The ashmei Men's Cycle Emergency Jacket is a super-compact, lightweight jacket for when you get caught out by a chill wind or a splatter of rain. It's not waterproof, has no pockets, is pricey and the fit won't suit all, but overall it does the 'emergency' job.
The Cycle Emergency Jacket is misleadlingly named. Do you need to be in an 'emergency' to wear it? No. As an extra wind-blocking layer during an early ride, or after cresting a ridge and going full-tuck, certainly, but neither are 'emergencies'. And as it's neither insulating nor waterproof, it's not going to be a great survival aid should you actually be in an emergency. Rather, the focus here is on being really small and light, so you might carry it – and then use it should the need arise – when otherwise bulk or weight might preclude taking an extra layer.
The fabric does have a DWR coating, and does a good enough job of keeping most wind and light rain at bay, for a while. You could use it to stay warmer on a descent lasting a few tens of minutes, say, but there are laser-cut holes down the spine and the ashmei logo on the breast is actually many hundreds of tiny holes, so it's not even trying to be water-resistant – as a garment – let alone waterproof.
The offset zip is great, as are all offset zips that remove the discomfort of having inevitably chunky, occasionally scratchy zip hardwear compressed into your throat.
Tech features pretty much start and end with 'reflective bit on hem and shoulders', which is par for the course in superlight clothing.
One of the most disappointing features in an otherwise well-executed garment is the built-in stuff sack. Sewn into the lower right rear of the jacket, it is a simple reversible pocket with a plastic click-dome closure. Turning it inside out and starting to cram the jacket in works, until you get about two-thirds done, then run out of room. Then you have to poke and prod the remaining material into the corners, then hold it in place while stretching the fasteners together to close. Then the slightest stress on the overall package will see them pop open, the contents literally springing forth.
There's a little hanging loop on the outside of the packed sack, but you can't hang it off anything for fear it will disgorge itself. Disappointing, because literally a gram of extra material to give the sack a bit more volume, and maybe a slightly more robust closure, would have nailed it. Packing up smaller than a fist (8 cubic cm according to Ashmei) it's not like a tiny bit more volume would have mattered.
Adding to the disappointments, the fit is not great – for me anyway. At anything approaching a decent speed, the shoulders flapped and buzzed incessantly, and the sleeves come up about an inch too short. I do have rather lanky appendages, so for those of less extended dimensions or bulkier shoulders the fit may be spot on.
My best comparison is with the Showers Pass Ultralight Wind Jacket, a £65 gem of a jacket that I found perfect in every way. Yes, it's a smidge heavier and bulkier than the ashmei Emergency, but the sleeves are the correct length for me and the stuff sack actually works. It even has an offset zip. And it's half the money.
If you're happy to spend £128 on a superlight jacket, I'd suggest stretching another £50 to the 7Mesh Cypress Hybrid: a properly tape-sealed job with zips to access jersey pockets, which still rolls up into a jersey pocket, weighs less than your phone, and won't leave you feeling short-changed.
I like the look of the ashmei Emergency, and it's certainly a well-built product. I just wish the fit and stowage matched the price tag.
Superlight and compact choice for an extra windproof layer, but pricey and some technical and fit niggles
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road.cc test report
Make and model: ashmei Men's Cycle Emergency Jacket
Size tested: Medium
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?
It's a jacket for occasional protection from the elements.
ashmei says: "It may be known as one of the toughest legs of the Giro D'Italia, but the Italian Dolomites have also proven an ideal testing ground for the ashmei Emergency Jacket. In spring, the Passo di Stelvio, possibly the most dramatic and challenging road in Europe with almost 15 miles of ascent to more than 1,500m, serves up the sort of terrain and conditions that will make you glad you packed this jacket. Brilliant Alpine sunshine, one minute; squally showers and low visibility, the next.
"Packing down to an 8cm3 volume and weighing in at just 121g, our Emergency Jacket slips practically unnoticed into your rear jersey pocket.
"Where this jacket really comes into its own is at the summit after that epic climb through those twisting mountain passes. The rapid descent requires a barrier to guard you against biting wind when riding at such speed and allows you to focus purely on those tricky hairpins. The Emergency jacket is that barrier and then some.
"No need to worry if the road has surface water either. Our jacket comes fitted with a rear tail guard to protect you against road spray to keep your jersey free from grit, grease and grime. A reflective shoulder seam and rear strip increase visibility in low-light conditions ensures you are seen."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Highly windproof, breathable, water-resistant fabric
Precision laser cut venting holes to stop billowing
Reflective shoulder seam tape and rear stripe for high visibility
Reflective hem binding with silicon gripper
Built in mesh pack sack
Alcantara zip guard
Highly technical microfibre ultra stretch fabric
Super lightweight, high performance – 121g
Packs down to 8cm3
Durable Water Repellent outer finish
YKK® Reverse Coil #3 Zipper with enlarged ashmei zip pull
Good as an emergency layer to protect while descending, or in a light shower.
The construction is neccessarily lightweight, but well-assembled. Treat with care.
Light rain beads on the DWR coating just fine, but not much more.
With all the dots and material, yes it's very breathable.
For me, not great. Sleeves too short, and loose around the shoulders.
For me, the sleeves were too short, making me think I should have gone to a large – which would then be very loose.
The soft collar material and offset zip both make for a comfortable wear.
Compared to other similar functioning offerings, the price is high.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Washed OK, no complaints.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
As an emergency shell, it was OK. But to wear as an extra layer for a long period, the flappy fabric got annoying really fast.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
The design. Looks trick.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
The stuff sack, and the fit: flappy, with short sleeves.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Compared to the Showers Pass Ultralight, the price is high for only slight weight and packed-volume benefits. If the sleeves were longer, the stuff sack sorted and, for me, the shoulders less flappy, it would justify it better.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? It was OK.
Would you consider buying the jacket? No
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Not without trying it on a ride first.
Use this box to explain your overall score
I'm going with 'above average' because of the superlight weight and compactness here – if those are your priorities, and it fits, for the money I'd say yes, it's 'above average'. It's expensive compared with some, though, such as the Showers Pass Ultralight.
About the tester
I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc My best bike is: Velocite Selene
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mtb, Dutch bike pootling.