As part of our winter waterproof jacket group test, audaxer, bikepacker and serial cold water swimmer Eleanor put the Findra Stroma waterproof to the test.
In case you haven’t come across them before, Findra is a Scottish outdoor clothing brand who bring together aesthetics, performance and sustainability. Many of their items are unisex in a refreshing approach to outdoor clothing which performs well but doesn’t scream ‘expert’ and transitions well from trail to tavern. I’ve long been a fan of their cozy merino base layers so I was excited to put this jacket through its paces.
The Findra Stroma jacket arrived on an auspiciously rainy day and has been tested in some of the finest precipitation South West England has to offer. From day long slops along the Ridgeway to high intensity hill reps on the Quantocks and hot laps of local trails (all in the name of testing breathability)! I’ve also given it some ‘real life’ testing on utility trips, hikes and a few adventures through the washing machine.
First impressions were ‘oooo it’s so soft and stretchy’, two qualities I’m not used to finding in a waterproof shell. These properties come from the P4Dry fabric which uses innovative S.Cafe® print yarn made from repurposed coffee grounds and recycled plastic bottles, neat eh? Add on fully taped seams and waterproof zips and the result is a fabric with a 10,000 mm waterproof rating and a breathable, flexible outer layer.
To top that off the coffee grounds absorb odour so the jacket stays pong-free! Some extra details include zip pockets, reinforced shoulders, extended cuffs with thumb holes and elasticated drawcords on the hem and hood to tailor your fit.
On the ride
The first ride was a dash across town to pick up a mouse sander in a downpour. I wanted to put off the journey but headed out in the name of product testing! I was impressed at how the water just beaded off the jacket. The hood however was a bit disappointing, as the drawcord wasn’t enough to keep it in place without wearing a helmet and with a bit of wind in my face.
The second ride was a characteristically British off-road adventure along the Ridgeway. If it wasn’t drizzling or raining there was water and claggy mud getting thrown up from the ground: one of those rides! I kept the jacket on the whole time, and that was the epiphany moment when I realised this jacket was designed by a team that understood riding in British conditions. When it was raining I stayed dry, it kept the chill of the wind off, and was breathable enough to ride all day in comfort. I just unzipped it a bit on a long climb to keep cool.
Of course, after a day on the Ridgeway I was COVERED in claggy, chalky mud, and the jacket needed a wash. Most of my fave off road riding gear has a lot of mud just worked between the fibres, and I’m used to gear never looking clean again. A 30 degree wash later and the Stroma jacket looked like new.
Already winning at staying dry and stylish, I tried some riding with more beans, including some hot laps and singletrack trails of the Quantocks. I was overheating a bit, but the sweat would evaporate and I wasn’t getting cold on the descents. In retrospect I should have just dropped a mid layer but in any month past September I’m paranoid about getting cold. The flexible, stretchy material means that when you’re moving about on the bike it isn’t restrictive and there’s no rustling, which you can get with some waterproofs. It’s winter so it stays on, but is packable enough to fit in a small bum bag.
By this point I think I’ve washed the jacket about five or six times and I went for a soggy 10 kilometre walk and the waterproof performance was as good as day one. There’s no deeply ingrained mud splattered across my back. When I catch myself on brambles or undergrowth the material doesn’t snag and I don’t pong so unzipping the jacket isn’t like unleashing a Pandora’s box of aromas!
This unisex jacket is available in sizes XS-XL (UK women’s sizes 8-16). After checking the size guide I sized up, but this was a size smaller than I’d normally wear for a jacket and it was still roomy enough to wear with a few mid layers.
I really like the dark grey colour, it’s great for everyday (although has the drawback of me looking like the grey woman when I wear it with my grey walking trousers)! The teal blue alternative looks lovely for a bit more visibility too. As the Findra Stroma has been designed as an all round outdoor jacket rather than riding specific, it doesn’t have things like reflective detailing.
The Findra Stroma verdict
I’ve acquired a few raincoats in my day, being Welsh I think you just have an affinity for clothing that promises to keep you dry…
The Stroma has become my go to, whether I’m heading to the shops or out to the trails, and sometimes I just throw it on to cut the chill even when it isn’t raining. Waterproof, breathable, washable and with less of the aroma that can afflict waterproofs, Findra are certainly onto a winner with the Stroma. Although it’s great on the bike, it’s also versatile enough for other sports and activities too. The only thing I would change is the hood design to stay up better in a headwind, especially for using the jacket without a helmet.
Priced at £159, knowing the quality of the Stroma jacket I would be happy to pay that myself, and supporting a small British business is an added bonus.
Last modified: 18th December 2020