Windproof, breathable and stylish softshell jacket for winter riding
We were impressed by Sportful’s Giara short-sleeve jersey and bib shorts when we reviewed them earlier this year and that continues here, with the Italian firm’s Giara Softshell Jacket. It’s an ideal winter piece with an unflustered style typical of the Giara collection.
Sportful launched the Giara collection last year as an understated antidote to the company’s high-performance race clothing. While it was initially pitched at gravel riding, in reality it’s just as well suited to road riders who want technical apparel but with a subtle design and slightly more relaxed cut.
As soon as you put the Giara softshell on you feel warm. The interior is a brushed fleece, which is super-soft if worn next to the skin and and very comfortable. The jacket is made from a windproof softshell fabric on the front and a stretchier ‘Thermo Drytex’ fabric on the rear. That combination works well, keeping the wind off your chest and arms, while maintaining enough breathability to let excess heat and moisture escape.
As a softshell, this is a bulkier piece than Sportful’s R&D Strato jersey-gilet combination that we recently reviewed. Whereas the super-breathable Strato is aimed at high-tempo riding in cool conditions (Sportful’s recommended temperature range is eight to 18 degrees), working superbly to keep your core temperature steady when pushing hard, the Giara is better suited to more typical winter riding, with a stated temperature range of five to 15 degrees. Pair the Giara with an additional layer (as well as a base layer) and it’ll see you through some very nippy temperatures indeed.
The softshell fabric offers a degree of water protection. It’s not waterproof by any means but light rain will bead up on the softshell and when water does work through in a downpour, the brushed material maintains a good level of warmth if riding at a high enough pace to generate heat.
The jacket sits well when riding and has a cycling-specific cut – but, in line with the rest of the Giara collection, it’s not a super-racy fit. That, combined with the design, means you won’t look out of place at the mid-ride coffee stop. The arms are a good length, which minimises the chance of exposed skin between the cuffs and gloves.
At the other end, the high neck keeps the wind out, helping to give the Giara a reassuring level of warmth – the insulation properties of the brushed fleece interior are very good. The styling is quite simple but in no way lacking, with a subtle herringbone pattern on the top half and a plain black lower half, separated by a neon green stripe that runs around the whole top (there’s also a version with a blue stripe).
Otherwise, the jacket is fairly simple in terms of detailing. There are three well-sized and easily accessible rear pockets, plus a fourth zipped pocket. It’s not lined with a water resistant material but it’s fine for stashing keys and some money. The hem is finished with a simple band of elastic with rubberised grippers which help to hold the jacket in place, while the full-length zip is robust and nearly covered by the softshell material, helping to keep drafts out.
The Sportful Giara Softshell Jacket offers a good balance of comfort, warmth and breathability, offering enough insulation for frosty mornings while still being able to handle changes in temperature. While the Giara is best suited to cool, dry and windy conditions, it is able to handle road spray and a bit of light rain, making this is a staple piece for general winter riding.
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