It’s colder. I wouldn’t describe it as arctic, yet, at least not in terms of day to day sustained cold. But it’s under 5 degrees now on most of my rides, with small forays into sub zero. It’s also drying up a little. At some point the possibility of riding my best bike rather than my commuter or cyclocross might raise its head. We can but dream. Now that the conditions are a little more suitable for proper testing I can tell you how I fared with the Mossa.2.
The Mossa.2 is not, perhaps confusingly, version 2 of the Mossa. Indeed, the Mossa has been through a few iterations itself to get to its current version. No, think of it as Mossa+, a more heavyweight version of the Mossa suitable for lower temperatures. But that’s not really the whole story. In principle making something warmer is pretty easy, just add insulation. You can do that in a variety of ways but by far the easiest way is to add some form of fleece. Not real fleece, of course, but synthetic fleece. Most of the “softshell” jackets out there are based on that same principle. A windproof outer layer with some fleecy lining. Warmth will depend on how thick the outer is and how substantial the fleece is. Warmth can affect breathability. Breathability can affect warmth. It’s tricky getting it right. So, while I was waiting for the Mossa.2 to arrive, I didn’t really know what to expect. I guess I was expecting Mossa with added fleece. But what I got was a whole lot more.
The Mossa.2 is, like its faster paced sibling, made from Windtex Storm Shield. Remember that the fabric is 100% waterproof but also windproof and breathable. The fabric is very good in terms of keeping you warm. It gets warmer as you get warmer and doesn’t release that heat too quickly. Indeed, the tag line on one of the attached labels is, “making your sweat work for you.” That’s nice, I like my sweat working for me. It’s certainly preferable to it skulking off and working for someone else behind my back. Anyhow, it’s the addition of that inner fleece lining that really elevates this from the “temperate” Mossa to the really rather toasty warm Mossa.2. As you can see below the fleece is a nice weave and fairly substantial. You can see that the stitching is uniform and good quality throughout. This is certainly a premium piece of cycle clothing.
So, Parentini supplied me with the black version of the jacket. Orange and lime are the alternative colours. The overall design is slightly different to the Mossa. Simply put, there are more bits to it. Each arm has a separate centre panel of contrasting colour, white on the black version, black on the others. The front, sides and back consist of a number of panels.
The zip is of good quality and, as you can see, the tog is sufficiently large to ensure that getting to it with even heavy winter gloves is a straightforward affair. There’s the useful addition of some front reflective trim, of which more later, and, at the end of the arms, a nice double layered cuff made of some sort of warm super roubaix type material.
I like the design. It’s sufficiently modern without being too space age. I think that the contrast of the white and black works well and sticking an arm out to signal is assisted by the white on black of the sleeve. Would I choose the black one? I’m not sure. Possibly. It’s slimming, of course, and, post Xmas that’s a pretty good thing. It’s arguably not as visible at dusk but, after dark in the absence of a light source, everything is pretty much equal. You’ll note that there are no complex waistbands on offer here either. Just an elasticated stitched section. It works with no fuss and no drama. Nothing rides up and the jacket retains its position throughout the ride.
The collar consists of a number of different elements which provide significant protection from the wind. You can see, towards the right of the picture below, that the red fabric is not sewn into the collar along its entire length. In my experience that allows for greater articulation of that section. The collar is very nice indeed and slightly larger than the collar on the equivalent on the standard Mossa. That’s good to see. Very often a manufacturer replicates the size of its range exactly with little regard to what’s being worn underneath and what conditions the garment is going to be used for. I’d say that the Mossa.2 feels a few mm larger and, as such, there’s more scope for going with a thicker base layer if you want to. That red material is absolutely lovely against the skin. Perfect for cold mornings.
The rear pockets are more substantial and larger than on the Mossa. There are only 2 on this occasion, but their volume is arguably better for that long slow winter ride. There’s a zipped waterproof pocket as well. Once again there’s a useful section of reflective trim running along the top of the pockets.
In my review of the Mossa I noted that although the ribbed nature of the material next to the zip offered a substantial degree of rain protection there was no storm flap per se. So on the Mossa.2 it’s good to see that there’s a quite substantial storm flap on the inside of the zip section. You can see that in the picture below. It serves the dual purpose of keeping the rain and wind out. In the event of water getting through the zip, which is highly unlikely, it’s simply going to run down the storm flap and out the bottom again. I do have one slight niggle here. There’s a zip garage at the neck, an extension of the storm flap into which the zip sits when done up to the top. The zip garage could do with being a few mm bigger to allow the zip to sit more flushly into it when zipped all the way to the top.
In terms of safety features, this thing is bright. If you ride at dusk, dawn or in the middle of the night then a good smattering of reflectives is important. It’s often overlooked and I noted that the otherwise excellent Castelli Alpha jersey suffered in this regard. It doesn’t take much design flair to include reflectives and it won’t add much to the cost of the jacket. It’s simply a matter of stitching some reflective tape on. The Mossa was particularly good in this regard and I’m pleased to say that the Mossa.2 is even better. It goes to great lengths to get you seen. As you can see from the rear shot (with flash) below, there are 4 separate reflective strips on the back alone. Two running vertically at the sides, one running horizontally on the pockets and another up at the collar for luck.
At the front of the jacket the vertical reflectives are present again. That’s another excellent addition. Even where manufactures add reflective trim to the rear of a jacket it’s often missing from the front. I’ve little doubt that you’d be very visible in a car’s headlights from a decent distance back. In terms of fore and rear reflectives this is the most visible jacket I’ve owned since the Gore Cosmo from a few years back. That had giant triangular reflectives on the back which very noticeable. It’s great to see Parentini take safety seriously and a few others could take note. It’s not quite up there with something like the Altura Night Vision range but that’s arguably a quite different market. Kudos to Parentini for this addition.
The construction of the jacket is excellent. It’s not high tech in the sense that it’s made out of weirdly named or numbered fabrics, it doesn’t claim to be “game changing” particularly. Indeed, you might even describe it as a bit old school. That is to say we’re not talking about laser sealed seams, flatlock construction, giant bits of elastic around the waist etc. It doesn’t have the Castelli Alpha approach to insulation (effectively a sewn in gilet). The thing is, old school still works. Much of what is currently sold is still old school. Whilst the zeitgeist may be the minimal approach of something like the Castelli Alpha the truth is that this jacket is as able as any I’ve tried.
Ok, let’s deal with the important stuff. This jacket is as warm as pretty much any other warm jacket I’ve ever worn, and I’ve worn a few. It’s as warm as the Castelli Alpha and Espresso Due. It’s almost as warm as the Assos Bonka. It’s for really cold conditions. Indeed, today was very cold. I didn’t realise how very cold it was until, after arriving at the office, I went back out again. Base layer, merino jumper and raincoat. Short walk into town and back again and I was absolutely freezing, just couldn’t warm up. And it got me thinking about my ride in and how I didn’t think about what I was wearing at any point. Now, of course, when you start out, fresh out of bed, you need a mile or so to warm up, but after that I was warm and comfortable. That’s a pretty good test of a piece of equipment frankly. If you don’t have to think about it, then it’s doing its job.
It’s great as a winter jacket but it also has the added attraction that if it turns out to be wet then it’s water proof rather than water resistant. Just like the Mossa the Mossa.2 is coated with a rain repellent so the rain will run off it. Of course, if there is a lot of rain it will eventually start to settle on the surface and, being a heavier fabric than the Mossa, it will take a little longer to dry out. The USP is that you’d stick this jacket on when it’s going to be cold and wet. But, I think that’s not actually the way to view it. For me, the fact that it can ALSO deal with wet conditions is a bonus. If I’m out in the cold and it starts to rain then I know that I have that waterproofing in the armoury to help me out.
I’ve now tested it twice in conditions where it was both wet and cold. One ride was that incessant drizzle and dampness that frequents winter days. The result was a clear pass for the jacket, warm and dry. The second, and I wrote about this in my Prendas review, was a day that was never intended to be a test of rainy conditions. But, just over half way home, the rain became heavy and, crucially, horizontal. It’s those sort of conditions when you need all the protection that you can get. And once again the Mossa.2 passed with flying colours. The material was a little damper, when I arrived home, than the Mossa would have been. But that’s because it’s a little thicker. It took slightly longer to dry in the airing cupboard but we’re talking an hour or so rather than overnight. Would I head out for a 100 miler in the Mossa.2 in heavy rain? No. I’d rather go swimming or stay indoors frankly. That’s not fun. But, if I wanted to, I could.
Look, other softshells are available. As I’ve noted elsewhere, anything that’s windstopper based will, to an extent, keep the rain off you. But the Mossa.2 fulfils, for me, the brief of a winter jacket. It’s 100% waterproof, that’s the nature of the Windtex storm shield membrane. It will let water vapour out but won’t let any rain in. And, even if it did, you’d never suffer any cool down because any water that did get in would, along with your sweat, work for you. On this waterproofing though I would offer a caveat. As I noted in my review of the Mossa there are no taped seams. Parentini are of the view that taped seams compromise fit and breathability. Given the absence of taped seams it seems clear that there is the opportunity for ingress. Of course the water repellent coating takes care of much of that opportunity. I noted that opportunity in my Mossa review and, it has to be said, the Mossa.2 has a contrast panel on both sleeves rather than one. It may be better if the arm was a single panel but that would mean that the very visible contrast trim is lost. It may be that that could be dealt with in the sublimation printing process. I don’t know. It’s something I will feed back to Parentini. What I will say is that they listen and take feedback very well.
The price? Actually, this is where it’s excellent. £170. That’s a very good price for a winter jacket. Indeed, it’s ball park mid range in the “premium market,” if we discount sales and price cuts for some of its competitors.
Parentini wanted me to consider whether this was better than the Alpha (jacket). They realise I’m a big fan of that jacket. The Alpha jacket costs considerably more (£240 rrp) but, at the time of writing, it’s been heavily discounted at a lot of online sellers. In some places below the price of the Mossa.2. So, in making any comparison, that has to be borne in mind. Is the Alpha worth £70 more than the Mossa.2? I don’t think it is. Is it a better jacket when they are the same price?
Well, that’s the question. But, the thing is, I’m not actually all that convinced that the comparison needs to be that conclusive. They are winter jackets. They do similar things. The Mossa.2 has that bit more water protection. They are both very warm. The Mossa.2 feels a bit more hardy and seems like it might be a little more durable. It’s hard to choose a winner. So I won’t. It’s interesting, making choices and wondering whether you, dear reader, should make that choice as well. At the time of writing Castelli sell 9 different jackets, 5 of which are for temperatures of 0-10 degree celsius. Sportful, their parent company, sell so many I can’t really figure out how many are for which temperature. Even by individual company there are a raft of alternatives. Choose the one that suits you and what you do.
And, that’s the thing isn’t it? There are alternatives for your hard earned money. This is a very good jacket indeed and what I think is particularly important to conclude on is this, Parentini deserve to be taken very seriously. They’re producing some really well thought out pieces of kit. Too non-committal for you? Ok, if I had to choose then, personally, I prefer the style of this jacket to the rather plain Alpha. It flatters me a little more and it’s that little bit warmer for the really cold days. You might prefer the looks of the Alpha, and that’s ok. We’d live in an odd world if we all had to conform. But I was never all that keen on conforming anyway.
UPDATE 16th February 2016. It’s been very cold in the mornings. -3 Celsius today with some pretty penetrating frost. So, it’s update time. It’s ridiculously warm and, for me, easily the best winter jacket I’ve owned. I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending it. At the price it’s less than some of the big name competitors and should last you years. You simply cannot go wrong with it.