As a bike commuter, I haven’t really given much thought to the clothes I wear. Of course, in nasty conditions I would bundle up with a rain jacket, gloves, a balaclava under my helmet, and waterproof shoes. But I’ve never been too invested in true cold-weather cycling apparel. I figured my rain shell worked well enough to block winter conditions as long as I layered well enough underneath. And in terms of safety, as the nights became darker sooner, I figured I was safe with just a blinking red light and my headlamp.
But I’ve learned that winter bike apparel is different. The functionality complements your cycling, keeping you safer and more comfortable as winter conditions set in. One example is the Bontrager Town Stormshell Jacket. Part of Bontrager’s Town series, the Stormshell is geared for commuters looking to fend off weather and hazardous road conditions, along with distracted drivers who might not see them on a dark road. By integrating existing safety features with technical fabrics, Bontrager has nailed the formula for a cold-weather commuting jacket.
Fit and Function
Winter cycling apparel greatly differs from your normal skiwear and my eyes were opened to the need for a cycling-specific winter jacket once I started to wear the Stormshell. Not only is this jacket made from Profila Dry fabric, a version of polyester that is both moisture-wicking and quick-drying, but it is also extremely waterproof and highly breathable. Profila does not feel like a stiffer GORE-TEX material. It almost has a waxy texture and is a lot quieter than other waterproof fabrics. It is also very stretchy and lightweight. Lately Utah has had some cold, wet weather and the Stormshell has blocked both wind and moisture very well. In addition to shedding moisture, this cycling jacket even repels grime or dirty snow picked up off the road. That being said, this jacket would not do you much good in the summer. As it is geared for cold temps, the Stormshell would be far too hot to use for rain or night riding in the summer.
You might say that there are a lot of jackets out there that are waterproof and that is true. But the Town Stormshell is a cycling jacket that does things differently from your normal rain jacket. First off, the fit is oversized. I wore a medium and it felt like a large. Bontrager says this is to accommodate for layers – a nice touch that makes this jacket easily adaptable through fall and winter weather. The sleeves came down past my wrist and over my hand for added protection. And the 3-inch drop tail hem provides better rear coverage, just in case you find yourself riding through puddles. Sure it seems similar to a rain jacket, but the Stormshell has a bike specific fit that feels good when you’re in the saddle.
Since darkness falls sooner in the winter months, your 5pm ride home will most likely be in the dark and safety is key. In my opinion, bike lights are mandatory for safety and improved vision when riding at night. Something unique about the Bontrager Stormshell is that it has an InnerGlo LED light strip toward the bottom back of the jacket. These red lights have two modes, flashing and constant, for enhanced visibility to cars while on the road. And the reflective elements absolutely shine in low-light conditions. I felt very comfortable on the road in this jacket as cars could see me from the second their headlights hit me, which hopefully brought the driver’s attention to me and not their cell phone.
I like this jacket. I want to keep the one I’ve been testing. When I first put it on and looked in the mirror I couldn’t get past the fit that felt too big or the VERY yellow color. However as I rode in it I managed to grab some compliments and questions about the features. The LED lights, bright color, and reflective elements significantly contributed to my commuting safety and once I learned to appreciate the benefits of the larger fit, I came to appreciate this jacket. A defining feature of the Stormshell Jacket is that it can be used for winter road training as well. All the features that make it great for commuting also benefit those hardcore roadies looking to boost their wattage output during the winter. And the best part is this jacket is only the tip of the iceberg. From gaiters to waterproof booties, there is apparel out there to keep you dry and comfortable as you crank through the winter. Check out our bike shop to learn more.
The Town Stormshell jacket opened my eyes to dedicated winter cycling apparel. The combination of weather protection and safety features makes my ride in cold and wet weather tolerable and comfortable.
Fit and Function: The loose fit accommodates for layers and varying winter conditions.
Safety Features: The Stormshell has clever light integration to make you more visible to cars.
Paul Boyle, Marketing and Ecommerce