Specialized Element SL Pro jacket – review

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Specialized Element SL Pro jacket – review

Strong performing softshell jacket perfect for cold, wet rides during the winter months

Specialized’s Element SL Pro jacket brings together a strong package of features that make for a really good softshell. With impressive breathability, warmth, waterproofing and wind protection it makes for a quality jacket.

As winter begins to set in and the weather turns, a quality jacket is a must for anyone who wants to continue riding outside and battle the elements. And Spesh clearly had this in mind when creating the Element SL.

The most important part of this jacket is the Event 310 fabric used throughout. It’s a three-layer material that, according to Specialized, is a ‘compact, elastic and abrasion-resistant polyester outer shell with water repellant treatment, soft brushed hydrophilic polyester inner layer and a breathable water and windproof membrane in between.’

Fit on the Element SL Pr is very close, and we’d definitely recommend trying on the jacket before buying if possible to make sure that it’s your size

Seeing as we tested this in the UK, the best place to start is probably the waterproofing and it’s where the fabric comes into its own. I used it in heavy rain and remained completely dry, with the rain beading on the outside and not saturating the material at all, even after an hour of intense rainfall.

Windproofing is also excellent, with nothing getting through either the main material or the zip, the latter being thanks to a strip of the same Event 310 material backing the zipper. Even in really bad conditions nothing managed to penetrate the zip.

On top of the weatherproofing, the jacket’s also very comfortable with a soft, fleecy inner that also provides excellent insulation. There are a couple of other nods to comfort such as the chin tab that stops the zip rubbing at the top when fully done up.

There’s also a well-received degree of breathability, so you don’t get any of that boil-in-the-bag effect often prevalent among weatherproof jackets. The concealed armpit vents also help, and they’re easy to open and close on the move. Altogether, the Event 310 fabric seems to be a winner.

Away from the material, the jacket has some other nice features like the waterproof rear pockets. There are two standard pockets and one zipped, and they’re constructed from an almost leathery material, giving the jersey and unconventional look that might not be to everyone’s taste. They do, however, manage to keep things perfectly dry and are large enough to fit everything you might need. The issue I found, though, was that they’re quite hard to access when full.

The fully waterproof rear pockets do their job extremely well, even if the leather-look might not be to everyone’s taste…

The cut of the jersey is responsible for the pocket-related issues, as the race fit means they’re quite tight when full and getting things out can be tricky. It’s quite an aggressive fit overall and I’d recommend trying one on before you buy, if possible, as the cut is close enough that it does come up a little small.

Underneath those pockets, the dropped tail adds another bit of weather protection, and the drop is anchored by a strong silicone gripper that keeps everything in place very well. It didn’t ride up at all during testing, even in wet conditions when the bib shorts were truly soaked.

The cuffs on the sleeves are excellent, and have an outer and inner element allowing for one part to be tucked into your gloves and the other to go over the top of the cuffs on the gloves. It’s very effective at keeping out the elements.

The double cuffs are a great touch and allow for one to be tucked into – and the other placed over – the cuffs of your gloves

Conclusion

Overall, Specialized have made a seriously good jacket in the Element SL Pro. The Event 310 material performs admirably, even in the very worst of conditions, and manages to keep weather out and warmth in. It’s worth noting that the close fit means sizing might be an issue, and it does affect the accessibility of the pockets, but these are small prices to pay for one of the best softshell jackets I’ve used.

Pros

– Waterproof and windproof
– Comfortable with solid breathability
– Good looking, race cut

Cons

– Can be hard to access the rear pockets when they’re full

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