Review: Pearson Test Your Mettle Road Cycling Insulated jacket |

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Review: Pearson Test Your Mettle Road Cycling Insulated jacket |

Good scores are more common than bad, because fortunately good products are more common than bad.

The Pearson Test Your Mettle Cycling Insulated Jacket is a sportily cut fleece that's windproofed and insulated in all the best places. It does a decent job of keeping the water out too.

 > Buy now: Test Your Mettle Cycling Insulated Jacket for £145 from Pearson

As a perennial cold-runner, I've tried numerous ways of keeping warm on winter rides. Bottom of my list is the traditional jersey/gilet combination – I just get cold arms and then my hands are soon freezing. Softshell jackets, some of which appear in our best winter jackets buyer's guide, have come to the fore in the last few years and these can do a great job of holding in your heat, keeping the wind out and protecting against at least some winter precipitation, but they can be a bit austere in feel. 

The Pearson Test Your Mettle Cycling Insulated jacket lies somewhere between a softshell and a fleece jersey with built-in windproofing and extra warmth where it matters, making it both weather-resistant and comfortable.

Pearson is a family-run cycle shop with a long history in south-east England. This jacket and its Survival of the Fittest bib tights are my first experience of Pearson's products, and so far, they've been pretty positive.

The jacket looks great, flattering the figure with its close fit, nipped-in waist and swooping back panel seams that draw the eye away from any less-than-optimal body bulges. The all-blue scheme – a pale lime-green is available – looks classy and the windproof fabric at the front and sides has an attractive semi-shiny finish. It rustles slightly, in an anorak kind of way, but not so much that I found it annoying. Beneath it is a layer of Polartec insulation that is unlined, presumably to save weight, which consists of a very open-weave mesh threaded through with fluffy fibres.

The windproofing and insulation extend across the shoulders and down the upper sides of the arms. Those windproof panels don't offer much in the way of stretch, though, so it's a good job that the Roubaix fleece back and underarms do, as they keep the garment fitting closely without pulling too tight across the shoulders.

It feels soft, doesn't get clammy and is cosy enough when combined with a winter base layer. There's a high percentage of recycled materials in the fabrics too, which is very welcome and something we're seeing more and more of.

There is a quality full-length YKK zip and while Pearson has opted not to fit a waterproof zip, the generous baffle behind it had no problems keeping the weather out. I think it's the right decision too, as without taping all the seams the jacket is only ever going to be water-resistant rather than genuinely waterproof.

At the collar, the zip-pull parks unobtrusively in a simple port. The collar doesn't come up particularly high but does fit quite closely and has a fleece lining. There's no stretch or other means of adjustment here, though, so could be over-restrictive if you aren't careful with size choice.

The waist uses an elasticated band that combines with a silicone strip to keep it in place. This only extends across the back and not round the front and sides (because of the windproof fabric) so again, make sure you buy the size that's right for your waist size to avoid it being too tight or too slack.

The Test Your Mettle comes in five sizes for chests from 36-45in. But while the large was spot on for my 40in chest and good at the waist, despite the jacket being a little larger than my waist, the body length was on the limit for my 6ft 3in height. However, my main problem was with the length of the sleeves.

As with many jackets and jerseys, stretching into a riding position sends the cuffs riding up. I spoke to Pearson's about this and was helpfully sent an XL to see if that would be a better fit. The sleeve length was, but the 36in waist was too slack, and I stuck with the Large.

This isn't the only jacket I've had this problem with, and I have a few where I've had to compromise on fit to get lengths of sleeve I need. Fortunately, the winter gloves I wore with the jacket had generous cuffs that covered any potential gaps at the wrists.

In keeping with the jacket's generally close and sporty fit, the three fleecy back pockets sat well, without drooping when empty.

The right-most pocket is accessed from the side and has a generously sized zip access with an easy-to-grab ring pull, which I liked.

There's also a small zipped pocket discreetly sited in the left chest panel.

The water-repellent coating is very impressive, beading up the moisture in a very satisfying way. I've worn this on some big rides in the murkiest weather that November and December could throw at me, including fog, drizzle and a memorably unpleasant sleet shower somewhere near Bellingham that made my toes drop off but, thanks to Pearson's jacket, it didn't trouble my torso.

I simulated heavy rain by wearing it in the shower for five minutes and while it did begin to wet out at the shoulders, I still couldn't really detect any ingress, even at the seams, and it dries quickly.

While the garment seems reasonably well put-together (in Latvia), and all the panel seams are generously, if a little untidily, overstitched, a lot of them didn't lie particularly flat. That didn't matter when I wore it over a base layer, but when I wore a short-sleeved one I felt the internal sleeve seam against the inside of my elbow. It was a minor thing, though, and not enough to break the deal.

Any all-in-one garment is inherently less versatile than a layering system, as it's either on or off, and while the Test Your Mettle is not that bulky to wear, it is a bit too plump to roll up and put in a pocket. There are no vents or pit zips either, to help with the airflow if the temperature starts to rise.

While £145 is a fairly hefty outlay, it's far from the priciest option around. Also, since the Test Your Mettle does the job of two, or even three conventional layers, so you do get good value for it. Another jacket that offers some extra body insulation, though not so much down the arms, is the £206 Café du Cycliste Leonie that Matt reviewed earlier in the year.

At £165 the Albion Insulated Jacket 3.0 comes in only a little dearer than the Pearson and it weighs about 140g less, making it more packable, and Hollis found it very versatile.

Overall, though not quite perfect, the Pearson offers a lot of cold-weather protection at a not too exorbitant price. It looks great and is worth a considering if you're in the market for cosy winter wear.

Warm and comfortable, great water resistance and it looks good – though taller riders may want longer sleeves

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Make and model: Pearson Test Your Mettle Road Cycling Insulated jacket

Tell us what the jacket is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Pearson says it's "Designed to help you test your mettle on the road. Designed for cooler months, the jacket provides an effective outer layer with minimal weight. New features for 2022 include a zipped chest pocket for valuables. The jacket also has a zipped rear pocket, two open storage pockets and a reflective 1860 rear dot pattern detail. Wear with a short-sleeve or long-sleeve base layer or add an extra jersey on the coldest days.

...this jacket... features cutting-edge fabrics, including a technical outer for windproofing and breathability. A water-repellent finish keeps rain out, while Lycra cuffs eliminate draughts... the front fabric is made from 100% recycled polyester. The back and arm sections are made from a 100% recycled Italian thermal fabric, while a Polartec® lining (as used by US Special Forces) provides 'active' insulation. This means it releases heat rather than absorbs moisture and is also fully recycled.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?

Windproofing on chest and arms

Polartec® Alpha thermal lining on chest and arms

Longer back for effective coverage

It's strongly put together but some of the seams look a bit untidy. That led to them being a bit noticeable in the sleeves.

I thought this was great for cold, damp, foggy, drizzly UK winter conditions and didn't struggle when the temperatures really plunged. Though not a full-on waterproof, the water-repellent coating did a really good job and even when it did wet out, it dried quickly. The close fit gives you excellent freedom of movement, much more like a conventional jersey than a softshell jacket. The insulation was effective and used judiciously without compromising the breathability.

Pearson doesn't describe this jacket as waterproof but it has a DWR (durable water-repellent) coating, which I found worked extremely well, even after a few washes.

Despite the windproof front I didn't overheat on long climbs and my back stayed dry too.

Close but not too close to move in it – as Pearson says, it's 'well-considered', though you do need to choose your size carefully.

In theory, the large size should should have been somewhere between spot on and a little too large for me, but in practice the neck and chest were pretty close fitting and the waist about right. The sleeves were too short for me and the XL, which solved that problem, was too generous elsewhere. If you're a taller rider, take note.

For a combined jersey/jacket/windproof the Test Your Metal is quite modest in weight, though it doesn't pack down that small.

I was aware of a lumpy seam in the arm when worn against bare skin. Otherwise, and if 'comfort' includes keeping warm, the comfort was excellent.

Top-end jackets are now well into the £200 or £300 price range, so £145 is now quite midfield now – and you get plenty for your money.

How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?

I tended to wash it in Grangers Tech Wash to protect the water-repellent finish and it seemed to be ideal.

Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose

I think Pearson has done a very good job with this jacket, managing to combine a jacket with a sporty fit and look with some serious warmth and wind-resistance. I was able to toil up my long local climbs without cooking myself but when the road pointed down again and the wind chill took over, I was well insulated on both body and arms. The DWR finish works commendably well and has stood up to several washes so far.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket

Warm, cosy, excellent water repellence, quality zip.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket

The interior seams could be better finished and I needed longer sleeves.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on

Another jacket that offers some extra body insulation, though not so much down the arms, is the Café du Cycliste Leonie (£206). The Albion Insulated Jacket 3 comes in only a little dearer than the Pearson at £165 and weighs about 140g less, making it more packable. 

Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes

Would you consider buying the jacket? Probably not, as sadly I seemed to fall a bit between sizes

Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

This is a well-thought-through piece of kit, on the whole, well up to keeping the UK winter at bay without bulking you out. The sporty fit may be more racy than some winter rides warrant, but it makes for a good freedom of movement, and everything stays in place. I thought some of the seam stitching could have been better, though it was strong enough, and it's not as versatile as separate layers, but I didn't overheat and I didn't get cold. The water-resistant coating is impressive.

Age: 57  Height: 6'2  Weight: 75kg and rising

I usually ride: Cannondale CAAD10   My best bike is: Tomassini Prestige

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: A few times a week  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,

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Review: Pearson Test Your Mettle Road Cycling Insulated jacket |

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