By Stephen RegenoldIt packs to the size of a hockey puck. It weighs just 3.5 ounces, as scant as a single Clif bar. But unfurl the Leggero Jacket from Castelli and you get a significant layer to protect against inclement weather and cold air.
The jacket, made of a silky synthetic fabric, has served me well on the bike this spring. It is so small I store it in a jersey pocket, a small bump on my lower back next to my energy gels. More than once, as the temps dropped or the winds rose, I've stopped to zip up and add this thin layer for warmth.
A tight-fitting design eliminates flapping in the wind. For protection as you ride, the jacket's single ply of fabric is all but wind-proof, blocking gusts and sealing in body heat. It has a full front zipper, letting you vent if the layer gets too warm.
The Leggero Jacket comes in multiple sizes and colors. (The "white" color is semi-transparent so your bike jersey and logos are still somewhat visible underneath.) It retails for $80, though online the jacket sells for as low as $66.
Caveat: Rain seeps through the Leggero. Though some descriptions tout the jacket as usable in "light rain," I have arrived home wet more than once. Similarly, the jacket's breathability is only mediocre. The thin fabric sheen was made to block wind first and foremost; moisture management -- from the inside or the out -- is second on its list.
But this is not a rain shell. It's an emergency or backup layer for warmth. On the road this spring, as temps swing up and down and the rain threatens, the Leggero has served me well as a solid insurance plan that fits literally in my back pocket.
--Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com.