10 January 2008

Raingear review: O2 Cycling Series rain jacket

Posted by todd under: Raingear; Reviews .

This review is of the O2 Cycling Series rain jacket, manufactured by Rain Shield Inc. of Minneapolis, Minn.

02 Rainshield jacketTears at cuffs on 02 Rainshield jacket02 Rainshield jacket in stuff sackLIST PRICE: $25.59-$34 online (1, 2, 3, 4).

BACKGROUND: I bought this jacket, along with the O2 Rainwear pants, about two years ago. I wear it during a commute of three miles, and about a half-hour, each way. I ride in the clothes I wear at work. This jacket comes in five sizes; there is a size chart on the company’s Web page (it’s on the lower right of each product description). I wear a size 42 suit jacket, and the XL fits me fine. The jacket relies on a laminate made with polypropylene. The company calls it “microporous film.”

PROS: I have worn the jacket in lots of rainstorms, and it has performed almost flawlessly. In very heavy rain — and I mean VERY heavy — I have gotten a little wet around the collar, because the collar is a bit loose for me. The jacket is lightweight (the manufacturer says it weighs 5 ounces). It packs tightly into a stuff sack that comes with it (below, next to an average-size Bible). The jacket generally breathes well. The color stands out well enough to provide visibility in traffic. The material feels a bit papery-roughish on the skin, but it’s not uncomfortable. The jacket is longer in back than in front, to keep you covered as you lean over the handlebars.

CONS: The jacket does not have a cinch at the waist, nor does it have pockets. It also has no hood, which I consider a benefit but others might not. Because the jacket is light, I tend to wear it only on warm/hot days. On cold days, I like to wear as few layers as possible, and I can get away with wearing a heavier rain jacket over a turtleneck (if I were to wear the 02 jacket, I would need another layer). The 02 jacket is prone to tearing; the material on my jacket has started to shred at the cuffs (see center photo at right).

VERDICT: This jacket provides excellent protection from the rain. As for comfort, it would be fine in the cold with enough layers under it, and it works great in warm-to-hot weather. I’m not saying you won’t sweat in this jacket, but it breathes well enough that you will be drier with it than without it during a slow to medium-paced commuting ride on a wet spring or summer day.

Since it can be rolled up tightly, it’s perfect for carrying in a bag every day. Under heavy use, durability could be a problem.

If you plan to carry it just in case, or wear it only on warm or hot days, both of which I do, I highly recommend it. I very highly recommend it if you are just getting into cycling, and you need something that will keep you dry at a reasonable cost.

In fact, I can hardly imagine that you will do better than this performance at this price. You can always buy a heavier-duty jacket (spending three to five times as much) later if you want to.

OTHER REVIEWS: Amazon.com; especially note Kent Peterson’s review, he says he does a lot of riding and recommends the jacket even more highly than I do. Here is a great discussion of this jacket and others.

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About the picture atop the page

Yes, that's me, Todd Van Campen. No, I'm not wearing a helmet. Yes, I usually wear one, so please don't scold! Seriously, I endorse wearing a helmet! Pinky swear! In fact, I almost ALWAYS wear one (while riding a bike anyway). (On the other hand, if YOU don't want to wear a helmet, I have no problem with it.) I don't remember what happened on this particular day. Fortunately for all of us it makes for a less-nerdly picture. My exceptionally talented professional photographer friend Charles Bertram took this photo.

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Art for art’s sake

I asked my 6-year-old son, Caleb, an avid bicyclist and artist, to draw a bike for me. I think he did a great job!

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