POLARIS SUMMIT WATERPROOF JACKET REVIEW
Words by Robert Johnston / Photos by Adam Lievesley
As we descend into the wet and gritty months of the year, a good waterproof jacket can make a huge difference in your comfort out on the trail. Based on the edge of the UK’s Peak District, Polaris bikewear are no strangers to exposed riding in gloomy conditions and offer a range of riding apparel designed to offer good performance at accessible prices. In a time of need prior to a wet race weekend, they kindly supplied the Eurowolf with their Summit Jacket to put to the test in some appropriately damp conditions.
The Summit Jacket is the waterproof mountain bike offering by Polaris bikewear, designed to offer lightweight protection from the elements. The jacket is constructed from a 2.5-layer fabric, which is waterproof and breathable to reduce heat buildup. The cut is tailored specifically for the saddle, with long sleeves and a drop tail to prevent ride-up when riding, and enough room in the right places to prevent any restriction. The zips are covered with a waterproof guard to stop water penetration, with a waterproof chest and rear pocket on offer to store your valuables and supplies safely. Long zipped side vents allow for increased breathability during hard pedaling efforts. A draw cord hem lets you snug the jacket down, and hook-and-loop adjustments on the cuffs allow for a tight fit while making putting on and removal easy. There’s a concealable hood to add extra weatherproofing, which tucks neatly away into a collar to provide comfort when it’s not required. The Summit Waterproof jacket is available in sizes S-XXL with a choice of red/black/orange or graphite/cyan/black (tested), and retails for £99.99 (approx. $136 /€120) with international shipping available on their website.
I collected the Summit jacket from one of the friendly faces at Polaris HQ, on my way up to what was forecast to be a washout weekend of bike racing in the exposed Yorkshire Dales in England. First impressions count for a lot with these kinds of products, so I was relieved to don the jacket for the first time on the morning of the event practice and instantly feel comfortable. The grey color is not too flashy, but subtle flashes of blue and discrete black accents save it from looking too mundane. The material has a slightly soft feeling to it that exudes quality, and the cut is about as good as I’ve ever had in a jacket. My arms are very long for a large-wearing torso and the sleeves on the Summit jacket were spot on for me, with enough space in the chest to allow me to gain a couple of pounds over the coming Winter. The length of the body is spot on too, with a useful amount of drop in the tail to keep that waistband covered when leant over, without looking too extreme when off the bike. When the hood is concealed, the thick padded collar adds a layer of comfort that I didn’t know I needed, but unfortunately the hood itself isn’t big enough to fit over a helmet, so you’ll be forced to take the helmet off if the rain gets too heavy. The side vents are generous; however, their positioning did fool me into thinking they were pockets which led me to dropping my phone straight into a puddle…lesson learnt. The chest and rear pockets are quite useful sizes, and though I did initially struggle with feeling out the rear zipper in the cold and wet, a couple of attempts later had it feeling intuitive. For softer goods this is a great spot to have a pocket when not riding with a hip pack, but I’d stay clear of anything hard back there myself in case the worst happened, and I crashed onto my back.
The Summit jacket proved to be suitably waterproof through reasonable showers, only letting the rain through when it got torrential. Though they don’t publish the ratings of the fabric, it held up to the same extent as you’d expect a 10k rated jacket to – not impenetrable but keeps the worst of it off. The initial water repellent treatment didn’t falter for the 8 or so rides until it needed a proper rinse to get a covering of gritty dirt off, which tends to be the case for a DWR treated item. Re-proofing the jacket quickly reclaimed the initial properties. The uninsulated Summit jacket manages heat fairly well, especially when the generous side vents are open, but there’s still the typical buildup of humidity on the warmer wet days that give a sweaty environment inside. At this sort of price point and waterproofing I’d consider the level of humidity buildup to be average if not slightly better, but that’s far from scientific. It doesn’t do anything magical, but is certainly not unpleasant to ride in. In terms of durability, there’s little to indicate the Summit has been abused through the best of the British mud for ride after ride, with the shoulders resisting the rub of bag straps and the sleeves free from any nicks from trailside shrubbery. Save for the reduced effectiveness of the water-resistant coating, there’s little change from new, which equates to pretty good value.
The Wolf’s Last Word
As “budget” mountain bike-specific waterproof jackets go, the Polaris Summit stacks up damn well. A spot-on cut, some nicely thought-out features and reasonable performance tot up to a solid offering for those looking to fend off elements as we descend into the Winter months.
Price: – £84.99 at time of test (£99.99 RRP [approx. $136 /€120])