Kit Review: dhb Kids’ Transparent Rain Jacket
11 December 2014
With the massive growth in children’s cycling we’re seeing a much better choice of effective, well-designed clothing specifically for kids.
Now Wiggle’s dhb brand has released this lightweight rain jacket. We reviewed it to see if it deserves to become just as popular as dhb’s cycling kit for adults.
dhb Kids’ Transparent Rain Jacket
Age 10-12 years
Wiggle – www.wiggle.co.uk
About the clothing
dhb is already one of the most popular brands of cycle clothing for adults. It has gained a reputation for good quality, low and mid priced products. dhb doesn’t have a particularly fashionable image but being the clothing supplier to the Wiggle-Honda pro team has definitely given its image a boost over the last couple of years.
The rain jacket that we’re reviewing is one of just a handful of products in its children’s clothing range. The other items are a pair of shorts and a short-sleeved jersey.
The jacket costs £25 and is available in sizes starting at Age 6-8 and going up to Age 14-16.
About our test
We tested the jacket sized for children aged 10-12. To give you an idea of sizing, it will be useful to know that the tester in our photos is 11 years old, 146 cm tall and weighs 35 kg.
The jacket was worn in a range of conditions: on the road; during cyclocross race warm-ups; mountain biking; in cold dry weather; and in milder wet weather.
Obviously we were looking to see whether the jacket kept the rider dry, how well it fitted, and how comfortable it was.
Quality, fit and performance
The jacket’s nylon material is very thin and lightweight – enough to allow the jacket to be folded up small enough to fit into a jersey rear pocket.
Its outer surface feels smooth and quite plasticky while the inner surface is slightly softer. The material is very slightly stretchy.
The jacket often appears white but in fact it’s pretty transparent – that’s useful for racing because it’s quite easy to see a race number and the rider’s jersey underneath the jacket. That means that in very bad weather the jacket could be worn during youth circuit races, cyclocross or MTB races.
There’s very little branding on the jacket (just a discreet dhb logo on the chest and between the shoulder blades) and a rider’s club kit still looks good when worn with the jacket.
The jacket’s visibility is pretty good during daytime and there are a couple of reflective details sewn into the seams at the rear of the jacket too.
We think breathability is essential for a rain jacket – it’s no use protecting you from the rain if you simply fill it with steam from the inside. Before the jacket arrived we doubted whether the jacket would be made of breathable fabric – Wiggle’s product description doesn’t mention breathability, and £25 looks suspiciously cheap for a breathable rain jacket.
However, when we unpacked it we were pleased to see a swing tag proudly claiming breathability, and that’s what we found during testing – even after our tester had been working hard in mild weather the inside of the jacket stayed almost completely dry.
There’s a large mesh panel on each side of the jacket’s body beneath the arm, and that must help to disperse moisture too.
The flatlock-stitched seams are strong and appear to do a good job of keeping out the wind and rain. The hem at the waist and the cuffs are elasticated. The zip is small and light but proved reliable and sturdy during our tests.
A child typically might not be riding for as long as an adult, but children lose heat more quickly than adults because of their smaller body size. And, as cyclists of all ages know, once you’re wet you lose heat very rapidly indeed. So it’s important that this jacket keeps out rain and road spray, and happily it does the job well. Wiggle market the jacket as showerproof not waterproof, but we tested it with wet sessions of up to an hour without water noticeably finding its way through.
The jacket definitely has a close, “racing” fit: it worked best when worn over other close fitting clothes such as a base layer and a racing jersey together. You’d probably need to order a size up if planning to wear it over a bulkier winter jacket.
The jacket works well as a windproof outer layer in cold, dry weather too. Because of that close fit there’s little excess material which would catch the wind and slow down the rider.
Like all good cycling jackets the tail is cut slightly lower than the front so that it fits well in the riding position and to protect the rider from spray thrown up by the rear tyre.
The jacket fitted the test rider very well in all areas apart from sleeve length – we think the sleeves would be better if they were a couple of centimetres longer. It’s not an issue when a rider is wearing typical winter gloves with their longer cuffs, but the jacket tends to leave the wrists exposed when the rider is wearing shorter-cuff summer gloves or track mitts.
The collar is quite high which is good for keeping out wind and rain, but it could also be slightly irritating under the chin despite the “zip garage” – a soft fabric cover to prevent the zip from chafing the rider’s neck.
Note that the jacket’s care label states that it should be washed at 30 degrees, not the usual 40 degrees that a lot of cycling kit can be washed at. Breathable fabrics do need to be looked after quite carefully, so we suggest following the label’s advice.
After one very muddy cyclocross session the jacket still showed some slight traces of mud after washing, but this disappeared after the next wash.
There’s a useful loop on the back of the collar to hang the jacket from when you want to dry it. The fabric is so light and thin that it does dry quickly.
Value for money
There’s no doubt that at £25 the dhb rain jacket is great value. There’s no VAT charged on children’s clothes which helps to keep the cost down. The price compares well to other breathable rain jackets:-
- Altura’s excellent Night Vision children’s jacket can be found for around £50. It’s made of a thicker, warmer fabric than dhb’s and the Night Vision jacket isn’t intended to be packed down small.
- Endura’s kids Luminite jacket is a high-visibility, compact choice that costs around £40.
- We reviewed Peré Performance’s rain jacket a year ago and were impressed with its quality and performance. It costs £59, and packs down to a very small size.
- The Madison Protec kids waterproof jacket is sold by some discount retailers for £32, which makes it one of the closest competitors to dhb’s jacket on price alone. Like the Altura jacket though, it does a slightly different job to dhb’s, with its zipped pockets, thicker collar and Velcro-fastening cuffs. It wouldn’t suit racing or training as well.
- Polaris sells its JR Aqualite Extreme jacket for around £35. It packs down small and is pretty close to the dhb jacket in terms of design and function.
The dhb jacket meets the key requirements of a rain jacket very well: protecting the rider from rain and wind; and not boiling them from within. It is good quality, great value, and it fits well. If you want a kid’s waterproof jacket for racing and training it should definitely be somewhere at the top of your list.
The product can be found here on Wiggle’s website.