Now, I don't really like riding in the rain, and I guess I'm not Robinson Crusoe there. But sometimes, especially in Wellington, if you don't ride in the rain then you're staying inside for half the year, or you've ridden to work in morning sunshine only to have the day pack in and dump on you on the way home. So owning a good wet weather jacket became a priority I never really had to consider much in the hottest, driest place this side of the sun (Australia, if you hadn't guessed).
The trade-off with wet weather gear is it's either light, packable and not really going to keep you dry, or so watertight that it weighs a tonne, is like wearing a garbage bag and is only suitable for wearing for the duration of a ride because there's no way you can pack it down. Getting a good balance between the two can be a bit of a mission, and I've owned plenty of light jackets that were fantastic at packing down into a bundle small enough to chuck in the backpack or jersey pocket without creating a Quasimodo effect, but they were as good as useless at keeping anything more than a 2 minute drizzle out. The only other truly waterproof jacket I tried was so good at keeping rain out, it also was perfect for making you sweat so much that rain was actually preferable. Dammit, I wanted a compromise!
Who better than Ground Effect to advise me on a jacket that would sit in between packable and waterproof . They've been riding in shit weather longer than most, and have the luxury of making their stuff themselves, so they get to try out different materials and then test them out in the real world. I asked Zane what he'd recommend, and after a few Q and A sessions via email we concluded that the Storm Trooper would be worth a shot. Before I could say "oh crap, it's raining again", a green jacket had found its way to me. That's another benefit of buying local: quick delivery and personal service. Like.
So then I had to get wet... or in this case, stay dry. The Wellington winter was kind in that it provided plenty of rain for me to test the jacket in, no matter how much I wanted to just stay inside. Venturing out into the precipitation wasn't nearly as bad as I remembered it, so long ago was it that I'd done it! Straight away I felt like I was riding in a waterproof jersey rather than a bulky jacket; movement on the bike wasn't particularly restricted, and I didn't sweat up instantly. With the armpit vents only partly open, there was enough air flow to keep me dry on the inside and not overcooking. There's also a hood for when it gets really nasty, but I didn't try it out... the hood rolls neatly into the collar when not in use.
When the rain stops, you can roll and fold the jacket and stuff it into your pack, or you can get real fancy and fold it into itself to create this Buzzword-approved bumbag-type package and sling it around your waist. Ground Effect are masters at incorporating this type of versatility into their jackets.
The Storm Trooper is a favourite piece of kit now, and whenever it looks like there's a chance of rain it gets pride of place in my pack (yes, it even fits in a bumbag!). At $299 it's not cheap, but neither is the construction and quality, and when you know how long Ground Effect gear lasts, it's a good investment. Check out more over here, and get prepared for next winter (or a Wellington summer).