A wet blanket?
Now, without wishing to conform to the British stereotype and begin my conversation with you by talking about the weather, you as a cyclist will inevitably have a sharper appreciation of our climate than, say, a car driver. When this time of year comes around, the inevitable change in the weather threatens our enjoyment of pedalling. I have always had, hanging in my hallway , a waterproof jacket and latterly a pair of waterproof trousers for those occasions where rain is either likely or already falling.
And there have been a couple of occasions in the last year where, desperate to ride, I have set out in rainy conditions, feeling rather smug that I am guarded against the ingress of water from outside. Only after half an hour of slogging do I allow myself to admit that actually I will end the ride as wet as I would have if I had ridden in normal cycling clothes. It’s the sweat, you see. My kit is technically ‘waterproof’, but is not ‘breathable’, which of course is the quality you also need if you are to allow your sweat and condensation OUT.
So, realising that I cannot simply hope that enough dry days will come along in the next four months, I bit the bullet at the weekend and headed, virtually of course, to Wiggle. They have for some time supplied an excellent range of waterproofs known collectively as ‘Wickham’, made from event fabric which is breathable. This range is currently on sale at 30 percent discount, its initially high price meaning that the discount is substantial. Originally looking just for the trousers, I took advantage of the price and bought the jacket as well. Therefore, this review will have a top and a bottom, if you will permit me.
Let’s start, perversely as is my nature, by pulling on the leggings. Worn over a padded short, the first thing you notice about the Wickham trousers are their size. These trousers are close-fitting! Go for a size higher than normal would be my advice – I am a 34″ waist, and the Large are tight around the middle. The leg length is good, and they have some useful features such as the velcro straps on the lower leg allowing you to tighten them, thus avoiding catching them in the chain. They have an elasticated waist that offers reasonable adjustment, but no pocket.
The jacket is fantastic. Close fitting, with no extraneous features [read pockets], it is like the trousers light and it allows free movement. The arm length, often a problem for me as I have a large ‘ape index’ [climbing term I think…], are perfect and have velcro straps to close against the weather. The main zip is sealed from rain, and the body length is good. Both jacket and trouser have plenty of reflective stripes for night-time visibility.
But how, you ask, does the event fabric perform? Well, the answer is it’s early days my friend. But the big difference is comfort on a ride. I did 20 miles yesterday and purposely pushed myself hard in places, to see how the jacket performed [I was not wearing the trousers]. However I positioned myself, I was not able to make the jacket feel restrictive or uncomfortable. With the zip fully done up, and a technical baselayer underneath it, I felt warm in 6 degree C temperature. But I was also comfortable – yes I sweated, but you do that whatever you’re wearing. But I didn’t feel like a boil-in-the-bag meal! My old jacket would have had me soaked to the skin within 30 minutes, but this one really does work. The close-fitting profile also means that you don’t have acres of fabric flapping around slowing you down, and in conjunction with a pair of neoprene overshoes I should be pretty much impregnable. Care-wise, DHB suggest that you wash the items regularly, and reactivate the waterproof layer with a warm steam iron.
In summary, if you are a commuter and the distance of your ride demands something more than a cheapo hi-viz mobile sauna, this fabric is for you. Get one before they’re gone!
Now all I need is some rain!!!! Shouldn’t have to wait long….