By Ken Bonner
How obtained: Sample from company
RBR advertiser: NoTime tested: Several months
As an ultracyclist, I ride about 18,000 miles (30,000 km) per year, mostly on roads in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. and the "Wet" Coast of Canada. I have a basement full of cycling rain jackets that were full of promise but did not live up to expectations.
In my experience, almost any rain jacket will prevent heavy, cold rain from penetrating through to the cyclist (even a large garbage bag, in an emergency, can do this). Similarly, most rain jackets will dissipate moisture created by the cyclist's exertion, but only over normal, short commuting distances.
I have yet to find a cycling rain jacket that truly keeps the cyclist dry from moisture created from within the jacket. I can live with that situation. However, there is no need to become chilled as a result. My all-time favorite rain jackets, the MEC Bernoulli and the Gore Fusion, left me wet from the inside, but both jackets were well-ventilated and kept me warm and comfortable even in heavy rain, with temperatures near the freezing mark. Alas, they are no longer available. What to do?
Scrounging in my basement, I discovered an inexpensive "Original" rain-jacket from O2 Rainwear that I had used many years ago while riding one of the five 1200k Paris-Brest-Paris events I have finished. Researching to see if this jacket was still available, I discovered that O2 Rainwear has two new rain jacket models, including the Nokomis, introduced in 2011.
The Nokomis is a great jacket for commuters, weekend riders and long-distance cyclists. When the rain stops and the day warms up, the sleeves can be easily removed, converting the rest of the jacket into a wind vest. It has a comfortable high neck with a cord at the back to adjust the snugness of the fit around the neck. The Nokomis also has an adjusting cord around the bottom of the rear-flap so it can be adjusted to fit closely to the body.
If wearing the Hi-Viz jacket in daylight, it would be difficult for a motorist to claim they did not see the cyclist. The reflective piping is also useful at night, although there are other rain jackets on the market with more reflective taping. An improvement would be to place reflective piping on the rear of the forearm, so that during hours of darkness fellow road travelers approaching from the rear would be made aware of the cyclist's intent to make a turn.
The Nokomis also has a loop on the rear flap in order to attach a small rear flashing light and/or a reflective triangle. This is a nice feature to have when one is making an adjustment or repair off the bike.
The Nokomis fits large compared to normal sizing. Although a medium size would fit me better (probably eliminating the sleeve flapping on fast descents), I ordered a large, so I could wear more clothing layers under the jacket. However, from my experience with the Nokomis, I found I do not need extra inside layers of clothing.
The wrist openings of the jacket's arms have both elastic and Velcro closures. I found the elastic closure too tight to pull over my gloves, or to provide extra venting via the wrist openings. My preference would be to have only the Velcro closures.
Washing instructions recommend a cold water wash and hang to dry. O2 Rainwear suggested that a warm water wash is OK, but only use a washing machine's gentle cycle.
Overall, the Nokomis is a really nice, versatile rain jacket.
Ken Bonner is a former marathon runner and renowned ultracyclist who holds the course record for the British Columbia Rocky Mountain 1200k and several UltraMarathon Cycling Association point-to-point records. Retired and living in Victoria, British Columbia, he rides about 18,000 miles a year.