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  1. #1
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    Jackets that block the wind from the front and breathe in back

    I love winter biking, though my preferences run toward I'll-bike-no-matter-how-cold-but-not-if-it's-wet. (So I've never had a need for waterproof gear.)

    I'm not a big fan of the if-you-are-overheating-just-slow-down school of thought, so I've been building up clothing that allows me to manage my heat on the fly. One of my revelatory moments was when I got the Novara headwind jacket last year at clearance prices.

    The whole idea of blocking the wind from the front but having breathable materials in the rear is great. After nearly getting clobbered by an inattentive driver, I decided I wanted to move toward a fluorescent wardrobe. I ordered a Gore Bike Wear Phantom Neon Jacket, but I've been a little underwhelmed by the details, which I think should be a given on such a premium priced piece of gear.

    Some examples of what I'm not thrilled with: pockets sans zippers (so I'm having a hard time trusting putting anything more valuable than a granola bar in them); micro sized zipper hardware - tiny pulls and insertion pins make use with gloves difficult (no way I'd get them open as-is without removing gloves); the removable arms are in no way operable on-the-fly - the bottom stops of the are located just above my triceps, so even if I add a zipper pull extension, it's awkward to unzip while moving.

    [Oh complain, complain, complain.]

    Can anyone recommend similar jackets that might have more carefully considered details? In short, what I'd like is 1) windproof at the front, highly breathable* in the rear; 2) thoughtful detailing to allow access to venting, etc, while still wearing gloves 3) ideally available in safety colors - I would so just buy another Novara Headwind if it came in safety yellow.

    *whereas there are no shortage of jackets with made completely with "windproof and breathable" fabric, I'm talking breathes-so-well-you'd-have-a-hard-time-building-up-a-sweat, not just "remarkably breathable compared to a garbage bag."

  2. #2
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    I used to have a Sugio that was pretty good .... not sure they still make it.

  3. #3
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    I've been holding on to my 10 year old Bellwether jacket because it has the features you describe and due to the fact that I haven'y come across a suitable replacement. It has a stiff, sail cloth like shell in the front and breathable cotton/poly backing. It's also my favorite winter running jacket so it's getting a little long in the tooth! I'm going to check out the Novara you mention.

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    LePatron, check it out for sure! I may end up just getting a fluorescent safety vest with scotchlite panels and using it over. I thought the thumbholes were a particularly neat feature.

    Fair warning, a small part of the stitching above the thumbhole is coming loose. It will be a simple fix, but still a (slightly) disappointing failing in an otherwise stellar jacket.

  5. #5
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    I have been on the same quest myself. After finding this exact item on REIs website, I came here to find some reviews. I think I will probably pull the trigger and get it. I also value high visibility, so maybe will add some sort of reflective leg/arm bands, or just taping on the jacket back itself.
    Now got to start reading up about a better rear light....
    -enjoy yours!!
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  6. #6
    Senior Member fusilierdan's Avatar
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    That Gore jacket also has a mostly black back. Doesn't seem to help visibility. I almost bought one but that's what held me back.

  7. #7
    Single-serving poster electrik's Avatar
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    Sounds like you're looking for a gilet that has a mesh back and wind-proof front... lots around. If you're asking for one that has windproof arms that is a little more tricky.

  8. #8
    Senior Member triumph.1's Avatar
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    I bought a castelli mortirolo windstopper jacket and it is really nice for what you are asking. It also has vent zippers in front for when you get warm.


  9. #9
    4130 on 28's at 15 greaterbrown's Avatar
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    http://www.foxwear.net/

    Call Lou and tell him your needs- he makes everything from scratch and is priced under the name-branders.
    I own a pair of pants, a jacket and a vest- all custom and all great quality.
    2013: quit counting 2012 FG century count: 4 2011 century count: ~20 2010 mileage: 10,239 2009 mileage: 8127 2008 mileage: 7157

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  10. #10
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    This is my first winter cycling. It was chilly yesterday in DFW land, and windy too. It was 60 when I left home for the regular evening ride, with 18mph or so winds, and 55 when I got home after sunset.

    I knew that I wasn't going to survive without extra clothing so I popped down to performance bike at lunch time. I tried on a few jackets, the one I settled on was the Louis Garneau Electra. The arms come off exposing an upper mesh back. Back pocket for it all to fold into, small pocket on left chest. Wind proof at front. Worked great. I should have taken the arms with me as I needed them on the way home.

    I saw that nashbar also sells the same item.

  11. #11
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    I have an XL Burly Rain jacket , its caped back (+pit-zips) ventilates well..
    just too big for me .. So FS .. [hint]

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by greaterbrown View Post
    http://www.foxwear.net/

    Call Lou and tell him your needs- he makes everything from scratch and is priced under the name-branders.
    I own a pair of pants, a jacket and a vest- all custom and all great quality.
    +1
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by greaterbrown View Post
    http://www.foxwear.net/

    Call Lou and tell him your needs- he makes everything from scratch and is priced under the name-branders.
    I own a pair of pants, a jacket and a vest- all custom and all great quality.
    This looks pretty amazing! I'm excited to contact him. Plus it looks like his Windbloc is overstocked and especially affordable.

  14. #14
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    So many great answers! Thanks, all. I'm going to look into the various jackets recommended, and also the foxwear link.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Medic Zero's Avatar
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    It may not be a neon color, but REI sells the Novara Headwind jacket in a pretty bright orange color they call "spice".

    http://www.rei.com/product/801494/no...ke-jacket-mens


    Quote Originally Posted by Dsastray View Post
    I love winter biking, though my preferences run toward I'll-bike-no-matter-how-cold-but-not-if-it's-wet. (So I've never had a need for waterproof gear.)

    I'm not a big fan of the if-you-are-overheating-just-slow-down school of thought, so I've been building up clothing that allows me to manage my heat on the fly. One of my revelatory moments was when I got the Novara headwind jacket last year at clearance prices.

    The whole idea of blocking the wind from the front but having breathable materials in the rear is great. After nearly getting clobbered by an inattentive driver, I decided I wanted to move toward a fluorescent wardrobe. I ordered a Gore Bike Wear Phantom Neon Jacket, but I've been a little underwhelmed by the details, which I think should be a given on such a premium priced piece of gear.

    Some examples of what I'm not thrilled with: pockets sans zippers (so I'm having a hard time trusting putting anything more valuable than a granola bar in them); micro sized zipper hardware - tiny pulls and insertion pins make use with gloves difficult (no way I'd get them open as-is without removing gloves); the removable arms are in no way operable on-the-fly - the bottom stops of the are located just above my triceps, so even if I add a zipper pull extension, it's awkward to unzip while moving.

    [Oh complain, complain, complain.]

    Can anyone recommend similar jackets that might have more carefully considered details? In short, what I'd like is 1) windproof at the front, highly breathable* in the rear; 2) thoughtful detailing to allow access to venting, etc, while still wearing gloves 3) ideally available in safety colors - I would so just buy another Novara Headwind if it came in safety yellow.

    *whereas there are no shortage of jackets with made completely with "windproof and breathable" fabric, I'm talking breathes-so-well-you'd-have-a-hard-time-building-up-a-sweat, not just "remarkably breathable compared to a garbage bag."
    Everyone hates your lights. Throw them away & buy something civilized.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dsastray View Post
    This looks pretty amazing! I'm excited to contact him. Plus it looks like his Windbloc is overstocked and especially affordable.
    Lou is great, and will make you exactly what you want, and the price will be unbeatable.

  17. #17
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    +1 for Lou's work. I used a simple jacket from him all last winter and it worked great. But what I got from him was pretty basic although very well priced. Now though I am looking for something with better "options". For one thing I'd get cold air in at the zipper since there was not a cloth barrier there. The pockets close with a square of velcro only so they are not secure. No back pockets at all or other storage. While the jacket breathed pretty well I would like more options for venting. And then the collar does let freezing rain/snow in sometimes.

    So, if all you need is a basic outer jacket the foxwear is awesome. But if you need something a bit more technical you might either look elsewhere of see what Lou can do for you in terms of customizing. A basic case of you get what you pay for. I should mention that even when my foxwear jacket did get soaked through it would retain heat.
    Steel is real.... cheap and comfy!
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  18. #18
    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamesdak View Post
    +1 for Lou's work. I used a simple jacket from him all last winter and it worked great. But what I got from him was pretty basic although very well priced. Now though I am looking for something with better "options". For one thing I'd get cold air in at the zipper since there was not a cloth barrier there. The pockets close with a square of velcro only so they are not secure. No back pockets at all or other storage. While the jacket breathed pretty well I would like more options for venting. And then the collar does let freezing rain/snow in sometimes.

    So, if all you need is a basic outer jacket the foxwear is awesome. But if you need something a bit more technical you might either look elsewhere of see what Lou can do for you in terms of customizing. A basic case of you get what you pay for. I should mention that even when my foxwear jacket did get soaked through it would retain heat.
    Mine jacket from Lou has a strip of fabric to block the wind at the zipper, so he is able to do that. As for the pockets, I agree about the velcro lacking. I had zippers put in mine for around $10 at the local seamstress. I'm sure he'd do a back pocket if you asked.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ziemas View Post
    Mine jacket from Lou has a strip of fabric to block the wind at the zipper, so he is able to do that. As for the pockets, I agree about the velcro lacking. I had zippers put in mine for around $10 at the local seamstress. I'm sure he'd do a back pocket if you asked.
    Yep, I'd agree. That was actually my original plan but all this dang biking made me lose too much weight and now my jacket is too big!

    Still debating on having another custom Lou job or going with something off the shelf.
    Steel is real.... cheap and comfy!
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  20. #20
    Senior Member Fynn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamesdak View Post
    Yep, I'd agree. That was actually my original plan but all this dang biking made me lose too much weight and now my jacket is too big!

    Still debating on having another custom Lou job or going with something off the shelf.
    I still believe that the torso is the easiest thing to keep warm in winter cycling. It essentially a matter of finding something that blocks enough wind, and retains enough heat while losing any extra heat. While that sounds complicated it really isn't because the zippers (front and pit zippers) are the thermostat that allow for any miscalculation.

    I have been using the same Performance Gore Tex jacket for 9 yrs or so. It has a back vent and pit zips with a mesh lining. I wear this jacket in any temp below freezing and it always works. Get a little steamy...unzip, a little chilly zip up. Presto!

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fynn View Post
    I still believe that the torso is the easiest thing to keep warm in winter cycling. It essentially a matter of finding something that blocks enough wind, and retains enough heat while losing any extra heat. While that sounds complicated it really isn't because the zippers (front and pit zippers) are the thermostat that allow for any miscalculation.

    I have been using the same Performance Gore Tex jacket for 9 yrs or so. It has a back vent and pit zips with a mesh lining. I wear this jacket in any temp below freezing and it always works. Get a little steamy...unzip, a little chilly zip up. Presto!
    I've tried using my Gore Tex but it just does not breathe well enough for me. I also will ride in any weather so it would be nice to have a jacket where I can seal the neck to keep the sideways driving freezing rain or snow out. Form fitting is also nice to help negate wind drag. Then good fitting wrists that will go over the gloves/mittens and stay in place. Keep the wrist warm and then hands will be much happier.
    Steel is real.... cheap and comfy!
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  22. #22
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    I don't have the jacket but the Peal Izumi Elite Barrier vest is working out nicely for me. The zippers have pull-tabs on them, really good open mesh on the back, reflective trim (mine is black but they're available in safety-yellow). The jacket is convertible, I'm thinking I should have gone with that instead...
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  23. #23
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    The ghetto solution to this is to wear your jacket front-side back and leave the "front" (that's now on the back) unzipped.

  24. #24
    gbg
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dsastray View Post
    I love winter biking, though my preferences run toward I'll-bike-no-matter-how-cold-but-not-if-it's-wet. (So I've never had a need for waterproof gear.)
    Obviously "I'll-bike-no-matter-how-cold" is not very cold if it is even close to liquid water being present.

  25. #25
    Single-serving poster electrik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pkpyro View Post
    The ghetto solution to this is to wear your jacket front-side back and leave the "front" (that's now on the back) unzipped.



    You might need a friend to zip it up!

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