Mike Blewitt reviews DHaRCO's first foray into the jacket market.
Words: Mike Blewitt
Photos: Hayden Wright
The right waterproof jacket can be the difference between a good day on the trails or a bad one, and even life or death in some hairy alpine situations. My wish list for a mountain bike waterproof includes a good fit with minimal pockets, a hem I can cinch up, waterproof zips, long sleeves with wrist closures and seam sealed material. And yeah, it needs to be a proper waterproof material that also breathes. As for a hood, I can go either way – yes for adventure, no for endurance events. I do want a high collar though, with a comfortable lining against my face or chin.
DHaRCO's rain jacket has a waterproof and breathable material, with a mountain bike specific fit and a hood that fits over a helmet. The fit is more of a general mountain bike fit, covering the back and the front while not being super short on the front and long in the back like more performance fit waterproof gear. There are two single handed drawcords to cinch up the lower hem, and two for the hood, to help seal out the elements. You can also close the wrists with the velcro closures for a snug fit. DHaRCO have included two pockets on the front for essentials, and with a soft lining they'll keep your hands snug as well. It comes in Camo as tested, and a black/grey, with size options from S – XXL.
With an 8000mm hydrostatic head for waterproofness, the soft-touch material will shrug off even the foulest showers. Breathability is a little lower, but unless you're pedalling up climbs in a sub-tropical storm this is a good amount of breathability. Being seam sealed, rain isn't going to leak in where the panels are sown.
ON THE BIKE
I had a size small sent for test, and the fit was generous through the body, allowing room for a couple of layers and ease of movement. It was long enough to cover to the top of my thighs, which is longer than I'm used to for a dedicated riding jacket, but it does increase the versatility off the bike. I like that the hood has the volume for a helmet, but with it's own reinforced edge it can keep the rain off your face without being supported by a helmet, and you can adjust the size of the hood with the velcro tab at the rear. Given the overall fit and placement of the features, you could certainly wear this jacket to the pub if it was in your gear bag for a mountain bike trip, without looking like a bike nerd.
After more jacket reviews?
With the DHaRCO rain jacket on, it was easy to cinch up the drawcord to keep the length out of the way at the front and tuck the back under your bum for some weather protection. My upper body screams 'XC' so I found the fit roomy compared to the 100 Percent Hydromatic jacket I tested earlier this year. While I have long arms, I did find the sleeve length just too short when reaching for the bars, with about 10cm of my forearm exposed. In truly foul weather it is essential to keep warm and dry, and I know from experience that when your arms and hands get too cold, your ability to ride safely (or retrieve more gear from pockets or a bag) is severely reduced. The extra length at the front of the jacket does pouch up a little, which can be annoying when riding. It certainly stopped me from putting anything in the pockets, as it exacerbated the problem.
The waterproof zip is easy to use, but I think it could use a pull tab for easier use with wet, gloved hands. I'd love to see a change to a double ended zip as well. Getting anything out of a jersey or stash bib pocket with this jacket on takes a bit of work, something made easier if you can unzip from the bottom.
Overall, DHaRCO have made a waterproof jacket that complements their range nicely. I see it as a good jacket for general riding and travel, but with some limitations on functionality it wouldn't be my go to for a riding trip where you knew you'd be out in the wet all day. Given the long and roomy length and short sleeve combination, I'd recommend trying one on before you buy – fit is personal and this will suit some body types more than others.
- Good value fully waterproof jacket
- Understated colour options
- Hood fits with or without a helmet
- The fit may not suit your use
- Pocket placement too low on the bike