The Castelli Emergency jacket is designed as an on the go, pocket packable protection jacket, I took it on a few trips to find out really how good it is.
When it’s forecast rain for most of the ride I kit up from the start with a true rain jacket – no need to take it off, but on drier rides where there is a slight chance of rain, longer distances or i’m exploring at higher altitudes i’m always prepared with a carry along jacket. This is where the art of the “emergency jacket” comes in.
A lot of the riding I do between the months of October and May requires planning for the unexpected in terms of clothing. The weather can change quick, where temps can drop fast and riding when shivering and wet is no fun and can be dangerous.
For a few months now I have been testing the Castelli Emergency Jacket and it takes my memory back to an earlier minimal Rapha rain jackets I have used. It was a simple, well fitted and lighter rain jacket with good features, this was before all the crazy technology of shakedry and membranes etc. The Castelli Emergency jacket is similar in the way that it’s a true jacket -tailored with a good zipper, a high collar and well designed hem and cuffs – no compromises to make it light weight in those regards and to boot, it’s waterproof.
The features I look for in a true emergency jacket are:
- Compactable / Foldable to be carried in a pocket
- Lightweight / non bulky, which also fits to the point above
- Windproof, because you never know
- Well fitting, don’t want it flapping around
- Durable – lasts more than a few seasons
The Castelli Emergency Jacket jacket is highly waterproof – internally it’s seam taped so water cannot squeak through the stitching, and it has cool design features to direct water on the outside that make a lot of sense. Castelli have built fabric gutters into the design to allow the channeling of water around the wrist areas and also on the back.
The wrist gutters stop rain from soaking down onto / into your gloves while your hands are on the bars. The rear channels stop the water from rolling around the side off your back and then dripping on your legs. Smart features.
Pick the features that matter
Breathability (or lack of) is where Castelli have chosen to optimize. This jacket is not a “sweat bucket” but it’s certainly not highly breathable. Castelli have a full range of jackets in their product lineup for different conditions, so considering this is a temporary jacket vs a ride all day I think this is a wise choice given it achieves everything else well, and often its not possible to make everything perfect in jacket materials.
When chillier out I found that I could ride in it for extended periods of time and did not worry about the breath-ability. This was in temps down from 50 to 27 degrees. Notable, at 27 degrees I was wearing a lot of other layers.
The wind blocking ability of the fabric is perfect – an essential feature to have along when you encounter some chillier howling winds and colder descents. Without this, descending from higher elevations (especially when wet) can give you dangerous body shivers.
Thinner materials = lightweight =packable
The jacket is lightweight and the material not particularly thick, so folding is easy and compacts to fit in 3/4 of a jersey pocket. There are plenty of rain jackets that are too bulky to to fit into a jersey pocket. I also found that due to the elastic design of the cuffs and the cut of the sleeves I could easily remove this jacket while in-motion. On my gravel bike it was nice to put in my frame bag, since it was very light and stuff-able allowing room for other gear also.
Lightweight shouldn’t mean need to replace each season
Along with being waterproof the jacket’s material is rugged and durable, this made possible by a sailcloth / textured top surface which adds ripstop and ruggedness to the face fabric. I crashed pretty hard in it once, over the bars onto brush and mud, and yes the stains took some scrubbing out, but the material is fine, no rips no surface abrasions. I know some other jackets would not have stood up to this.
Its a jacket! not just an plastic emergency bag.
There is a tendency to think that an emergency jacket is an poorly designed plastic survival bag, in this instance its not the case. It has a slim fit that doesn’t flap around in the wind. Long arms positioned for riding and mid length / tail hem to keep water off your rear. The neck collar is extra high which I like as it makes you feel warmer and keeps the wind out. The zipper is waterproof and the pull is large and fuss free. The waistband / hem is non-adjustable and elasticated, which makes a nice fit. Although it require opening the jacket to reach into rear jersey pockets.
|Soak-through (low is better)||•|
- A 2.5 layer material, it has an outer fabric (face fabric), a membrane and a printed backer. The choice of face fabric in this case makes the jacket durable.
- Taped seams and the material is water rated to a 10,000mm water column (meaning you can statically stack 32ft of water on it, before you start see droplets coming through the other side of the fabric).
- Waterproof zipper with a nice large zip pull
- 175 Grams – this is a smidge heavier than a baseball.
- Sewn in rain gutters
Considering the price of $129 Jacket, I think it is of great value. It’s certainly a piece I will be keeping around for road riding and for gravel adventures in the cooler seasons.
Given three different colors, I chose to test the Hi Viz yellow version. I think its important to note that if you are riding road in downpours, any aspect of visibility helps considering vehicle drivers with streams of water on the windscreen.
- Price : $129
- 3 Colours
- Season : Autumn, Winter, Spring
- Fit : Form fitting and shits at hip and just below on rear.
Sizing – Im 6ft 3″ and 165lbs, 37″ slim chest – Medium, great fit with some room for layers underneath.