Specialized pioneered integrated storage solutions on its mountain bikes and now its Specialized SWAT jacket is a packable jacket to go alongside their SWAT tools and water carrying options.
The Specialized SWAT jacket packable, stuffing into its own pocket and ending up the size of a mini-baguette measuring 20cm in length and 7.5cm in diameter. That’s small enough to carry in a jersey pocket or stuff into the down tube of a Specialized bike (or Trek) equipped with down tube storage. It’s seriously light, too at just over 150g it up (down?) there with the best mountain bike jackets for packing down.
Specialized has used a generic ripstop nylon fabric with 9% Spandex mix, so there’s a bit of stretch to the jacket, which is useful as it’s pretty snug fitting. Like the Rapha and TLD jackets, it’s designated as windproof, rather than waterproof, so we didn’t expect much from it in the rain, but the DWR proved effective and it let in significantly less water than either of its competitors. Five times less than the TLD and nine times less than the Rapha in fact.
To achieve that low weight, Specialized cuts back the SWAT jacket to the bare bones. There are elasticated hems all round, a Napoleon chest pocket big enough to hold a phone and key, and this doubles as the stuff sack. Incidentally, once packed there’s a pull tab for fishing the jacket out of your down tube.
There’s a hood, which is nice to see and a useful feature, but it’s a scuba design, so it only fits under a helmet. Equally, the YKK zip is easy to open and close but there’s no storm flap. These are the kind of compromises that need to be made to get a jacket down to this weight and size, but overall we think Specialized has done a good job of making it minimal without losing sight of the key purpose of a jacket – to bring extra warmth and protection from the elements.
If the Specialized was top of the packable tree in terms of waterproofing, it’s the least breathable of the three. That said, as an emergency jacket it’s perfectly usable as you can always take it off if you get too hot.
The Specialized SWAT jacket is a product that’s worth investing in if you have down tube storage in your bike, but also if you like to have something ultra minimal with you at all times in case the weather turns. That said, it’s an expensive option for a garment that will be used as a supplement to a proper waterproof jacket.