You may or may not know – I certainly didn’t – that a Harrington jacket is a lightweight waist-length jacket, typically made of cotton, and that Harrington jackets have been made by British Clothing companies since the 1930s. That gives the Vulpine Lightweight Harrington a big pair of boots to fill as far as British Tailoring goes. I am happy to say – that in my eyes at least – it succeeds. The style of the jacket is understated and simple, yet laden with lots of discrete hidden features that make it a reliable partner on the daily commute. These bike specific features are what set this jacket apart from myriad other lightweight cycling jackets and include a higher than usual collar, the longer cut back and the almost obligatory rear pocket.
When would you wear this?
The Vulpine Lightweight Harrington is substantial enough to be worn all year round, either as a windproof and shower proof outer layer in Spring/Summer/Early Autumn or as a base for a more substantial winter jacket when the weather turns colder. As mentioned the jacket is billed as “shower proof” – it’s made from silicon impregnated cotton – and while I am certain that it won’t stand up to a full battering by a heavy downpour, it has kept the drizzle out well on a recent unexpectedly damp evening ride.
The windproof qualities of the silicone impregnated cotton make the jacket feel warmer than it’s weight would suggest on blowy days, but being cotton it should breath well when it does eventually get warmer – the open back (with mesh liner) will no doubt assist in this regard also.
I’ve had many jackets that make claims to be waterproof and windproof, but then use cheap quality zips that leak like a sieve as soon as the rain hits your front and leave a cold stripe where wind penetrates the zip, thankfully the Vulpine Lightweight Harrington suffers from no such problems. The zips are high quality waterproof items which keep your shirt dry and your front uniformly warm when even when you’re cycling into a headwind in the drizzle.
Features and attention to detail
As with all of the Vulpine gear that I’ve experienced so far, the attention to detail is fantastic. This is no mass produced cycle-fashion wear, this is highly tailored, well thought out, handmade cycling gear looks good on and off of the bike. I’ve been using this jacket for everything since I’ve had it, from commuting to work, going to client meetings, and even walking the dog and it’s felt perfectly at home in every situation.
A particular hit feature with me are the magnetic closures on the rear pocket and the soft collar. This might seem like a gimmick, but it makes it really easy to keep things in the rear pocket without worrying that you’ve not zipped it closed, or struggling to do so with gloved hands. The collar magnets are great in use, but also help to create a nice shape to the collar when you don’t have the jacket zipped up by weighting it down slightly. Just another illustration of the thought and craftsmanship that goes into the design of these clothes.
As well as the rear pocket the jacket also has 2 zipped side pockets and a buttoned chest pocket. The side pockets are nicely positioned to be a little higher than a regular jacket which adds to the comfort on the bike if you have bulky items in them. These pockets are sizeable enough to fit most items you’d carry around town and deep enough to not worry that things will escape if you fail to zip them up. The pockets zips are also waterproof meaning you shouldn’t arrive at your destination with a pocket full of wet things. Due to the clever manner in which these pockets are made, they also create 2 deep secure internal pockets which you can stash your valuables in for even greater security.
The jacket also has reflective detail around the wrists and waist adjusters which light up like a floodlight at the slightest hint of a light making it a very visible jacket whilst not appearing overtly ‘hi-viz’.
Cost, fit and availability
The jacket retails at £135 which is not too bad for a bike jacket generally, but especially good when you consider the quality. The jacket is available in 2 lively colours – Sage and Sky Blue (which is what I have) which make a nice change from the typical black on black cycling attire that seems to be the current thing.
I have this jacket in a Medium which fits me perfectly with the waist adjusters in the tighter of the 2 positions, I am a 36-38 chest so it fits true to the size guide on the Vulpine website – it’s a tailored fit, but by no means a skinny racer fit which means it remains comfortable with a range of layers underneath.
My one criticism of the jacket is the sleeve length. On the bike they are good, not riding up and keeping my wrists covered and warm, but off of the bike they seem a little long and bunched up. While I appreciate that this is a worthwhile compromise, some additional adjusters on the sleeves may have helped to avoid this.
The Vulpine Lightweight Harrington is available from the Vulpine on-line shop at www.vulpine.cc and through a select number of retailers (which now includes four London branches of CycleSurgery)
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.