Product

Tested: Held Cardona jacket, Frontino trousers

A top of the range all-season textile jacket/trouser combo, but after 7,000 winter miles is it still top of the range?

Would you spend over £1,000 on a jacket and trousers to wear on your bike? I’ve been wearing Held’s Cardona jacket and Frontino, which together cost £1,168. Anything over £1,000 represents a significant investment for most of us, at that rate you’d be right to expect the best kit for your money.

The fact is this combo is built for all seasons use. It’s designed to be a one-time purchase that you can wear across summer and winter. Effectively it represents two pairs or trousers and two jackets, giving the best of both worlds.

For the Cardona jacket to be accepted as a summer jacket it needs to look neat and it does that pretty well. With a touch of the plush interior you might find in an Audi, you feel good wearing it. The jacket has that German made quality and is a world away from the drab dog-eared winter textiles that so many of us use. Essentially you can wear it in the summer and still look good which is a pretty big step forward.

Technically speaking the trouser and jacket combination are advanced. Held has used the latest material construction from GORE-TEX called Pro-Shell Laminate. Three different layers of materiel are laminated together giving a compact, neat and tidy construction. The Pro-Shell also has a cool system woven in to reflect the sun’s warming rays. It's fair to say I’ve not experienced any “warming rays” over the last three months but it should make a difference in the summer.

The jacket and trousers both feature waterproof zips, streamlining the gear and eliminating the need for bulky flaps and poppers. The zips and their components are small and intricate; but they have to be to keep the water out. The downside is that I found them to be a struggle to open and close as they're incredibly delicate. Held offer to replace any item of clothing should it be faulty and in my case they have been more than willing to replace two of the zips I have broken. The main issue is if you want waterproof zips then you have to be patient and treat them with respect.

During the 7,000 miles I’ve worn them it’s fair to say I haven’t really paid any attention to how carefully I’m opening or closing the zips. But don’t let my issue with the zips put you off though. If you take your time getting ready before heading out and you’re careful then you will benefit from this fastening technology. However, if they do break then Held will replace them with a thicker gauge zip if you require. Also, since writing this they have updated the zipper on the Cardona and Frontino.

Is it the best kit you can get for your money? I would say yes, it’s certainly the best kit I’ve ever worn for the winter, but as with all things top-end, it’s not without its compromises.

Here are five things that I love about this kit, and one thing I don’t.

Pros

Warm - Very effective at keeping the heat in and vented to keep it out in warmer conditions.
Waterproof - Water runs off them, they don’t soak it up.
Compact – Pro-Shell Laminate material makes them very comfortable and unrestrictive to wear
Good to look at - Neat design and finishing touches, the best looking textiles I have seen.
Practical - Plenty of pockets - 6 inside, 2 outside. Removable liner and multiple fit adjustment points

Cons

Intricate zips mean you have to take care using them. Don’t over stuff your pockets and make sure nothing is restricting the path of the zip.

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