My O2 cycling jacket is mortally wounded. As you can see, it’s got a huge gash down the back, a bloodless death wound that severely compromises its status as “raingear.” I will attempt to patch it up with duct tape, but I fear the jacket’s days are numbered. Which is too bad because it served me well.
I bought the O2 jacket almost two years ago as a kind of experiment. According to the O2 website, the jacket is “Extremely Lightweight & Compact” as well as “Waterproof, Breathable, Windproof.” It’s even got “Ultrasonically welded waterproof seams,” whatever that means. But here’s the clincher: it sells for a mere $34.95. So essentially, the O2 can be considered an almost disposable rain jacket. And that’s kind of how I approached the purchase: if I didn’t like the jacket or if it didn’t keep the water out (how could it, really, at that price?), I’d just gift it to one of my kids and get myself a different jacket.
But I did like it and it did work. I’m not sure how. The fabric (“100% 2-Layer polypropylene”) feels like some strange combination of J-cloth and wrapping paper. How it is water-proof, I have no idea. But it is. The fit is nice and snug too—minimal flapping—and the zipper is serious. As for the “breathable” claim, well, that’s got to be taken with a drop of salt water. I’ve yet to encounter a fabric—at any price point—that is truly breathable. I would say that the O2 works well at moderate temperatures. At anything above about 18 degrees C, it can get pretty uncomfortable. But, in my experience, that’s the case for most rain gear.
The only real problem with the O2 is durability. You’ve really got to store the jacket in the little sack it comes with or some other baggie. I was conscientious about this at the beginning, but in recent months I admit to backsliding, stuffing it un-sacked into my back pocket or jamming it into my Arkel commuting bag on several occasions, where it no doubt encountered the barbed wire of books, file folders, and pens that did the shred job.
Will I buy another? If I could trust myself to take better care of the O2, then I certainly would, but I know that such careful attention to safe storage is not my forte. Therefore, I will probably look for a jacket that’s a little hardier.
Still, when the day comes to take Old Yeller out to the back shed and send it off to rain garment Stovokor, I will sing it a short but heartfelt--perhaps even ultrasonic--honor song.