Santini kindly sent me their newly released Polar winter jacket with the side note: Please get out in the cold, and report back how it performs!” So let’s see how this filly-fledged cycling apparel deals with the cold and the miserable weather conditions we are used to experiencing here in Central Europe!
I have been fairly sure, that there won’t be any issues with this jacket, as the Santini Polar is equipped with a top-of-the-line Windstopper “Fuga” fabric, a special variant of the excellent membrane found in a lot of sport clothing. Its prowess lies in the elasticity, paired with water and wind resistance – at least according to its featured description. My assumption was that it was meant be a “transition” jacket for all seasons, from winter-like conditions with temperatures much below zero to somewhat less harsh weather.
Little did I know that this winter will not spare us any mild temperatures, I had second guessed the main aim of this jacket. Admittedly, it’s been comfortable down below minus 6-7, the only prerequisite was, however that the wind doesn’t create any havoc. So, as long as it stayed at, say 30-40 km per hour, it worked fairly well.
Its Windstopper Fuga fabric blocked the nasty wind with great efficiency, but beyond that it was necessary to put another base layer in order to prevent any kind of undercooling. While racing cyclocross, there wasn’t any trouble whatsoever. Quite the opposite, I wore only one layer of an underwear. The “Thermofleece” inside of the neck, plus on the side panels and cuffs were heating me up considerably, and after 20 min into the race, I really wanted to pull it off.
Admittedly, this is awesome for training since it gives plenty comfort and retains the heat greatly. And so for this purpose it is very well made. I had extended my trainings into the dark hours so the reflective inserts on chest and on the back part came in handy. It ensures a truly excellent visibility on and off road to the extent of no-need of additional lights whatsoever. Sure, I don’t encourage anybody to ride sans lights, but its visibility truly is stunning.
In snowy conditions the membrane kept up superb, I had only my concerns when we lined up for another race in an intermittent rain at temperatures around zero degree Celsius. Truth be told, at no time did I experienced any kind of water simmering. So I had to ride it under training conditions with heavier rain.
Santini Jacquard elastic band at the bottom keeps the jacket in place while riding. Now the water-resistant Windstopper Fabric sheds the water bravely, only after 3 hour riding when the rain intensified and I was barely able to keep the handlebar for horrid cold and numb fingers, a tad amount of water simmered in. However at no point was it uncomfortable, nor did it case any cooling effect. I have got the notion that the jacket turned this moisture into a warming one. I don’t know how that would wind up if I continued, but, admittedly it’s been an extreme test, and Santini has another gears for conditions like this.
Thus, I was more than content how well this jacket soldiered on under such conditions.
I wasn’t a surprise that Santini creates its product in a very race-like manner. That worked for me big time. Snug fit all over the place. It is even more pronounced while riding in the drops. The rain-proof zippered pocket was a welcome addition to and even though I haven’t stuffed it extraordinarily, for all those essentials the sizable space will do.
For what it’s made, namely for mid-season riding and training, as well as for autumn and early winter workouts I was positively surprised of Pilot long-sleeve jersey capabilities in wintery conditions. Just bear in mind that at times, depending on whether conditions, more layers are needed. Admittedly, given its snuggly tailored manner. There is not much room for onion-like layering. Hence, it maintained a constant and comfortable due to its Lite Pro “Thermofleece” material. And as stated above, as long as the forecast doesn’t call for extreme gusty winds the wind-chill effect never comes about.