The Castelli Unlimited Puffy jacket is windproof with added insulation, and designed for adventure and multi-day riding. It’s one of the most expensive clothing items available in Castelli's range but it performs brilliantly and it's more versatile than you might expect.
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Castelli Unlimited Puffy Jacket - Technical details
The Puffy uses Polartec Alpha fabric, a lightweight, open-weave insulation layer and like many other high-end fabrics, it was originally designed for military use. In this case, the Alpha was designed for the US Special Forces...
Castelli gives a wide suggested temperature range of two to 14 degrees Celsius and the cut and location of the fabrics provide the best mix of warmth and breathability. The Polartec Alpha fabric is present in all areas, except for under the sleeves and the side of the chest. This is likely done to improve ventilation in areas that will be sheltered from the wind while riding.
The outer fabric is very thin, and classed as a windproof microfibre, and while it is not waterproof, there is a DWR coating.
Castelli Unlimited Puffy Jacket - Fit and sizing
The jacket (sized small) weighs 205g and, compared to other garments, it's fairly light. A typical short-sleeve jersey will be around 150g, with long-sleeve windproof edging nearly 300g. There are jackets like the Albion Zoa that weigh 465g, which shows the lightweight nature of the Puffy.
Castelli calls the fit ‘Trail’. In use, this gives similar body dimensions to other Castelli road garments, which are typically Italian and small but the Trail fit is less aggressive. There is a slightly raised front and dropped tail, but you can still wear it casually without looking too out of place. The colours available are quite neutral with five options in total, most of which are darker shades of grey, green and red, plus one slightly brighter golden yellow. The jacket doesn’t have any reflective patches, which is a slight disappointment, especially given this is designed with multi-day trips in mind.
Castelli Unlimited Puffy Jacket – Performance
The first time I used the jacket was an overnight bikepacking trip in the middle of summer. With warm weather, it was taken as a “just in case” item. Emerging and riding off the next morning the temperature was in double figures but still within the temperature range.
The breathability on offer was fantastic and, even during some climbs, I didn’t find myself overheating. When not in use, it packs down in a very small size and, although not a design intention, given the lack of a double-sized zip, you can stuff the jacket into the chest pocket area. Where the jacket beats a down garment is its ability to keep providing insulation if it gets wet, with the DWR holding off some light rain. But even if the rain continues or when the DWR coating eventually wears off, the insulation should still have an effect.
There are multiple pockets available, with two large rear pockets, plus a small, zipped pocket and a similar-sized zipped pocket on the chest under a hidden flap. The rear pockets also have a flap covering the top but I still found it easy to reach inside. With such a thin material it would be wise not to overload the pockets.
The main zip is a chunky YKK Vislon, with a puller that makes it easy to use wearing gloves (the small zipped rear pocket also has a similar puller).
The fit and location of the Alpha fabric worked well and the only issue is the more relaxed “trail” fit that creates a small fold on the lower front when riding a drop-bar bike. This makes it difficult to undo the zip completely when riding.
Castelli Unlimited Puffy Jacket – Verdict
There is no denying the Unlimited Puffy is very expensive at £280, with few other windproof jackets within the same price bracket. The rather heavy and much bulkier Albion Zoa is £185 but there are plenty of lower-priced options. The Endura GV500 is another reasonably lightweight option at 265g and also much cheaper at £150.
In terms of performance, fit and aesthetics, the Castelli Unlimited Puffy works brilliantly, and I would have no hesitation in taking it with me on future bikepacking or multi-day trips. The temperature range of the fabric means it is useable all year round and given how small it packs down, it makes it useful for all trips including casual days out.