by Hannah Dobson
February 17, 2017
Does this insulated jacket keep Hannah's cockles warm?
The Aerial from Ion is a lightweight windproof jacket with Primaloft Silver insulation for added warmth. This is the women’s version – the men’s is called the ‘Radiant’. It is advertised as having ‘Thermo-Mapping’ to prevent overheating, and a DWR treatment for water repellency. There are two zipped pockets on the front of the jacket, placed so you can put your hands in them for warmth off the jacket. One pocket contains a glasses wipe on a piece of elastic. Inside there are a couple of large pockets suitable for a map or notepad, plus one that has a partial velcro closure at the top.
I have it in a Medium, which is a nice fit on me (I’m usually a UK 12). I can get layers underneath, but it’s snug enough that it’s not so baggy that draughts get in. It is nice and lightweight at 381g and packs down well for something with insulation in it. The insulation is throughout the jacket, and I can’t tell where there are any ‘Thermo-Mapped’ areas. However, in cold weather this jacket does deliver warmth without being cooked once you start pedalling. I’ve worn it with only a thin layer underneath at temperatures around zero°C, and on a recent trip to Finland I wore it for whole days out at -5°C with a baselayer and midlayer underneath. In such cold and dry conditions it was perfect – cosiness without bulk, but breathable enough so as not to stew in your own juices.
It’s a fairly simple jacket for the money – it’s not packed with tons of features. I’d have liked a zipped chest pocket for a phone, as I tend to find hard items in handwarmer style pockets uncomfortable while wearing a backpack with waist strap. Ideally I’d also have like a small zipped arm pocket for a key – I don’t like to have my keys in with other things I might need on a ride, for fear of losing them on the trail. The glasses wipe is OK, and as I often find glasses wipes to be placed on the underside of hems where invariably they get a coating of mud, I was pleased to see this in a different location. However, I tend to put rubbish in my pockets out on a ride, meaning that this wipe had a tendency to collect crumbs and sticky bits – again, not much use for glasses. I had to remember to keep the pocket clean and tidy to maintain use of the wipe.
The sewn-in hood is a good, snug, under the helmet fit. I don’t often ride with a hood on, usually finding it restricts my peripheral vision in a way I find annoying. However, I’ve found myself hatless and getting cold ears on a couple of occasions, and putting the hood up I found that it was actually quite comfortable – although significantly warmer than without it up and only for really cold days, or puncture fixing loitering. The DWR coating is OK for a bit of a splash or light snow, but in any persistent wet you’re going to need something properly waterproof.
I’ve worn this jacket almost as much off the bike as I have on it. Actually, I’ve practically lived in it since it arrived. It’s not as warm as a big down jacket, making it ideal for a trip to the shops as well as on rides where you’ll be generating a reasonable amount of heat. As a consequence of all this wear it has been through the wash many times during the test period. It dries quickly, the insulation hasn’t gone lumpy, and the whole jacket is still looking good. The lightweight ripstop fabric hasn’t developed any pulls or tears, and unlike some similar fabric jackets I’ve not had any troubles with the zips catching the fabric – meaning you can zip up and down as you ride along. This is necessary, as there are no ventilation flaps or zips to otherwise regulate your temperature.
It may be quite a simple jacket, but as an outer layer on a long snowy ride, or a cosy throw on addition for a mid ride or end of ride pub stop, it is very effective. I’m surprised at how much use I’ve got out of it – certainly its smart appearance and suitability as street wear helps on this front.
Overall: A practical casual jacket, or a warm technical jacket for snowy or frosty rides.