Vaude Alpamayo Neoshell jacket £370

Reliable softshell

BikeRadar score 3.5/5

You might be musing over risking a jacket this pricey on a bike ride, but the NeoShell fabric from Polartec is as good as the best from Gore (currently their Active Shell) and has a warm synthetic backing to make it feel soft, warm and inviting. 

Think of it as a full-scale softshell, rather than an insulated hardshell, and you’re getting the Alpamayo’s drift. The medium size came up a little large, which gave us layering space. We got by with a base layer and a thin thermal mid-layer even on the coldest days, and as the temperatures improve we’d just lose the mid layer.

This jacket has been ridden through a three-hour downpour (we were totally dry), we’ve been out in blizzards and strong winds (completely draught free), and also got it so plastered in mud that it was more brown than red. It's washed up as good as new with only a few small oil marks on the cuffs to show for its winter of use (incurred fitting snow covers to an ambulance, of all things).

We’ve fallen off half a dozen times (hey, it happens) without a scratch on it and we wear it every day as a regular coat, which makes the cost seem more bearable. At 650g it could be lighter and it’s less stowable than a thinner hardshell, but when we’ve been stuck out on a windy, wet hillside we’ve been more than glad that we had the Alpamayo on our backs.

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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