Getting dressed for a mountain bike ride at this time of the year is downright tricky: as I type this review there's menacing clouds looming over the office, there's forecasts for snow in some parts of the country, and yet just three days ago it was warm enough for summer clothing.
It's with this uncertainty of what to wear that I've found howies new Brenin jacket, which I’ve been testing for a couple of months, indispensable. It's key feature is how light it is, a thin polyester fabric, most of it recycled, keeps the weight right down. It also means it can easily be scrunched down into a tiny ball when not needed, and can zipped inside the chest pocket. Maximum versatility.
When in use the jacket is a little on the baggy side, which is ideal if you prefer a looser fit. I don't, but pull cords at the waist help get the bagginess under control, and the elasticated cuffs stop any unruly flappage. Though it's a little baggy, it's a decent fit, helped by stretchy panels on the arms and torso.
Features-wise you get just one pocket, located on the chest. This performs a dual function, it doubles as a storage pouch for the jacket when it's not being worn. There's some stylish reflective splashes which manage to still be visible when wearing a hydration pack, and an MP3 player port for you headphones in the back of the chest pocket for those music lovers. And the fleece-lined collar is a very welcome touch on cold days.
In use, the Brenin breaths reasonably well, regulating temperature when the effort level increases. It's also keeps the wind out nicely at the same time, making it a good shell when you need the protection. A hydrophobic coating ensures it stands up to a reasonable dose of rain, though when it gets heavy for a prolonged period you'll be wanting to find a friendly café to hide away in, while the rain passes. Waterproof it is not. That's not the jackets remit though.
Getting the layering underneath takes a little more consideration if you're used to soft shells. There isn't much insulation in the Brenin, and we found a base layer and suitable long sleeve mid layer underneath worked a treat.
At £100 however it's not cheap, and especially when compared to the very similar Endura Pakajack.
Not cheap, but it looks good, the design is simple and well-thought out, and is ready for any weaher you want to face on your next ride..