Hincapie Sports’ Flanders rain jacket conjures up images of soaking precipitation, ominously overcast skies and wet pavement – or cobbles – not to mention a vicious attack or two, or a spirited assault up one of the region’s countless steep climbs.
Fittingly, the jacket’s Cocona softshell material – which mates an outer shell to a unique Cocona fabric liner – does an excellent job of keeping you dry with its durable water repellent finish, fully taped seams, adjustable neck and waterproof YKK zippers that are a tad stiff to operate but still good to have.
Even with Mother Nature’s worst – or when standing in the shower – we stayed admirably dry save for a bit of moisture ingress through the neck and sleeve openings.
The Flanders rain jacket is also quite breathable. Cocona’s claim to fame is a uniquely treated polyester yarn with supposedly 10 times more surface area than a round one, helping wicked perspiration to evaporate.
Whether or not those numbers hold true, the end effect is convincing nonetheless as we stayed drier than usual, inside as well as out, even during some harder efforts – something most waterproofs can’t claim.
Though the breathability is admittedly still not as good as something less substantial, the Flanders is impressive considering the level of protection.
Hincapie fit the jacket with generously long mesh-backed pit zips in case temperatures get a tad warm – a particularly good feature to have since the jacket’s relative bulk means you can’t easily stuff it in a jersey pocket and it’s a bit warmer than a pure shell.
Unfortunately, the fit of the garment leaves significant room for improvement – literally. The torso is unusually loose for a performance-oriented piece of cycling outerwear, with lots of excess fabric left to catch the wind plus a curiously oversized waist fitted with gripper elastic that never has a chance to grip onto anything.
This leaves plenty of leeway for adding layers during chillier mornings or evenings, but the sleeves are noticeably more taut so you’re limited to insulating vests and whatnot.
The full-width reflective strip running across the shoulders is good for visibility – as are the ones on the sleeves – but its lack of stretch totally negates the give of the underlying Cocona softshell.
Though fine when relatively upright, the back of the shoulders is noticeably restrictive when in riding position. We would suggest moving this further down towards the midsection where stretch is less important and where approaching drivers would be more likely to see it.
Other nitpicks include the single rear pocket – it holds a lot of gear but is wholly lacking in organisation so smaller items are tough to find. The stiff waterproof zipper is hard to operate while on the bike, and left-handed riders are totally out of luck as it can only be accessed from the right. The grey-and-lime colour scheme is a love-it-or-hate-it affair and the reflective elements’ bland aesthetics don’t help either.
Overall, the Hincapie Flanders rain jacket provides an excellent level of protection from the elements along with very good breathability but its somewhat sloppy fit makes it better suited as a high-quality commuter piece than the intended serious training shell.