The Giro Ambient jacket is impressively waterproof for a softshell. This women’s coat is windproof and well up for some rough and tumble on the mountain bike, though it has an oddly-shaped hood, it's not that breathable and its looks are a little boring.
The 100% polyester fabric gives a four-way stretch, while the three-layer windproof material is waterproof too. It's lined with cosy fleece throughout, and lycra cuffs inside the sleeves stop drafts funnelling up your arms. Rounding out the details are two large zippered hand pockets, and some small reflective details on the rear.
Giro claim a 10,000mm waterproof rating for the Ambient, and while I was sceptical, the fabric itself is impressively waterproof. It can withstand downpours completely. The seams, however, are another matter.
They're not taped, and are the first point of entry for water (I reckon it’d be nigh on impossible to make fleece-backed material like this waterproof at the seams, although interestingly Castelli has taped the outside on a similar jacket). And you know the score – once the water gets in, it just keeps coming.
The jacket is very effectively windproof and it’s warm too – too warm for hard efforts, as although the outer is breathable the fleece is thick and heat struggles to vent. There are four laser-cut holes under each arm, but they're so small and tucked away they don’t do anything for airflow. It's bulk means it's not very packable, either, so it's not a good choice for mild weather.
I found the Ambient best for very cold, changeable days, where showers – as opposed to heavy rain – would probably not breach the seams.
Giro says the hood is helmet-ready, but it’s a bit of an odd look, as it's very large and billows above your head. Maybe they mean police helmet-ready?! It is also completely useless without a helmet, being drafty and unable to stay up in the wind even with the collar done up completely.
Overall fit is roomy, which I find is the theme in general for Giro women's gear. I'm a size UK 8 for jackets and 10 for trousers/shorts, and tested a size small. It leaves plenty of room for multiple layers, and the sleeves are almost too long! It does mean the rear hem is good and low for strong spray protection, however.
The Ambient actually makes a good post-ride jacket, as it's splashproof, warm and robust, making it ideal for the wintery cleanup process/ritual/faff/slog. It washes well without any negative impact on its waterproof or windproof nature (as yet), too.
At £120 it's pricey, especially given its relative inflexibility. It's great if you live in properly cold parts and ride throughout the winter, but for anywhere temperate – like the UK's south – it’s overkill. And while it's a decent pre/post-ride jacket, the hood is useless for bare heads and there are arguably more stylish options from the likes of Vaude or Gore Bikewear.
You might also like: