A good fitting, reliable rain jacket is a wardrobe necessity for any cyclist. It may not be something you use all the time, but if you need it – and don’t have it – a great day can turn into a miserable one in a matter of seconds.
The Women’s Elite Rain Jacket from Netti’s 2012 product range signals how much wet weather technology has changed since my first waterproof rain jacket, also made by Netti, in 2000. Gone is the hot inner meshy fabric that makes the product impossible to pocket, gone are the velco cuffs that need adjusting when the arms are up or down, and gone is the men’s only size range which is fairly billowy on smaller female frames. What’s left is a light weight, slim fitting product that keeps riders dry in the rain, warm in the wind and sees comfort as something which is as important as performance.
While I’m sure comfort was the aim with earlier products, changes in fabric technology and buyer demand have paved the way for newer, higher performing designs. The Elite Rain Jacket (which is also available in men’s sizing) uses a light weight, seam sealed waterproof fabric for the main material which is stitched to an elasticated fabric near the wrists. The snug wrists allow for easy adjustment while riding and act as an important barrier to wind – nothing ruins a warm jacket faster than a wind tunnel running up the arms. The collar is also made of a softer fabric for comfort near the chin in really miserable conditions. The YKK zip allows for further adjustment in relation to weather and body temperature, although I’ve found this easier to do when stationary rather than while pedaling. A contoured fit and elastic at the rear keep things snug all ’round and room in the arm width keeps cold water from leeching heat where the material touches the skin. Reflective strips on the arms, rear and for strategic logo placement add extra confidence in low light.
In a women’s extra-small the final package weighs in at about 175gms making it easy to carry on days where the weather looks uncertain. Paired up with a thermal, I find the wind blocking capabilities of the jacket make for a warm ride as the mercury approaches zero. It’s also handy to have on board if the wind chill factor becomes fierce up high or before a long descent.
The portability and instant warmth of a good rain jacket in cold conditions make it more than something reserved for wet days alone and something I’d recommend to any rider building up their cycling wardrobe bit by bit. The advances in rain jacket technology over the last 12 years make a new jacket worth recommending riders who’ve had less than desirable experiences with billowy or bulky models in the past. This one uses some simple ideas well to keep the price point low while meeting the needs of many.
Photos: Kath Bicknell (jacket) and Mike Blewitt (warmth up high).