Material: 2 layer Ripstop Gore Tex
It’s January in the Yorkshire Dales, the weather is suitably wet, windy and foul enough to find flaws in any fancy anorak.
Freestyle are a British company, based in Plymouth, making biking gear for the West Country weather which is pretty much the wettest around from what I can remember from my days on Dartmoor. It’s always been good no nonsense gear as a sensible price.
The Sprinter has been around for a few years now and established itself as a firm favourite, with some neat detailing that sets it apart from other ‘just Gore Tex’ jackets.
The Gore Tex itself is ripstop, using a grid of small squares to stop any crash tears growing into gaping wounds before you can patch them. This adds welcome survivability to an expensive jacket. The close fit is enhanced by stretch Gore Tex side panels which expand to accommodate the less aerodynamic of profiles, but still leave our medium sample a snug, non flapping fit on a scrawny six foot Scoop.
To prolong fabric life and increase breathability, the whole jacket gets a Coolmax mesh liner, but be careful that the Velcro tabs on the short cuffs are tight or the mesh will suck rain up your arms with impressive enthusiasm. The high collar is unlined but has an elasticated drawcord, as does the high front / low back hem, and there’s plenty of length in the arms even for a stretched roadie position.
All zips are deeply storm-flapped (with a double tunnel flap on the main front zip) and the high cut front reduces the leg bunching effect caused by the lack of a two-way main zipper.
Pockets high on the left chest and round the back carry a fair amount of gear, with the rear one just swallowing the jacket itself, but annoyingly neither are big enough for an OS map. Stuffed size (10cm x 10cm x15cm) is impressive though considering the liner and pockets and weight for our medium jacket was 80g less than quoted at 400g.
We had the Orange but it also comes in black, blue and a commuter-pleasing ‘flo yellow’ colour.
Does it work?
Gore Tex is excellent heavy weather cloth, and the ripstop reinforcement makes this even more suitable for mountain bikers. Complete waterproofing still comes at the cost of working up a sweat on the climbs though, and with no venting the mesh liner only makes a slight difference. Thankfully the sleeves are large enough to be rolled up for some arm cooling action.
The cut is excellent for cycling and we welcome the elastic drawstrings that replace the old string ones Freestyle used to use, but it’s definitely obvious performance rather than leisure style if you’re looking for an all round winter coat.
Overall, a good wet-riding jacket, but there are also a couple of points where we feel they just stopped short of making the design great. A two-way front zip would give more ventilation options and we’d have liked at least one of the pockets to handle an OS map.
Should I buy one?
With Karrimor’s minimalist PacLite Vail at £130 and the full feature Gore Bike Wear PacLite at £160, the Sprinter sits right between the options available in the more breathable and lighter PacLite fabric. Other non-Gore jackets are also closing the performance gap for around £100. That said, it’s a sensible durable offering, thanks to the Ripstop fabric and snug cut and styling definitely keeps it in the running.
Not a definitive “Must buy” but still a well designed, well priced jacket.