Vanucci VAJ jacket review

This Vanucci adventure touring jacket is a 3-in-1 garment like no other, and we’ve been putting it to the test for the last 5 months. I say ‘like no other’ because although it’s modular, incorporating a waterproof layer and a thermal liner beneath the exterior cordura, all three can be worn as completely independent jackets which sounds perfect for overland travel.

Vanucci is a brand that has been around in mainland Europe for some time but has only recently been available in the UK, distributed exclusively through Louis-Moto. They are mailorder only but pride themselves on no-quibble customer service to get sizing right etc.

In use the first thing of note is that there is a lot to this garment. With all 3 parts in situ it has substantial weight, but it’s wonderfully warm and the ‘Outlast’ lining in the thermal jacket does a superb job of regulating temperature. I have used this inner layer as a jacket in its own right, having ridden up to see friends in Northumberland only to find the evening beers already on the go outside. I slipped off the two outer layers and couldn’t have been more comfortable as the stars lit the clear cool sky through to the small hours.

Slipping off the outer layers is incredibly easy as there are no zips or press-studs to get in the way. That also adds to the integrity of each layer as an article of clothing in their own right, because there are no telltale hoops of elastic or strangely positioned zips. The downside however, is that this multi-layered structure can start to fall apart when you want to take it all off, or when you are carrying it around. And I have found this to be a bit of a pain.

Although the outer layer is made of Teflon-treated 500D Cordura – treated to provide better protection against the dirt – the waterproof jacket inside has a triple Sympatex membrane and even in the heaviest rain I am yet to note any ingress of water. Wearing the lining as a raincoat when off the bike could only be made better by the inclusion of a roll-out hood, but I know that I’m effectively asking this Vanucci VAJ to be my whole travelling wardrobe. Save for some pants and T-shirts…

Without inners, the outer jacket offers good ventillation and has two vented chest panels which fold up inside the outer layer. There’s also a rear exhaust vent across the top between the shoulders and one down either side of the body. The material itself is tough and exudes quality in construction. Across the shoulders and on the elbows there is infact a double layer of the abrasion resistant polyamide, and the armour in both places is adjustable to suit any body shape. The HTP back protector is an optional extra at £36. There is reflective material throughout but it’s all black or grey in daylight and isn’t noticeable until it needs to be.

There are two waterproof lower outside pockets and two inner zip-close pockets which are NOT waterproof. This seems counterintuitive but it’s because they remain outside of the Sympatex liner, whereas the lower outside pockets are self-contained units.

The thermal inner liner has both inner pouch pockets and two zip-closed handwarmer style pockets, which is excellent and all of these are beneath the waterproofing so in my experience remain absolutely dry. The waterproof jacket doesn’t have any of its own pockets.

Both the Outlast and Sympatex layers are options, but I can’t see any reason not to buy them all at the same time. Apart from the back protector mentioned above, the only other option I didn’t get was the storm collar, but at only £18 I think I’ll get one before winter sets in. To ensure a good fit there are waist adjusters working in concert with the elasticated section, and there are upper and lower sleeve adjusters.

By the time you add up all the options this becomes a reasonably expensive garment, but its the flexibility that really wins here, and the fact that if you want to travel light, so much of your wardrobe really is included here. The available colours are black or the grey that I chose, which isn’t too pale to be impractical and even has a slight hint of sandy beige.

Sizes: EU 46 – 64. (As a 5’11” 13 stone male I chose the 54 but might have got away with the 52. How many pies have you had?)

Outer Vanucci VAJ-m1 £276
Triple Sympatex waterproof £138
Outlast quilted liner £119