The Fat Lad At The Back Women's Winter Cycling Jacket is a good-looking, practical, protective and comfortable cold weather option for female riders looking for sizes larger than a UK12. It doesn't breathe as well as you'd expect for the price though, and can leave you sweaty and chilled.
The unfortunate reality is that, if you're bigger than a UK14, it's very difficult to get good quality, performance cycling kit. Fat Lad At The Back is one of the few companies to address that, and – as the name unfortunately doesn't suggest – it also does women's clothes and smaller sizes too.
The (deep breath, I'm going for the full name here) Fat Lad At The Back Women's Purple and Blue Graduated Winter Cycling Jacket (and relax) is a striking thing which I think looks really cool; it gives more than a casual nod towards the styling of much more spendy labels.
There's an even more striking version in bright yellow and blue too, if ultimate visibility is your aim.
It's a softshell made from a polyester/elastane mix, with a windproof and water-resistant membrane across the chest, back and shoulders. It stretches down the tops of your arms, too – the rest is a stretchier, more breathable polyester.
There's a silicone gripper at the shaped hem, three generous rear pockets with reflective tape and a zipped security pocket. The front zip is a high quality YKK item that's easy to use one-handed, and there's a stormflap for sealing and a zip garage for neck comfort.
The cuffs are a snug, stretchy fabric and fit neatly. They're a touch tricky with a GPS type watch, but not overly so.
This jacket is described as being most comfortable in a more aero position, rather than when standing, but I feel it's gone slightly too far in being snug across the shoulders and chest. Just a very slight tweak could give extra comfort on a more upright bike or at rest stops, without compromising the fit and efficiency.
The main body has good length and will accommodate even fairly tall riders, but isn't too long for my 5ft 5in frame.
The broad hem with gripper band means the jacket stayed put nicely, and the cut across the hips creates scope for a variety of body shapes.
The sizing feels accurate if on the slimmer side, particularly around the sleeves and shoulders – for thinner base layers I'd stick with the recommended sizing, but for deep winter layering I might consider going up a size.
The windproof panels across the front, back and sleeves are extremely effective at blocking the wind and even persistent heavy rain, but they're not that breathable, meaning there was some sweat build-up when working hard despite those sidepanels.
The main issue seems to be the back – it got really quite damp inside on every ride, even at 8° C.
At £154.99, it's a little expensive. Okay, it's cheaper than the Castelli Perfetto RoS Women's Long Sleeve Jacket at £200 and the Pearl Izumi PRO AmFib Softshell Jacket at £199.99, but both use more breathable fabrics and feel more luxurious too.
The Fat Lad At The Back jacket is quite a bit more expensive than the Stolen Goat Ragamuffin 20 Orkaan Everyday LS at £125 which fulfills a lot of the same requirements. It's also more expensive than both the comfortably breathable Chapeau Men's Club Windstopper Jacket at £149.99 and the Lusso Aqua Repel V2 Jacket at £134.99.
The (once more with feeling) Fat Lad At The Back Women's Purple and Blue Graduated Winter Cycling Jacket (good lord) is a great looking top and very comfortable in temperatures below 10 degrees or so – at least for a while.
Unfortunately it's just a bit on the sweaty side for reliable comfort on long hauls, and the cut is most comfortable in aggressive positions the breathing just can't keep up with.
Good winter jacket for short-ish runs, but lacking breathability – and the cut could be more usable
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Fat Lad At The Back Women's Winter Cycling Jacket
Size tested: 38
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?
Fat Lad At The Back says: "Our most versatile all weather jacket, designed to provide the utmost flexibility across the seasons, packed full of features to keep the wind and rain out while being breathable and wicking."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Polyester/elastane mix fabric with a wind and waterproof membrane in panels. Stretch mesh fabric in others.
Three large pouch pockets with reflective accents
One zipped security pocket large enough for mid-sized smartphones
YKK zip with storm flap
Silicone hem gripper
Available in sizes 38"-50"
Pretty well made with nice-feeling fabric, but a bit rough round the edges with the odd loose thread and less-than-perfect seam.
Manages temperature well, even in rain, but gets damp inside due to lack of breathability – particularly on the back.
Very waterproof even in heavy rain, but no taped seams so will eventually leak.
Well-shaped and with a lovely broad hem band, but snug at the sleeves, shoulders and chest.
Fine for use with thin base layers. For thicker warmer base layers, I'd consider sizing up.
Average for its purpose.
Very comfortable apart from the moisture build-up on the back panel.
It's expensive for the performance, though not all its competitors are available in larger sizes.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Very tough and easy to care for.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very good as a cold weather jacket and for wet conditions too, but not ultimately not breathable enough to resist chilling on long rides.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
Variety of sizes, weather protection, warmth, looks.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Tight across the shoulders, not as breathable as it should be.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?
At £154.99, it's a little expensive. Yes, it's less pricey than the Castelli Perfetto RoS Women's Long Sleeve Jacket at £200 and the Pearl Izumi PRO AmFib Softshell Jacket at £199.99, but both use more breathable fabrics and feel more luxurious too.
The Fat Lad At The Back jacket is quite a bit more expensive than the Stolen Goat Ragamuffin 20 Orkaan Everyday LS Jersey at £125 which fulfills a lot of the same requirements. It's also more expensive than both the comfortably breathable Chapeau Men's Club Windstopper Jacket at £149.99 and the Lusso Aqua Repel V2 Jacket at £134.99.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes, but wished it had been less sweaty
Would you consider buying the jacket? Possibly, if in the sale
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Probably
Use this box to explain your overall score
This looks great and fits well, giving good levels of comfort in chilly and wet conditions. However, the sweat build-up (particularly on the back) and slight niggles with the fit of the sleeves affect the performance and hold it back – especially at the price.
About the tester
I usually ride: Liv Invite My best bike is: Specialized Ruby Elite
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.