TUCANO URBANO HYDROSTRETCH JACKET
215g (including pac-sac) XL dark blue (as tested) £69.99
The Tucano Urbano Hydrostretch Jacket is a highly-packable, slim-fit, breathable waterproof and windproof jacket. Whilst its breathability and waterproof stats are distinctly on the modest side, I have enjoyed cycling in the UK’s November unpredictability. With ‘skin’ jackets of this type, a lot can depend on what your base-layer or mid-layer might be. Both can significantly enhance the Hydrostretch jacket’s potential.
Pros: highly packable, windproof, simple.
Cons: moderate breathability, limited colour choice.
This is a simple looking garment. Four-way stretch, 70% polyurethane, 30% polyester, taped seams, and a full length-zip. A waterproof rating of 5000mm and a breathability rating of 2000g are toward the lower and of the scale. Even so, there can be more to those stats than meet the eye.
Beyond that, some small reflective detail and a handy pac-sac, are about all there is to say. Simplicity itself! No pockets.
Size and fit 4/5
Slim-fit and stretchy, is not a combination that I usually go for. I’d have chosen an XXL, if there were one. However, there isn’t, so I had to swallow my vanity. Mind you, the wife says that it suits me. The seams are not strained and the four-way stretch fabric does not bulge unflatteringly. For context, I’m fourteen stones in weight and enjoy the odd beer or two.
Sizes small to extra-large should satisfy most, but there’ll be some with a fuller figure who will have to look elsewhere. Equally, there’ll be limitations to layering-up underneath, as opposed to the range of garments that fit under something like the Showers Pass Elite 2.i Jacket.
Elasticated cuffs keep things tight around the wrists, and sleeves are plenty long enough to tuck in gloves such as the Showers Pass Touchscreen Gloves. Chubbily cuffed duvet style winter gloves could prove a challenge, although the Chiba Second Skin Gloves have been accommodated comfortably.
An elasticated collar, and hem have kept things in place around neck and rump. At first, I was very much under the impression that the drop-back was riding up and exposing my lower-back. I kept reaching to check, and found that an impression as all it was. The hem was still gripping just where it should.
When not in use, the pac-sac keeps things organised in the commuting ruc-sac, or stuffs neatly into a jersey pocket.
Care/Drying times 3.5/5
After a shower of rain, drying time en velo is pretty rapid. Naturally, it depends on the weather. It takes a little longer drip drying indoors.
30C machine was, without softener, and line dry. All simple enough. Chucking it in with the regular wash does not seem to be a problem. I tend to opt for the cautious approach – I’d go for washing it with liquid or technical detergent. A couple of hours outdoors on the line or four or five indoors has been enough.
First time out was not an especially windy day. With the morning mercury up to 5C the Hydrostretch kept the breeze at bay. OK, I’d decided to put it to the test by wearing only a short-sleeved cotton shirt, so the fabric felt cool against my forearms, but that is another matter. Using a longer sleeved cycling jersey, like the Light Blue Classic Road Jersey or a long-sleeved technical base-layer, made things more pleasantly tactile.
Four hours out on a very breezy day, a technical, thermal base-layer, offered all that was needed, despite the headwind bringing the temperature down to 6C. I’ll qualify that by adding that I prefer to cycle on the cool side rather than feeling too toasty. When taking a break or indulging in roadside bodging, there’s bound to be a bit of a chill, but no more than I’ve experienced with other lightweight jackets.
Base-layer and jersey have kept things toasty.
Light drizzle is repelled with ease. Stats suggest that 5000mm is about the minimum one needs for prolonged light rain. Tucano Urbano’s spiel suggests that the jacket offers more than this.
In really heavy rain, it’ll keep the worst off. However, prolonged hefty downpours are likely to lead to dampness. That’s much as I expected, given the stats. How awkward this was depended on the layer beneath; technical gear fared better than civvies.
What is certain, is that the elasticated cuffs prevent rain being drawn up the sleeve.
Just to say, I’ve tended to keep things moderate in jersey pockets. Tight, stretchy jackets can tend to ride up with heavily packed pockets. Wallet, keys, phone, face-covering, spare bag of jelly beans, has been my lot. Add a multitool, tube, levers, mini-pump, and things felt over-stretched. Mind you, there was no significant riding-up: kidneys remained protected, but that may depend on personal factors.
As with the waterproof rating, the breathability stat is nothing to write home about. Having said that, I had not noticed any build-up of unwanted moisture inside the jacket on commute or pacey bursts along the local lanes. Taking on the more demanding hills of the Peak District, brought a distinctly clammy feeling. Mind you, that soon dissipated when things flattened out. Were I heading into the wilderness, or planning to camp, I think I’d prefer a more breathable garment, but for day rides, I have not found it to be a problem.
A top end technical slim-fit jacket for the hell ‘n’ high water racing snake could cost you in the region of £250. You’ll get a waterproof rating of 20000mm and top breathability. Yet, stats are not the only measure. High ratings may look great, but why go for 20000g of breathability if you are only riding at a moderate pace? And things will get heavier and less packable. Equally, 10000-15000mm waterproof rating is the max I’ve ever had for cycle touring, and it been more than
adequate. The point is, that you could spend a lot and find that the spec is too high for the job you are doing; even worse, you may find that too high a spec brings disadvantages.
Having said that, for a similar price, one can a jacket with higher ratings, although these are not always as packable as the Hydrostretch. The 7Mesh Hybrid Jacket is highly packable, has much greater breathability, and, although it is only rated as water-resistant, will keep out persistent wintry drizzle more than happily. Mind you, it’ll set you back around £175. Provisions Aqua Repel jacket is just £40 and is highly thought of by many; it is simple and effective, designed to “get you home warm and dry.”
In a competitive field, Tucano Urbano’s Hydrostretch has its place. For stylish commuting through a quick burst to more leisurely day rides when you need a jacket to keep the wind off and guard against the odd bit of rain, it is ideal. Even better, it fits easily in a jersey pocket, and dries quickly. It may not be the one for hard riding or heavy, prolonged rain, but as a no fuss, effective jacket, tending to the moderate cyclist, it is well-worth a look.