As someone who generally doesn’t go in for buying cycling or sports clothing, this was an aberration. But a worthwhile one.
I fell for the Endura Velo PTFE Protection jacket while the More Significant Other and I were in the midst of a full-blown shopping spree. You know the sort of thing – where you’re hopped up on the excitement of the things that are already in your basket and you start going how about one of these and this looks great, I definitely need one of these. Before you know it, you’ve parted company with €180 on a jacket you definitely don’t need.
Except that I did need it. I just didn’t know that yet.
At the time, I owned a Mountain Warehouse high-vis outer shell that would help keep me dry in a summer shower but wasn’t much use against wind or cooler temperatures. The advantage of the shell is that it’s thin and very light and so can live permanently in a rack bag or pannier.
The Endura doesn’t pack down quite as small, but it’s not far off. And it is extremely light. In high summer, then, the Mountain Warehouse shell goes everywhere with me. But for the other three seasons, it’s the Endura. The jacket comes with a detachable hood which also stays permanently in a pannier. At least, the hood came with my jacket – the Endura website lists it as an optional extra.
The version I bought is in red, because I’m a believer in high visibility (you can also get it in black). In full sunlight, the scarlet colour shows up pretty well. But like many pigments other than specialised high-vis colours, its visibility reduces dramatically in the shade. For this reason, on the road I’ll put a hi-vis gilet over the top. For nighttime there are reflective details and piping that should help you glow from all directions – although, to be honest, I would have liked to see more.
The jacket is unusually practical for a bit of sportswear. There’s a vertical phone pocket alongside the main zip – a so-called ‘Napoleon’ pocket with an outlet inside the jacket for headphones (never used because, to me, cycling with headphones on makes you a candidate for the Darwin Award) and a built-in spectacle cloth on a length of elastic.
There are also two side slip pockets and a rear stash pocket, the latter with a loop for an LED light. All the pockets have waterproof zips, as do the four ventilation slits – one under ear upper arm, just below the armpits, and one each side just behind the slip pockets. The ventilation slits work extremely well once you’ve worked up a sweat (as you will, see below) – just remember to zip them up again before setting off on a cold day! Ask me how I know…
The high-tech, three-layer PTFE Protection fabric is highly waterproof and wind resistant. In the worst of winter I’ll wear this with a cotton t-shirt and a thin fleece underneath and a padded gilet over the top – and sometimes get hot enough that I need to stop and take something off or open the vents. There are elasticated cuffs in the sleeves that you can zip out if you don’t need them. You can also tighten the cuffs with a rubber and velcro attachment.
The water- and wind-proofing also means that it can get sweaty. Pretty much the first thing I do on getting home is turn this jacket inside-out and hang it up to dry.
Now for the delicate subject of fit. There’s a degree of adjustability in that the collar and waist hem have lockable pull-cords. But there’s no give at all in the fabric and no ease anywhere. I was glad I bought this in a shop because getting the right size is important.
And I said ‘delicate’ just now because I’m not the sporty type and therefore not the kind of shape Endura had in mind when it designed this jacket. Being of more generous proportions than the average sportsman, the fit over the hips is snug. This current festive season could cause a problem…
Aside from Endura’s failure to accommodate the more sybaritic cyclist (and I should trademark that phrase), it’s hard to fault this jacket. It’s tough as hell, packs down small, is very light and works for all seasons. I do find the zips somewhat stiff: adjusting the main zip at the neck when I’m a bit too warm or cold takes two hands and therefore means stopping. But otherwise it’s an outstanding piece of equipment.
On Endura’s site the VELO PFTE Protection jacket currently sells for £160 (without hood), which is expensive. Given my dislike for sportswear I would normally have steered well clear of this, especially at that price. Luckily I got caught up in a spending frenzy and ended up with one of the best bits of cycling gear I own.