Let's get this out of the way right up front: The Alé PRR Winter Jacket is not a water-deflecting jacket. It is most certainly not a rain jacket. But it is an excellent thermal jacket with wind block on the chest and arms, great breathability and a snug, comfortable fit.
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If you often ride in the cold but seldom in the wet, this is a great one-piece solution for your torso. In some ways it's the opposite of a hardshell jacket that you take cover in for storms but rip off as soon as the skies clear because you're raining on the inside. It's more of a thermal longsleeve jersey with an integrated vest (and windproof arms).
The back of the jacket has no wind block, nor do the strips down the back side of each arm. Besides added breathability, these areas provide for a more jersey-like flexible fit than any hardshell jacket offers.
This piece has become my go-to jacket for the past two winters. Most cold days I wear it over a baselayer — like a jersey and a jacket in one. Like most jackets, it's big enough that you don't really want to have to try and cram it into a jersey pocket. For days above freezing, I'll wear a thinner baselayer. For sub-freezing days, I'll use a heavier longsleeve baselayer and be good to go.
My main gripe is the lack of a water/sweat-proof liner in the fourth zippered pocket. I'm a fan of the zippered pouch — don't we all ride with our phones these days? — but it would be better if it doubled as a moisture protector.
Speaking of moisture protection, as I said above, there isn't any here. And that could well be a deal breaker for many Brits, or at least an annoyance at the title of the piece of clothing. Because it fits closely, you can certainly pull a rain cape over it. Its value really depends on how — and in what climate — you use it.
The collar is tall but soft and pliable, and the back features a thin little extension that can close the gap to a winter hat when in the cycling position.
The jacket shown is old, and Alé has a the same jacket in a few different new styles that also have small side vent zippers. Personally I don't think those are needed — I used the main zipper for easy and more effective ventilation — but they can't hurt. On the plus side, you can still find this old-graphics version for near-half price online.
I know we've all been told to layer, layer, layer for winter riding. But I appreciate being able to just pull on a baselayer and this jacket and be done with it.