A versatile, super warm option for road and city riding with an interesting ninja-esque hood...
While it’s clearly aimed at keeping you warm in extreme cold, Giro’s Wind Guard Scuba is also a versatile piece of kit you can use for both casual and serious riding.
Built from Polartec Power Dry Fleece fabric with a wind-blocking layer on the chest, the Scuba works well as a top layer on its own, but also as a mid-layer with a jacket over the top. The cut has a heavy bias towards more relaxed riding – adventuring, audaxes and off-road ‘cross-style riding – as the cut is on the looser side, definitely not a fitted, racing-style piece. It’s part of Giro’s New Road collection, just like the Primaloft Insulated Vest we’ve also reviewed, and aimed at on and off-bike use meaning you can both ride into town in it, but then walk around without feeling like you’re walking in uncomfortable bike kit.
The rear has a dropped and scooped tail fit, which helps keep the lower back area covered when ridden with baggy shorts or shorts without bibs. It’s best worn over a baselayer with bib shorts, as tucking it in creates bulk, makes you overheat and compromises on comfort.
The unusual and immediately noticeable feature is the adaptable hood, which also incorporates chin and mouth cover –hence the Scuba name – although I reckon Ninja would have been more appropriate. The other thing about Scuba is that it makes you think of water, and this isn’t something that performs well in rain. The windproof chest offers minor water resistance, but the Polartec fleece holds moisture and quickly became saturated in testing after a very short period in the rain. It does dry quickly, in all fairness, but wet fleece is very cold to the skin.
Arm length is good and the cut is quite close which is helpful for warmth. Plus the plush inside of the fabric is ribbed, which creates pockets to trap warm air and keep you comfortably warm. The fabric also breathes reasonably well when used on its own, but under a jacket you’d need to be in sub-zero temperatures or you’d really heat up.
Having said that, the other application for this and a jacket would be in really windy conditions and lower temperatures where a light wind blocking outer layer coupled with this is a really comfortable and practical way to keep warm without adding too much bulk.
Visually, the plain black look is very utilitarian, but there are a few details on the fabric, such as on the seams, and a low profile logo on the lower left front. No reflective elements, which aren’t necessarily essential, but it would be nice to have some and make this a viable commuting option.
The previously mentioned full facial coverage is, perhaps, a little niche, but the hood rolls down and acts as a Buff would. And if you find yourself overheating, the half length zipper on the front provides an outlet to help you cool down. Where the Scuba really works its magic is the combination of heat retention and still being lightweight, and if you choose to use the hood it still fits easily under a helmet. The optional chin guard comes up to just below the nose, which doesn’t make it all that comfortable for riding, but thankfully the temperature will rarely dip low enough to justify it.
There aren’t any pockets on the back which limits this at an outer layer for serious riding. I suspect the rationale behind it is that you’ll more often use this with panniers or a pack, or as a mid-layer. But when worn with a pack, it does tend to heat up and you’ll find yourself sweating pretty quickly if it’s higher than 5-6 degrees outside.
The Giro Wind Guard Scuba is good for keeping warm whether it’s before, during or after riding, and it works well whether as a loose-fitting outer layer or a mid-layer. Although the hood section is niche, there’s enough practicality and functionality there for it to be a good buy if you feel the cold or ride frequently in colder conditions.
– Excellent at keeping you warm
– Comfortable enough to wear off the bike
– Can be too warm if paired with the wrong kit
– No reflective touches limit use for commuting
– Lack of pockets and relaxed fit mean it’s not suitable as an outer layer for serious road riding
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