation (which is also made from 78% recycled polyester), and if you're looking for warmth and a high degree of breathability, this is where it's at. The Windbloc fabric over the top is treated with a DWR coating and is perhaps what limited the use of this jacket on warmer days – it's a dense material, it absolutely keeps out the windchill and the worst of the rain, too – but it's heavy-duty and paired with the inner, the combination is not made for temperatures over 5ºC in my experience.
At the back, Giro has embedded three 'expandable storage pockets'. A flap of fabric covers the top of each one, and there's an extra zipped compartment in the middle. Reflective strips bracket the pocket section, with a further reflective running down the centre of the rear.
The pockets may be expandable, allowing riders to fit plenty of snacks, but I did find that the flap covering the top of each made them very difficult to reach into when riding and wearing the kind of thick gloves that accompany such a jacket. Indeed, I typically stopped to gain entry – something to bear in mind if you're joining a faster paced club run (when they return).
The cuffs on this jacket are a favourite feature of mine. Giro has sewn a stretchy, close fit cuff in underneath where the more robust fabric ends, creating a dual layer that extends to ensure the wrists are well covered. This stretchy, windproof cuff includes a thumb hole, so you can be absolutely sure that the sleeves won't ride up and leave an exposed flash of skin.
I tested the size small, which fitted me well sizewise, though it was a little on the relaxed side (I'm 166cm and 57kg). However, I think Giro could have done a better job; the elasticated lower hem finishes off what is quite a boxy, androgenous fit. Admittedly I am shaped like a giant egg timer, so square fits don't tend to bode well for me. If you like a loose fit at the waist, then this could be a winner, but I'd prefer a more flexible band at the hips and a closer waist.
Visibility wise, I'm pleased that Giro has opted for a bright colour in the orange panels present on the model on test. This is accompanied by reflective flashes throughout, too. There is a black option, but given the choice I would always opt for a brighter colour.
Despite minor quibbles on the pockets and the fit, neither of these factors would be considered detractive enough to stop me donning this jacket come the deep winter. During the two week Christmas period where temperatures stayed stubbornly below 3ºC throughout, I wore this jacket on every ride when it wasn't in the washing basket.
Thanks to a particular penchant for muddy 'gravel' trails, it did get pretty grubby, but aside from depositing a thin layer of fluff in the machine on the first wash, it has fared well – instructions state to use a cold wash and a medium heat tumble dry, though I chose to spare it from the latter treatment, leaving it to air dry with all of my other kit.
Value wise, the RRP on this item is £219.99, but Giro's own website lists a reduction down to £175.99. No, it's not cheap, but it is in line with competitors. The warmth on offer is in line with Castelli's more heavy duty Alpha RoS 2 W Jacket (as opposed to the Alpha RoS 2 W Light jacket), at £280 – so if you're looking for a deep-winter solution this could be it. However, bear in mind that the low temperatures this item is suited to may limit its use – those seeking a more value-orientated solution may be better off opting for a lighter weight jacket, layered up.
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