Classic British weather can call for all kinds of clothing solutions, and no small amount of worry when trying to get your ensemble right. However, the Sportful Fiandre Light Wind Jacket has proven itself to be a great all-in-one solution to the eternal question of what to wear for your winter ride.
Go back a few years and if you wanted a water-resistant-yet-breathable-all-in-one-jersey-jacket hybrid, all you needed was to decide what size and colour you wanted your Castelli Gabba in. That’s definitely not the case anymore with a few brands out their raising their game, and Sportful have a product here that can challenge the best of them.
The Italian brand claims the Fiandre Light Wind Jacket offers the protection of its Fiandre range in its most breathable form, and after a good six weeks spent with it, it’s hard to disagree.
While utilising Gore Windstopper 4 Way Light fabric across the wind-facing panels to keep serious chill off you, it’s got a fantastic ability of wicking away excess warm and moist air when you get going.
- Price: £150
- Sizes: S-XXL
- Sizes tested: M and L
- Colours: Hi-vis green; black; red
- Website: Sportful
Initially, this can make the jacket feel quite cold, but once you’re generating meaningful body heat, it’s a massive boon when you’re trying to regulate your body temperature – something that can be particularly difficult to do in winter.
However, whether you choose to wear it as a heavy jersey layer over a base layer or as an outer jacket with a base layer and jersey underneath, it performs its role here brilliantly. And, you can genuinely treat it as flexibly as that thanks to the stretchy fabric and excellent fit.
It’s not quite Rapha Pro Team racy in fit, but it’s a kind of halfway house between that and a relaxed-yet-slim winter jersey (like Chapeau’s Thermal Winter jersey we reviewed a couple of months ago). The stretch of the fabrics helps the jacket mould to the body, so although I sit right in the middle of medium and large sizes thanks to my wide shoulders, I was comfortable in a tighter medium, and equally so – if slightly more relaxed – in a large.
The slim figure-hugging fit around the waist ensures you feel cocooned against the elements, and there's no bagginess to flap in the wind. As a result, it’s a perfect jacket to wear if you’re wanting to get a move on and slip through winds as easily as possible. It’s even quite light at 293g on our scales in a medium – less than the claimed general weight of 322g.
When the heavens open, it’s also remarkably capable of resisting water. It’s not quite fully waterproof in the way an advanced rain jacket might be, but it can bead off medium showers or short-lived heavy downpours really well as we discovered on our first ride with it. Subsequent rides were the same story, although if you can its always best to treat it with a technical wash to ensure it doesn’t degrade prematurely.
The general protection it offers is supported by a dropped tail for splash back, while the NoRain fabric in the central back panel is still water resistant despite being probably the most breathable panel on the jacket. It loses a touch of water resistance here compared to the Gore Windstopper fabric elsewhere, as you might expect, but it’s definitely not poor at shielding you from rainfall by any means.
The neckline is also raised at the rear to help keep water from sneaking down your back, fastened by a zip at the front with a shield to offer a little added protection from wind and rain penetration. The sleeves are excellently shaped, albeit coming up slightly short in the medium size originally tested.
The three rear pockets are easy to reach and are shielded by the NoRain fabric, and if you want a little more secure storage there’s a Gore Windstopper-protected zipped pocket on the left flank. The diagonal zip makes it easier to work on the move than a conventional horizontal one.
The only downside to it is it has a mesh liner on the inside, so if you are sweating a lot and happen to have put paper money in there without wrapping it up first, it’s going to get fairly damp. That said, this is going to be a short-lived problem for us Brits given the ongoing transition to plastic notes.
It’s a good-looking jacket, too. I had the medium hi-vis green colour you see pictured, as well as a large black version on test. It looks great in either colourway, with the red third option also sure to be a looker. As ever, the red Fiandre branding is present on the shoulder and central rear pocket – something of a status symbol these days – while you also get a little reflective strip on the waistband too.
The Sportful Fiandre Light Wind Jacket will set you back £150, but it truly is £150-worth of jacket in terms of performance. Given that it can be used as a full-on outer jacket or as a heavy winter jersey, you're really getting two garments in one.
It has a great fit perfect for high tempo riding in cold and windy winter weather, as well as providing enough protection for heavy showers through its fabric choice and cut. It’s become my go-to winter outer layer over the past few weeks, unless it's chucking it down, and it’ll take something really good for me to want to replace it.
- Performance fit
- Great breathability
- Good water resistance
- Versatile across a range of conditions
- Not fully waterproof