A light cycling vest and arm warmers have long been must-haves for riding through the variable temperatures and shorter daylight hours of the shoulder season. But toting along such essentials also means that when I’m fully free of layers, riding in just a jersey and shorts, my pockets are stuffed; arm warmers, in particular, are bulky. If I can help it, I like to avoid looking and feeling like I’m carrying grapefruits home in my pockets, so I’m constantly playing the game of “Do I really need this?” when I’m heading out the door.
The Velocio Ultralight jacket ($149) has ended that pondering. It may have even have killed the cycling vest for me.
Velocio is known for its innovative use of high-end, luxe-feeling technical fabrics. In addition, this 83-gram jacket features a smart construction: superfine mesh side and underarm panels serve up excellent breathability and minimizes heft, while silky, mini-ripstop nylon on the front and back provides windproofing and insulation. Just to play out our citrus analogy, the Ultralight packs down to the size of an organic blood orange (which is to clarify that it’s smaller than your run-of-the-mill GMO navel orange)—equivalent in rolled-up bulk to my favorite road-cycling vest. But for the same amount of fruit in my pocket, with the Ultralight I also get sleeves that offer extra warmth and versatility. I pick the jacket almost every time.
The Ultralight comes in men’s and women’s versions and cuts a slim, flattering silhouette in both. All the requisite, thoughtful details are there. A light silicone gripper keeps the elastic waistband in place, a soft lining on the inside of the collar and a zipper garage eliminate rough edges when you’re zipped up, and a smooth-running YKK zipper with a rubber pull make it easy to remove and add layers while on the bike. A DWR treatment on the nylon translates into light water resistance in showers and misty conditions, though the mesh obviously means this isn’t your jacket for riding in real weather. A couple times I’ve been concerned about tearing the überlight mesh when tugging the sleeves over gloved hands while riding—shedding clothing on the bike tends to be a more urgent affair than getting dressed in my house—but it’s held up, and Velocio says that in the year and a half since the garment’s debut, the company has received no returns or complaints for that reason.
As we move later into the season, the Ultralight is showing its versatility. If I expect colder temperatures or plan on doing a long, chilly descent, I’ll layer it over arm warmers or a thermal jersey for the insulating effect of a heavier cycling jacket. And it’s so low-profile and lightweight when packed down that taking it along on all those dash-out-the-door post-work rides, when the sun is dropping below the mountains, becomes a no-brainer.
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