As a kid, new shoes didn’t go to school until the factory luster had worn off. It was cooler to show everyone how hard you played over how often you could buy new kicks. The worn-in look isn’t really possible with the sandy color of this Guardian Air Jacket from POC. It either looks filthy, or sparkling clean pristine, depending on its proximity to a wash cycle and a run in the mud.
The jacket comes in three different colors, and regardless of which one you choose it’s going to look somewhat fancy. The four way stretch fabric is made of a few different materials, including Cordura® and Ripstop reinforcement in the high traffic spots, and it has a plush feel throughout. The stretchy wrist cuffs use a chunk of black lycra right where I usually get grease on jackets, which is a smart touch.
The list of features on the Guardian Air Jacket is about what you would expect for a $160 wind shell (sold at JensonUSA and other online retailers). There’s a hood that can fit under your helmet on extra chilly rides, a smaller breast pocket with space for a snack and debit card, and a left hip pocket for a lift pass. The hood can be strapped and stored if you don’t want it flapping behind you in the wind. At 289g for a size small, the brand saved a little weight by not putting hem adjusters on the hood, wrists, or waist band. The whole jacket packs into about the space of a quart-size canning jar.
Fit and feel with this jacket are fantastic. I tried my usual size small, and there’s barely space inside for a thin back protector and clothing layers, with no excess bolts of fabric to flap in the breeze. I have smaller arms, and there isn’t space in the sleeves for a pair of elbow pads. If you like to wear a lot of padding, you might consider sizing up. Otherwise, the shell fits comfortably, with ample of coverage at the tail to keep the loam out of your pants. The torso is long enough to fit riders far taller than myself, though the sleeves might come up short depending on your ape index.
Where I live, if it’s cold enough for a jacket it’s probably worth wearing a waterproof one. I didn’t look up the specs for this shell before taking it to the mountains, and I learned the cold way that it’s not truly waterproof. My mistake. The “fluorocarbon free DWR treatment” is suitable for a sprinkle, but in a real rain storm you will be wet quite quickly. This isn’t intended as a rain shell, but I thought I’d highlight that in case anyone else doesn’t check the marketing copy before pedaling under thunder. Temperature-wise, it seems like a solid option for rides below 15° Celsius (59° F), as the tough shell is reasonably warm.
With a heavier fabric compared to some wind shells, the Guardian Air Jacket should stick around through multiple seasons. It has a classic look that folks likely won’t grow tired of as MTB fashion shifts, and the comfort factor will have you reaching for it on the way to the grocery store or library. I did manage to snap off part of the zipper pull, and POC would hopefully warranty the jacket or replace the zipper if I were a regular customer. I did ask them about a warranty, and will update this article with their response.
- Fantastic fit and feel
- Durable construction
- Clean and simple aesthetic
Pros and cons of the POC Guardian Air Jacket.
- Busted zipper pull
- Black might be a safer color
- Pockets too small for a cell phone