O2 Jacket and Rainpants
www.rainshield.com
Minneapolis, MN

Sorry that it's taken so long to get this review out to y'all, but with the extended winter we've been having it hasn't rained much this spring. The first idea was to take this set along to Portland for the Handmade Show. Everyone said "it always rains in Portland." Well, we were there for nearly a week and it never rained enough to need this set. So much for all those rumours. Keeping in mind that it was just too cold here in Michigan to rain, the next opportunity would have been in Great Britain - a place where it definately rains in April. Yeah, but I forgot to pack it.

And yes, I got soaked in Manchester - Twice.

Last night it was raining hard and about 40F, so Carl and I suited up and went off for a ride through town.

From their on-line catalog:
O2 Rainwear Microporous Film is a very inexpensive, yet high-performance laminate that has the best combination of water holdout and breathability of any fabric on the market today. Our Microporous Film is thin and lightweight, making O2 Rainwear™ easy to pack and for people to bring with the them. But the greatest aspect of Rain Shield, Inc.'s O2 Rainwear™ is its affordability - allowing people to experience this outstanding comfort and protection at the same price as non-breathable, rubber, plastic, and PVC-coated garments. No Wet, No Sweat!

So first up is the bargain priced O2 Cycling Series Jacket ($29.99) and the companion O2 Rainwear Pants. ($20.99) that I wore. (a complete review of Rainshield's 3Flow Jacket and Pants will follow in next week.)

Fifty bucks for a complete set of raingear?
I wonder how much abuse that stuff will hold up to?

First off, and most importantly, I was bone dry after riding in the rain for about an hour. The O2 fabric is 2-ply and the manufacturer claims it to be breathable and waterproof. We made a funnel out of the jacket and filled it with water - nothing came through. The true test of breatability will come when the temperature is 65F, it's raining hard, and you're riding hard. If this jacket doesn't get clammy inside then Rainshield will have a real winner here, especially for $30 for the jacket. But, read some of the testimonials at their website. I might be a believer.

The O2 Jacket has a zip front (no storm flap), a high collar, elastic cuffs, and a non-elastic cycling-cut hem. The XL size I'm wearing offers a generous fit. The fabic is soft and quiet - totally unlike any clear plastic rain cape that you're likely to have - and far superior to those rain capes in every regard. I have one of those, but I sure hate it. I'd rather get wet than wear it. Not so with this jacket.

The pants are another matter. First off, they aren't cycling cut. Rainshield doesn't even tout them as cycling specific. They are baggy with an elastic waist band, but cut long enough to offer good protection to your ankles. Take a look at the photos, I'm wearing 7" high LL Bean boots and I'm well protected. Despite the rather flimsy elastic waist, the pants stayed up and there was no "gap-osis" out back. I was warm and dry - and as you can see, any motorists could see me from three blocks away. I thought I might even stencil "HAZ-MAT" down the legs, this outfit definately gets you seen on the road - not a bad thing.

How about durability? Only time will tell of course, the yellow exterior of these pieces has a mysteriously sticky feel to them - which in part adds tremendously to their waterproof-ness. The yellow surface material is also very thin and perforated, making it easy to tear. This is not cordura or pack cloth folks, so be careful. Because of the bagginess of the non-cycling-cut pants, last night I must have hooked them on the nose of my saddle and pulled a small tear in the yellow exterior fabric down in the crotch. They are so sticky that any sliding around on your saddle is only due to the baggy fit.

We saw these garments on the rack at River City Cycles in Portland, but I think they are better suited for more occasional use thatn you'd likely get in the Northwest...or in Great Britain. Each piece comes with it's own stuff sack, they don't pack all that small, really about the size of a softball. Take these pieces along if you are a corner marshall at a road race, an alley cat check point, of if you're going to a rainy football game - you'll be bone dry and warm.

So, what's the word?
* Warm and dry? Absolutely stunning.
* Visibility? 10 out of 10.
* Durability? Jacket 5 out of 10. Pants 2 out of 10.
* Value? Jacket gets a 10 all around. And the pants get a 10 because they only cost $20 (just use them sparingly)

dennis .... fixedgearwizard@yahoo.com