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 (see review) and the Calhoun.
Tight Fit, Good Choice for Brevets
If you're looking for a less costly rain-jacket, have a look at the Calhoun.
The Calhoun fits a little tighter than the Nokomis and, as a result, the arms of the large size do not flap on fast descents.
There is no reflective material on the arms of the Calhoun and thus, in darkness, motorists might have difficulty seeing the cyclist who is making an arm signal.
As with the Nokomis, there are adjusting cords in the neck and the rear flap to ensure a snug fit. Also, as with the Nokomis, the Calhoun has a high, comfortable neck, which prevents unwanted drafts around the neck.
When out for a fast weekend ride, or a long brevet, I tend to choose the Calhoun. When commuting, going shopping, or on a relaxed ride, I use the Nokomis because of its rear pocket for carrying extra items and the versatility of converting it to a wind-vest.
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.