For some people, riding in the summer doesn’t need to be defined, it’s hot or very hot. However, for many of us things are a little more complicated, and there is no better example than the UK this week, where temperatures hit record highs but there was also rain. More and more as summer begins to fade, many of us will be heading out not knowing exactly what it will be up to. You can also head out the door and expect to climb for an hour or two in the sun before descending a cold and windy ridgeline. Times like these are when an emergency jacket makes sense.
Our collection of best waterproof cycling jackets reflects a desire to weather some of the worst storms. If you’re expecting a day of riding in the rain, there are options on this list to meet the needs in different ways. What if it was more complicated than that?
No one is better known for their offerings in this segment of the jacket market than Sportful, so we’ve put the brand’s latest offering through its paces. We’ve been riding the Sportful Hot Pack No Rain Jacket since spring and now we’re ready to discuss all the ins and outs. If you’re looking for a lightweight jacket to pack just in case, keep reading to see if the Sportful Hot Pack No Rain is something you should add to your options.
Design and aesthetics
There are many versions of the Sportful Hot Pack No Rain jackets and they have been around for a long time. Even the current model year offers both the No Rain version and the Easylight version. This review covers the slightly heavier, slightly tighter, and waterproof No Rain version.
In terms of colors, this is a mostly monochromatic jacket with color options spanning black, white, and orange. We’ve been lucky enough to spend some time with the white version of the jacket and that means a very bright jacket with only a few small color deviations. The bottom hem uses an elastic, but not very stretchy, trim that is all black. Just above this detail is another piece of black which helps keep most of the tail looking a bit better by adding a black section. Then the only other piece that is not white is a bit higher where the back pocket uses black seam tape. In addition to the white panels, there’s a bit of reflectivity in the form of a Sportful logo on the chest and on the pocket.
The pocket, which Sportful has highlighted in black, isn’t actually meant to hold riding gear. It’s not impossible to use it like that but it’s a little small and it’s quite difficult to access because of the flap that covers the top. Its primary purpose is to be a built-in storage pouch, and for that, it works great.
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In a few moments, you can store the jacket in this pouch, and the flap keeps everything together. It weighs a total of 123 grams, and it occupies 150mm x 100mm x 64mm without any particular compression effort. This transformation is the raison d’être of the Sportful Hot Pack design. When the rain comes or the cool descent begins, it takes less than 10 seconds to remove it from the pouch.
Most of the jacket is a polyamide fabric that looks almost like paper. The exterior is the more paper-like of the two surfaces while the interior has a non-functional dot pattern and is a little more plastic to the touch. The only place where the outer surface touches the skin is at the neckline where it is lined.
A slight color variation appears when looking at the strategically placed smaller panels throughout the jacket. You can find these panels making up the end of each sleeve, then running up the underarm, down each side of the jacket, and over each shoulder. The composition changes from polyamide to 86% polyester with 14% elastane while the texture changes to a soft rubbery feel that is the same inside and out. The black section at the bottom of the tail also uses this same softer, stretchier fabric, although this is much more obvious given the color change.
Both materials have the same ability to resist water intrusion but differ in other respects. The most obvious advantage of inserts is that they are stretchy, they also breathe, but they also have disadvantages. The temptation would be to construct the whole jacket from the insert material, but it is heavier and less wear-resistant.
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This is the sixth generation of the Sportful Hot Pack concept, and on all those previous iterations one of the most common complaints has been noise while driving. This latest version solves this problem thanks to stretch panels, which also have the advantage of improving its fit.
The extra stretch results in a slimmer jacket with better side fuselage and no extra material on the shoulders. Weight has increased over the lightest of the previous options but at 123g it’s still not much. More importantly, the packed volume is not drastically different.
In the spring, I spent a lot of time carrying the Sportful No Rain Hot Pack Jacket in my jersey pocket. For early starts, I wore it out of the house, tucking it into the bottom of my jersey as the day warmed up, where it would share space in most jersey pockets with my food. . In unpredictable weather, it’s ready to keep you dry at all times, and wearing it for an extended period was perfectly comfortable. The fit and stretch are perfect and the neckline is a particular highlight.
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The only major issue with the Sportful No Rain Hot Pack Jacket is the zipper. Major may be overkill, but it stands out on such a good jacket and contributes to breathability issues. The zipper uses nylon teeth and it is the smallest N3 size. In this case it is tied in an inverted format which leaves the smooth side, when closed, facing out and there is a full length support flap. None of these details add up to something that slips easily and when combined with an ultralight jacket it’s a recipe for an empowering experience. You’ll need two hands to unzip it, so you might find yourself leaving it in place at times when it would be ideal to let some air circulate.
As someone who rarely unzips a jacket, and never a jersey, I noticed this at a time when this jacket really excels. As the seasons changed from a cool, wet spring to a summer, I found myself wearing the Sportful jacket just in case. Riding in the mountains in the late afternoon rain is sometimes a hassle, so on the first outing on a recent trip, I had the jacket on just in case. The morning was hot and the group I was with climbed for over an hour before finding the top of the ridge. As we lost the protection of the mountain, it was suddenly a bit cooler and windier. We were all soaked from the climb and soon our teeth were chattering. I put on the Sportful jacket and was able to warm up. As we descended, I kept it on and stayed comfortable.
It was at the bottom of the descent that the zipper problem appeared. If I had the choice, I would have opened the jacket but I would have kept it. Not being much of a bike handler, I opted to keep both hands on the bars and face the rapidly warming air as I continued down the valley.
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There are all-day rain jackets and just-in-case cycling jackets for rain and wind. If you’re looking for the latter, the choices are actually pretty slim. Sportful has made a name for itself filling the niche over the years and the latest version has only gotten better. An improved fit means a more comfortable jacket overall and fluttering shoulders are a thing of the past.
If you’re looking for an easy-to-carry solution for summer bikepacking, protection for long descents, or just in case against the rain, the Sportful No Rain Hot Pack is a great option. The lightweight design means it’s not super breathable and the hard-to-use zipper doesn’t help that situation, but the downsides aren’t a surprise. Sportful is able to secure them with extra weight, but he prioritized lightness and compressibility. If that sounds like what you’re looking for, it’ll be a mainstay on your options board for years to come.
|Breathability||Not super breathable but that’s expected||5/10|
|Neckline comfort||Truly one of the best features||10/10|
|Protection from the elements||Not meant for all day use in bad weather, but it does a great job for what it is.||8/10|
|Compressibility||That’s the purpose of this jacket. Ultra compressible and easy to take just in case.||10/10|
|Fashion appeal (does it look/feel good)||It’s not the trendiest piece overall, but the fit is great and it looks good.||8/10|
|Value for money||There are similar solutions at half the price, but these often lack flapless stretch panels.||6/10|
Tech Specs: Sportful Hot Pack No Rain Jacket
- Price: £170 / $170 / €149.90 / AU$274.95
- Lester: 123 grams in small size
- Size availability: S-XXXL
- Color Options: Black, White, Orange SDR
- Packed size: 152mm x 102mm x 64mm