The jacket is a new addition to the Vulpine range for the winter of 2014/15 and joins the Original Rain Jacket, Harrington Rain Jacket and Softshell Jacket in the range, while the Packable Disc Jacket is an even newer addition to the collection.
Where does the Ultralight Quilted Jacket fit into the mix? Well, it’s designed for cold winter riding thanks to the use of a super-light (or, rather, ultra-light) filling sandwiched between two nylon layers. It’s windproof, too, and water resistant.
First things first, this is a jacket best suited to leisurely riding. The fit, bulk (it’s very light for a quilted jacket but still considerably bulkier than what you’d normally where on the club run) and even warmth dictate that this is a jacket most at home on casual rides, rather than the chain gang – though it’s just as effective off the bike, such is the warmth, styling and quality of fit and finish.
The jacket is quilted with a Primaloft Gold filling, which is the outdoor firm’s premier insulation. It’s a synthetic filling – 100 per cent polyester – and strikes an impressive balance between warmth and low weight. It is, in short, very warm, and Vulpine have had to use little of it to create a jacket which is, well, very warm – or, rather, very cosy. The fabric is also windproof and the jacket feels as though it creates a pocket of warm air between itself and your body – a comforting barrier on freezing winter days.
We wouldn’t describe the jacket as packable like we would many others – it’s not something you can whip on and off as the conditions dictate and stuff away into a pocket (Vulpine will no doubt point you towards their own Packable Disc Jacket for that). Still, the Ultralight Quilted Jacket is impressively light for the level of warmth and it will compact down to a relatively small size to squeeze into a backpack or pannier bag.
The nylon outer is water resistant and protects against light rain and road spray, so it works well when the weather’s a bit murky out. Prolonged or heavy rain will compromise the material, though Vulpine say the nylon outer and Primaloft Gold will dry quickly in any case – and we found that to be true when we got caught out in an unexpected downpour. It certainly doesn’t retain water like cotton or typical polyester. The jacket is machine washable (at 30 degrees with no fabric softener) and while we only had to wash it once during our test period, we did so with no adverse effects.
Vulpine say the jacket is suitable for a temperature range of minus two degrees to plus 12 degrees. You certainly wouldn’t want it to be any warmer – you’d only want to be turning the pedals over if the temperature’s in double figures – but, on the flip side, we reckon it could be a bit colder if you get your layers right. We haven’t experienced weather cold enough in south east England so far this winter where the Ultralight Quilted Jacket hasn’t been a safe option.
Like we said at the top, this, by our reckoning, is a jacket for ‘casual’ riding, whether that’s a slow commute, around town, to the shops, to the pub, perhaps a little touring if you have room in your panniers – but it’s not something we’d take on anything resembling a training ride. It’s just too warm and, while the Primaloft Gold fabric is reasonably breathable, that’s going to do little to stop you overheating on a ride where serious exertion is required – unless it’s very, very cold.
That’s reflective in the fit, too. The rear is slightly dropped to provide a little extra coverage when on the bike but it’s not cut for an aggressive riding position. It’s also a roomy fit and while I take a medium is the majority of cycle clothing, a small does the trick here and leaves room for a couple of layers underneath – so watch out for that. The fit is otherwise excellent, other than we’d like an extra centimetre in length on the arms. They’re not too short, but it’d provide a bit more coverage when stretched out on the bike.
Asides from the fit and fabric, it’s a relatively simple jacket, but Vulpine have included a number of small but well thought out features. The two zipped pockets are well-sized and have leather zip tabs which make them easier to grab when wearing gloves. There’s also an internal zipped pocket on the left breast for a wallet or valuables and, at the rear, there’s an open, fleece-lined pocket for a mobile phone – though, in reality, we haven’t felt the need to use it or have a mobile phone that close to hand when riding.
The collar is high and wide enough to do the zip up to the top without strangling yourself, thus giving a bit more protection when conditions dictate. It’s fleece-lined, too, and that’s appreciated when it’s Baltic out. The shoulders are also reinforced to protect against the wear and tear dished out when wearing a backpack.
And that’s just about that. All that’s left to mention, then, is that besides from the fact that this is a jacket which performs very well for its intended use, is that it looks great, too – something that can be, and has been, worn in the pub without anyone batting an eyelid. We love our bold ‘racing red’ sample, but it’s also available in ‘classic navy’ and ‘charcoal’. There’s also a women’s version with a female-specific cut, and available in ‘dutch orange’ and ‘charcoal’.
The Vulpine Men’s Ultralight Quilted Jacket isn’t for racing around on the club run, nor is it designed for that, but for leisurely commuting and riding around town in cold, wintery conditions, it’s an excellent piece of kit which is super-comfy and offers tons of warmth for the weight. It’s not cheap, but the performance is excellent, as is the quality and finish. It’s also become our go-to jacket off the bike this winter, whether that’s when trudging to the pub or on a country walk.