Another rainy January day rolls through, so we may as well go through the highs and lows of another jacket from our group test of the best waterproof cycling jackets. Yesterday we bought you the Endura GV500 waterproof jacket review, and today it’s another gravelly option in the form of the Albion Zoa Rain Shell.
It’s definitely not your classic road rain cape that’s for sure, and in many ways, it feels more like a traditional hiking waterproof modified for use as a cycling jacket, but given the choice of all the jackets I have on test this is the one I want to reach for most when I’m not riding on the road. It’s also the jacket I reach for to tackle hiking duties too, over and above my North Face Gore-Tex Pro shell, for day hiking at any rate.
Still, you didn’t come here to read a review for a hiking jacket, did you? I’ve had the Zoa out and about on the bike in Cornwall in the rain, and also in the Lake District, also in the rain but in far colder temperatures. Why, then, is it my go-to? Who does it get to live on the hook by the door while the others live in the big box with “WATERPROOFS” scrawled on in sharpie?
Design and aesthetics
This is a baggy jacket, that’s the first thing to note. If you want an aerodynamic, race-ready jacket then this likely isn’t going to be the waterproof of choice. I’ve been wearing a medium, and while I could well have probably gone down to a small I’m glad that I didn’t, for reasons we’ll get into later. It fits me well in the shoulders and is the right length.
It doesn’t really have the traditional dropped tail that you see in most cycling waterproof jackets. The rear is definitely lower, but only by a little bit. Up top is a roomy hood with room for even the most bulbous of POC helmets, but importantly it has a wired, stiff peak, and two cinch tabs are sewn within the hood, meaning it can be used without a helmet. This is key to the jacket’s versatility; it means you can realistically use it off the bike too. Or on the bike, but without a helmet (horror of horrors).
The main zip is waterproof and double-ended, so you can unzip the bottom to access pockets or add a little cooling breeze around your tum. It’s also useful, given the baggy cut, to undo it a little from the bottom if you’re spending a long time in the drops; it just stops the front bunching so much.
The two side pockets…