We like to keep things titled so as to make it easy for people to find, but if I didn’t have any other considerations, a more accurate title would be, “The Greatest Jacket I Never Wear.” Or maybe: “My Favourite Jacket to Carry in a Jersey Pocket.” Let me be clear, though, this isn’t a bad thing at all. In fact, the Sportful Hot Pack Ultralight Jacket has moved from the closet into the small collection of things I take with me on every ride.
It’s hard to imagine at the moment, as I write this while listening to a hard rain and with snow in the forecast, but the sunny days will eventually outnumber the rainy, and there will come a time, again, that I’ll be pretty certain about the conditions from the start of a ride to the end. I will likely still carry this jacket, though. Without any hyperbole what Sportul has created is absolute magic.
At 105 grams, and the size of a couple of gels, there’s no reason not to carry the Sportful Hot Pack Ultralight Jacket. It’s smaller and lighter than some of my arm warmers, and it’s likely to be appreciated on cold mornings as much as arm warmers while being a significantly better option for fast descents in the shade.
My favourite jacket to wear is a durable water-repellent treated softshell. It feels like a heavy jersey, and breathes like a jersey would, but it works in the rain. I pair that with a short sleeve winter baselayer, and most of the time, this is a great combo for the kind of weather I head out in during the winter. What gets tricky is that Oregon weather isn’t particularly dependable, and I often find myself headed out in light rain and sunshine, or no rain and overcast but not too cold. Then, after a few hours, the weather shifts to something a lot colder. Quite a few times, I’ve found myself shivering in a country convenience store in the middle of nowhere with a lot of miles left to ride.
The Sportful Hot Pack Ultralight Jacket is the solution to this situation. Now when I head out, even if it feels moderate when I leave the house, I shove this in my jersey pocket, and when the weather shifts, I will throw it on over my DWR jacket to help keep my core warm. It’s the insurance that allows me to misjudge the weather and still finish my ride.
Despite my proclivity to leave the Hot Pack Jacket in my jersey pocket, I have gotten it out to see how it performs, and I’ve not been disappointed. Products treated with durable water-repellent coatings are never officially listed as being waterproof, but in my experience, I really can’t tell the difference when it comes to an item’s ability to keep me dry. Particularly because truly waterproof garments tend to be a lot less breathable, and you end up getting wet from the accumulation of sweat on the inside.
The Hot Pack Jacket is a perfect example of how much I prefer DWR in almost all instances. It might not be officially waterproof, but with sealed seams and a quality DWR treatment, it will keep you dry as long as water isn’t allowed to pool on the surface. More importantly, it does a great job staying breathable at times when I swear rain is going to break out any minute, but it never actually does.
The Hot Pack Ultralight Jacket Sportful has created what might be the ultimate insurance jacket. Using innovative fabric technologies, they have built something that is incredibly thin while still retaining strength and usability. Shove it in your jersey and don’t think twice about changing weather or cold descents. The one thing I’d love to see improved is the cut in the shoulders. I find the shoulders to be a bit too generous of a cut. This causes an annoying flapping in the wind, however, it also means it fits a wider range of garments underneath.
Thart’s a small issue though and easily overlooked given what I consider a completely reasonable price of $129. Remember, while that might be a little bit pricey in terms of how often you wear it, I’d say it’s worth counting every time you bring it with you when doing any price per wear calculations. It costs less than a quality jersey and should last quite a bit longer.