I have to be honest, my first reaction on receiving the Velez Adventure Light Smock for review was to email Paramo to ask if they’d like it back. I was sure this inner-lined shell was going to be too hot, even in early spring, and struggle against the best MTB jackets and best jackets for gravel and bikepacking.
They very politely suggested I rode with it first, saying that the breathability of the fabric – and the effectiveness of the vents – might surprise me.
I kind of knew this in theory – the enthusiasm of Paramo flag-flyers on one or two cycling discussion boards for their weatherproofing, comfort, durability and environmentally friendly construction was what encouraged me to call one in
As it turned out, there was no getting away from the thermal effect of the multi-layer construction: I wouldn’t much want to ride hard up a hill in one on a sunny day in double figure temperatures. However, to be fair, no one wants to ride hard up a hill in the sun in any rain jacket. And the comfort of the Velez Adventure Light Smock was undeniable and the moisture regulation inside the jacket was truly surprising
Design and specifications
Most waterproofs use a membrane to seal out water, full of microscopic holes that are small enough to restrict liquid water but big enough to allow water vapour through. Their limits are reached either when enough pressure forces rainwater through the tiny holes; or when water vapor (from sweat) is generated faster than the holes can let it out.
Instead of using a membrane to seal out water, Paramo focuses on getting moisture out faster than it comes in. Its outer layer uses a (non-toxic) water repellent coating to slow the ingress, and its inner layer pumps moisture out using a technique called capillary depression. Unlike membranes, it can move liquid as well as water vapor from the inner to the outer layer, so your sweat doesn’t have to evaporate before it can be moved away.
Like nearly all waterproofs, the outer layer needs cleaning and reproofing with water repellent from time to time to stop water soaking in.
In terms of design, the Velez smock is made of two loosely attached layers – a silky water resistant outer, and a smooth wicking inner. There’s a half length front zip, and two massive side vents, which can be zipped open from the top or the bottom. With typical attention to detail, the hood can be rolled and secured down when not in use, the front opening can be done up with two poppers instead of the zip to allow some airflow, and the generously Velcroed cuffs open wide enough that it’s easy to pull the sleeves halfway up if you want to.
There’s a big chest pocket, and a big full width pocket inside the smock at stomach level. This does mean that the whole front area below the zip is effectively triple-layered.
The layered build does make it heavy – 588g for a size small – but it does mean you don’t need as much on underneath. It’s worth noting that the men’s sizes don’t go down all that small. I’m 173cm / 5ft 8in tall with a 36in chest and the smallest size (S) was a pretty relaxed fit.
My first real trial of the Velez Light Smock was mountain biking in wind and sleet at 4-6C (39-42F) on the Welsh Borders, with just a thin winter base underneath. It was pretty much perfect for that, like a breathable waterproof cocoon with excellent windproofing too. Movement with the hood up or down was easy, too, thanks to the well articulated sleeves and shoulders.
Its softness, comfort and relatively relaxed fit meant it got grabbed for hiking on that holiday as well. It just feels very easy and natural to wear, on the bike and off.
On subsequent rides, in addition to what did feel like impressive breathability, additional temperature regulation was good – with massive side vents and easily pull-uppable sleeves . But it’s not miraculous, and for mixed-intensity cycling I felt its main window was in windy, cold and wet weather. Because of its layers, when it does get too warm it really gets too warm, even with just a T-shirt underneath – I found this particularly when the sun came out at slower speeds, especially when there was little wind and temperatures got towards double figures (10C / 50F).
You wouldn’t buy the Velez Light Smock as your do-everything cycling jacket because it’s too warm for efforts in milder temperatures. That said, I really liked it and if you’re a general outdoors person, you could get plenty of value out of it. For walking it’s a smashing choice for inclement weather when you don’t need a full-on mountaineering coat, and chances are you’d find yourself reaching for it for chilled out MTB riding more than you expect, as well as for the lower temperature mixed-effort rides. I’m giving it a 3.5 stars as an off-road cycling jacket because of its narrowish window of use, but it would be an easy 4.5 for wider use.
Tech specs: Paramo Velez Adventure Light Smock
- Price: £250 / €350
- Weight: 588g (S)
- Sizes: Men's: S-XXL; Women's XS-XL
- Colors: Men's: Rock gray, Pumpkin (tested); Women's: Neon, Elderberry
- Key materials: 100% polyester, Nikwax Analogy inner
- Eco credentials: PFC-free water repellent finish; Guaranteed Fair Trade; Fully repairable and recyclable through Páramo in the UK (you also get a £50 voucher for any garment handed in for recycling with an RRP over £140).