Wednesday, February 08, 2006

A better winter jacket: Review New Foxwear Evap Winter Jacket

For road cycling in the winter, a good jacket is essential. On the road your speeds are typically much higher than the mountain bike so you are creating your own wind chill that. In addition, if your off road riding is in the forrest, the trees tend to block the wind where on the road you are at it's mercy. Finally for the most part off road, around here at least, makes you work hard on almost every section, so you are generating a lot of heat at a low velocity.

The qualities of a good road jacket include
-tight fit
so no flapping of materials, and that euro cool look

Rear pockets. I can't believe how many expensive jackets don't have rear pockets, at least 3. A single zippered pocket is useless. Typically in the winter people are doing base. That means long rides requiring lots of food. And usually wearing winter gloves. You need open pockets, lots of them, for food, wrappers, phones, etc.

-Wind proof material on the chest, front of arms, top of shoulders
When you are in the typical riding position on a road bike, you want to have your entire frontal area covered by wind proof fabric. But everywhere else (underside of the arms, side panels, mid-lower back, you want some breathable material. It is amazing the amount of heat your body generates when riding. If you had 100% wind blocking material, you would sweat too much inside then cool down regardless of how much wicking base layers you have.

A lot of jacket designers forget that when you are hunched over on the hoods, that the tops of your shoulders are also exposed to the wind. Very few jackets have windproof on the upper back, most just stop at the front panels.

Cut longer in the back
So it doesn't ride up when you hunch over

I have an older Foxwear Evap lite jacket. See my review from last year. I liked the jacket for the most part, but in this design, there is breathable material on the sides of the arms and underarm. So that when you are on the road bike on the hoods, there is a constant flow of air into the arms. This steady stream is good to keep from overheating, but I was finding myself getting chilled on windy days and in temps in the 30s and on downhills. And depending on which base layer I was wearing, if the wicking was quick then it chilled me down more.

Also it lacket pockets, didn't have wind blocking material on the shoulders, and I wanted it cut tighter in the neck and body.

I talked to Lou at Foxwear. Ok people, this guy rules. Where else in the world can you talk to the guy how runs the sewing machine, and tell them exactly what you want. His prices are simply amazing given the top shelf fabrics that he uses. I mean could you ever give Pi or Assos a call and get them to change anything. Could you EVER get anything from Assos for $79.00. Try $379 for a jacket from them. These are the exact same fabrics that the outdoor companies charge you $300+ for.

We discussed what I wanted to change and he made it for me. In a week. FOR me. Just FOR me. Custom rules.

The front, tops of the sleeves, and upper back is Power shield. This stuff is 98% wind proof, and water repellent. Why 98% and not 100%. Because 98% breathes better than 100% windbloc fleece yet still blocks enough wind to stop the chill.

It includes a wind flap on the zipper too.
There is a panel on the underside of the arms that is breathable material called power stretch. You can get power stretch in 3 thicknesses. I got the lightest one for the highest breathability. Some jackets like the Assos Airblock and the Bergamo have the entire back side of the arm breathable. This on has more wind blocking. But the underside of the arm does breathe to keep the arms from getting too sweaty which is easy to do.


One of the things I love about Power shield softshell fabric is that it feels good next-to-skin. So if I don't have a long sleeve on, or I take my arm warmers off it doesn't feel clammy

I got my rear pockets

I asked for the pocket material to be power shield so it would hold it's shape more. But if it was the breathable Powerstretch material that is in the mid back, sides and under arms I would get more breathabilty.

There are also two little pouches on the inside front of the jacket. But the motion of the legs tends to move whatever is in there like a cell phone or $.

The upper back is also Power shield. There is probably more than I needed to cover my upper shoulders, but if it rains it will keep me drier a little longer. Power shield is not waterproof, but water does bead up on it and it takes a little while before it soaks through.

The only problem with the upper back power shield is that it is a little stiffer than powerstretch and sticks up a little right behind the neck.

I can wear this jacket into the 20s and 30s easily. Underneath I wear a short sleeve base layer and either a long sleeve jersey, or short sleeve jersey with arm warmers. I've also worn a long sleeve base with SS jersey and arm warmers, and then removed the arm warmers if I got too warm. On climbs I can unzip the jacket to get some more air going.

It is easy to over dress with this. Because the entire frontal area is wind blocking you can dress much lighter underneath and be fine.

Price/Value - $74.95 custom sized. You will NOT find a jacket anywhere near this price using the fabrics like Power shield/powerstretch or wind bloc laminate unless you get one of the Bergamo's on ebay closeout.

It's Black - Yo! (See Jeff Kerkove's review of a the very nice and more than 2x as expensive Craft Jacket). There are many options in the breathable powerstretch material, and a few color options in the power shield. You can also go for the Windbloc fleece instead of the power shield and that comes in a ton of colors.

Custom sizing/features - Call Lou, talk to him, tell him the fit and features you are looking for and see what he says. Your choice of colors, and fabrics, and fabric weights.

Get some power shield tights while you are at it. Wind block on the front, breathable material on the back.

All the features I wanted - pockets, windblock where I wanted

Bunches up a little at top of back
Maybe a little too much wind block material on the upper back. Maybe a little too much wind bloc on the underside of the lower forearm. Not sure about this yet as it was fine on today's ride.

It can be too warm. Over 40 and this jacket probably is too much. Especially if it is sunny. Overcast and windy and 40 than maybe fine.

Craft makes a real nice jacket at $189. Assos makes a jacket with the wind block material on the front and breathable material on the rear for a hell of a lot of $. Bergamo makes a similar style. However, for the money and customization capability you will not find a better jacket for the money.


At 12:09 PM, Blogger Jeff Kerkove said...

Interesting how very similar it is to the Craft jacket I have.

At 4:07 AM, Anonymous mbiencegroup said...

A lot of helpful data for myself!


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