Due out later this year, the Castelli Tempesta Race Jacket lives up to its name as a protective, foul-weather shell that breathes so well you can race in it.
The Tempesta is made with eVent fabric, Castelli's answer to Gore-Tex. Thanks to stereotypically grim weather during a two-week Belgian trip and more than a month of near-record-setting rain at home in Colorado, I have spent at least 40 hours in the Tempesta, which will replace the Pocket Liner Jacket.
The eVent material is exceptional. Breathability in a fully waterproof layer is no easy trick to pull off, and the Tempesta is right on par with Gore-Tex's best offerings. Further, the light, silky fabric feels more like a windproof softshell than a stiff, waterproof hardshell.
The cut is typical Castelli. If you like loose jerseys and jackets, you won't like the Tempesta. Personally, I like the tighter cut, and the Tempesta arms have a forward bias with long sleeves, so there is no binding, even if you have relatively wide shoulders. Cinch straps at the wrists tighten the fit.
Strong reflectivity, breathability, drop tail, race cut, two pockets and cinch wrists in a bona fide waterproof that feels like a softshell... what's not to love?
With a rear flap extending below the pockets, the cut might not flatter off the bike, but that isn't the point, is it? The rear extension is quite welcome when the rain is pouring down. Reflective, elastic seams ring the bottom of the extension and the two large, mesh-bottom pockets. Pockets on a rain jacket? It struck me as odd at first, but I quickly grew to appreciate the extra storage. Turns out that punctures and rainy days often go hand in hand, and jamming a grimy, punctured tube in an external pocket is a lot easier than trying to fit it into a small saddle bag.
My one major gripe is the fabric backing behind the zipper – it jammed it constantly. Adjusting a zipper on the bike in the rain should be a straightforward affair; your fingers will be hampered by gloves at best if not stiffened and numb from cold. The zipper jammed seemingly every time I wore the Tempesta… until I cut the backing off. Problem solved. A Castelli representative said that this zipper placket is being adjusted for production, and that I have been testing a pre-production sample.
On the bright side, the stuck zipper often forced a legitimate test of the Tempesta's breathability. For instance, going hard uphill at events like the Ronde van Vlaanderen sportive didn't result in overheating. In a standard waterproof jacket, I would have been tearing that thing off with my teeth.
A smaller gripe is the short life of the reflective logo on the chest. Frankly the rear reflective panels are the more important; the chest logo is often pointed at the top tube. But it is worth noting that the chest logo peeled mostly off after two months of hard use and washing.
Another small gripe: the thin, soft fabric feels great, but unfortunately isn't quite as bulletproof as a Gore-Tex jacket. The trade-off here is packability and feel. For me, I prefer the feel and size of the Tempesta over the larger, stiffer feel of something like Sugoi's RSE NeoShell.
Bottom line? The Tempesta is an excellent waterproof jacket. Many waterproof jackets you take off on climbs then put on for descents. The Tempesta you just leave on as long as it's raining, regardless of terrain or effort level.
Many waterproof jackets feel like plastic bags, causing you to overheat when the pace ramps up. The Tempesta breathes like a champ