September 22nd marked the first ‘official’ day of Autumn. It seems since then the weather has decided to take on its seasonal duties and turn cold, windy and wet……very wet! This of course works well for us as it means we get to test products like the Altura Pocket Rocket waterproof jacket in optimal conditions.
What’s It Like On?
This means that the jacket has a waterproof/breathable outer layer fabric, but on the inside instead of a separate layer of mesh fabric, there is usually a very, very thin protective plastic membrane coating. This is usually in a pattern or dotting and often used in technical wear to keep the weight down. Altura have adjusted the fit of the latest Pocket Rocket jacket from the last version, giving it a more fitted shape. The (minimal) hem is elasticated, all-be-it not very tightly and as with other lightweight jackets and gilets there is no draw-cord to adjust this. But we found the tail comes down sufficiently enough to cover your rear from excessive wheel spray. The sleeves have been given a reflective detail around the elbow, whilst the cuffs have retained the elasticated thumb-loop to help keep the sleeves down which we think is a nice touch.
The zip is thin but the zipper does have a ‘pull-loop’ to make it easier to pull up and down mid-ride. The zip has also features a thin reflective strip for added visibility but there is no storm flap on the outside of the jacket (again to keep it lightweight). There is however, an inner-flap that sits under the zip in order to channel any rain finding its way through the non-waterproof zip, away from the body. At the neck, there is a zip ‘garage’ which is fairly common to stop you catching your neck. The collar sits nicely around the neck and is not to high that its intrusive and not too tight that it restricts. On the back there is another small reflector just below the collar and the rear pocket also features a reflective Altura logo.
The rear pocket itself is a reasonable size. It is the same pocket that the Altura Pocket Rocket packs itself into. It will comfortably fit in the absolute essentials like a smartphone or nutrition products or even repair kit which is fine. But if you are on a longer ride and carrying more, you will still be using your jersey pockets.
The biggest disappointment of this jacket however (aside from the cost which we will come to) is the fact that there is no ventilation or mesh elements to it at all. Whist a 2.5 layer is supposed to be made from a ‘breathable’ outer layer, we found the Pocket Rocket does not breath well and if you are the sort of rider who sweats a lot whilst working out, you may find that you are dryer on the outside of the jacket. The other risk is overheating if you’re wearing the jacket in the rain on a milder day.
So, Is It Waterproof?
Since the official change of the season, we have had some impressively wet days. Although 2 weeks is not the longest time-frame to have put a jacket like this through it’s paces, in that time there has been more than sufficient rain and wind and more rain to test the Altura Pocket Rocket’s claims.
As well as being made from the superlight 2.5 layer fabric, the jacket has taped seams. This is the key difference to the jacket being waterproof and just water resistant. We tested the jacket in both light showers and torrential rain and in both instances (on various occasions) the Pocket Rocket stood up to the test well. The water-repellent finish means the rain runs off without too much effort. On another test, our jersey (although a little sweaty) also remained dry from the rain, after getting caught out in a windy downpour whilst commuting. The jacket offers good wind resistance too. We tested an XL and whilst yes there was some flapping in higher winds (around 18-20 mph) the fit meant this wasn’t excessive. The Altura Pocket Rocket does it’s job well in both windy and wet conditions and quite frankly for how much it costs, we’d be extremely disappointed if it didn’t. An eye-widening £69.99 RRP makes this an pricey jacket.
Yes it is good quality and yes it will keep the rain off well but at this sort of price, you will probably use this for ‘Sunday best’ instead of a grimy commute to work on a rainy day. And speaking of grimy, when it comes to the care instructions for this jacket, the label suggests that it is washed at 30°c but Altura do give a warning that ‘The use of Biological detergents or softeners will damage the waterproof properties and void your warranty’. Sponge bath it is then!
Product Review Conclusion
This is undeniably a good waterproof and wind-resistant jacket. Where others on the market claim to do the same but actually fail in use, the Altura Pocket Rocket impressed during our tests in adverse weather conditions. The fact that it is so lightweight and packs into its own pocket is great. It makes it easy to carry in a jersey pocket and easy to whip on in the event of rain. Refreshingly it comes in four colour options of Blue, Red, Black and Fluoro (Hi-Viz) yellow. Size-wise, being a UK company it’s pretty true to form. We tested an XL which is 42-44″ chest and felt comfortable with either a short or long sleeved jersey and base layer on. Sadly the it is let down by it’s lack of ventilation. If you are wearing a jersey that is high wicking and the Pocket Rocket over the top, you may find (in some cases) that it works as well at keeping the sweat in as it does keeping the rain out. The other big draw back is the £69.99 RRP. This is a lot of money for a jacket of this type. We like Altura products, they are well made and exude a level of good quality. As we said before, the Pocket Rocket does it’s job well and if you can afford it then great but shop around for offers from shops like Wiggle or Evans Cycles. All in all this is a good, well made jacket that is waterproof but at a high price.
Not the cheapest or most breathable waterproof jacket on the market but the Pocket Rocket is lightweight, packable and excellent at keeping the rain out.