As you might have noticed, I’ve fought a constant battle in finding a suitable outfit that would keep me warm in the cold weather and upcoming winter, but wouldn’t boil me alive since I heat up like a sauna when exercising. I tried several different hard (ie. water and windproof) shells: Thinner ones, more expensive ones and ones offering best breathability. None of them worked for me. They made me run so hot the sweat condensed inside the jacket causing my base layer to soggy up.
Then I went for soft (windproof) shells, and fully wind-proofed ones were better, but still not what I wanted. Our friend Toby mentioned in some context about soft shells that are windproof in the front (that keeps you warm), but are not in the back and under the arms, so I started looking for a soft shell that would meet these specifications. I also wanted the jacket to have audio access from a waterproof pocket for my iPhone and rear pockets to keep my stuff.
Luckily, my soon-to-be-favorite company Endura from the UK makes just a jacket, and since I was already comfortable with their sizing, I ordered a 2010 Endura Windchill soft shell jacket and it arrived a few weeks ago, just in time for cooler weathers. The jacket is actually waterproofed from the front and the sleeves (which I thoroughly tested today), but has Thermal Roubaix (read: Lycra and Elastan) underarm, side and back that allows my steam to ventilate out.
The difference is massive. Previously when I rode to work, there was sweat dripping from my sleeves when I took my gloves off and I seriously needed a shower after peeling the slimy base layer from my skin. Now, the same distance at the same temperature it feels like I hardly break a sweat. Theoretically I could go on without a shower if I would ride just a bit slower, something that was never an option with other jackets.
The jacket has three big stretch pockets in the back and in the middle there’s a small, waterproof zipped pocket that holds your keys and a small wallet. The pockets are quite large, but not cavernous. I just rode home with a compact camera, a jersey, a pair of socks, wallet, keys, iPhone and a pair of Helly Hansen base layer pants – all in my back pockets and I didn’t even notice them there.
As the jacket ventilates so well, I see I can use it for 9 months per year here in Finland and with its low price of about 90 €, it’s well worth the investment.