Chapeau Mistral Jacket Review

velo_003002-w600 velo_002001-w600I bought this mid-weight jacket because I needed an extra layer for colder days. It’s not the sort of thing I’ll need in France in the summer, but it will certainly see use early and late in the season in the UK.

It’s quite thick fabric (they call it ecorepel®) which is designed to repel water and dirt — useful on my routes, which still feature the odd road-wide puddles caused by field run-off, not to mention the tons of dirt left on the road by farm machinery. It’s not the sort of thing you’d want to wear on a very warm day. The fabric feels quite coarse and inflexible to touch, but is soft on the inside and actually quite stretchy. It feels thicker, but (unlike a rain jacket), it’s breathable, which means you shouldn’t overheat.

I went for the XXL size, and although this means the sleeves are on the long side, it felt like the right decision. It’s nice and long at the back, which I like, and it offers extra protection from splashes and spray. I also like the diagonal zip and the colour, rust, which is a good match for my black and orange bike. It’s a really nice looking jacket, I think. Made in Portugal.

Today was around 14°, probably getting towards the upper end of the temperature range for this kind of thing, but it was windy and mostly cloudy, with a few spits and spots of rain at the beginning of my ride. I wore a Helly Hansen base layer, a summer weight Decathlon jersey (from completely the other end of the price range: it cost me just €9 last summer), and then this jacket on the top. It was fine. I didn’t overheat, and I didn’t feel as if I was too bulked up.

I’ve been ill (end-of-term-itis, a cold virus brought on by stress and the arrival of a holiday — common to teachers everywhere), so it was touch and go as to whether I’d go out. While I have to stay at home at Easter to mark coursework, I was really hoping to get in some miles in the holiday, to regain some fitness and start enjoying my new bike more. So it has been a frustrating beginning to the holiday. Rain, wind, and the virus, coughing my guts up all night a couple of nights ago, and knocking myself out with some please-make-me-drowsy cough medicine last night. This morning, I was still coughing, but my chest didn’t feel as tight.

So I risked it. There’s always a danger you’re going to give yourself a relapse, but I felt the air was warm enough not to cause problems, and I had no intention of pushing it, so I wasn’t breathing too deeply anyway. I went for “fat burner” pace. I felt all right for a couple of miles, and then my legs felt kinda weak the rest of the time, probably because of the virus.

There was no need to carry anything in the jacket’s copious pockets, but for longer rides, it will certainly be useful: there’s a waterproof zip pocket for keys/valuables, if needed, and three other pockets for gels, and your pump, if you’re that way inclined. There’s some reflective piping around the zip pocket.

So I was all Chapeau-ed up today, wearing the bib shorts I reviewed a while ago. No problems with the saddle today (Charge Spoon wins). My aches and pains in order of botheration: left hip; low back; right foot. That the foot was the least of my problems today was something of a breakthrough.

I’ve got my eye on Friday afternoon for the next outing. Here’s hoping.

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