Bontrager RL Thermal Soft Shell jacket £89.99
We’ve often said that soft shells are one of the best fabrics to come to the mountain biking world, and in Bontrager’s latest RL Thermal jacket the material has been utilised to good effect.
Soft shells, you see, combine the benefits of a traditional waterproof jacket and the warmth and comfort of a fleece into one very versatile top, good enough for near year round use in the UK. Most trail riders shouldn’t be without one in their cycling wardrobe.
Bontrager’s RL Thermal Soft Shell Jacket uses a three-layer laminated fabric for the panels on the chest, shoulders and arms ensuring nasty elements are kept out whilst the stretch-woven fleece back panel keeps your temperature under check and avoids overheating.
The jacket is one of the closer fitting jackets, Bontrager describe it as a ‘fitted style’, but they’ve measured it just about right. It sits close to the body but there’s ample space for several layers underneath giving you the flexibility to dress appropriately for the conditions. There’s no restriction of movement around the arms and shoulder, so those occasional hairy animated moments on the bike didn’t prove a problem.
Soft shell fabrics are designed to be completely waterproof, instead water resistant but that said I’ve been impressed with just how well it deals with the rain. Only if it is really hoofing it down (like it was when I went out last Thursday) would you want to think about popping a lightweight waterproof jacket over the top. On cold days it’s impressively warm and cosy, and has dealt with the shockingly chilly weather recently just fine.
It’s packed with features. Out back is one single pocket, one zipped chest pocket and novel pass-through pockets mean you can reach through to the contents of jersey pockets underneath the jacket. We didn’t find much use for these as we tend to stick everything inside a hydration pack but if you do prefer using your jersey pockets. There are Velcro closures at the cuffs, and silicone gripper tape on the hem keeps the jacket from riding up.
Ideal for changeable winter conditions with a great fit and tons of warmth and protection from the rain and mud, the Bontrager RL Thermal Soft Shell jacket ticks all the boxes.