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We test Arc’teryx’s A2B Commuter Hardshell Jacket – a bright, light, cleverly designed storm-proof top layer that’s designed to keep you dry and seen for all-weather cycling commutes

arcteryx a2b commuter hardshell jacket rojo
Overall Score
Meticulous build quality and attention to detail
High quality and top-end design inevitably comes at a high price

If you pick up Arc’teryx’s A2B Commuter Hardshell and see the price before you put it on you might think you’re getting short changed. But don’t be fooled the A2B is deceptively plain and simple for a technical cycling outershell. Put it on and go for a ride or simply take a closer look at the inside of the jacket and you’ll soon appreciate the investment you’ve made.

Typcially blokeish in our testing methods, we didn’t even read the ‘instructions’ before putting on the A2B jacket – it’s just a jacket right? Wrong – Arc-teryx has hidden several innovative functional elements in this otherwise simple-looking jacket.

First is the fold-away hood, which rolls down and tucks away into a zippered compartment in the collar. It takes a bit of practice to fold it so that the resulting collar isn’t too fat but this is a small compromise considering the excellent hood.

With two ‘cinchable’ drawcords to custom fit the hood to your head, excellent peripheral vision, and a semi-rigid peak, the dark grey hood gives fantastic close-fitting head and ear protection from the elements, and fits comfortably inside a crash helmet.

The second piece of innovative, functional design was so well hidden that we didn’t even discover it until the second week of testing. Tucked up into the back panel of the jacket is a flap, that, when pulled down, will save the back of your trousers from the spray thrown up by the back wheel if you don’t have a rear mudguard. Two large highly reflective patches also make this flap a extra safety feature.

The fit is close but unrestrictive, with articulated patterning and a slightly dropped tail for when you lean forward on the bike. There are also bold reflective chevrons at the cuffs, which extend well past the wrist so that when you reach forward to the bars they are still covered from the elements too. Off the bike this means the sleeves are too long, but in a touch of genius design the ends of the cuffs roll up once to hide the reflective flashes, shorten the sleeve and create a stylish cuff for the coffee bar.

All zips are of the sealed, highly water resistant variety, and you get two decent sized hand pockets, a vertically zipped rear pocket that can be accessed without taking the jacket off, and an inside breast pocket. This last can only be accessed by lowering the main zip but this gives you the best chance of keeping whatever is in it dry, even in a downpour.

Speaking of which, Gore-Tex’s N40p fully seam taped shell with its Durable Water Repellent surface treatment holds true to its waterproof, windproof and moderately breathable promises, although it’s too heavy for an energetic sports or training ride in summer.

However, using Gore-Tex’s three-layer (3L Tricot) fabric, with its lightweight, comfortable soft-touch liner, we’d be happy to steady commute, bike tour and coffee stop ride with this outstanding jacket all year round, regardless of the weather or worries about wearing geeky cycling kit.

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