Gear Review: O2 Rain Shield Jacket
Good gear need not break the bank. For all the bells, whistles, technical fabrics and wonder widgets outdoor companies are creating these days, sometimes the most practical gear is simple and inexpensive. One bit of gear that we have that truly embodies this idea is our O2 Rain Shield Jacket.
Rain jackets are a hotly debated topic. There are many competing space age materials (Gore, eVent, etc.,) vying for superiority. Unfortunately, a lot of this gear comes with a big price tag. ShowersPass jackets (the alleged gold standard for jackets, though their Storm Pant is a big disappointment) will easily set you back a few hundred dollars. During our trip we’d constantly hear about a “cheap, tyvek-like jacket that works great”! We finally decided to try out the inexpensive O2 Rain Shield Jacket ($25-$30) when we were in the South and getting rained on every afternoon.
The first thing you’ll notice about the O2 Rain Shield Jacket is how amazingly light it is! It is easily half the weight of more expensive technical jackets and perhaps even lighter than some “ultra light” jackets on the market. They can be compressed down into a small bag that you can have on you at all times. They’ve been described as fragile, which sort of implies that they’ll disintegrate if you look at them funny. While they are sensitive to tearing, proper mindfulness when folding and unfolding them should help them last for quite a while. We’ve had ours for about 6 months with regular use and they are still functional but are starting to show some tears. If yours does tear, the universally accepted repair method is tape. Duct tape or clear packing tape for the fashion conscious : )
The jacket comes in two models, with and without a hood. The bike shop where we got ours only had the hooded version. The hood adds some bulk and creates a dilemma when riding (do I fold it under the jacket, wear it under the helmet, etc.,) but extends its usefulness while in camp. The jacket also has a longer tail which covers your behind while crouched over the bike.
As far as controls, the bike has a drawstring cord in the hood and a zipper. That’s it. While we are a fan of pit zips for venting, the O2 jacket is so lightweight you can ALMOST get away without pit zips depending on weather conditions. The jacket does feel like Tyvek that has been impregnated with a waterproof breathable layer. In light rain, the jacket is waterproof. In heavier rains, the jacket will saturate a bit but still keep you AS dry as those $$$ jackets while only spending $.
The jacket has no pockets and provides little in the way of warmth on its own, though zipped up it will trap body heat in. If riding in a cold rain, we would wear a wool long sleeve shirt and a thin fleece jacket or sweater beneath it. The added layers will keep your skin off the claminess of the membrane and provide warmth.
The O2 jacket makes a great touring jacket where intermittent rain is expected. It is light enough that it doesn’t pose a huge weight penalty and inexpensive enough that you’ll be able to eat proper food on said tour. We rode through several months with the jacket and it exceeded our expectations for its price range. The O2 also makes a great commuting jacket where you get occasional rain. It’s small and light enough to always have with you. If you live in perpetually wet climates (for example, Portland), where the jacket will get daily heavy use, you’ll probably want to look elsewhere.
However, given its remarkably low price, light weight, waterproofness and did we mention the remarkably low price the O2 Rain Shield Jacket is a jacket that every bike tourist should be able to afford!
WHO IS IT FOR:
-tourists on a budget
-touring through intermittent rain
-commuters in intermittent rain
-can tear with heavy use (but repairable with duct tape)
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