The sunshine may be hiding, but that doesn’t mean we have to. Check out these four wet-weather riding jackets to keep you warm on fall and winter forest excursions.
Gore Infinium Hybrid Hooded Jacket
The Gore Infinium jacket was actually a size large, so I assumed I’d need to send it back as I am a solid medium. However, barring the possibility that I am newly delusional regarding my size (Covid-19 pounds anyone?), it fits just fine and I don’t feel compelled to swap it out. It’s not super snug, but I figure if I’m wearing this jacket, it’s probably a bit chilly out, so I’ll be wearing more than lingerie under it. But this jacket is so soft and cozy I actually could wear something skimpy under it and be just fine. How this turned into a Victoria’s Secret ad I’m not quite sure…I apologize.
I appreciate the truthful and quasi-humorous description of this jacket — “100% windproof and not really waterproof” and “when performance is a priority and waterproofness isn’t.” It is super light, fashionable, breathable and I’ll wear it for much more than biking. The jacket is very compact, and it has hand pockets and inside pockets as well. It won’t be what I reach for when real rain is roiling, but as a serious windbreaker that can handle a little spritzing, it’s got my vote.
Other things to note
- Adjustable under-helmet hood can be stowed away when not in use
- Taped seams on shoulders and back for added weather protection
- Stretch panels ensure freedom of movement on the bike
- Adjustable waist hem with cord stopper keeps mud and moisture out
- Both women’s and men’s styles offered
- MSRP $229.95, available at Backcountry (compare prices)
Ortovox 2.5L Civetta Jacket
“Oh my god is that an Ortovox?” said my friend Dana out on the trail when I pulled it out of my pack and zipped it up. Dark clouds gathered on hour 6:57 of the “all-day ride” and I responded, “why yes,” relieved that I now knew how to pronounce the brand. I’m a bit of a dolt when it comes to fashion, and she is a fashion industry insider. “Wow, that is really nice and those are, like, really expensive…” I shrugged and smiled a sheepish smile.
Speaking of sheep, this jacket is made from 83% Merino wool which is really neat. This really is a terribly nice piece of outdoor clothing that made me ride a little higher, a little snazzier. The hood fits well under my helmet. The one pocket located at the chest seems a bit odd, but it does double as a stow pocket for this very lightweight, very packable jacket.
However, the claim to waterproofness fell short. The shower test revealed water bleeding through within a short amount of time.
Other things to note
Pearl Izumi Women’s Monsoon WxB Hooded Jacket
When rain and wind jackets started to arrive in the mail like Christmas came early, I was surprised to see Pearl Izumi among the haul. I am, “of an age” where Pearl Izumi was about the only game in town for decent bike clothing when I first arrived in the cycling world. It seems they have reasserted their power, flexing their fashion muscle.
This deep, matte black Monsoon WxB Hooded Jacket is designed to be hella waterproof and looks damn good as well.
I decided to test the brand’s waterproof claim by standing in the shower in this matte black Pearl Izumi jacket like a dang dork. I do this for you dear reader, and the parts of me under this jacket were very, very dry. It was impressive, and it rides nice too. The “relaxed fit” is perfect for accommodating a long-sleeve jersey and vest underneath. Hook-and-loop sleeve adjustments are a nice touch, and the long back keeps my caboose dry. The little pull knob-thingies on the end of all the zippers really help when you’re wearing thicker gloves, as one does when it’s raining.
It’s made of 100% polyester, and is waterproof and wind-resistant. The website claims that it’s “breathable” and I suppose it is compared to the rain jackets of my youth, but as one moves along the spectrum from water “resistant” to “proof,” trade-offs are expected. This jacket is breathable, but it is more water and windproof. Packability is also one of the things one expects to move along a spectrum — as water/windproof-ness goes up, packability generally goes down. I’d say this jacket is medium packable, but one I’d surely reach for if real rain is expected.
At a glance
- Breathable face fabric with DWR finish
- Performance 2-layer waterproof breathable membrane: 10k/7k rating
- Fully-taped seams and two-way waterproof front zipper
- Helmet-compatible hood
- Dual front side vents with waterproof zippers
- Hand pockets with waterproof zippers
- BioViz® reflective elements for low-light visibility
- Women’s sizes XS – XXXL, men’s styles also available
- MSRP $150, available at Backcountry (or compare prices)
Showers Pass Women’s Elements Jacket
Showers Pass is one of those brands with a reputation that precedes itself in my mind, though I can’t really remember why. They did a good job marketing? Maybe, but more than that, I believe that enough hard-core friends, including mountain bike guides, have donned this brand and that says a lot. Or I just dreamt it.
In any event, Showers did Pass in my shower test, and once again, I emerged dry as a stale pile of Doritos that’s been in the bottom of your Camelbak the whole season. The jacket is built with biking in mind and features zips and breathing and pockets and hoods and arm-holes in all the places you’d expect them to be, which is really great. Seriously though, after the shower passed, I actually put on shorts and went for a ride and didn’t get all clammy or icky on the inside, and somebody even whistled at me which was thanks to the jacket for sure. Or it was because I had forgotten the shorts part. Can’t remember.
My helmet fits nicely under the hood with adjustable elastic pull cords, and should you want to, the hood comes off entirely. Pull cords on the bottom let you adjust for size or breathiness, and one of the pockets comes with a handy glasses-cleaning cloth. The inside pocket has space for your phone and a portal for your earphone cord to snake out of.
I personally love the deep green color with the yellow zippers, and I was pleased to read from the Shower’s Pass website that the “fabric of the Elements jacket is colored using non-toxic dyes and processes that help protect people and the environment from bad chemistry.” Like the Pearl Izumi jacket, this one is on the more waterproof end of the spectrum making it a bit bulkier to pack. This is a tradeoff I’m willing to make if more than a sprinkle is in the forecast.
Other things to know
- Featuring fully seam-taped, waterproof-breathable hardshell fabric
- Reinforced shoulders protect the fabric from backpack straps while adding extra protection from moisture penetration
- Extra long core vents prevent overheating
- Ergonomic easy-grip zipper pulls
- 360° of 3M™ Scotchlite™ Reflective Material trim for maximum visibility
- Velcro cuffs for a trim fit and easy on-off
- Soft, moisture-wicking lining at collar
- Light loop at collar
- MSRP $199, available at Shower Pass