Review: Alpkit Argonaut – Cheap Enough To Buy Several Of For When You Crash

by dazh 13

While recently sorting through all my kit in preparation for the Strathpuffer I counted 12 jackets of varying makes and styles. Some waterproof, some windproof, some expensive, some cheap, some paper-thin, others full-on winter mountaineering jobs. Even though not all of them are cycling specific, they share a common cause in that they’ve all been worn on my bike in weather that only idiots or show-offs would ride in. As a result I like to think I know my way around a decent jacket but having this many possibly indicates the opposite. One thing I do know though is that there are not many that can be used all year round for a multitude of purposes, and the Alpkit Argonaut might just be a candidate.

All casual, like
OMG, they killed Daz!

Marketed as a multi-purpose all-rounder, the Argonaut is a lightweight – 330g for a medium – waterproof shell constructed from 2.5 layer PU coated fabric retailing at £79. It uses a fairly simple design, featuring two mesh lined pockets which double up as vents, an adjustable roll away hood and ergonomic velcro adjustable cuffs. Unsurprisingly for a jacket at this price point, waterproof zips are foregone in favour of Velcro storm flaps to keep out the weather. It’s quite compact, not enough to fit in a jersey pocket but can be easily stowed in a small backpack.

Cinchable cuffs to keep the weather out
A well-cut hood

Predictably for a jacket aiming to be all things to all people, the cut is fairly liberal. A skinny racing snake’s jacket this is not. In fact, for someone like myself who is an extremely average ‘medium’ in just about everything, this jacket felt a little tent-like. Initially I thought I had the wrong size but the fit of the arms, the body length and collar height and width confirmed this wasn’t case. On the plus side, for the avid beer drinkers out there, this may just be the perfect solution.

Hood is non-removable but rolls away.
Neat rubber tipped pulls

Aside from the forgiving frontal proportions, one of the first noticeable things is that it’s light. So light in fact that you soon forget you’re wearing it, but not so much that it reduces confidence in its sturdiness. This was put to the test in a somewhat unwelcome manner on its maiden voyage. Flying through the air over my bars towards some very pointy and hard looking rocks, I’d like to pretend I was thinking about the durability of the 2.5 layer fabric rather than mentally reciting many of the four letter words in the English language, but fortuitously my left forearm saved the day, and my face, while at the same time sacrificing itself to the science of jacket rip-testing. The jacket didn’t survive undamaged of course, but the resultant two inch tear was an acceptable result given my wrist took two months to heal.

He looks so happy about it.

In terms of protecting you from the elements, this jacket does everything it claims on the tin. Finding rain and wind in Calderdale is not difficult, at any time of year, but this winter has been especially miserable. So much so I spent the first month of it in my garage ‘competing’ against people on the internet who lie about their weight in order to improve their Watts per kg rating. However, once I did venture out into the wilds, thanks to the Argonaut I remained largely unbothered by rain, sleet and unexpected Siberian blizzards. That being said, this isn’t a jacket to rely solely on in the most extreme conditions, you need sufficient insulation beneath it, and the aforementioned spacious fit helps with this.

Generous cut leaves room for beer…

The breathability is good, but as with pretty much all waterproof jackets, cycling specific or not, it suffers from a modicum of internal condensation when you’re putting the effort in and this can result in quite rapid cooling if you then have to stand around in the cold waiting for your mates. The roomy and well-fitting hood is not quite big enough to fit over a helmet so needs to be worn underneath and can be neatly rolled up and secured by a velcro strap when not required, while the high and well-fitting collar and superbly designed adjustable cuffs complete the weather-beating capabilities.

Overall

This jacket performs excellently in a huge range of conditions, and while I only tested it on the bike in winter, I have no doubt it would suit other activities just as well at other times of year. The fit is perhaps a little too generic, but at this price it represents excellent value for money and performs as well as many more expensive jackets.

Review Info

Brand:Alpkit
Product:Argonaut Jacket
From:Alpkit
Price:£79
Tested:by Darren Hall for 3 months

Comments (13)

  1. so in the crazy increasingly expensive world of mountain biking nearly £100 for a jacket is considered disposable these days?
    f*ck off Singletrack not everyone is made of money

  2. Read the article and thought it was going to be cheap. Discovered it was £80. Y’all are mental.

  3. Yep agree with above.
    Cheap enough to buy several, would be 20 quid each not 80. STW at its most middle class!!

  4. agree with the above comments. £80 is an expensive jacket, that wouldn’t be what i call disposable.

  5. I’m pleased to see that I wasn’t the only one who was shocked at £79.00 now being classed as
    “cheap enough to buy plenty of for when you crash”…..!!!

  6. Sticking with Decathlon if £80 is considered ‘cheap’ around here 🙁

  7. I’m glad the comments back up my reaction to the price too!
    £20 shell from PlanetX = something I wouldn’t mind too much if I trashed it.
    £80 jacket: Something I’d have to really consider buying and would be gutted if it didn’t last.

    Stupid headline and attitude from STW! The editorial standards are changing, and not for the better 🙁

  8. I’m surprised, but also very pleased that i’m not the only one who had that thought. I’d love to be able to consider 80 quid’s worth of jacket disposable but I’d think that for the majority of the cycling world it isn’t and never will be.

  9. Well I suppose it’s not as cheap as a bin bag with holes cut out of it, and not as expensive as some jackets which cost more than £200. Personally I’ve never spent more than £100 on a cycling jacket, but I’ve spent a lot more on mountain jackets, and this jacket performs as well or better than it’s much more expensive brethren. You can argue over whether it’s cheap, but you’d find it very difficult to say this wasn’t excellent value for money.

  10. Agreed, £80 = best jacket not disposable

  11. I’m glad to see that our slightly tongue in cheek headline made everyone sit up…
    We tend not to comment on prices in general, as one person’s ‘bargain’ is another person’s week’s wages, but this jacket seemed to be particularly good for a winter-proof waterproof jacket.

    As to whether it’s cheap or not, it depends wildly on your perspective. Given that the jacket we’re talking about costs about one percent of the value of many of the latest carbon enduro bikes that we review, the difference that it makes to your cycling pleasure (or lack of misery) is considerable when compared to many other options available for that money. It cost less than many handlebars, glasses or tyres and the benefits it brings are considerable.

    So, let’s agree on ‘excellent value for money’ then, eh?

  12. Chipps – if I may be so bold I think you’re missing the point. it’s not about whether the jacket is good value – or cheaper than a carbon bike – it’s about whether it’s even mildly amusing to suggest that something costing £80 could be considered disposable. In my opinion it’s not and most people seem to be of one mind here. I think your customers are telling you that you’ve made an editorial mistake. Oh and by the way the point above about it being a middle class attitude is also absolute b*ll*cks. I am happily middle class and I wouldn’t consider anything costing over one pound to be even potentially ‘disposable’.

  13. In the clamour for ever cheaper products, have you ever considered the workers involved in creating them for you? You are willing to pay £20 for a jacket. How much is the worker who produced it going to get out of that? How is the retailer going to get a living out of that?

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