Cycling jacket materials can get downright confusing these days. In the days of yore, there were fabrics that kept the rain out and your sweat in (plastic, or maybe rubber)…and then there were fabrics that let your sweat out and the rain in (everything else).
Enter stage left…Bill Gore!
And it all started with Goretex. His revolutionary fabric was too weird to believe. Are you telling me there’s a fabric that can do both?
Let the rain in, and not let your sweat out?
No, wait! That’s the kind of fabric MY knuckle headed relatives would have invented.
Not so with clever Bill Gore.
So for the length of time it took for Gore’s patent to expire, we were blessed with only Goretex. Now that the patent is a thing of the past, every cycling jacket manufacturer seems to have a proprietary fabric that keeps the rain out, while letting our sweat glands ‘breath’.
of discounted outer wear at Bike Nashbar.
Some of it’s listed at OVER 60% OFF!
Fabrics To Look For In A Cycling Winter Jacket
Obviously, one of the breathable waterproof fabrics is preferred. Goretex is still popular, but some of the other materials you may encounter are ASSOS airBlock 851 fabric (featured on the $635 Assos FuguJack), Torrent 3, triple laminate fabric (Castelli’s wonder fabric), PRO Barrier WxB 3-Layer Titanium (Pearl Izumi), eVent fabric (George Hincapie bike jackets). The list could go on and on…
My personal approach is to look at the price tag. If the price is high enough to make your eyes bulge out, it probably has a high tech fabric. If the price tag looks affordable, there’s a chance that the fabric is manufactured by Hefty Trash Bags.
The Neck Opening In A Waterproof Cycling Jacket ‘Makes It Or Breaks It’ In Comfort For Me
I don’t know about you, but the neck opening always seems to be a major consideration for me.
Part of the reason is that my head comes out of it.
Another reason may be that the zippers, and all the other junk bunches up and makes my neck sweat, itch, or just whistle a very disconcerting tune. The neck area is often my primary thermo-regulatory mechanism. Some would be so bold as to say I’m always messing with the neck zipper.
I was looking at the new Assos built-in balaclava on the FuguJack, and sure enough, my neck started to itch. I reached for a neck zipper to adjust, but I was only sitting here in front of the computer, in my pajamas.
Anyhow…give some thought to the neck opening of your new bike jacket.
Your Winter Cycling Jacket Should Sports Some Bright Colors…Or At Least Some Reflection
It’s a bit confusing to me. We wear the most outlandishly bright colors in our jerseys, ostensibly to make ourselves more visible to inattentive motorists.
But when it comes to outerwear (cycling jackets included) many of the offerings are in grays or blacks. I don’t know about you, but I’m wearing my outerwear in the part of the year that has the lowest light levels.
That being said, my favorite jacket is in black. I wanted Apricot.
Unlike Garbage Bags, A Quality Waterproof Cycling Jacket Won’t Allow Any Wind ‘Flappin’
One of the fabrics that Castelli uses is called Windstopper X-Fast Stretch. Why? The name’s a reflection of two important features in a cycling jacket. Not only must it break wind, but it must also not flap around…and to make matters even more complex, it can’t be too restrictive.
As a result, cycling jackets are rather form-fitting. So to keep them from feeling like a straitjacket, expandable inserts are added to strategic areas, such as under the armpits.
To keep the wet weather out and no doubt to reduce wind ‘flappin’, the pockets are usually covered in waterproof zippers.
Packability…Does Your Cycling Winter Jacket Have It…Or Is It As Big As A Sleeping Bag?
Weather isn’t always predictable. So sometimes a cycling jacket needs to come off mid ride, and sometimes it needs to be fished out of a rear pocket in order to deal with a rain shower. The heavier, cold weather jackets aren’t too good for this, but a product like the Hincapie Pocket Shell Jacket is reputed to have the ability to be reduced to the size of a potato, (either baked or raw…take your pick).
Assorted Other Cycling Jacket Issues
Even the most waterproof materials are no match for a sewing needle, so seams had better be fully taped.
Some jackets, such as the Pearl Izumi PRO Barrier WXB jacket attack the much-despised ‘rainwater rooster tail’ by having a stow-able drop tail.
The same jacket has a detachable hood to put on over your helmet. Trust me, even the enormity of MY cranium was no match for the size of the detachable hood. So my wife rightfully concluded that it was to be put on OVER the helmet, not under it.
Look for assorted other goodies in cycling jackets. The sleeves on the Pearl Izumi are cut longer on the back of the hand than they are under the wrist to provide more protection from the elements.
And so it is with Bells and Whistles…
One way that I try to beat the system is to go to a place like Bike Nashbar, where I can find even such acclaimed bike jackets as those made by GORE BIKE WEAR on sale.
If you’re curious about just how seriously these jackets are engineered, take a quick view of this GORE BIKE WEAR FUSION promotional video. I KNOW it’s some serious stuff because they have a bloke with a British accent on the narration.