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You certainly get a whole lotta product for your money with the Madison Prima Women's Waterproof Jacket – it's packed with features, the fabric shrugs off rain fantastically, it's comfy to ride in plus it fares okay in the looks department for a commuter jacket.
The yellow version is currently on sale at Madison's website with £20 off (here), making it a proper bargain. With its reflective details, it's a great jacket to keep you warm, dry and visible on the roads from autumn through to spring.
The Prima is constructed from Madison's durable-feeling M:TEC shell, which is waterproof and windproof with an attractive matt finish that wipes clean easily if you get muddy splashes on it. The jacket is lined with polyester mesh, presumably to reduce clamminess. All the seams are taped too.
It has proved totally waterproof (and windproof), with rain beading very well on the outer at first, then when it subsequently got wet the water didn't soak in to the fabric. I even tested it in the shower, with a tissue in the hand pocket to see if the inside of the pocket remained dry, and to my surprise it did – the waterproof zip really is waterproof! After the soaking I hung the jacket up on a hanger indoors and it dried off quickly, being bone dry in well under an hour.
I wasn't quite so impressed by its breathability, but I've yet to find any jacket that matches its manufacturer's claims on this front. For most urban riders negotiating their way through traffic, though, it should be adequately breathable. When pushing it a bit, I definitely got more sweaty in it than I did wearing Gore's Element Lady Gore-Tex Active Jacket, which I was testing concurrently (review to come), but it is aimed at city cyclists who are unlikely to be able to ride fast for a sustained time. It's markedly heavier than the Gore Element, too, but again being a commuter jacket the emphasis is not on light weight. The Prima does feature pit zips, plus two small vents at the rear of the shoulders to aid ventilation.
So, it gets a big fat tick for performance, but what about fit? Madison has clearly thought this through: the Prima has a decent-length drop tail to protect your derriere from rear wheel spray, the sleeves are nice and long – and, crucially, not too baggy – and I really like the clever design of the cuffs. These are elasticated on the underside only, with the scalloped top being a good inch longer to come down over the back of your hands. They'll easily fit over thick gloves, or you can cinch them in with the Velcro tab, which is chunky enough to adjust when wearing gloves.
I needed a size 12 for the sleeve length and room through the shoulders (it's being worn by a smaller model in the photos) but consequently found the fit a bit loose around the torso, despite it being slightly tailored at the waist. Still, plenty of room to layer up when the big freeze arrives! You can easily pull in both the hem and collar with the toggled drawcords. If I were being niggly – okay, I am – I'd prefer a slimmer cut throughout, an even longer drop tail plus a taller collar for extra snugness. Mind you, the collar is lined with cosy microfleece that also extends about 5in down the zip underflap, and there's a zip garage to prevent a cold zip pull touching your skin.
All the zips (bar the hand pocket) have usefully long and chunky toggles so you can use them with winter gloves, or frozen fingers, while you're riding. The main and front pocket zips are both waterproof, and have reflective detail along their length. I'd love the main zip to be two-way so you can open up the front if you're overheating, yet not have the jacket billowing around and obscuring the reflectives. All the zips are a contrasting bright fluoro pink for added daytime visibility, as is the mesh lining, in both my 'bluefish' colour jacket and the 'electric purple' option. The other available colour is 'hi-viz yellow'.
Being a commuter jacket, night-time visibility is an important consideration. The Prima sports a fair amount of reflective, with piping, logos and bars, but I'd prefer the latter to be bigger and more obvious, like Altura's Night Vision clothing. Riders who wear a backpack like I do will find that the shoulder straps obscure some of the reflective detail.
The rear pocket is pretty generous, with a storm flap protecting the zip. Rack and pannier types will be fine here, but because I wear a backpack for commuting I can't access it. The hand pocket is fairly deep but clearly not large enough to fit in a pair of winter gloves – it's a shame there aren't two hand pockets so you can quickly shove a glove in each while you deal with locking your bike at the end of your commute. Ideally there'd be space for stashing other commuter gubbins too, such as lights and keys. A chest pocket wouldn't go amiss either.
Finally, Madison has included a fabric tab for attaching a rear light – better than an incorporated LED in my opinion because you invariably forget to switch them on or off, plus they are uncomfy (and pointless) if your pack sits on top of them. This tab is sensibly positioned low down on the tail so you can still use it if you wear a backpack.
At a penny under £70 (or cheaper if you go for high-vis yellow) it's pretty good value for the performance on offer. Some little improvements would give it more appeal for me, but then again that could raise the price. As with all its clothing, remember to keep hold of your receipt in case of defect because Madison offers a limited lifetime warranty.
Great value, super-waterproof and fairly stylish winter commuter jacket
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Madison Prima Womens waterproof jacket
Size tested: Bluefish, Size 12
Tell us what the jacket 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?
Madison says: "The Prima jacket ticks all of the boxes when cycling in a busy urban environment. The mesh lined waterproof fabric keeps you dry and comfortable in the wettest conditions."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
100% polyester shell – Madison's M:TEC fabric
Fully waterproof and windproof
Mesh lining (100% polyester)
Reflective piping and details
Underarm zippered vents
Large zipped rear pocket
Zipped hip pocket
Main and pocket zips are waterproof
Main zip has underflap and zip garage
Rear light mount tab
Rear venting at shoulders
Drawcord adjusters at collar and hem
Elasticated cuffs with Velcro cuffs
Softly lined inner collar
Internal hanging loop
Limited lifetime warranty
Fabric seems very durable, not so sure about the main zip. It's been fine so far but isn't particularly chunky and I've had an issue with my Madison Keirin jersey's zip pulling open since submitting my review.
Madison says it's "highly breathable" – I found it moderately breathable.
I'd prefer it slightly less baggy and more tailored through the body.
If you have long arms and/or broad shoulders, size up. I take a 12 in Madison tops, a size 10 in Madison shorts.
Not that light but then it's a commuter jacket so weight isn't the focus.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Machine wash 30.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well – kept me dry and well illuminated at night.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
It's very waterproof! And looks all right for a commuter jacket.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Not much, but could use more front pockets and be more breathable.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes
Would you consider buying the jacket? Yes
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
A very good commuter jacket and a clear 8; to warrant a higher score it could do with more pockets and be more breathable. Bigger reflective prints would be good too.
About the tester
I usually ride: Marin Point Reyes 29er My best bike is: Giant Anthem X1
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, mountain biking, audax