By Colin Dennis
Size: S M L XL XXL
Size tested: M
Safe in the knowledge that I'm going to stay warm and dry, the Polaris Fuse Waterproof Jacket makes light work of the winter blues.
To be honest, I've been looking for excuses to wear the Fuse jacket at every opportunity – not that the British weather will ever let you down in that department!
Every once in a while you find a diamond in the rough, and in a market awash with cycling apparel often mislabelled: waterproof, it’s with comfort that I find the Derbyshire based Polaris Bikewear clothing company still know all there is to know about cycling in ugly weather.
New for winter 2015/16 the Polaris Fuse Waterproof Road Jacket is a joy to wear. If you're serious about your cycling then you need to have a wet weather programme, and I don’t mean just sitting on your turbo trainer for hours on end.
If you’ve shopped around wisely you will find that there’s some great value winter cycling kit out there offering excellent levels of protection and performance that won’t set you back the cost of a new set of lightweight road wheels. And this is exactly where the Polaris Fuse Jacket comes in.
Not only is the Fuse Jacket waterproof, and therefore windproof too, but the jacket is proper bike fit. Sorry about the wording there, but it's the best way to express this.
Bike fit simply means long enough in the arms to still cover your wrists when you're down on the handlebar drops, and remain long enough at the tail to cover your rear when stretched out and reaching for said drops.
The neat thumb loops and elasticated cuffs help keep the jacket from sneaking up your forearms, but to be honest (again!) I haven’t needed to use them. I found the loops a little too uncomfortable to be really useful as the Fuse is plenty long enough in the arm as already mentioned.
The Fuse Jacket is primarily designed for road use so it’s only natural that the fit is slim-lined to avoid any unwelcome excess bellowing in the wind and therefore avoides any performance reducing drag.
That’s not to say there isn’t room for a couple of warm layers underneath, far from it. The Fuse Jacket isn’t restrictive in anyway, there’s a reasonable amount of stretch, or give, in the waterproof material and this only adds to its appeal and durability. There’s no excess bulk, but a thick baselayer and even a long sleeve winter jersey have room to breathe inside the Fuse Jacket.
Continuing with the bike fit theory and remembering that this is a winter jacket, the Fuse Jacket sits nice and high at the collar when fully zipped up and parked away and garaged.
There’s no questioning the detail built into Polaris’s star attraction, the free-flowing YKK zipper is also garaged at the bottom of the zip – great detailing!
Helping keep the shape of the jacket in place when fully stretched out along your bike, the heavy duty elastic gripper that fits all the way around the internal waistband does a grand job of keeping the tail end of the jacket tucked in place.
There’s no trace of the Fuse jacket riding up. Your lower back stays dry and warm just, like it’s meant too.
Having ridden in the Fuse Jacket almost non-stop recently, it’s gratifying to see that the rain still beads up nicely on the jacket surface and with a swift shake the water simply rolls off the surface.
I haven’t washed it yet so can’t report on whether it will need reproofing on the surface, but after riding the wet and grimy New Forest roads of late I can hear the washing machine calling.
There’s plenty of solid, good-sized reflective patches on both arms and to the front and rear of the Fuse Jacket, this of course makes it ideal as a commuter jacket too. The relative safety of the clocks going forward still seem a long way off to me and the brighter I am in the dark and half-light the better I feel.
Round at the back, I really appreciated the ergonomic cut to the two deep rear pockets. They are both angled well enough to accept either hand for ease of grabbing gels or whatever, but they’re also deep enough to stop my mini pump from leaping out.
The pockets are slightly bellowed too, this no doubt helps the waterproofing of the jacket surface from being over stressed and the mesh in the flooring of the pockets lets any water drain swiftly away.
The addition of the small zipped rear pocket keeps valuables, money and keys securely stashed out of harm’s way and is again nicely angled for ease of use – it’s all in the detail folks!
On the inside the Fuse Jacket there’s an internal zipped and meshed chest pocket that’s roomy enough for a wallet as empty as mine, and just big enough for any over-sized smart phone.
Thankfully there’s been no water ingress into this pocket. Internal pockets, depending on the quality of material used and the construction techniques involved - or lack of, often tend to be a weak link in any waterproof jacket.
By their very nature, the materials used inside the vast majority of waterproof jackets will feel cold to the touch, so the wearing of a long sleeved baselayer or jersey is highly recommended on cold weather rides. This isn’t a point against the Fuse Jacket, it’s just the nature of things and we should dress accordingly to stay warm and comfortable throughout the ride.
The storm flap behind the zip sits uncluttered and does the job well of keeping the front of the jacket warm. Zips are sometimes another weak area that’s very difficult to overcome in waterproof cycling apparel.
Polaris have put the useful coat loop hanger on the inside of the Fuse Jacket, the dury is out as to whether an external one is of any more use, but at least it’s got one.
In summary: for what is effectively £120 the Polaris Fuse Waterproof Road Jacket is an absolute bargain. The Fuse Jacket out-classes other waterproof jackets many times its Fagin-like price tag.
It’s not just for road use either. The Fuse jacket has a toughness about it that might be just too big for most rear pockets, but what the heck! Stick it in a backpack and head for the hills, this waterproof shell sits equally at home on the tarmac, trail or muck-infested winter commuter rides.
And to finish off: Just as the 1990s’ kicked in I was lucky enough to have competed in the first Polaris Challenge MTB orienteering event high up on the North Yorkshire Moors, and also the second event in North Wales (if memory serves me well) and boy were they tough, but great fun!
I only wish the Polaris Fuse jacket had been around back then to have made my life more comfortable.