Homegrown start-up from the South Downs impresses.
For a brand new enterprise, launched on Kickstarter only last year, Upper Downs has managed to produce one of the best waterproof mountain bike jackets I have ever come across.
This is a seriously impressive achievement, and shows off this young upstart’s attention to detail and inspired fabric choice.
So, what makes it so good? Well, at the core of its performance is the Polartec Neoshell fabric. This highly technical material is claimed to revolutionise breathability by reducing the air pressure required inside the jacket before sweat can evaporate through the membrane. Bold claims, and yet genuinely accurate ones, too, as this is an exceptionally breathable garment, even approaching ambient temperatures of 10°C.
Permitting such free egress of moisture doesn’t reduce its ability to keep out the rain, however. Even after months of use, and many, many washes (in pure soap), the Neo is still beading perfectly.
Soft and pliable, the material feels nice against the skin, and the cut manages to perfectly balance a tailored fit with freedom of movement. Useful zip pockets on the front and a removable hood maximise practicality, but it remains a light, simple garment unburdened by superfluous bells and whistles.
Put it side by side with the 7Mesh Revelation and it doesn’t boast quite the couture build quality. 7Mesh really has produced an impeccably detailed, high quality garment that noses ahead of the Upper Downs Neo for sheer desirability. But on the trail, it’s the homegrown start-up from the South Downs that edges it.
Yes, this level of performance doesn’t come cheap, but it’s currently on sale for £189, so there couldn’t be a better time to bolster your foul weather defences.