These fine two products from the Minneapolis based Rain Shield’s O2 rain gear line are for the “hard-core” cyclist, and they offer excellent breathability and waterproofness, and have plenty of features that are functional, and very bike specific, and the material and build quality are outstanding. They are lightweight and highly packable, and they keep you dry and warm, even in torrential downpours, while retaining superb breathability characteristics for a set of rain gear. They both have great attributes, and the jacket’s highlight is its ability to convert to a vest, making it extremely useful as a windbreaker.
O2 Nokomis Jacket and Pants
The Nokomis series are designed with their 3Flow performance fabric, which uses a waterproof and breathable microporous film that is bonded to a nylon outer shell. This ultra-breathable fabric features millions of microscopic pores, and water droplets (rain) are large in comparison to the pores, so they get stopped from passing through to the inside, while water vapor (sweat) is smaller than the pores and can pass through to the outside.
The waterproof, windproof, breathable, and lightweight jacket and pants are made with 100% brushed 2.5 layer rip-stop nylon and have taped seams. The form fit jacket has welded zip-off detachable sleeves, and a cross shoulder venting and mesh back panel, welded back pocket and Napoleon front, and a full front zipper, and elastic cuffs with Velcro closures. In addition, it packs into its own back pocket, has a back loop for a light and has 360 degrees of reflective piping for safety. It comes in five sizes, S, M, L, XL and XXL, and two colors, Black and Hi-viz Yellow, and weighs approximately 14 ounces. The pants has an elastic waist band with a draw cord, elastic ankle cuffs with zippers for easier egress, and reflective logos for safety. It comes in five sizes, S, M, L, XL and XXL, and one color, Black, and weighs approximately 10 ounces.
Musings on Weather and Rain Garments
Even though Colorado is a usually dry place, when it decides to rain in the summer time, it comes down in torrents, and a piece of rain gear gets quickly put through a torture test. Every nook and cranny it going to be hit hard with wind, hail, rain, and the water will seek out any weak flaw in a design or material. This year we had storms that seemed to burst like crazy out of the sky, and then calm down, and drizzle for hours on end. Garment seams, zipper sections, the neck opening and the hydration pack zones, such as the upper back and shoulder straps get hit the hardest, and you’ll feel Mother Nature’s wrath quickly, and a sodden jersey can make one cold, wet and even hypothermic. The breathability is the passing of water vapor or sweat out through the material, and the waterproofness is the prevention of the penetration of liquid water, but in reality, waterproof breathable fabrics should really be considered extremely water-resistant. There’s a fine line between breathability and waterproofness in a garment, it can be greatly exacerbated by your core temperature and that of the outside environment, both of which can elevate overheating issues. It’s not comfortable when the piece of gear you are wearing to prevent you from getting wet, is making you sweat like a steam room on the inside, which is definitely counterproductive, and unpleasant. I don’t wish to overheat too much, nor get chilled, but there is always going to be some compromise between the ventilation, breathability and waterproofness, and biking inherently has moments of extremes, from cooling fast downhills to heat producing climbs.
I tested the Nokomis jacket by itself, and with the Nokomis pants, and almost always wore them with waterproof overshoes and helmet cover when the rain was heavy.