Windproof Shell Jacket
The sJ.13 first appeared as a teasing image in Assos' catalogue last Autumn, before information and photos gradually began to materialise on European sites. It only appeared on Assos' own site in early February and finally debuted in UK stores a few weeks ago. Despite the similarly named SS.13 jersey leading with a capital, the LuftShutz begins with a lowecase "s". Being fairly sure of the Swiss precision in which these items are named, I am sure there is a reason for this, but we are left to speculate - or ignore and move on to the jacket itself.
Described by Assos as a "super compact, high performance windbreaker & thermo insulator" it is categorically unintended as a rain jacket although has some degree of waterproofing to it, an extremely useful facet when riding in the UK.
Being a new item and therefore nowhere having existing stocks, there didn't seem to be a way to escape the recent price increases seen across the whole cycling spectrum, but even so Ribble offered the jacket cheaper than anywhere else I could find, and with a 15% May Day sale on it represented a substantial saving over the RRP. Given my apparel persuasion for the shade of driven snow, I pushed 'add to cart' next to the white option. My belief is that a few extra minutes with the stain removal soap stick is worth it for the PRO look.
Upon opening the box one is greeted with a package around the size of a couple of stacked CD albums:
What at first appears to be a carry pouch reveals itself as the jacket's pocket turned inside out. In my haste I paid no attention but I'd advise unfolding it slowly in order to obtain some comprehension as to how to replicate the folds and therefore repack it to the smallest possible bulk.
On this label attached to the inside-yet-sometimes-the-outside there is a whole user manual's worth of information - a description as to the jacket's function, the usual care instructions and the logo for the new HYBROv2 material. This logo is also sewn to the inside, in the same omnipresent location as other Assos garments.
The construction of the sJ.13 is excellent. The black sections are made from a stretchier material, this keeps the cuffs wind tight and allows the jacket to form a better fit around the body, with no loose bits and it feels soft enough to wear over bare arms without discomfort. The elastic waistband is of the same design as the new S5 series shorts - with soft gripping dots rather than the usual strips as on the winter jackets. The mesh down the sides of the jacket and under the arms is similar to that seen on the climaJet and photos show the Easy Entry System silver tab by the zip, although this was not present on mine.
Last weekend I set of for my Saturday afternoon ride and headed for the hills with the weather bordering on rain. I had hoped this would give me a chance to see how water resistant this not-water resistant jacket was. Several hours later and I was in the usual position of cursing the British weather but perversely in this instance because it was too warm and too dry. Even when descending I wasn't sufficiently cold enough to put the jacket to use.
This morning I set out for the club run and with the weather looking iffy and around 10˚c, I stuffed the sJ.13 into my jersey pocket and sure enough after an hour or so the rain came - just a few spots at first. At this point I had on my intermediateEvo and arm warmers so I removed the warmers and donned the sJ.13. Temperature wise I was perfectly comfortable, the jacket breathing well and keeping me dry. After a few miles the heavens really opened and the water soaked though, although not as much as I had expected and importantly I was still warm.
Upon returning home the jacket went straight in the wash, but it took a second wash and a fair amount of time with a Vanish stick to get it back to white. I think if you're planning to make the sJ.13 work part time as a rain jacket in UK conditions, then the black is a very wise idea.
Great fit, lightweight, effective, comfortable
White stains easily, possibly of limited use
Photos - Click for full size or view more on flickr