Today seems to be a good day to tell you about a new waterproof jacket that has just arrived into the office for review. It’s Sportful’s all-new Stelvio, a state-of-the-art waterproof jacket developed for the demands of professional racing… and ideal for regular cyclists whether doing a sportive, training ride or long commute.
Sportful has spent the past three years developing the new Stelvio. Rather than go to a leading fabric manufacturer and pick something out of a catalogue, it has worked with a Japanese specialist to develop its own fabric. That has allowed it to refine a fabric it feels offers the best in class waterproof and breathability ratings. It calls this fabric RainWick Stretch.
To put some numbers on those two performance parameters, Sportful tells us it has a 20,000mm waterproof and 50,000 g/m2/24hr breathability rating, the numbers obtained when measured in a laboratory using industry standard tests, which involve, for the waterproof test, forcing water through the fabric.
It’s a very thin and lightweight fabric, and much lower bulk than the old Survival jacket that used to be the Italian company’s range-topping waterproof and as such is much more packable, it’ll roll up into a jersey pocket where the former wouldn’t.
On first inspection, the Stelvio’s fabric doesn’t feel quite as paper thin as Gore’s latest One Active jacket, a rival for the Stelvio jacket to face off in the upcoming test. But nor does it feel as fragile as the Gore One Active jacket. But at 161g for the size small here it’s also over 50g heavier than the Gore jacket of the same size. It'll be interesting to see how it compares. Naturally, all seams are tape sealed on the inside.
As you’d expect of a jacket developed with a professional cycling team the Stelvio has a race fit, all slim and figure-hugging. It’s also reduced of features that would add unnecessary weight, or potentially impinge the ability of the jacket to keep rain out. So there are no pockets to speak off, this is a jacket purely designed for surviving the worst rain weather.
There are some carefully considered details, though, and one that stands out is the clever sleeve design. Getting the cuff design just right is a tricky old business. It needs to be loose enough to allow you to easily get the jacket on and off whilst probably wearing gloves, but provide a decent seal to stop rain and cold air going up the arms.
Rather than resort to Velcro adjusters, a common approach seen on jackets, Sportful has this clever double stitched cuff design, which both allows enough expandability to ease removal over gloves but ensures a snug seal around the wrist. It works well in the office, I’ll see how it works on the road.
The waist sees the tail drop down right over the bum, and as you can see from the photo above it provides ample coverage from rear wheel spray. The waist band is lined with silicone tape to stop it sliding and shifting about. The collar is generously tall as well and not at all restrictive when done right up.
The full-length YKK Vislon is water resistant with an internal storm flap and works smoothly with the large puller handle easy to grasp, and there’s a small ‘garage’ to park the zipper and prevent irritation against the neck.
There are a couple of reflective logos placed around the jacket but it scores lower on the visibility chart than some jackets, though it’s comparable to Gore’s jacket. If visibility is important to you, be pleased to know that as well as this understated grey, the Stelvio jacket comes in a bright yellow. You can’t get the new Gore jacket in such a bright colour so it’s an extra point to Sportful.
At £240 the new Sportful Stelvio is clearly an expensive jacket, but the price is in the same ballpark as its main rival, the Gore One Active, and does represent three years of development and back and forth between the design team, the factory and the professional cycling team to ensure the product is right before release.
I'll let Sportful have the final say in this first look:
The next generation of our ultimate rain jacket designed for those days when staying dry can be a question of survival. Super compact, with a tailored fit with full stretch construction developed for fast riding or racing in extremely wet weather. Exceptional breathability reduces condensation and overheating. Developed with Team Tinkoff in rain, ice and snow.
So those are the key details, stay tuned for a full review soon once I’ve sufficiently tested it in suitable weather. More details at www.sportful.com
David worked on the road.cc tech team from 2012-2020. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds, and you can now find him over on his own YouTube channel David Arthur - Just Ride Bikes.