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The Pactimo Men's Torrent Stretch Waterproof Cape is described as being 'completely waterproof, lightweight, form-fitting and extremely breathable.' While such claims are hardly unusual, here they're justified – I totally agree. The Torrent scores in all those areas very well indeed, and though the price is high the performance is higher still.
While the label says 100% polyester, there's a bit more to it than that. The Torrent is a 4-way stretchable composite of various layers: the outer one is a knitted fabric coated with a Durable Water Repellent (DWR), and sits over what Pactimo describes as a super-breathable laminate.
Then there's a print fabric next to the skin provided by 37.5 Technology, a company that specialises in 'performance enhancing materials' and pop up shops on cliffs.
The inner fabric is the clever bit that makes this jacket so very breathable; it uses 'particles made from volcanic sand that have billions of micropores, massively increasing the surface area of the material,' according to the company.
It also 'absorbs infrared light in the spectrum the body emits it' – heat, in other words – and uses the energy to actively push moisture out of the particles. So they say, anyway, and 37.5 Technology points to its inventor being a Ph.D photo-physical chemist to back it up (though the site's About section doesn't actually name him).
Pactimo claims a 20,000mm waterproof rating and a 37,000mm moisture transfer rate; that second number in particular is pretty impressive; it is almost three times the rate claimed for the Galibier Tourmalet 3 Jacket I reviewed recently, and liked.
All seams are sealed, and you get a decent, waterproof main YKK zip. There is no stormflap behind because the zip is good enough not to need it. This helps keep weight and bulk down, and it also makes it easy to zip up; I have found stormflaps can sometimes get caught on zippers.
Lucky for me, we had plenty of bad weather during the test – the kind of conditions where no waterproof is going to keep you dry, in fact, because either water eventually gets in, or however breathable the fabric is, it's never a match for how good we are at producing sweat.
On one ride, my cycling buddies and I sat down for a coffee after a good four hours of steady rain. We all had decent waterproofs; mostly Castelli or Rapha. After a coffee stop like this, I would normally feel a bit cold and shivery, as a result of my body not producing enough heat to overcome the cooling effect of sitting still in a damp base layer.
This particular establishment was not the most efficient at producing our various egg, bacon and sausage orders, so we were there for a while. While others were visibly shaking by the time we got back on the bikes, I was surprisingly fine.
I feel the key was that breathability; my baselayer was nowhere near as sweaty as I expected it to be. As a result I suffered less chilling, felt less shivery and was more happy.
In short, this is easily the best waterproof jacket I have tried.
The cut of this jacket is towards the racier end. It's not so tight it's compressive, but it's snug enough to stop any fabric flapping. The stretch means it works equally well over just a summer-weight jersey or a longsleeve thermal.
The collar is relatively high and just the right level of snug to keep weather out without being overly tight, and the zipper has a long tag, making it a cinch to use even with big gloves on.
While the back is dropped, it's not dropped enough to keep road spray at bay. Not anywhere near as much as a Castelli Gabba, for example. Not an issue for me as you won't catch me riding in foul weather without mudguards, but it might be for you.
At 140 grams for a medium, this jacket is towards the lighter end what we review. It packs down small enough to easily fit into a jersey pocket; rolling it up I can get it down to a two inch cylinder about six inches long without too much effort.
The Torrent has some reflective detailing, but like so many waterproofs, it's not enough to rely on being seen in the dark. If you want something a bit brighter, it's also available in 'manic yellow'...
I'm usually a medium in non-Italian brands, and this medium fits me just right. The numbers on Pactimo's size chart back this up; my measurements are bang on right for medium.
I think £158 is good value for money for a jacket made from a highly technical fabric that stretches as much as this. You can get a decent waterproof for less money; the Galibier's Tourmalet 3 I mentioned earlier is very good, and just £68. The fabric is not stretchy however, and the Torrent is noticeably more breathable.
As ever, you can pay more. The Gore Torrent Men's Jacket has very similar features but costs quite a bit more at £229.99, while Castelli's Idro 3 Jacket costs more than twice as much as the Pactimo at £320.
This is comfortably stretchy, light, packable, windproof, waterproof and very breathable. These are all the things I want from a waterproof jacket; and while £158 can't be called cheap, other brands charge a lot more for a jacket that works as well as this one.
Light, packable, waterproof and very breathable – the price is good for such strong performance
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Pactimo Men's Torrent Stretch Waterproof Cape
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?
Pactimo says: "A true rain cape, the Torrent is a not only completely waterproof, but lightweight, form-fitting, and extremely breathable. The stretchy aero fit and super packability are added features for this garment that offers excellent protection against the wettest of conditions thanks to a DWR (durable water repellent), seam-sealed outer and waterproof zipper.
"Unlike most cycling rain capes on the market, the Torrent's highly breathable knit fabric, combined with 37.5 Technology known for its ability to move heat and moisture away from the body, ensures a dry, heat-regulated interior over long distances."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Pactimo says this:
5 Layer laminate: DWR coated knit face, super-breathable laminate, 37.5 Technology print next-to-skin (99g/m2)
Ultra lightweight/ packable, lighter than some jersey fabrics
Waterproof Column (Waterproofness): 20,000mm
Moisture Transfer Rate (Breathability): 37,000mm
4-way, Mechanical stretch (0% Spandex)
Waterproof YKK Zipper
360 degree reflective taping
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
I used Tech Wash and followed the instructions. It was fine.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
This jacket packs down small, is very waterproof and stays breathable. In other words, it's very good at its job.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
The fit, the pack size and the weatherproofing.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
I like this jacket just the way it is.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Most jackets this good cost more, such as Castelli's Idro 3 or Gore's Torrent Jacket at £320 and £229.99 respectively. Galibier's Tourmalet 3 jacket is a lot cheaper at £68, but the fabric is not stretchy and the breathability is not quite as good as the Pactimo's.
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 overall score
Pactimo's Torrent Stretch Waterproof cape is stretchy, light and packable, both wind and waterproof and very breathable. These are all the things I want from a waterproof jacket; and while £158 can't be called cheap, other brands charge a lot more for jackets that works as well as this.
About the tester
I usually ride: All of them! My best bike is: Ribble Endurance SL disc
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: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, mtb, Zwift