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One of my favourite things about riding on a wet winter's day is the feeling of putting a warm hoody on after the hot post-ride shower. Maybe it's just me, but I find there's something comforting about the extra neck-warming you get. The Lahynch from Howies is a hoody that you can wear on the bike as well as off. It's a classic piece of semi-tech bike clothing from the Welsh masters of the art.
The Lahynch is available in men's and women's sizes and is made from a blend of 72% Sorona, 25% Merino wool and 3% spandex. You're probably familiar with the latter two, but for anyone not au fait with Sorona, it's a Dupont polyester fibre made in part with renewable plant-based material. Dupont say its manufacture produces less greenhouse gas and uses less energy than nylon. The merino wool is used for its warmth and comfort, and the fabric overall feels pretty nice against the skin.
I've been wearing it a lot during the test period and it's great for the cooler evenings of later summer and autumn. What it's not is hugely thick, so while the wool content helps keep your body warmth in, it's a lighter-weight garment than most of the cotton hoodies I own. This, combined with a decent level of breathability, makes it well-suited for cycling in the 7-15 degree temperature range.
The fit is good, a slim cyclist-friendly cut, which works on the bike and looks about as smart as is reasonably possible (with a hood) off it. It's only available in one colour, a dark grey that Howies call phantom, but there's some intelligently positioned reflective details which help get you seen of an evening: the full-length zip on the front has an eye-catching reflective strip built in, as does the single zipped rear pocket.
On the subject of pockets, there are two front pockets accessible from the sides as well as the one round the back. The front pockets are great for keeping your hands warm or stashing things when you're not riding. You could ride with things in there but I tended to chuck my phone in the back for riding where it doesn't swing around. By positioning the vertical openings to the front pockets round to the sides, in line with the seam, you don't see them from the front, which makes for a smarter overall appearance. The pockets extend right round to the front zip so they are basically huge, big enough for an A5 envelope.
There is the standard draw-cord around the hood, and the waist and cuffs are ribbed for your pleasure. Branding is kept minimal, just a small blue Howies tab on the left hand side below the pocket. Zips are all decent-quality locking YKK items.
If you're wondering where the name Lahynch came from, join the club. It may or may not be related to the similarly-named golf resort and surf resort in western Ireland.
During testing I wore this hoody off the bike more than on. There were certainly occasions where it was nice to be able to jump on the bike for an errand without changing, with the fact that all the pockets zip up being the main advantage compared to most similar garments in my wardrobe. It's well-fitted and very comfortable, and styled maturely and discretely, certainly not shouting "CYCLIST" when you walk into the pub wearing it.
List price for the Lahynch is £80. To save you the bother, I've established that Aldi will sell you a "cycling hoody" for £13. Howies probably don't see this as a direct competitor, so I also looked at the range of hoodies available on Wiggle, where the Lahynch (with the current 10% discount) is the 6th most expensive of 83, pipped from the top by a selection from Oakley, Castelli and RaceFace. It is more expensive than all of the 97 hoodies offered on Debenhams' website. So it's a high-end item then, although not as much as Chrome's merino hoody, the Cobra, which is well north of £100, and a lot less than the Meccanica Marl merino jersey that Dave reviewed recently.
Howies is a small company that makes its gear in limited quantities and with an emphasis on sustainable and low-impact manufacturing. A lot of their clothes are made in the EU and this is something they are quite proud of, so it's surprising to see the Made in China label here. That said, I wouldn't be at all surprised if the five more expensive hoodies on Wiggle are likewise made in China. Howies told me that the factories they use in China are audited for their working conditions and quality and that the price reflected their smaller production runs and the use of premium materials like merino wool.
Everyone's budgets are different; my feeling is that the Lahynch is a bit over-priced. I like Howies as a company, I like most of their products and I've previously found their customer care to be unimpeachable. I just wouldn't pay £80 for a hoody, even a really nice one with very deep pockets, like the Lahynch.
Smart well-fitted part-merino hoody that you can wear on or off the bike; spendy for a hoody though
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Make and model: Howies Lahynch Hoody
Size tested: Medium, gray
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Soft, regular fit hooded sweat with a full-length reflective zip. Made from Sorona® and Merino wool for natural breathability and temperature control. Incredibly comfortable to wear with plenty of stretch for durability.
Zip side pockets and a zipped reflective rear valuables pocket for plenty of storage. Merino jersey lined hood to stop heat escaping on cooler days.
Sorona® uses partly plant-based glucose from renewable corn starch crops as a clever replacement to 100% oil-based fabrics. Because of it natural content, Sorona® consumes less energy and produces lower greenhouse gas emissions than petroleum-based fabrics in production.
We've blended this clever fibre with Merino to create a naturally warm, breathable jersey that feels soft, regulates body temperature and dries out fast.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- Regular fit
- Sorona® / Merino mix with added stretch
- Full reflective front zip
- 2 zipped hand pockets
- Reflective zip rear valuables pocket
- Naturally breathable
- Fast drying
- Drawcord Hood
- Silky soft feel
- Ribbed cuffs and hem
- Flatlocked seams
It's a well-made hoody, with decent fit and a nice feel.
Very comfortable for lounging around, with some nice features to make it better-suited to cycling than most hoodies.
It's been worn and washed plenty during testing, no issues arose.
Very comfortable, as merino-based fabrics generally are.
I think it's a bit too pricey, especially as it's made in China.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well - it's a comfortable piece of gear that works well for a bit of casual cycling.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Comfort, discreet styling and branding. Reflectives are discreet in daytime but effective at night.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Not a whole lot.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes in a 50% off sale. Not at full price.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Maybe.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
This would have earned a solid 4 stars if it was £50.
Age: 36 Height: 190cm Weight: 78kg
I usually ride: Boardman CX team for the daily commute My best bike is: Rose Xeon CRS
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Jez spends his days making robots that drive cars but is happiest when on two wheels. His roots are in mountain biking but he spends more time nowadays on the road, occasionally racing but more often just riding.