Review: Bontrager Vella Stormshell, A Jacket Amanda Is Actually Willing To Wear

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One thing I have learnt since landing this job at Singletrack is that I am underprepared. Where are your socks? I don’t have any. It’s raining, where’s your waterproof? Err… So, week by week, Hannah is introducing new things essential items into my kit bag. I now have three pairs of riding socks, a helmet that actually fits, some winter gloves and a waterproof jacket. I can’t defend myself for not owning any riding socks, I can however explain why I didn’t have a waterproof jacket.

bontrager waterproof jacket
Also appears to be windproof.

Finding a jacket to fit a long slim frame is not easy! To get the length needed I would often have to size up, which then left me with baggy arms and a gathering of material around my waist when I sit down. Where a jacket that’s too small will obviously be restrictive for riding, one that’s too large gets in the way. So I chose to be at one with elements over the arguably lesser discomfort of wearing a poorly fitting jacket.

bontrager waterproof jacket
Wrists still covered when reaching out to your bars, or reaching for a beer.

Introducing the Bontrager Vella Stormshell, a women’s specific lightweight, breathable waterproof. Sold in either ‘Roarange’ or Fluorescent yellow, the jacket features a semi-fitted cut with a drop tail for rider specific comfort whilst leaving enough room for movement. Comprised of woven Profila Stormshell fabric waterproof up to 5,000mm with taped seams, there’s plenty of stretch in the fabric adding further comfort. The men’s equivalent, Bontrager Circuit Stormshell, is available in both Roarange, Fluoro yellow and also black.

bontrager waterproof jacket
Under arm air vents for more breathability.

The semi-fitted cut of this jacket nips in at all the right places for me. The waist is slim so doesn’t turn into a rumple of material when sat on the saddle whilst the flare and drop tail at the bottom give enough room for healthy hips, even after a mid-ride picnic, with the option of a more precise fit using the adjustable drawstring hem. Due to the tapered waist this jacket would be a great fit on most shapes and sizes, something I have confirmed by chatting to Rachel Sokal, who also has this jacket and is shorter than myself. The arms are very fitted. I don’t wear elbow pads but I tried to squeeze some on just to see if there’s room and I nearly lost all feeling in my forearm when I tried to bend my arm. Sleeve style elbow pads would be no issue, but given that they generally only protect you against grazes I wouldn’t consider them worth wearing with this, as the material is really durable (I got tangled in some barbed wire and couldn’t believe I didn’t rip it).

bontrager waterproof jacket
That’s engine oil. Don’t ask.

The zipped cuffs are very generous, my wrists are still completely covered when reaching out to the bars and there’s a zip to loosen them off for when your enduro gloves aren’t cutting it. The zips also make it easier to get all my layering comfortable – I don’t need to tease the jacket over my gloves, just zip it up once they’re on. I’ve never put much consideration into cuffs but given the sideways sleet we’ve had recently, it’s been a treat not having the cold sneak up my sleeve.

bontrager waterproof jacket
No rain sneaking down there.

This isn’t sold as race wear, however the lack of hood on a wet weather jacket suggests it may be. Or it’s just to keep it lightweight, I’m not sure. Either way, for me there’s pros and cons to this. I like a hood. Not just for rain but to keep warm during the pre and post ride faffing. Whilst using this jacket I’ve taken to wearing a beanie for every second surrounding wearing a helmet (I’m a cold person, and it’s winter, and I’m in Todmorden), but on the rainy days I really do miss having a hood. All that said, the collar is a high, close fitting and cosy one. It’s great at stopping the wet weather sneaking in and seems to hold heat in well, and thanks to the soft inner fabric of the collar I haven’t yet experienced that baked potato feeling some waterproofs have. You still need to layer up as the jacket on a whole doesn’t offer much warmth, after all it is only a lightweight fabric for keeping the wet out.

bontrager waterproof jacket
Generous rear pocket.

There’s a distinct lack of pockets for me, however the one rear pocket is just big enough for a smartphone and ride snack, includes a headphone port and has a flap over the zip to keep the weather out. Also keeping the weather out is the reinforced weatherproof zip, which initially I struggled with as it’s on the wrong side, or at least a different side to most women’s wear. There’s a tab to tuck the zipper into once it’s done up, in the same soft fabric as the inner collar. A small detail, but one certainly worth noting as it’s a high, fitted collar and you will never have a zip irritating your chin.

bontrager waterproof jacket
Look at that smile, knowing her tummy isn’t hanging out.

Overall: Great for wet weather riding when the elements are battering against you, and refreshingly easy to regulate your temperature in for a waterproof.

Review Info

Brand: Bontrager
Product: Vella Stormshell
From: Trek Bikes
Price: £99.99
Tested: by Amanda for 3 months
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Amanda Wishart

Art Director

Amanda is our resident pedaller, who loves the climbs as much as the descents. No genre of biking is turned down, though she is happiest when at the top of a mountain with a wild descent ahead of her. If you ever want a chat about concussion recovery, dealing with a Womb of Doom or how best to fuel an endurance XC race, she's the one to email.

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