The Stratos Pack is the cheapest jacket in Madison’s new range at £39.99, designed as a basic shell to keep out the elements.
A lightweight jacket is a key item in any cyclist’s armoury at this time of year, providing an extra layer of protection against the wind or rain, while avoiding that boil-in-the-bag feeling that will come with using a heavier jacket outside winter.
This jacket is manufactured from a material given a 10,000mm waterproof rating, but the jacket is showerproof, rather than fully waterproof, not least because of the underarm and back mesh venting.
That venting provides an entry point for water when riding in heavy rain and pit zips, rather than ever-present mesh, may have provided better protection. That said, this is a jacket for avoiding showers and it fits the bill in that respect, with water beading off the surface of the jacket. Crucially, (in fact, most importantly for a jacket like this), it keeps the wind off your chest.
Breathability is good for a jacket of this price, with most moisture wicked away unless riding at a high intensity, when it can get a little clammy inside, particularly if you have bare arms underneath.
The rear zip pocket doubles-up as a stuff sack which, with a little persuasion, will hold the jacket, although it’s a touch too big to be held comfortably in most jersey pockets, particularly those with a slimmer fit, and it can therefore weigh the rear of the jersey down.
Other features include subtle sleeve and rear reflective print for added visibility, elasticated sleeves to stop rain or wind running up your arm, a dropped tail, and an audio port to run your iPod headphones in from the rear pocket, up the inside of the jacket and to your ears.
The cut is casual, rather than racy, with no elastic or similar to draw the jacket in at the hem, while the fleecy neck is fairly wide. The fit, along with the fact that the jacket is a touch to big for a jersey pocket during longer rides, makes this suitable for commuting – likely to be a reasonably short ride when a jacket like this will come into its own – while you can also get away with wearing it with jeans, so for short hops on the bike to the the pub/shops.
As for looks, the contrast of the white zip on the red piece tested is a smart look, while the jacket is also available in semi-transparent white and hi-viz yellow.