You know it’s fall in Utah when you have to use the heater and air conditioning on the same day. Temperature swings are common and you never know what the weather will be like. That’s what makes a jacket like the Bontrager RXL 180 Softshell such a great piece to have at your disposal.
Bontrager RXL 180 Softshell Jacket Features:
- Mid-weight Profila Softshell fabric on front-facing areas
- Profila Thermal rear panel and underarms provide breathability while retaining warmth
- Full-length YKK zipper with draft flap
- Three open back storage pockets, with two zippered security pockets on left chest and right back
- Thumb loops in cuffs keep wrists and hands warm
- 4.5″ (11cm) drop-tail and articulated sleeves for a precise on-bike fit
- Reflective elements enhance visibility for maximum safety
- Fitted: streamlined body fit for a next-to-skin feel
- 10,000mm Waterproof, 10,000 g/m2/24hr Breathability
- Colors: Black, White (tested)
- MSRP: $149
Chasing Weather in the Bontrager RXL 180 Softshell Jacket
To test products, I often search for the ideal conditions and have to be ready at a moment’s notice to zip out in snow, rain, heat or wind. As such, I’ve found the sweet spot for the RXL 180 to be cold, windy conditions. Throughout the fall, I’ve either worn or had the RXL 180 stuffed in my back pocket just in case. In concert with the RXL Softshell Bib Tights, the duo offers quite the barrier against cold and inclement weather.
The size Large RXL 180 fits quite well with the ability to wear a long-sleeve jersey underneath (like the Hincapie Ghisallo LS) on my 5’11” 170 lb. frame. Pulling the sleeves on while wearing a long-sleeve base layer or jersey never resulted in bunching of the underlayer as the materials slid well against the inside of the sleeves. I will say that the cut is intended to be worn with bib tights as the hem is relatively short. It’s rightly cut to offer additional rear coverage while in the saddle, but when walking around, its shortness is evident — and jerseys worn underneath tended to stick out a good inch below the hem of the jacket. That said, the important function is in the saddle and as mentioned, it fits well for that purpose.
The extra-long cut sleeves include thumb ports as an extra measure of weather protection. Using the thumb ports and then putting your gloves on top requires enough room to accomodate the extra material (none of my gloves did that well) and on the outside offers reduced palm grip on the bars, but supreme weather protection. Most of the time, I opted to pull the sleeves atop the glove cuffs without using the thumb ports, which provided solid protection without compromising palm grip.
With wind blocking and water-resistant Profila Softshell fabric on the front panels, the RXL 180 feels near-impervious to cold, but, like everything it does have its limits. The RXL 180 works well in conditions from the 30’s into the 50’s — depending on how you layer it up. While the Profila Softshell fabric does offer water resistance, it’s not made to shed the pounding of constant rain (if rain is your thing, the Sugoi RSE NeoShell Jacket is the ticket). Riding in intermittent snow or rain and it beads right up, but extended periods get the best of the fabric.
The three rear pockets are roomy and easily-used. As an added bonus, there is a zippered media/phone pocket in the back (that was perfect for hauling my iPhone) and another zippered chest pocket. To aid breathability, the Profila Thermal material is used on the backside and underarms. Wind penetrates through these areas just enough to aid in moisture management without letting the chill in. I found this jacket to provide excellent overall breathability. Zipped up, the collar offered the perfect coverage in both diameter and height. Collar fit is aided by inserting a section of Profila Thermal fabric on the back of the neck for an added measure of natural flex and comfort.
With visibility one of the paramount goals for any cycling apparel, I appreciated the white color and look forward to more visible color schemes from Bontrager in the future.
- Lightweight, yet warm and wind blocking
- Breathability is superb
- Extra-length sleeves to provide extra coverage
- Zipped media/phone pocket and chest pocket are nice features
- Perfect height and diameter collar for warmth
- Easily-grabbed zipper pulls
- Jacket may seem short off the bike
- Didn’t like using the thumb ports inside or outside of gloves
The Bottom Line
Rocking the Bontrager RXL Softshell Jacket has been a very good experience. The hybrid construction enhances the overall functionality of this piece by giving it the best of breathability and weather protection. The cut may seem short off the bike, but when worn with the proper bib tights, it’s not an issue on the bike.
Buy Now: Available at Bontrager.com or Your Local Trek Dealer