We were pleased when the Sportful Supergiara jacket arrived at the same time as the Castelli Unlimited Puffy jacket, as they make for a useful comparison.
They’re both gravel-oriented outer layers, best between low single-digit and low double-digit temperatures (or low 30s to low 50s in Fahrenheit), with a base layer underneath. Both use the impressively breathable Polartec Alpha insulation, with different windproof shells on the outside, and different approaches to where the insulation is used on the inside. They’re very much leave-on jackets, whether you’re grinding up hills or facing off icy headwinds (or both at once).
We were looking at the jackets partly with bikepacking in mind, and at barely 200g, the Castelli Unlimited Puffy felt like a versatile low-bulk contender. Because of its thicker soft shell and warmer arms, the Supergiara jacket is over 300g and less packable, but it’s also cosier, so let’s have a look at how it stacks up.
Design and Specifications
The Supergiara jacket is designed for gravel riding, which is to say that its fit is slim but by no means aero. It’s got stretch where it needs it and it’s got pockets everywhere.
The outer layer is a silent and soft, tightly-woven material, in contrast to the thin and slightly rustly microfiber of the Castelli. Like the Castelli, it’s designed to be windproof and has a lightly water-resistant coating. Sportful’s gravel colors tend to be rich organics; I rather liked the Cayenna Red salmon color of this test jacket.
On the inside is the super-open weave of the Polartec Alpha insulation, which traps warm air between its fibers, but lets water vapour escape easily, and helps by wicking moisture from your base layer.
Polartec Alpha fabric doesn’t stretch, so to help with movement and a snug fit, the jacket has lightly brushed stretch panels along the underside of the arms instead of Alpha. (They’re the black sections in the photo of the inside of the jacket.)
There’s a rubberized strip on the slightly scalloped rear hem, which helps to keep everything in place. Probably the most distinctive feature is the mesh pockets – two on the chest, one on the arm, and three on the lower back, on top of three more conventional and generously deep pockets. The idea is that it’s easy to access things on the move, and while I’m not convinced that I need that many or want to have all my stuff bulging about my person, the ones on the chest were surprisingly useful for small flat things, partly because they had no zips and so you could use them one-handed.
Half the customer reviews I’ve seen seem to grumble about the sizing. For what it’s worth, on the Sportful size charts I’m at the top end of a small (36in chest, 173cm tall), and in the photos I’m wearing a medium for a fractionally more relaxed fit and flexibility with layering.
Most of my testing was done between about 4C and 11C, with different long-sleeve base layers underneath.
The Supergiara is a slightly warmer jacket than the Castelli Unlimited Puffy, mainly because the shell is slightly thicker, and the stretch sections are two-layered. The stretch sections and the cuffs are also nicer against the skin on the Supergiara, so you could conceivably wear it with a short-sleeved base or even no base. (If it was warm enough for no base though, you’d probably be better off with a thin jersey and a thin windproof, for more versatility.)
However, the truth is, I generally preferred the Unlimited Puffy, for its lightness, better breathability, and more rounded looks. It also seemed slightly more water repellent, but (a) I expect the coatings on both will wear off pretty quickly, and (b) both jackets are designed to be warm when damp.
The main advantages of the Supergiara was that it was slightly warmer when stopped (but for me, still not warm enough in the coldest weather), and that it didn’t make an occasional flapping noise, as the Unlimited Puffy did.
So would I buy the Supergiara Jacket? Not at full price, and not up against the Unlimited Puffy, but if you prefer the style, or you can find one on sale (or both), then a wind-resistant Polartec Ultra jacket like this is a peach to have in your kit cupboard and will confound your expectations of how comfortable you can be on the move in cooler weather.
Tech specs: Sportful Supergiara Jacket
- Price: $260 / £240 / €220 / AU$360
- Sizes: XS, S, L, XL, 2XL, 3XL
- Colors: Cayenna Red (tested), Golden Oak, Beetle, Galaxy Blue
- Weight: 323g (medium)
- Key materials: Polyester, polyamide, elastane; Polartec Alpha insulation
- Eco credentials: Sportful doesn't highlight any specific eco credentials for this product but as an organisation is acting on its use of energy and emission, materials and packaging, and supply chain. See mvcgroup.com for more info