The Polaris Tor Insulated jacket is a great idea, using synthetic lofted insulation over the front and rear of your body with thin sides, sleeves and hood to provide warmth without bulk. It's great for stuffing in your pack for cooler days or overnight adventures, but the affordable price is reflected in rather unpleasant feeling materials.
While the jacket can be worn on the bike for cold but dry days, it definitely excelled as an extra insulating layer that you can stuff into a pack for emergencies, lunch stops, keeping warm overnight on bikepacking trips and general cold weather faffing about.
The fit is good, with the thin sleeves and side insert fitting nice and tight so you can stick a waterproof shell over the top. There are also stretch panels in the pits to help with articulation, so you can still ride in it quite happily. There's also a hood that can fit under a helmet and might come in useful in really ear-chillingly cold weather but I found it a flappy annoyance the rest of the time.
There are a pair of deep zipped pockets on the front that do the trick for hiding your hands away or keeping a phone handy (and warm). The jacket does scrunch up small and it's also possible to pack the jacket away into its own pocket, though there's no double-sided zip.
The jacket does a good job of keeping your core warm while also providing the benefit of the windproof sleeves, not something you get with a traditional insulating gilet. That design also stops draughts from sneaking in so it's brilliant if you're stuck on a windy and cold hillside with a puncture to repair, for example.
The jacket is priced very affordably, with similar designs from other brands being double or triple the asking price. However, that's shown in the quality of materials, with the polyester fabric feeling especially scratchy and crinkly so it doesn't feel quite as snug as you'd hope - in fact it feels a bit like you're trapped in a plastic carrier bag on really windy days.
Polaris-Tor-Insulated-jacket-review-100.jpg, by Liam Mercer
Still, the jacket does what it's supposed to do effectively, keeping the wind and light rain off you while also keeping your core warm. You might not use it all the time - and the cheap-feeling material means I never fancied wearing it down the pub - but if you don't want to spend a fortune then it's a very handy backup layer to have as the days get colder.
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