Sportful Super Giara Puffy Short Sleeve and Hot Pack Easylight Jacket: Quick Review – by Grannygear
Now I am rushing these a bit as I am fast getting into summer in So Cal. It will be 100 degrees this weekend. So here are two pieces that I have used in nearly perfect conditions for the garments. I only used them once each, so this is not a long term test. Just so you know.
During my talks with Sportful, they asked if there was anything else I wanted to try. And I thought of the times I went into my closet and reached for a lightweight jacket, not a rain piece…no, just a simple piece, almost like a vest with arms.
“Wanted: A simple windbreaker, compact, practical. Not a shelter type jacket like the GORE Shakedry and not a $350.00 (or more) Uber-breaker. Just something that would disappear into my pockets and be there for me when I needed it.” And so they suggested this….
Hot Pack Easylight Jacket: (webpage)
I wanted it for those early rides that begin in foggy weather but then open up into sunshine. I wanted it for those unexpected days when the wind comes up and when the day goes long and a vest juuuust might not be enough.
And that is what the Hot Pack Easylight Jacket looks to be. I would be using this mostly for road use or fast gravel, so I wanted it close fitting and very packable. And I did not need water-proof. I have found that the closer the material gets to waterproof the worse they get for breathability, despite all the claims to the contrary.
So Sportful was kind enough to send me a sample of the Hot Pack Easylight Jacket in an XL size and in BRIGHT orange. Sweet. I like bright. Yeah, I look sexy in black, but this is more about practical survival. The XL fit is ‘just right’ for fitting over two light layers like base/jersey and I could not have used a LG without amputating a shoulder or two. It weighs practically nothing and compresses down to where it looks like it would fit into a coffee cup (not a Vente, just a Tall!).
The fabric is silky and the collar is high and not too tight when zipped to the top. There also is a soft fabric sewn into the inner collar to keep things cozy against your neck. There are two vents that sit right at the bottom of the shoulder blades, letting you unzip and get air to move through the jacket. The cuffs on the long sleeves are simple elastic. There is only one pocket at the back, center stage, but that is designed to be a stuff pouch for the jacket although you could carry some small things in there. And that is about it.
Sportful calls this out as windproof and I would agree. I used it on a 3/4 day ride of 75 miles with 7000’ of climbing. The first few hours of the morning were under chilly and foggy conditions as we pedaled into the canyons of the local forest. It’s that beach-y kind of cold that chills you down more than the thermometer would suggest. Of concern were the two climbs we had to get over early on. Both were not simple ascents, so we would be building some steam, then, immediately after, the road would plunge down with us seeing 30+mph. Brrrr!
The Hot Pack Easylight kept me just right. I never felt too swampy in it and the wind was shelled away before it could affect me. I was not at race pace, but if I had been working that hard on the climbs I would have had no jacket on at all. No, this was an energetic but social pace and the jacket did far better than I expected. And when I did not need it anymore, it simply stuffed into a very small package in a jersey pocket. Marvelous. And just right. In mt opinion, a piece like this is a core item for any enthusiast cyclist.
Now at $100.00 it is not cheap. And that might put some buyers off as it seems like a lot of cash for a simple windbreaker. That is for you to decide, but I have had cheaper pieces like this that did not fit as well (too flappy) and are not truly windproof. So I think it’s not out of line.
Now I thought that was that. A search for that ‘just right’ windbreaker seemed to be over. Good to go. But then Sportful suggested another piece to consider. And this was not a competitor to the Hot Pack Easylight, but something completely different and, frankly, odd enough that I would not have picked it out of a catalog. What a mistake that would have been.
Super Giara Puffy Short Sleeve: (webpage)
Let’s look at the Super Giara Puffy Short Sleeve jacket. Sportful says of this jacket: “YOU’LL WONDER HOW YOU EVER MADE DO WITHOUT A PRODUCT LIKE THIS.”
Well, that is a big statement. Because when I saw this on the website I thought, “What an odd idea? A short sleeve jacket? Who wants that?” But then I wondered about their concept of pairing arm warmers to make it a complete package. And how about all those jackets with zip-off sleeves? What are they about? That is because when you overheat the arms are a big part of that process. But just where are you supposed to put those bulky sleeves you just zipped off your jacket? Arm warmers are easy and might be that just enough addition to a garment like this over a full sleeve. Maybe.
Huh! Maybe. Maybe it’s brilliant? Maybe it’s dumb. But I did see it as a more adventure focused piece of clothing that could be worn not just while riding, but also at camp. And yes, even to bed. A simple shell covering, like that Hot Pack Easylight, is not that great for just standing around in and trying to keep warm. That requires insulation.
I would typically pack a down puffy jacket for times like that (bikepacking…hanging at camp mostly) but riding in a full sleeve down or synthetic puffy requires some pretty cold temps or you will die in it. Would the Supergiara Puffy (with synthetic insulation) be that garment that does double duty very well…riding wear and camp wear? Well, it is.
I got this just a couple of days before a three day bikepacking trip where the temps would be from the upper 40s at night (and early mornings) and into the 90s during the day. Trying on the Puffy (in an XL size), it is a good fit over a base layer/jersey combo, but not too loose like a casual jacket would be. The sleeves are long enough to hit the elbow and just a bit more. The collar is tall and generous and has some soft fabric sewn in the inside. There is a hood that is one layer of fabric with an elastic ‘cuff’ and a strap system to roll it down and stow it away (no hood based parachutes). It is not sized to go over a helmet.
The big, meshy front pocket becomes a stowage sack for the SuperG Puffy. There are no other pockets. It is very lightweight and if you had a generous jersey pocket, it would fit in there, but just barely. This really is an item that you would best carry in a pack of some kind, like a saddle bag or bar bag.
On my three day trip it was just the perfect piece of gear to have. It was not truly cold on my trip, but enough to need some kind of warm garment as I would be camping/sleeping at 5000’ at one point. For the main items of clothing I brought the SuperG Puffy and a set of Sportful’s Thermodrytex Arm Warmers as well as the Super Giara Layer Vest to be able to step down a notch yet remain covered. Under that I had the Pro Base Layer Sleeveless and a Bontrager Adventure Collection wool blend SS jersey. The Giara Overshort and a pair of short liners along with Castelli leg warmers and wool socks took care of the below the waist stuff (although I added a set of running tights to layer up/sleep in).
My first ride began with a 19 mile climb into moderate elevations of 4000’ with some strong breezes so I slipped into the SuperG Puffy about a mile or two before the top, just before dark. Setting up camp and eating my food truck Asada burrito (wrapped in triple foil), I added the arm warmers and settled in.
I ended up sleeping in the ensemble, substituting the short liner for a pair of running tights, as I was carrying a very minimal sleeping bag and a bivvy sack. That worked really well. I could get up and be ready to go with only some adjustments to the ‘basement’ items, and if it had been even colder, I could have added a shell over the SuperG Puffy/arm warmer combo and been good to go.
Most of my daytime temps were moderate with the early cold coming from strong headwinds. By 9:00 AM I was out of the Puffy and into the SuperG Layer Vest. Perfect.
I think that the Super Giara Puffy Shortsleeve is a bit of a unique deal and is well worth considering as a core piece of any adventure/bikpacking quiver of clothing, especially as it tends to work for off the bike wear so well, even sleep wear. And when you are space limited and have only so many bags to pack into, having clothing do double duty is a very good thing indeed.
Sportful also advertises this as water repellent and sells a version of arm warmers that are water shedding as well.
At $200.00 retail, count me in.
Note: Sportful sent over the items reviewed here at no charge to Riding Gravel for test and review. We were not paid, nor bribed for this review, and we always strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.