If you tend towards being a fair-weather cyclist, the Santini Vega Multi jacket is perfect for persuading you to get out there, but check the sleeve length (and your bank balance).
Sleeves could come up short on long arms
Temperature range not as wide as Santini claim
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The Santini Vega Multi jacket is a winter jacket that's aimed more at filthy wet than freezing cold. Santini says it allows you to face the most challenging weather conditions and that's a pretty accurate description of what it does. It's made from waterproof Polartec Power Shield Pro and with its high collar and long tail flap it keeps out every last raindrop and basically leaves you with no excuses for not riding.
For deep winter we reviewed the Santini Vega Xtreme winter jacket a couple of years ago and included it in our Editor's Choice selection of the year's best products in 2018 – the Xtreme is aimed at temperatures from -8°C to 6°C while the Multi's range is 5°C to 15°C according to Santini.
We're hoping that this offering will also be one of the best winter cycling jackets (opens in new tab) coming from the same design team.
Santini Vega Multi jacket: construction
Polartec Power Shield Pro is often compared to Gore's Windstopper, though Polartec claims Power Shield Pro was the first softshell to combine "breathable comfort with high-performance weather resistance." Rapha has also used Polartec Power Shield Pro – its Pro Team Softshell is made from it.
The fabric is a three-layer laminate, consisting of a 'hydrophobic' outer, a polyurethane breathable membrane and then a soft, grid-patterned inner. Inside the jacket, there's a label describing how Santini's Vega/Polartec clothing protected the Trek-Segafredo team at the start of the 2018 Milan-San Remo when they faced freezing, torrential rain. Castelli had its Milan-San Remo moment with the Gabba in 2010, so why shouldn't Santini have one too?
The cuffs and tail flap and central rear pocket are made from a Superoubaix fleece-lined polyurethane, designed to stop rain from getting in, while the collar is really high, effectively sealing you at the neck. The seams are taped ('thermowelded') as you'd expect.
The Vega Multi has Santini's 'slim' fit – tighter is 'sleek' and looser is 'classic' – and is reasonably close fitting but not figure hugging as such. I am 178cm and 69kg, so you can see from the pictures how the size M fits. I felt it could have been slightly tighter (if I was really desperate to be a bit more aero in winter) but at the same time I could have done with a bit of extra length in the sleeves, which were on the short side in the bike position compared to other size M Santini garments – about an inch shorter shorter than the sleeves of both the Santini Adapt jacket and the Santini Colore long-jersey (reviews upcoming). I measured the sleeves of the Vega at 53cm armpit to cuff; the other two were both closer to 56cm, which seems strange considering they're all from the same brand.
The Polartec Power Shield Pro fabric has plenty of stretch without being restrictive, so you could size down if you wanted to achieve a tighter fit, but if you have long arms you'll need to make sure you wear gloves with long cuffs, as I did. At least that will solve the perennial cuffs-over-or-cuffs-under predicament.
At the rear there are three average-sized pockets plus a zipped waterproof one, and – just as the hi viz-ists are tutting about another all-black cycling garment – a surprise massive orange GT stripe with a reflective middle.
Overall it has the look and feel of a high-quality garment, and is made in Italy too.
Santini says the Vega Multi jacket's temperature range is between 5°C and 15°C. Unless you're pedalling very lightly indeed, 15°C is way too warm for it. I found that it was even a bit too warm for riding above zone 2 at 10°C when it was not raining – even with just a short-sleeved base layer underneath the Polartec fabric was not quite breathable enough to let out built-up heat. Since it's windproof there's of course no cooling effect – but the ring puller on the zip does make it very easy to ventilate in the traditional way.
However, the Vega Multi jacket excels in the nasty conditions it's really designed for. No matter how much I tried, I couldn't get cold, wet and miserable wearing it. I forced myself out on days where I would normally have looked out of the window and decided it was perfect weather for Zwift, and I stayed dry, snug and not a little smug when uploading my rides to Strava.
I have worn it down to 5°C, again with just a short-sleeved base layer underneath, and stayed perfectly warm.
After a few wash cycles it hasn't lost any of its waterproofing – rain still beads off it, though I believe it is DWR coated so will need re-treating at some point in the future.
The Santini Vega Multi jacket is not by any stretch of the imagination a bargain at north of £200, but it is line with similar jackets made from hi-tech fabrics plus it's very nicely made in Italy. The price is similar to that of the Castelli Alpha RoS Light, which might arguably get more use as it's not so bad-weather orientated, but the Santini is much lower priced than the £290 Assos Mille GT Ultraz, which is a full-blown winter jacket and which may be too hot for much of a UK winter.
However, the Santini Vega Multi jacket does very well what Santini has designed it to do, which is to allow you to face the most challenging weather conditions, and if that's what you plan to do then I would recommend it. Ideally, try it on first to make sure you're happy with the sleeve length.
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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 following an MA in online journalism. 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 most of his time testing road bikes, or on a tandem doing the school run with his younger son.
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