Howies are outdoor clothing specialists based in Cardigan Bay, on the west coast of Wales, but their roots hark back to mountain biking and this – the Howies Brenin, to give it its full title – marks the company’s return to cycling-specific jackets.
Let’s get the vital statistics out of the way; the jacket’s made from an 80 per cent recycled polyester (so it’s environmentally friendly), 20 per cent polyester mix. That polyester construction means the jacket’s very light (200g for a size medium), and it breathes very well (helped by stretchy panels on the arms and sides); perfect for spring or autumn mornings when the jacket’s water resistance (more on that in a bit) is essential, but the ice-cold temperatures of winter are behind us. That said, the jacket’s also windproof and on the whole does a good job at keeping out any chill, although the stretchy panels aren’t as good at keeping the cold air out.
The polyester gets a hydrophobic coating which means water beads off the surface when caught in a shower, although heavy or persistent rain (say, more than half-an-hour) sees the jacket’s water resistance compromised.
Howies’ mountain bike roots are reflected in the Brenin’s relaxed cut. There’s plenty of length in the arms and a dropped tail means all the right bits are covered when adopting your on-the-bike riding position, but the cut’s not suited for performance riding, when something closer to the skin would provide a more aerodynamic fit. The jacket’s best saved for commuting, mountain biking (read Bikemagic’s review here) or leisure riding, then, rather than fast sessions on the road bike, but it’s a versatile piece nonetheless. The jacket packs down into the chest pocket but the result is too big to comfortably carry in any jersey pocket (best saved for a backpack).
Aside from the chest pocket (which has an MP3 player port to feed your headphones through), features include a soft, fleece-lined collar, well-placed reflective patches which remain visible when wearing a backpack and an adjustable hem. As for style, the jacket’s a looker and the relaxed cut means it can also slipped on for a quick dash to the shops on your lunch break, while Howies also recommend it for trail running.
So the Howies Brenin Jacket is a versatile addition to the market for commuters and mountain bikers, although it falls a little short for performance-minded road riders. The £100 price price tag is steep for a water resistant jacket, but Howies currently have a special offer on until Monday, reducing the cost to £69 when using the code BREN69.