I quote SETH when I say, I think I may have stumbled upon the Taj Mahal of cycling pieces: the Assos ClimaJet rain cape. Great cycling clothing is measured by the comfort it delivers in uncomfortable circumstances and the Assos ClimaJet delivers in wind and rain, and even when the temp falls into that ambiguous range between layers.
The Assos Service Life
Like you, my cycling wardrobe consists of my regular pieces and then my collectables. My collectables go back as far as 50 years but they only see the light of day when I am moving or re-organizing. My regular pieces, however, see duty year-round and some date back as far as 17 years and are my nuevo-vintage collection. The common denominator to my "neuvo-vintage" pieces is that they are all Assos. There are two statements that accurately describe the Assos brand:
1. It's VERY expensive.
2. It's damn nice stuff, both in fit and durability.
When the topic of Assos comes up, people tend to focus solely on price. What I don't hear in Assos discussions is how durable the stuff is. I have some winter gear from 1990, which remains in heavy rotation in the cold months, and shorts from the 1994 era, which continue to provide comfort surpassing many of today's cycling clothing leaders. As a side note: clothing, like helmets and shoes, have fit characteristics that compliment some riders and not others, so the "great fit" may not be unanimous among cyclists.
I received the ClimaJet as a gift, and had I not, I would have never been introduced to the magic this jacket creates (dropping $275 on a rain jacket was not exactly in my seasonal budget). The technology supporting this jacket claims the material expands upon contact with water and closes the pores of the material blocking the rain, yet allowing air to circulate. Whether this claim is fact or marketing hype, the ClimaJet is the perfect solution when the wind is chilly, or the threat of rain looms, and it's the go-to when all other layers are to heavy or too light. The ClimaJet has evolved from the original Clima Micro jacket and, for the ClimaJet, Assos has made some refinements, toughening up the material to avoid rips, redesigning the zipper to increase durability and ease of closure and made modifications to the cut, thus streamlining the fit and reducing its overall foot print; great for when it comes off and goes into your pocket.
Rain and Wind
When the rain begins to fall, the jacket provides excellent coverage. If the showers are spotty and the rainfall is light to consistent, I tend to notice the cool effects of the rain on my face, legs or feet before I notice it on my core, proving that the jacket is going its job. When the cats and dogs begin to fly the jacket will let rain in, but at this point the barrier created traps the warmth and provides your core the protection it needs to keep you and your appendages moving.
Limiting this jacket to rain duty sells the jacket short: the Clima Jet is a technical piece, more technical than most of wind-proof jackets out there. It blocks wind with ease and keeps the front of your shoulders warm in a way that a vest simply fails to do. The slim cut allows for the ClimaJet to rest comfortably against your body eliminating the flapping effect common on most full cut, long-sleeve, rain and wind jackets. As your body begins to heat up, there is a small build-up of perspiration from the inside of the jacket, but far from the greenhouse effect you get with a PVC rain cape. If the ClimaJet were any color other than ghostly white you would be unable to detect the build-up. The jacket is vented on the sides and the location of the vents reduces the ingress of water while providing the necessary fresh air into the "micro-climate".
This past weekend the temps were cool and the wind was blowing pretty hard. I rode to the ride in the ClimaJet and peeled it off about 20 minutes into the ride, before the action became heated. When the ride finished, I pulled the ClimaJet from my pocket and donned it for the 20-minute ride home. The jacket was warm and kept my body temp regulated (neither too cold, nor too hot). It was the perfect accompaniment to the cool-down period that makes for my commute home.
$275 for a technical poncho is crazy talk. I was perfectly happy with the PVC rain cape I have had for years, tattered and torn and stained from years of service. This piece is highly technical, extremely durable, light, easily stuffed into a pocket, and downright comfy. I would highly recommend the ClimaJet to anyone who rides in the rain on a regular basis or experiences spring to the likes of Northern France or Belgium. For me, the only shortcoming of the jacket (pun intended) is the length in the back because I prefer the mud flap effect to keep the grit and water off my tail bone and, due to the slim cut, it becomes tough to stuff the rear pockets full of essentials. Bump your sizing by one if stuffing your pockets and the extra length are important. The added bulk at the shoulders and in the mid-section will be minimal and the added room at the waist will be appreciated.