Tuesday, December 15, 2009

In search of the Holy Grail . . . of cycling jackets

I'm an avid cyclist, doing long Saturday recreational rides, and often commuting to work. Living in the beautiful, cycling-friendly Pacific Northwest also means I need some rain and cold protection while riding. I've been on a long quest to find the optimum cycling jacket, which would have the following characteristics:

1. Rainproof
2. Wind protection
3. Breathes well, so you don't overheat and sweat too much underneath
4. Light/bright color for visibility (but not too wild)
5. Reasonably priced, or at least available at deep discount somehow

The most difficult item for me has been #3. There have been a number of nice jackets I have tried that just leave me soaked inside after moderate exercise, including expensive GoreTex models. I have an old, low-tech jacket that is perfect for #3, but provides no rain protection and very little wind protection. Still, on a cool, dry day it works well.

But for those wet or cold days the best I've been able to do is use a fairly expensive, hi-tech jacket with pit zips. I recently bought a Mountain Hardware jacket at the Columbia employee store which is probably the best so far of all the jackets I have tried ($185 cost was half of retail!!). Yesterday I picked up another Mountain Hardware jacket at that store which is a very lightweight shell, but since it has no pit zips I was pretty skeptical about adequate breathability. I tried it today on my wet commute to work and I was actually pretty pleased with it. I may have found a good jacket for cool, wet days, or days with risk of wet and I can just stuff this little jacket into my back jersey pocket. I'll have Suzanne put it under the Christmas tree for me (along with several other "toys" I have procured for myself, but that is worthy of another blog post).

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