Review: Albion Zoa Insulated Jacket

The versatile on and off-bike jacket from the young cycling brand from London

Feature type Review

Read time 6 mins

Published Apr 25, 2023

Author Ben Wormald

Ben Wormald

Our Verdict

Well designed, versatile but very warm insulated jacket with subtle cycling specific design features. Responsibly sourced, effective materials with all the trimmings you’d expect from a well considered, premium jacket, the Zoa looks and works just as well off the bike as well as it does on.

RRP £185
Fabric Pertex® Quantum outer fabric and Primaloft Gold Eco breathable insulation


  • Well designed insulated jacket.
  • Great fit and look on and off the bike
  • Versatile features like 2-way front zip, great cuff design, and subtle reflective trim
  • Lifetime free repairs if you hit a snag
  • Responsible sourcing of insulation and considered environmentally sound materials.


  • Perhaps too warm for most British conditions
  • Large pack size
  • 2-way front zip on hand pockets seem a bit unnecessary.

© New Forest Off Road Club

What I’m Looking For

Plenty of brands from across the adventure spectrum make insulated jackets. Historically climbing brands have made excellent versatile insulated options that can be used both for their intended use and more casually as a warm outer layer in dry conditions. We’re talking about the Rab Microlight, the Cerium from Arc’teryx or Down Sweater from Patagonia.

I like many others don’t spend lots of time clinging to the sides of mountains but have used a down insulated, hooded climbing jacket for an all manner of activities. From a casual daily jacket with some riding around town, to taking it on multi-day bikepacking adventures. The fit and choice of materials makes the climbing jacket flexible and comfortable for most situations and serves its primary aim of keeping me warm in cold environments. It has done me well. But as a very keen cyclist with a curiosity for the benefits of a synthetic equivalent, there was space for a similar garment that suited more casual situations and also could suit on-bike activities more specifically.

First Impressions

This is a well fitting, stylish jacket with a clean design that I feel super comfortable wearing casually, with quality soft and heat retaining materials used.

The jacket utilises all the gubbins you’d expect from a high end cycling brand like 2-way zips, reflective trim, and a dropped back but also at a glance doesn’t look like a cycling specific jacket.

The orange colour-way is bold but other road users will certainly be able to see me. The subtle logos on the left arm add style to a timeless design that Albion have become known for across all their clothing.

This is a jacket designed with cycling in mind but looks and feels just as comfortable in many other situations and whilst wearing the jacket I can comfortably layer up for colder scenarios. That said on a very short, medium intensity bike ride in February it did feel very warm and I did find myself overheating.

Who is this jacket for?

Alongside the Zoa rainshell, the insulated jacket is a super versatile option – one that I think will suit a number of people with a range of specific needs. It’s undoubtedly a stylish option and while the fit is great on the bike, it doesn’t look obviously tailored to riding. With that in mind, it’s a fantastic option for a cyclist looking for an all round jacket for day-to-day use – some of which may include a bike ride.

Cycling wise, this is a really warm jacket so it’s definitely not ideal for those high intensity rides. That said, for someone looking for something really warm for low intensity longer rides or perhaps somewhere extremely cold, this is ideal. As a synthetic jacket, it doesn’t stow away super small, relative to a down counter part for example, but for someone with ample space, looking for a solid insulated option without the draw backs of down in the wet, this could be the ticket.

The Test

The first proper opportunity I got to test the Zoa out was a long group ride up on the Brecon Beacons in February. The temperature hovered at about 7 degrees with little wind and I found the jacket to be very warm. I was sure to get a good sweat on during the climbs, but the 2-way zip came in handy at this point, letting in the cool breeze and allowing me to dump excess heat easily.

There were a couple of long, cold descents on which I was really thankful to be wrapped up so warm and toasty. The cycling specific dropped back added extra warmth to my lower back when leaning forward which was a welcome change from the climbing specific jackets I had used previously.

The next day was much more windy, the wind chill made the conditions much colder than the previous day. Climbing up a monster of a gravel climb in the jacket was comfortable and warm, but not too much at lower intensity even when stopped for a while for a re-group with friends high on the exposed hills. When we got down low the wind was much less and I had to take off the jacket and pack it down into my bar bag, in which it absorbed a lot of space

I’ve found myself wearing the jacket pretty much every day, be it on my way to work, cycling around town or in the pub

In early March I took the jacket to the Alps on a ski holiday and planned to use it as a casual jacket for the train journey and apres. Spring really came early this year and temperatures on the slopes were above freezing even well above 2000m of elevation. My ski jacket was overkill and by the second sunny day I wore the Zoa on the slopes as my outer layer.

The Pertex Quantum hydrophobic outer did an excellent job of keeping all of the wind and moisture off me whilst keeping the feel of it being comfortable and lightweight, while still feeling sturdy enough to take a few good tumbles, something I’d be a little more concerned about in down. The dropped back and 2-way front Zip came in very handy off the bike too, by retaining heat to my backside on the lifts, and prevented overheating on the warm lower slopes.

I ended up wearing it the rest of the holiday and the only complaint I found was that that the 2-way Zip on the hand pockets were unnecessary and particularly confusing with gloves.

Since then, I’ve found myself wearing the jacket pretty much every day, be it on my way to work, cycling around town or in the pub and I really enjoy wearing it in every situation. It’s a simple yet stylish jacket that I feel comfortable in which provides extra visibility whilst riding around town owing to the bright colour and reflective trim. Even in a bit of rain the hydrophobic Pertex outer material and synthetic insulation kept me dry and warm. If it did get wet, I always found it’d dry really quick without loosing any of its insulation qualities.

What Stands Out


The Primaloft Gold synthetic insulation is a tightly woven recycled material and it makes for a warm, cosy and environmentally sound choice. I’ve been very thankful to have the extra warmth sitting in a pub garden, scranning chips and beer in the cold February sun toward the end of longer day rides.


It’s a great cut and design which covers my body (and long arms) perfectly without feeling tight across the shoulders or waist when riding. At the same time, unlike more cycle oriented options it looks totally normal to wear off the bike thanks, in part, to the addition of the hood.

Free Repairs

Testament to their commitment to making more sustainable garments, Albion offer a totally free repairs service as well as a free repairs pack (for the cost of postage).

Pack Size

While it does neatly pack into its rear pocket, all that insulation does mean however that it takes up a lot more room packed down than other down jackets I have owned in the past. For me, that stops it from being my first choice for bikepacking trips which is where i thought this jacket would be really good.

2-Way Zips

I’m a massive fan of the 2-way zip and get plenty of use out of the secondary option on the main zip. 2-Way zips for pockets though!? Not quite sure what the point is in these. To me it’s just an opportunity for the zip to fail or to fumble with gloves.

© New Forest Off Road Club

Value For Money

With the rise of bikepacking we’re seeing more and more traditional cycling brands making versatile warm insulated jackets. In this premium space actually the Zoa comes up pretty well-priced. Down insualted options from from Rapha or Pas Normal Studios for example come in over a hundred pound more.

There are plenty of more lightweight on-bike jackets particularly in the mountain biking market at a similar or lesser price point. But for off-bike use in cold conditions, I don’t think they’ll provide enough warmth or provide enough space to layer beneath for a walk to the pub in the cold and wind of British winter months.

In my opinion – climbing specific jackets are not as stylish as the Zoa but you can certainly find a few options at a similar price. I think for £185 RRP, the Zoa is a reasonably priced option and represents a good investment when you consider this a jacket for multiple uses which will last you a long time when utilising Albion’s free repair service.

BASE Bottom Line

If you favour riding bikes over clinging to the sides of mountains and want a technical, high quality insulated jacket that looks great and is functional in most everyday situations then I can wholeheartedly recommend the insulated Zoa. I still wear it every day and I’ll continue to do so for a long time.

If you’re looking for a jacket to seriously ride bikes at any great length or intensity, this jacket is too warm for this function, other than in temperatures around and below zero. Albion have just released a lightweight version of the Zoa insulated jacket which would likely suit someone looking to ride at higher intensity in normal British winter conditions.

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