While there are a few good breathable waterproof jackets out there, most feel like, well, jackets. Even class leaders like Gore can’t shake that stiff, plasticky feel. Bontrager’s new Stormshell jacket turns a rare trick of combining a stretchy jersey feel with waterproof-jacket function.
We loved the snug-but-not-binding fit, with a cut that obviously reflects an understanding of the cycling posture.
- Pros: Jersey feel with jacket function; waterproof, breathable, stretchy; fitted cut
- Cons: Muted styling; waterproofing slows zippers
The shape is decidedly ‘on-the-bike’, with longer arms stitched in the forward position. In fact, the arms bind slightly at the front of the armpits when standing up, but fit perfectly in all dimensions when leaning forward with hands on the bars.
Bontrager stormshell jacket: light rain beads up on the jacket. harder rain looks like it’s soaking through, but it doesn’t: bontrager stormshell jacket: light rain beads up on the jacket. harder rain looks like it’s soaking through, but it doesn’t Nathan Forbes/Future Publishing
Waterproof exterior keeps you dry
The exterior beads up under light rain, then turns softer under a downpour. It looks as though the rain is seeping through, but it isn’t.
Using Bontrager’s proprietary Profilia fabrics, the Stormshell jacket is made with two layers (exterior and membrane) on the front and back, and three layers (exterior, membrane, soft) on the arms. Combined with a microfiber mesh liner on the neck, the stretchy jacket really feels like a long-sleeve jersey when worn over an actual long-sleeve jersey or a long-sleeve baselayer.
Bontrager stormshell jacket: the soft mesh neck liner adds to the jersey feel: bontrager stormshell jacket: the soft mesh neck liner adds to the jersey feel Nathan Forbes/Future Publishing
The neck features a microfiber mesh liner
If you like an extended tail on jackets, you might not like this one. The short front stays neatly snug when in the drops and the longer rear provides coverage for your back, but not your rear end like the exaggerated tail you find on a Gore rain jacket.
There are two side-access zippered pockets; one on the left chest and one of the right rear. As with the main zipper, the sealed seams require both hands to operate. This problem is common with waterproof jackets, and is often exacerbated by the cold and wet conditions in which you would wear such a piece. But they do function well enough. The dual zippers mean you can open the jacket from the bottom to access your jersey pockets.
Our only other nit to pick would be Bontrager’s rather plain logo and graphic treatment. While the all-black jacket is classy, the graphic details are bland.
But ounce for ounce, this is our new favorite midweight rain jacket.
Bontrager stormshell jacket: the arms are cut for the on-bike posture: bontrager stormshell jacket: the arms are cut for the on-bike posture Nathan Forbes/Future Publishing
The styling is a little muted for our tastes