As usual here's what Albion have to say about the Zoa.
Versatile insulated jacket with hood, created for cyclists and the adventurous.
The Albion Zoa jacket is a highly functional outer or mid layer for off and on bike use.
Using Clo™ Eco Vivo recycled breathable insulation and a bluesign® approved recycled nylon outer fabric and lining, the Zoa is lightweight but warm, wind and weather resistant, and features a number of technical details for cyclists and those who spend time outdoors.
- Engineered fit for off and on bike use
- One pull adjustable hood with eyelets for helmet straps
- 2-way front zip
- Zippable concealed chest pocket
- Two zippable side hand warmer pockets
- Zippable concealed rear pocket
- Adjustable shock cord hem
- Reflective detailing at rear
- Includes stuff sack for packing
- Weight: 445 grams (size M)
- Fabric (main and lining) 100% bluesign® approved recycled nylon
- Insulation: Clo™ Eco Vivo recycled insulation
- Made in China
Upon opening it's obvious that the Zoa is a garment of quality but lets get this out the way right now. The orange version, will upon adorning, elicit cries of
"You killed Kenny! You @@@@@@@!"
Top tip, I combined it with a Guns n' Roses skeletal face mask to create the full effect.
Even though it's bright orange the Zoa doesn't cry out it's a cycling jacket and looks equally at home walking or I suspect climbing. It does have a long cut tail and a very discreet yet cavernous rear pocket but you won't look full on hipster or Mamil if you were to wear it away from the bike, which is a very nice touch. Apart from the rear pockets the hand warmer side pockets are unusual but welcome on a cycling jacket and the hidden security chest pocket is the perfect size for a smart phone. As a jacket the Zoa is a really practical piece of kit.
However what's really important is does it work on the bike? Well lets have a look shall we.
I was a little worried that the cut may be a little long and problematic on the bike and first time the rear caught on the nose of the saddle. The front however sat perfectly in place whilst pedalling, allowing free movement and not riding up letting in the cold. As for the rear a simple redistribution of pumps, tubes etc to the other pockets helped as did using the waist drawstring. Problem solved.
The cuffs of the Zoa have an inner sleeve allowing gloves to fit between 2 layers allowing both water resistance and insulation. I've seen this feature on Ski jackets and some more expensive walking jackets and very rarely is it user friendly. Well Kudos to Albion because quite honestly this is the best design I've seen. Easy to achieve the seal wearing gloves or when wet through. Brilliant.
There are drawstring it seems everywhere allowing a personal fit, perhaps too many for me but it comes down to individual choice. The hood is fully articulated and feels nice to wear if going full Kenny and has a feature I've not seen before.
The hood allows the rider to wear a helmet over the top whilst the strap can be placed, as it should, under the chin inside the hood. A small well placed opening on each side facilitate this. I'll be honest here, I was concerned about the numpty level here but it actually looks good. Okay I'd rather have the hood down and have a proper cap but most should be able to carry off this look. For those that don't care about the aesthetic, the helmet fits well doesn't move and the hood is barely noticeable. Oh and it's toasty warm.
Yes that has to be said the Zoa is warm. Riding in -6 I've been snug as a bug in a very warm rug. Yes there have been times I've started to overheat but the main zip is easy to adjust even with gloved hands whilst riding, negating that issue with a little venting. Once cooled down zipping back up will warm you up quickly.
Synthetic insulation whilst not providing the same warmth to weight ratio of down is still light enough and arguably more practical for the demands of cycling, whilst the nylon the outer shell shows a high level of water repellence. I tested the jacket in the wet rain of South Wales and I remained warm with very little ingress of water which works for me.
Now about that outer shell and synthetic insulation. There is something I really like about it. It all comes from recycled fabrics. The outdoors industry, cycling included, has to be a leader in green technology. For a few years some brands have produced recycled clothing, fleeces made from drinks bottles, baselayers made from recovered plastics and so on but still too many produce almost disposable garments. Packaging is out of control with plastic being wrapped in more plastic and more plastic. We love the outdoors because of it's beauty and we want and need to keep it that way. We have to be force our favourite brands to be environmentally responsible or we'll move our allegiance to those that are.
Anyway I'll put my (recycled) soap box away and bring my review of the Albion Zoa to a close. It's priced at £175 which is about right for a jacket of this quality, especially one this environmentally friendly and it really is a nice bit of kit. It's warm, it's practical and can be used as an everyday outdoors jacket. It's light is easily packed into the stuff sack that comes with it and is very easily maintained. Normally I try and find a fault on a product I like to have some balance but I've struggled to do that with the Zoa. Well apart from losing the stuff sack.
More info on the Albion Zoa can be found here
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