The Good: Waterproof, windproof and breathable; Looks great; Price; Lightweight; Packs up small
The Bad: Occasionally breathability, especially on the arms; Smallish hood
First of all, this is my only jacket. Therefore, it has to do everything, from its primary use in mountain biking, to going to the pub, the occasional cold or wet road ride, walking, trail building and nipping to the shops if its pissing with rain. I own the black version and it actually looks really smart, a lot nicer than the brown one appears in the picture above.
I set out to buy a soft-shell, as I dislike the feel of a hard shell and prefer to be able to wear a jacket over a t-shirt, a bit more like a jersey than an outdoor garment. It needed to not only work in a mountain environment, where it would be covered in mud, rain and anything else a bike ride could throw at it, but also in a casual setting. The IXS sinister is not a true soft-shell, sitting somewhere between a soft and hard-shell.
When looking at different jackets I had three main considerations:
- Technical ability (Waterproof, Windproof, Breathable)
- Looks (Both on and off the bike)
Other features were an added bonus but realistically finding a jacket with all of the above at the correct price was hard enough. I had looked at ski jackets, bike jackets, running jackets and general outdoor jackets but nothing seemed to suit my requirements. And then I stumbled upon the IXS sinister.
Unless you are spending serious amounts of cash on the most technical materials available, one or more aspects of waterproofing, windproofing and breathability will suffer to get the best out of the others.
1) Waterproofing: 10,000 WP
On paper, 10,000 WP is pretty good for a jacket of this price, with a lot of other jackets coming in at 5,000 WP (The higher the number, the better the waterproofing). Certainly there are jackets that have higher WP but these either lack the breathability, areobscenelypriced or are a basic hard shell, not a soft-shell.
In reality I have found the waterproofing to be excellent, having been kept dry in torrential weather. The material has a natural ability to shed water, rather than absorbing it, so dries very quickly. In prolonged downpour the material canoccasionally get a little overwhelmed but still fares better than most soft-shells.
The main zip is not waterproofed (however, one of the four pocket zips are, which will be covered later). It would be a nice addition if it was, although I have not found it to cause any problems during use, so perhaps this is a null point.
Again, windproofing is great. I wouldn't expect it to deal with gale force winds, but how often is that going to happen? I wouldn't consider this as a warm jacket. On cold days it pays to have a base layer as well as normal riding top underneath, but that has more to do with lack of layers and insulation rather than its ability to keep the wind out.
3) Breathability: 8,000 MVP
Similar to waterproofing, the higher the MVP the better. This is one area that does not quite live up to the rest of the jacket. In the majority of cases, the material does a fine job of wicking away sweat and keeping you cool. However, there are times (pushing up tracks, hotter days etc) when I do find it lacking slightly. This is especially the case on the forearms. The temperature of the torso and upper arms can be controlled through the pit-zips or the main zipper, but the forearms have little temperature control (save rolling up the sleeves). This, of course, is personal experience and I have suffered the same from nearly every jacket I have owned. Whether this would be an issue at 10,000 MVP I don't know, but I expect it would. In all, it is a minor problem and one I am willing to forgive as the rest of the jacket more than makes up for it.
Four in all, of which all are zipped. The two hand pockets are a good size but do not feature waterproof zips. This is not a problem in my opinion. The pocket on the breast features waterproofing on both the zip and the seams and has a hole in which to thread an earphone cable for an MP3 player, which is a nice feature. I would have no worries about storing valuables here to keep dry, and have done so on numerous occasions. The pocket on the left upper arm has taped seams too, but does not have a fully waterproof zip (although it does have more protection than the hand pocket zips). I have never used this last pocket, though it is nice to have and breaks up the looks nicely.
This is detachable via a zip (again, not waterproof but doesn't need to be in my opinion). The edges velcro into place to keep it attached securely. It has 3 adjustable toogles (two on the sides, one on top) to change the shape and fit. It would be nice to see the hood a little larger as it would not cover a helmet and sometimes feels a bit short.
3) Main zip:
This has a material overhang at the top to stop the edge of the zip rubbing against your neck/chin. Nice touch.
4) Pit zips:
Do what they say on the tin. Occasionally the zip will get caught on the material when doing them up, which can be a bit annoying.
Nice, big velcro straps around the cuffs make it easy to adjust them with gloves while on the move. They seem to be purposefully overbuilt which gives a sense of security that you aren't going to rip them off if you are a little hasty when undoing them.
Very pleased with this jacket. It is exactly what I was looking for and although it may have some slight drawbacks, the positives by far outweigh the negatives. It seems very well built and has lots of small, but very well thought out features that make you realise a lot of effort has been put into the design of this jacket.
Some may think it's a lot of money to spend. To justify the expense, I fully expect it to last me for the next five years or so. Buy once and buy right.
A note on sizing: I am usually a small, more out of slimness than length. This jacket is a medium and fits perfectly. It is naturally quite slim fitting so be aware.