Insulated jackets have become a bikepacking kit list staple as they provide a low weight but high warmth ratio. Even the most compactable options don’t pack down that small and most are often too warm to ride in unless it's properly cold.
Albion has taken a different approach with its Ultralight Insulated jacket, it is specifically designed to be worn while riding and is incredibly lightweight, super packable, and has an on-the-bike fit making it the perfect warmth-boosting bikepacking jacket for ultra-distance riding, or any riding for that matter.
Design and specifications
Albion has used an ultralightweight micro ripstop fabric that is treated with a C0 Durable Water Repellency (DWR) coating. Under the arm, there are laser-cut holes to help with temperature regulation and the zip is backed with a full-length wind guard.
To make an insulated jacket that’s super light and packable, Albion has been tactical, only positioning the insulation in key areas to ensure maximum warmth benefits when riding to keep bulk to a minimum. Insulation has been positioned to protect the chest, shoulders, and three-quarters of the arm from wind chill when riding, leaving the back, lower arms, and lower body exposed. The insulation used is 40gsm Clo Eco Vivo which is made from 93 percent recycled fibers and is formed into a layer with breathable holes which is said to increase breathability by 30 percent.
As this is foremost designed to be a lightweight and packable garment, Albion has paid a lot of attention to the details to achieve the sub-100g weight without sacrificing features. That means you get a lightweight hem shock cord adjuster paired with an elastic rear gripper to keep the rear section in place and a minimal elasticated cuff to reduce breezes up the arms.
Unlike a lot of lightweight clothing, Albion has opted to sacrifice a couple of grams and spec a double-zip so you can easily regulate temperature or reach into a jersey pocket. One feature I think is missing is a built-in pocket to pack the jacket into as it can help keep things a bit more organized in a framebag.
Albion offers the Ultralight Insulated jacket in either the Burnt Yellow I have to test or a more subdued Forest Green. Albion has chosen to go with a unisex fit and there is sizing between XXS to XXL. Based on the size guide I chose a medium and found it to be spot on, giving a neat, flap-free fit. That said the material doesn’t have any stretch so the fit may not accommodate all body shapes as well as.
Most insulated jackets focus on holding as much heat in as possible, however, when you’re riding you can produce a lot of heat yourself. Albion has done a great job of balancing the levels of warmth to keep you comfortable while riding. The insulation positioning keeps the majority of wind chill off when riding and the fact the insulation is also vented helps with heat regulation as well. I'm a fan of a double zip, so big kudos to Albion for fitting the Ultralight Insulated jacket so you have manual override control of temperature too.
The non-puffer sections aren’t very windproof which is a double-edged sword in that it helps stop overheating, but can also limit the jacket's warming abilities in windy conditions when worn on its own. That said, once paired with just a thin packable wind or waterproof layer, warmth levels increase considerably as the insulation can trap a warm layer around your body.
The jacket is ultra-thin too so you can slip it under any outer layer without feeling squeezed or restricted. That's a big plus as it can be used to massively boost the warmth of any outfit whether you’re wearing a multi-layer winter outfit or need some extra warmth once the summer sun has dipped below the horizon. It packs away super small too and can be rolled up to about fist size and easily crammed into a corner of a bikepacking bag or a jersey pocket.
The Albion Ultralight Insulated jacket is a must-have item of clothing for any ultra racer or endurance rider. Having a guaranteed warmth-boosting layer that can be easily stashed away can very well make or break a ride and the Albion Ultralight Insulated jacket has proven to be a vital piece of kit on rides with fluctuating temperatures.
In the same way I wouldn’t leave for a big ride without a waterproof, the Albion Ultralight Insulated jacket has become a staple of my riding kit.
Tech specs: Albion Ultralight Insulated jacket
- Price: $220 / £160 / €230
- Sizes: XXS, XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL,
- Colors: Burnt Yellow, Forest Green
- Weight: 96g (medium)
- Materials: Main: 100% recycled nylon, Insulation: 93% recycled polyester / 7% polyester
- Available from: Albion.com