RRP £215, £99 from Sport Pursuit
My quest for the perfect softshell jacket to suit my needs – long rides in cold and sometimes wet weather, occasional efforts but mostly low intensity and on flat roads (read: windchill) – seems to be neverending.
Past windproof (and not waterproof) winter jackets have made me overheat with the slightest bit of effort (despite breathable panels on the side and under the arms) and I hate that feeling of being hot in the body but cold in the hands/feet so much that I’d resorted to several baselayers, winter gilets and windproof armwarmers in recent years to better regulate my core temperature which isn’t ideal.
I’d pre-empted that the Coldharbour would not perform the way I wanted, as it’s windproof/waterproof material all over with only small venting holes at the armpits rather than zips, but again I was pleasantly surprised. Wearing it in everything from dry just-below-zero to wet low double digits, I never once came close to overheating, despite that full windproofing. If anything, I found it a bit chilly once it got down below 5 degrees, but that’s easily solved by another or a thicker baselayer, and in my case, a set of thin armwarmers between baselayer and jacket. Above 5 degrees and a single long-sleeved winter baselayer sufficed.
The fact that the heat can find its way out of the jacket when you’re working hard is the big selling point.
The water and windproofing definitely affects the breathability a bit, as I never came home with my baselayer bone-dry even after an easy effort, but the fact that the heat can find its way out of the jacket when you’re working hard is the big selling point.
The cut of the Coldharbour is “performance” but my XS fit fine even with the extra layer underneath. The arms were slightly long but not noticeable once on the bike. Again, the attention to detail is noticeable: zipper pulls chunky enough to grab with heavy winter gloves on (unlike another rather large and very popular Italian company’s winter jackets); the reflective pixel panel on the middle rear pocket; the waterproof front zip with zip garage at the neck; the subtle reflective logos and branding; the bonded label on the inside rather than loose tags.
The middle rear pocket is a lot bigger than the other two and easier to reach into, so best used for stuff you’d want whilst on the bike, like food or a map. The left and right rear pockets hold stuff like a wallet, pump, cafe lock and other less-needed stuff securely. The front zipped pocket is ideal for quick-access important stuff like keys or a phone.
I had one major problem with the Coldharbour and that was the cuffs at the wrists. They are very tight, keeping the drafts out, but the double-layer makes the jacket hard to get on and off easily. I struggled to get my arms out of it without turning the whole thing inside out. And if you’ve got liner gloves to go underneath the cuffs, you pretty much need to put them on before you put the jacket on, and then put the outer set of gloves on over the cuffs. Once I got used to this order of operations, it was fine, but I would have liked to see some kind of gusset or zip at the cuffs to ease the on-and-off, especially when dealing with the faff of winter gloves.
The only other thing that would be nice is to see more colours in the range: black/red or black/black would not be my first choice for a winter jacket in dull conditions or limited daylight, though at least black doesn’t suffer the road-grime-permanency that brighter colours get.