Doing it all the hard way...

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Pactimo Breckenridge Jacket Review

Some background: 
After just one season of wearing crappy team uniforms, we switched to Pactimo for our team clothing a few years ago and we have been very happy with the results.  Wearing team kit became something we looked forward to instead of dreading.  When Pactimo launched their branded apparel a few of us jumped in.  The team version of their summit bibshorts proved to be so outstanding that one of our clan flatly declared he wouldn’t buy any bibshorts in the future that didn’t have the word, “Summit” in the name.  When we aren’t clad in the Maglia Bruno many of us are happy to be sporting Pactimo clothing.

I have been almost evangelical about the Breckenridge vest since I first zipped one up four seasons ago.  It is an awesome garment that can save the day when things turn ugly. Based on that stellar performance I was anxious to try the totally revamped Breckenridge Jacket. In the northwest we are all about keeping the weather at bay most of the year and the next generation Breckinridge jacket sounded like it might be up to the task.

Rides in the upper thirties to upper fifties, with the threat of, or actual rain in varying quantities, are common seven to eight months of the year. These are tough conditions and staying comfortable typically requires adding and removing layers (like my Breckenridge vest) and/or guessing and gambling.

I can gamble it will be dry and forego a vest.  If I get rain of any significant intensity, and I am without rain gear or the vest, my training turns into a race with hypothermia. If I overdress I finish my ride soggy and hot.  As much fun as getting it right can be, missing it turns training into character building.

Facing these conditions from February through June and again from September to November means dressing for the conditions is a problem with which we have great familiarity. Despite the repetitive nature of this problem, sometimes we guess right and sometimes we end up with great stories.

In these highly variable conditions I have been putting the Breckenridge WX-D Jacket through its paces.
The jacket looks sharp which appeals to my seemingly endless vanity. The front and shoulders are made of a water and wind resistant fabric that, while not soft and buttery, it isn’t as stiff as a full on rain jacket.  Once I put the jacket on I didn’t notice the texture of the barrier fabric anymore and any concern I may have had quickly went away.  A nice feature is the front of the arms also uses this barrier fabric with the back of the arms employing the more breathable jersey fabric.  It is a pet peeve of mine is when garments ignore your arms and just include the miracle fabric on the torso and leave your arms to freeze. 

A bit of stealthy style on the zipper flap

What I did notice when I had it on was the great cut of the jacket.  It fits close to your body and does not have flappy arms or a big gut bulge that many jackets have.  Not everyone wants a tight Euro fit but I can assure you nobody likes a jacket that flaps and whips like a flag on descents.

The bulk of the back is breathable jersey fabric which in my experience does a wonderful job of regulating temperature. Sleeve length is spot on and the three pockets in the back add to the versatility of this garment.  The outside of the pockets are made of the same barrier fabric as the front so the contents of your pockets should stay a bit dryer if you get caught out in the rain.  Reflective trim is subtle in daylight yet highly visible when needed. 

The reflective trim executes the fine line of not being obtrusive, 
yet is highly visible to headlights ! 

Although the jacket is essentially all black from the front, the colorful name on the back gives you much needed visibility to drivers in low light conditions. The colorful back in combination with the reflective trim qualifies this as a good jacket for commuting or twilight training.

On a recent Saturday morning I zipped up and took off. Temperatures were in the low forties and the grey skies were supposed to stay dry.  The jacket cut the wind and kept the chill off. My arms were especially happy.  The highly breathable back kept me comfortable and I didn’t even unzip to vent on a long gradual climb.  

One feature common across the whole Pactimo line that I really love is the tall collars that add a degree or two to your comfort range.  It sounds silly but when the wind picks up on a late afternoon or evening ride, being able to zip up keeps the chill away.

As it often does; the actual weather ignored the forecast and it started to rain. I smiled as I watched water bead up and run off the sleeves.  The rain was cold on my face, yet my arms and torso remained comfortable. It wasn’t until I was back in my garage that I realized I had ridden for two and a half hours in dry and wet conditions with a temperature change of eight degrees and varying levels of effort; and I hadn’t so much as unzipped to regulate my temperature. 

When I finish a ride without having added or removed layers, I feel a warped sense of pride that I was able to dress perfectly for the conditions. When I finish a decent training ride in which I was comfortable from start to finish and haven’t so much as vented, the credit has to go to the clothing.

Those folks in Colorado know a thing or two about changing weather conditions...

I have also used this jacket skate skiing in sunshine and during wet snowfall and it has proven to be a worthwhile ski companion as well.

Pactimo has a winner here.

If you can't wait you can find one here.  If your team wants them in custom colors you can get that as well.

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