Review: Specialized Deflect H20 Expert Active Shell Jacket

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By Giles Perkins

I don’t get on with the cold, I need to layer up even on milder days and I’ve always struggled to keep warm when the wind bites, particularly on longer, exposed rides. When the dark blue version of the Specilized Deflect H20 Expert Active Shell Jacket dropped I was a little skeptical of its promised 5 rating for wind, 3 for water and 2 for warmth but I’m open to any way of keeping the cold out of my creaking bones.

Gore windstopper, specialized
Venting pockets AND a zippered chest pocket, excellent…

The marketing blurb is pretty much what you’d expect ‘Gore® WINDSTOPPER® Active Shell is woven for strength, it’s wind and water-resistant, and highly breathable. A mesh lining has also been added for next-to-skin comfort and additional moisture wicking’.

Reality is that this is a very nicely made piece of kit with a good few extra details. It’s a relaxed cut, so not skin tight but not too flappy to be getting in the way. I’ve ridden it on trails with a fully laden rucksack and it coped well, being comfortable with little sliding around.

Importantly, it’s got a three-paneled hood – something I’ve not had on a jacket for a good few years and for me, a little weird. That was until a ride over the moors in driving wind and sleet, when I relented, pulled up the hood and drawstrings and zipped the neck to the top. I was expecting to be faffing with the fit under my helmet and worrying about the peak impairing my view but no, it fitted my massive head perfectly, the peak doing a great job of keeping the worst out of my eyes. What was misery quickly became good fun!

There are two very useful zipped front venting pockets and a zippered chest pocket, all lined with the same lime green mesh that forms the inner of the jacket. There’s also a handy zip on the side to access three internal mesh pockets or the back pockets of any layers underneath. All zips have handy little tags for use with gloved hands. The sleeves have Velcro closures to minimise water creep up the arms and there’s a drawstring round the bottom hem to get a snug fit at the waist.

So, how does it perform?

In the wind it has been an absolute revelation, blocking the wind as promised, totally eliminating the cold sting of those winter cross and head winds. Warmth wise it adds a little extra to my other layers, but nothing substantial, but that’s to be expected considering its lightweight construction. In the wet it does a good job of keeping the worst out over prolonged periods of time, the sealed zips work perfectly and it breathes well keeping temperature moderated. However, I have experienced a little dampness in absolutely torrential conditions and some overheating if the weather quickly changes for the better. The hood is obviously a bit of a Marmite consideration, but I’m now a total convert.

gore windstopper, specialized
The “Marmite” hood and back

I’ve hammered this jacket in all conditions over the second half of the winter, including a couple of 8 hour plus off-road rides where it certainly helped to keep the cold out and me warm. It’s been washed regularly on a ‘sports’ setting with a non-bio sports wash and comes up great every time, but can take a while to dry. Unsurprisingly I’ve not had the opportunity to test its claimed UV50+ properties!

My only real beef is that whilst this is well thought out piece of kit, the test jacket’s blue colour is a little dark for my tastes especially as there are no reflective additions at all, making it almost invisible in the dark, especially dropping off the trails and back onto the road for those last few miles home.

Overall: A great quality lightweight jacket which makes a difference for all but the worst of days

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Review Info

Brand:Specialized
Product:Deflect H2O Expert Active Shell Jacket
From:www.specialized.com
Price:£160
Tested:by Giles Perkins for Three months

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