The Sportful Fiandre No-Rain Jacket is a warm and highly water resistant jersey-cum-jacket which has proved to be a thoroughly reliable companion on freezing cold and wet winter rides.
The Fiandre jacket comes in two versions: a lightweight jacket which we reviewed in December and this, its deep-winter sibling. We outlined the technical differences between the two in our ‘first look’ so here we’ll concentrate on how the heavyweight version performed over the course of our test.
In short, it’s superb, bar one or two minor niggles. Sportful is an Italian brand but they have taken their influence from Belgium, with Fiandre the Italian word for Flanders. Winters in Flanders are long, cold and wet, if not too extreme – much like our own here in the UK.
Sportful say the Fiandre No-Rain Jacket is designed to provide protection from the cold, wind and rain without sacrificing breathability or fit – and it succeeds on all counts.
The jacket is made from two Gore Windstopper fabrics: a heavier Windstopper 4-Way fabric lined with a winter weight fleece on the front, sleeves and lower back, and a lighter fleece-lined Windstopper 4-Way Light fabric on the rest of it.
That results in a jacket which is warm and windproof, while the fabric is also treated with Sportful’s No-Rain nanotechnology – silicone particles in the material which repel water – to provide an impressive level of protection from rain. The jacket’s not fully waterproof, nor does it claim to be, but it’ll keep you dry on long rides in steady rain, although in heavy downpours the jacket will become overwhelmed and the water will permeate the fabric. It’s worth nothing, however, that this has also become my go-to jacket on freezing cold but dry days.
I’ve taken a less-is-more approach to winter clothing this year thanks to pieces like this, Sportful’s lightweight equivalent, and the Le Col Kuro jacket reviewed in January.
All three are cut from highly technical fabrics which only need be combined with a good long sleeve base layer to provide excellent protection against the elements. I’ve been wearing the Fiandre No-Rain Jacket with a long sleeve, merino base layer on rides where the mercury has dipped below zero and it’s kept me toasty, whereas the lightweight version of the jacket was better suited to temperature in the mid single figures and above.
While Sportful have called it a jacket, the cut is more like a jersey, with a very close fit, so watch out when it comes to sizing as you may need to move up a size. The fit, however, is superb, with the jacket sitting close to the skin and providing little way for rain or wind to get in.
The jacket has a handful of features to provide additional protection against the elements. The high collar is also fleece-lined and very soft next to the skin, while the thick zipper is durable, waterproof and reflective. There’s also an extra long tail to help keep your backside dry if not riding with mudguards but we rarely found ourselves using it and normally kept it hidden away using three three poppers which tuck the tail inside the jacket.
Our main gripe is with the rear pocket. Sportful have opted for one horizontal zipped pocket, rather than three vertical pockets. That means it’s difficult to organise, with your valuables rattling around alongside energy gels and the like, and it’s difficult to grab something while on the move. The problem can be partly solved by using a small saddlebag to keep an inner tube, tyre levers, multi-tool and energy gel, but we’d still like to see three pockets like on the No-Rain jacket. That aside, the pocket’s zip is waterproof, but anything inside is prone to getting a little clammy, even if the jacket is very breathable on the whole.
All that’s left to mention is the colour. Hi-viz fluro yellow is bang on trend and the Fiandre No-Rain Jacket succeeds where many fail in being both safety-conscious (there are also additional reflective bands on the hem and cuffs) and stylish. Still, if the colour is not to your taste then the jacket is also available in black/white.
While the Sportful Fiandre No-Rain Jacket comes with a premium price tag at £170 – although it’s available for significantly less if you shop around – it’s a feature-packed piece which will keep you warm and dry on cold and wet winter rides. And you can’t put a price on that.