The Alpha Ros 2 Light arrives from Castelli’s broad jackets range, nestling close to the middle in terms of its targeted temperature spectrum (7° to 15°C) and the protection it offers against the wind and rain.
It combines Gore-Tex and in-house materials for a high-quality, comfortable fit and excels in a range of conditions. This makes it an attractive option as a do-it-all jacket. However, at £250 those impressive qualities don’t come cheap.
Castelli Alpha Ros 2 Light Jacket specifications
The Castelli jacket’s key features include three rear pockets with the smart addition of laser-cut drainage holes, a front zippered compartment and an internal vest.
The big material news is the inclusion of Gore-Tex’s Infinium Windstopper 150 material on the front and sleeves for wind and rain protection, with Castelli’s Nano Flex Xtra Dry the fabric of choice on the back in a bid to increase breathability.
Five colour schemes are available, with this Fiery Red our pick for visibility.
How we tested
A good winter cycling jacket is a valuable addition to any cyclist’s wardrobe.
Compared to a typical waterproof cycling jacket, winter jackets favour breathability and insulation over total protection from rainy weather.
This makes them a good choice for damp or cold riding conditions, where wearing a fully waterproof jacket would be uncomfortable or unnecessary.
Most will feature some kind of windproof membrane and will be treated with a durable water-repellent coating to shed off showers. Look out for fleece or fibre pile insulation if you run cold and want the cosiest jacket possible.
Our testers tried out 12 of the best winter cycling jackets on the market, racking up plenty of grimy autumn and winter miles in the Mendip Hills in the process.
Castelli Alpha Ros 2 Light Jacket performance
There have been different versions of the Alpha for a couple of winters now and I’m still struggling to find serious fault with it.
My lofty reverence stems from the Gore-Tex Infinium fabric, which ticks both windstopping and water-repellence boxes, the latter aided by the taped seams and an aqua-resistant phone pocket (there are also three open rear pockets).
The internal vest ensures that you can undo the outer layer when the temperature or intensity increases, heightening the versatility further.
If anything, that ‘Light’ in the title is a misnomer because I’ve successfully used this jacket below its 7-15°C recommended limit, while it has proven breathable in mid-teen temperatures.
In terms of fit, and unlike some of Castelli’s notably tight jerseys and race kit, the Alpha didn’t dent my ego too badly in terms of fit (still scale up if you’re between sizes). I could fit a baselayer and jersey underneath without holding my breath for the entirety of my winter rides.
I’d argue that there are more effective and stylish cuffs out there – see the Santini Vega Absolute – but the rear hem does the trick in blocking chilly winds from rising up.
While I was let down by my own handling skills and stamina, the jacket has consistently been a reliably versatile and stylish presence, handling whatever the English weather, brambles and hedgerows I fell into could throw its way.
Yes, at £250, it’s a big-ticket item, but I can vouch for its durability. You also won’t need the added expense of a stashable rain jacket, and you can layer up underneath for when the mercury drops to lower single figures.
Castelli Alpha Ros 2 Light Jacket bottom line
The Alpha Ros 2 Light offers both high levels of comfort and material quality. Where it truly excels is in its wind- and water-thwarting prowess.
That quality doesn’t come cheap at £250, but I’m struggling to think of a better spring/autumn/winter do-it-all jacket.