A cold, winter morning ride is a cure-all for most of life’s problems, especially when you have the best winter riding kit to keep you warm against the elements. Endura holds a place in my heart for creating exceptional quality gear at a slightly more accessible price point, and I’ve rarely come across anything I haven’t liked or hasn’t worked exactly as the brand says it should. I was not let down by the Endura Women’s Pro SL Primaloft Jacket, which with its lightweight tailored cut, quilted front full of Primaloft Gold insulation and well vented back panel, has become a firm favourite of mine as a versatile mid layer and jacket in its own right, stacking up well in our best winter cycling jackets guide.
I trialled the Endura Pro SL Primaloft both on commutes and long days in the saddle across autumn and winter where we had a range of temperatures and conditions to test its limits. I found it was at its best on drier autumnal days that were slower to warm up but where I still wanted to put out a bit of power without getting clammy and hot.
Design and aesthetics
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From the get-go, I fell in love with the look of the Endura Women’s Pro SL Primaloft jacket. Endura calls this a ‘racer’ fit; but it is slightly boxier than that, offering a flattering but relaxed silhouette. The front panel is very subtly quilted and filled with Primaloft Gold, a lightweight synthetic insulation, widely considered among the warmest and most breathable on the market and intended for those with active lifestyles.
The quilting of insulation on the front panel and on the arms adds a little bit of extra detail on an otherwise simple shape, almost harking back to a sort of puffy-gilet style but without the bulk. The back panels feature an unquilted thinner layer of Primaloft insulation, while the side panels running up to the armpits and down the back of the arms are constructed from two layers of uninsulated polyester. The lack of insulation works two fold: as a method for ventilating the jacket, and also removing bulk to create a slimmer look.
I was between sizes small and medium on Endura’s size guide, finding that my chest measurement just pushed me into the upper end of the small. I went with the slightly dangerous decision to size down to small rather than up, concluding that I was more likely to use this as a mid layer, and so wanted a closer fit. Luckily, I made the right choice, adied by the fit being somewhat more generous than I was expecting.
I couldn’t layer as effectively beneath it, but could still fit a thermal jersey and base layer comfortably which was enough for most temperatures. I’d suggest ignoring the dress sizes on the size guide as they don’t seem to correspond with the measurements: in street clothes I am generally a UK size 8-10, while Endura’s measurements put me at about a UK size 12. In the past I’ve applauded Endura for extending products up to a UK size 20, but I’d be sceptical that the true sizing would be limited closer to a UK size 16 or 18.
For riding, the length of the jacket sat perfectly, not bunching up at my hips, and with a slightly longer drop tail that covered most of my lower back. This wasn’t elasticated all the way around, but was structured and kept in place by two smaller elasticated panels on either side of the hip. This helped keep the fit closer, but without creating anything too restrictive or tight.
Unlike the Rapha Women’s Explore Down jacket, Endura has kept the pocket placement fairly traditional and on the back of the garment just as you would find on a jersey. This meant that while the Rapha jacket sagged slightly around the front with loaded pockets, the Pro SL Primaloft retained its neat shape even with phones, keys, flapjacks and water bottles stuffed into the pockets.
I appreciated Endura’s attention to detailing on the little reflective strips: smaller strips on the cuffs by the wrists, two on the collar, and one reflective logo on the drop tail. As with other jackets I have tested recently, there seems to be a trend for darker coloured jackets in women’s cycling at the moment, which I don’t dislike, but does render you less visible in low/no light (which is especially common in winter). The addition of the little reflective elements make me feel slightly more comfortable wearing this jacket as the light fades.
It took only a few rides for me to fall in love with the Endura Pro SL Primaloft jacket. So lightweight and practical, I hardly needed to think about it before throwing it on in the morning.
The Endura Pro SL Primaloft works the best as a lighter windproof jacket in early to late autumn or as a mid layer as the temperatures start plummeting. The jacket is cleverly designed, making use of varying levels of insulation across the front and back to keep you cool and sweat-free as you ride.
The quilted front kept my chest and core super warm and guarded against much of the windchill, while the thinner insulated back panel and non-insulated sides, arms and underarm vents dumped excess heat, keeping my body at a stable temperature, even on tough hills. I’m prone to overheating while riding, but tend to struggle to stay warm after I’ve started sweating in the chillier air and so find autumn the trickiest season to figure out what to wear.
The Pro SL Primaloft jacket took a lot of the difficulty out of it for me though, as even with just a few base layers beneath it, I got through most of autumn in it comfortably before demoting it to a mid layer and found it worked most effectively at temperatures of around 5 Celsius / 41 Fahrenheit to 10C/50F.
As the temperatures dipped below 5C/41F, the slim lines of the jacket meant it worked incredibly effectively as part of a layering system. Rather than dumping heat from the back panel as frequently, the slightly looser fit and dual zip came more into force, which meant I was able to continue wearing this jacket into deeper winter in temperatures nearing 0C/32F.
Where I didn’t like getting caught out in it though, was in the rain. Primaloft Gold does boast water repellant properties and is slower to dampen than down (even water-repellent down), but the jacket doesn’t have taped seams and water does soak through fairly quickly. Endura has tried to slow the creep of cold though by reinforcing the zip with an extra layer of fabric on the inside, which does help minimise any windchill when you’ve got a little bit soggy, but it does little to keep the rain off you. Underneath a raincoat though, the clever ventilation still works pretty effectively, so I didn’t find that I became obscenely sweaty beneath it.
A good mid layer, I feel, is one that is easily packable, and despite the amount of insulation you get in the Endura Pro SL Primaloft jacket, this packs down tiny, weighing only 240 grams. On one particularly warm day I had grossly misjudged, I inadvertently found that the entire jacket could be stuffed into the small key pocket on the back – definitely not how it was designed, but surprisingly effective nonetheless.
One of the best things about the quilted primaloft insulation is that you don’t have to worry about the material slumping or needing much fluffing after storage like you might do with a down jacket; give it a shake and you are good to go. It would be great if Endura had given us a little pouch to properly stuff it into to make it perfect for longer trips, but even without that you’ll easily get it into a bike bag or backpack.
Moving on the bike while riding was a dream, with enough freedom across my shoulders and chest to twist and turn as I liked without ever feeling restricted. There were no annoying seams or rustling noises, and even with full pockets, the jacket stayed in place. The sleeves felt the right length for me with the cuffs just tight enough to stop too much cold getting up them, but without it being too challenging to fit a pair of winter cycling gloves beneath. My biggest gripe with the jacket was probably to do with the collar, which I found slightly too high for my liking. On the whole this wasn’t a dealbreaker, but was noticeable in a jacket that seemed so perfect in every other aspect.
As touched on above, Endura has a reputation for providing quality products at great prices. This Pro SL Primaloft women’s jacket isn’t exactly a budget choice, but at £164.99 / $229.99, it’s cheaper than many of the products it competes against, such as the Rapha Explore Down jacket, and the significantly more expensive (and racier cut) Perfetto ROS from Castelli, to name two examples.
What’s more, it is a versatile product that performs seriously well as an outer layer in autumn, before transitioning seamlessly to midlayer duties in winter. It scores highly on the value front for that, but the lack of good waterproof performance means it’s not a one-jacket solution to winter riding and thus it loses a mark for that.
For a versatile jacket you can wear for most of the chilly season, I’d look no further than the Endura Pro SL Primaloft. Lightweight, highly insulated but incredibly breathable, it is such a wearable comfortable jacket for when the temperatures begin to dip. In terms of price, this isn’t the cheapest, sitting fairly middle of the range. However, I’d say you’d be hard pressed to find something that does what this jacket does as effectively for a similar price.
I’m a sucker for a flattering silhouette and a classic slightly-more-laid-back cut, and Endura has nailed it with this one. I enjoy wearing it, and I think that’s a mark of a great jacket.
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|Perfect fit. Just the right blend of relaxed yet tailored.
|Not waterproof, but well insulated and windproof. Great for colder rides.
|Lots of pockets and great packability.
|Clever ventilation strategy meant that I remained very comfortable no matter how hard I was working.
|I don’t think you’d get better for less, but the lack of waterproofing means you’ll probably need something else to pair it with. Regardless, it’s a hardworking jacket for a competitive price.
|Row 5 – Cell 1