This is one jacket that truly lives up to its name. Built from a waterproof/breathable exterior over a soft, polyester fleece liner, the $145 Alpine Storm jacket from Royal Racing straddles the riding and lifestyle categories from bike saddle to bar stool.
Like any good softshell, its up to the task of daily wear and tear while still be comfortable enough to ride in. The “Alpine” label is appropriate, given how warm it is. If it is above 40 degrees don’t even think about riding hard in this guy—save it for the coldest of days only. Around town, it’s perfect for the “shoulder” seasons—rainy spring and fall days when you’re out doing trail work or harassing your buddies at the local bike shop.
On the bike, the chest pocket offers a nice spot to stash your keys, and the interior zipper pocket has a port for your headphones. It not only has a hood that can accommodate an open face helmet, but this is the only jacket I have worn that allows you to turn your head side to side with the hood up and a helmet on. The weather protection just goes to 11. I wouldn’t hesitate to ride with this jacket in a full rain storm. If things clear up the pit zips are angled far forward to function with a pack on—a thoughtful feature that usually goes overlooked.
Concessions to the “lifestyle” market include the lack of any rear pockets and a horizontal hem that can bunch up when you’re riding. A double-pull zipper would have been a nice addition for added adjustability. The sleeves are also a touch short for a cycling posture, but being 6-foot-2 in a size medium, I’m probably at the limit of the sizing. That said, the cut is roomy enough for layers or sweaters beneath it, so don’t think of this as some sporty-Spandex-type item.
For 2014 the Alpine Storm jacket comes in sizes small through XXL and is available in blue or black. The gray you see here was from a Santa Cruz press event, thus the logo. I liked it so much I wanted to spread the word.