Oxford Venture Jacket Fierce Red
249g Medium (as tested) £99.99
The Oxford Venture Jacket, is a lightweight, packable model designed to cater for the widest range of conditions. It is thinner than many-surprisingly so, but reassuringly rugged, judging by the conditions and contexts I’ve subjected ours over the last 400miles.
Pros: Lightweight, nice fit, good breathability & waterproofing, detachable hood, decent reflective technology.
Cons: Single front pocket.
The Venture is a 2.5-layer laminate model, made from 100% polyester and boasting waterproof and windproof ratings of 10,000 apiece. Not earth shattering, but pretty much the going rate for this price point and good enough for spirited riding. Talking of which, dynamic fit means stretchy panels and a snug, figure hugging, wind cheating cut. Pockets are limited to a zippered chest model, but this is sensibly proportioned and will swallow 6-inch smartphone and wallet, or in my case, superzoom compact camera.
The lack of mesh lining (designed to encourage rider-generated heat dispersal, while protecting the garment from internal abrasion) and taped seams continues the minimalist, yet practical theme, keeping weight and bulk to a minimum. You won’t find any pit zips, or similar ventilation aids, but these shouldn’t be necessary, given the fabric weight and density.
Hoods can be quite divisive, so thankfully Oxford have gone for a detachable model that attaches via press studs and is designed to be worn beneath a helmet should the heavens open, without restricting movement and ultimately, obstructing vision.
The collar features a thin-pile fleece lining for comfort and will help combat any incremental creep of rain and other ingress that might otherwise slither inside.
Sleeves feature lightly elasticated cuffs to form a solid, stretchy seal around gloves and the rear tail is also sensibly long, promising to protect the buttocks and lower back from cold, wet stuff. The front features a full-length zipper, for easily donning, removal and tunable airflow. Being fussy, a longer tag here, and on the breast, would be welcome when wearing thicker winter-weight gloves.
Now, the Night Bright 360 panels...This technology is also employed in their gilets and as I’ve said before, doesn’t rival those used by Pro-Viz, but is still highly effective. These feature around the shoulders and lower back, are cobalt by day, silvery white under vehicle/streetlights.
Logos around the chest are less potent, though still worthy. Oncoming traffic along pitch black lanes have clocked me at around 80 metres-particularly welcome at concealed junctions. Our fierce red also helped on the visibility front, and though closer to orange in certain light, isn’t garish in the way some day glows can be. There’s also cool grey, if you fancied something more neutral.
I went the medium route and found this flattered my 1m81, 70 kilo frame-fitted like the proverbial- with room for layering. Worth mentioning, I am proportionately short in the torso and long limbed. Either way, check the sizing chart and if in doubt, try a couple for size, first. Dynamic fit is close, rather than second skin, meaning I’ve had no issues with a winter weight base and mid-layer models, including thermal fleece backed types and Prendas Cyclismo Paris Bordeaux Race Long Sleeve Jersey at the other extreme, no fluttering or bagginess with a short sleeve summer base and short sleeve jersey. No draw cords to draw it in, and the cuffs are elastic, so stretch to suit.
Weatherproofing & Breathability 3.5/5
As I said in my opening paragraph, 10,000mm ratings for waterproofing and breathability are good benchmarks and arguably the going rate for anything resembling a brisk, sustained pace. By the same token, they’re not overly high either. With these expectations in mind, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the fabric’s balance of weather cheating, rider comfort.
I’ve tested ours through a very changeable, but often wet December. Even after several hours persistent, moderate rain, I’ve remained primarily dry-that’s sans hood. I say primarily, since, around the mid-teens, the inner fabric showed a tendency to “sweat” a little after an hour or so at 90rpm.
In my experience, this is a characteristic of similar jackets without the mesh layer, including those with waterproof and breathability ratings of 15,000. Otherwise, nothing has billowed in at the cuffs, drizzled inside the neck, regardless of whether I’ve been cruising along the hoods, or hunkering low on the drops.
At the other extreme, I’ve been out at 5am, where the mercury is registering 1 degree the roads paved in a thick carpeting of hard frost, with icy crosswinds for good measure. I’ve been conscious of the latter tugging at the shell, while remaining perfectly temperate- a pleasant surprise, given I’m usually defaulting to thicker shells. On a few outings, I’d returned to discover frosty patinas along the sleeve and shoulders, but I’d been otherwise been oblivious, insulated from its wrath.
Again, I had been wearing a heavier duty winter jersey, but on two occasions, paired them with string vest type base layers. Rider generated moisture has been trafficked effectively but before the fibres begin expulsion, expect some light misting around the pits, chest and lower back after 20-25 minutes concerted effort.
Despite my initial scepticism, the hood was another pleasant surprise. It’s designed to fit over a helmet and (assuming you’re not running a helmet mounted light) works well with road and trail models, offering plenty of protection, without obscuring peripheral vision.
In breezier conditions, I have worn it beneath, and it performed equally well. Though hardly porch-like, the subtle peak offered reasonable protection from rain and occasionally, sleet. In common with other hoods, there is some minor hearing impairment, perceiving proximity of approaching traffic. However, this was more apparent when hustling along blustery descents, rather than negotiating town centre traffic.
I’ve done four hundred miles, a mix of asphalt with a fair few green lane, fire road and bridlepath detours. There’s been the inevitable brushes with overhanging foliage, brambles and bare branches have made some interesting, audible caress.
However, none have left their calling card, either on the main fabric, or the reflective detailing. So far, there’s been no obvious sign of grimy patina- the sort synonymous with tending to roadside mechanicals, oily spatter washed into the roads or just brushes with the drivetrain when shouldering the bike.
Washed at 30 degrees, using soap flakes, or minimal detergent and hung out to dry, away from direct sources of heat, it’s come up looking and smelling fragrant. Thus far, no deterioration of the detailing, seams, not even a loose thread-not that I’d expect any, but always reassuring to find everything holding up. Given its weight, bargain on 90 minutes at room temperature before it’s bone dry, half that if you’re lucky enough to get it on the line on a bright, breezy day.
The Polaris Hexon Jacket is probably the closest direct comparator at £94.99. It’s a 2-layer laminate design with adjustable cuffs and a single, rear, “poachers” type pocket, which may be preferable for those who like to carry tubes, mini pumps, multi tools and snacks. Altura Night Vision Typhoon waterproof jacket is arguably geared toward commuters and tourists. It boasts waterproofing and breathability ratings of 15,000mm, a detachable hood, three pockets and extensive, bold retro reflective detailing. At 404g for a medium, unless you’re stuffing into a pannier, or bigger SQR type luggage , it’s not the easiest to pack.
Ultimately, the Oxford Venture Jacket meets its design brief very well, albeit with some minor compromises. While on paper, the waterproof and breathability aren’t anything astounding, the thinner fabric means it wicks moisture surprisingly well. This coupled with the lower weight means its packs down more conveniently. If you are seeking something bridging gap between micro jacket and more traditional laminate shells, the Venture is well worth a closer look.