When the weather first started turning cooler and wetter last fall, I began testing a new waterproof jacket from the women s mountain bike clothing company Loeka. This company makes women-specific gear primarily for mountain bikers, but this jacket is designed with commuters and everyday riders in mind helps them achieve their mission to simply “help build a strong community of female riders from beginners to professionals by encouraging more and more females to try/take up cycling.” With this jacket, the nasty elements certainly are one less excuse to not get out and ride. And with this company s attention to fashion, riders will definitely be getting compliments on their chic “look”; I know I have received more than a few compliments while wearing this jacket (never before received while sporting my other waterproof commuter jacket) - nice!
It certainly holds up its end on being waterproof! After a rainy ride home you can see that all the water beads up on the surface and kept me dry underneath.
Despite the higher visibility color (noted online as “Peppermint Figgy”), it doesn t scream blinding yet still provides the rider with a light-colored jacket that stands out on the roads. (Loeka also offers this jacket in a blue color they call “Hey Ocean“.)
Originally I received this Loeka commuter jacket when the weather was still wonderfully warm and pleasant and couldn t start testing until the fall/winter weather descended upon Chicago.
I debated about which size of this jacket would best fit me; their website provides detailed sizing charts, but I still found that my measurements fall somewhere in between, and after talking with the kind folks/owners of Loeka to help me sort out my sizing questions, I was more comfortable sizing down rather than up, since the cut on the torso for me was more than spacious and long enough; if I had gone with the larger size, the sleeves would have been a bit longer and shoulder area roomier for bulky layering underneath. According to the owners,
“The jacket has been designed to fit a little looser, that way the jacket can accommodate more girls, you can wear a soft shell or other layer underneath comfortably. The jacket can be used for crossover such as running, snow shoeing, spring skiing if you wanted, casually ect. Now depending on the girls body style and how she likes the jacket to fit, loose, fitted going up or down a size will most likely accommodate that girls specific fit preference.”
The cut on this jacket is long enough all the way around so as not to allow nasty road spray sneak up on your rear (not a longer tail on the back) and you can see how it fits while on the bike.
This jacket offers bike commuters/around town riders waterproof/weatherproof protection in a fashion-forward design. Unlike my previous waterproof jacket designed in a more (non-stylish) unisex manner, this shell offers the same 3-season protection from rain or snow or clear, cold and windy days - basically to “tackle all the not very nice weather” with a unique look. The most obvious feature that stands out is the angled zipper down the front (as opposed to all the other commuter jackets that have a straight zipper down middle front of the jacket). Beneath this zipper, a windproof flap (in a curvy design) blocks any wind/rain from sneaking through the zipper.
This angled full zipper down the right side of the jacket is balanced on the the left with another small zip at the neckline that not only provides visual symmetry to the design but also (according to Loeka) helps to provide easy ventilation while keeping you protected from the elements. Personally I found the ventilation offered by this smaller zip to be negligible at best, but visually it succeeds from a design perspective. There are also ventilation flaps on the front side of the jacket (along the chestline) but no equal venting on the back. Luckily the lack of the rear venting is not an issue since this jacket does boast the essential pit-zips for added ventilation - and I appreciated their length and the added breathability they offered to prevent overheating.
From the functionality perspective, this jacket sports a hand pocket on either side of the angled zipper; the left side pocket reaches across the jacket and offers ample room for gloves, keys, etc - just don t put too much in it since it stretches across the belly area in the front. The right-hand pocket (though small due to the angled zip) provides just enough room for your keys or any small accessory. At first I missed having a handy chest pocket which I ve had on other jackets, but I soon came to appreciate the pockets at hip level (especially when just walking around town on my lunch break). There is also a rear zippered pocket (covered with a flap) to store extras while riding (cell phone, snack, etc) that doesn t call attention to itself when not in use.
One bothersome feature for me was the lack of a higher/more fitted neckline, especially since I don t like getting any drafty wind (or rain) sneaking in at my neck. (For full disclosure, my neck is one area that I like to keep warm in order to keep the rest of me warm, so this may not be an issue for other ladies.)
Loeka purposely left the neckline a bit looser to help accommodate a layer underneath comfortably and for 2010 they have made the neckline closer and not so loose. For the coldest days, I really appreciate the ability to comfortably layer-up under this jacket. All photos on their website reflect these adjustments for their 2010 line.
Technical Specs on this jacket from Loeka:
100% 75-denier polyester.
Lined with 100% polyester mesh.
Waterproof up to 10,000ml with taped seams.
8,000ml breathability, armpit zippers and natural chest vent.
Reflective piping built in to back panels and sleeves.
Adjustable wrists and rear zip pocket.
Longer arm length designed for sports. (When you reach out, the sleeves do not creep up to expose bare skin.)
According to the owners of Loeka, the jacket should easily last 3-5 years of heavy use if properly maintained or even longer. If the jacket is being worn occasionally then it could last who knows how long. For care instructions, please see their site for care info which basically directs using a sport wash like Nikwax or Grangers to help keep the waterproofing last. Then hang dry, do not tumble dry.
With the winter thaw setting in and the rainy spring season on its way, this jacket is a great outer layer addition to any female cyclist s wardrobe. (And fashion savvy, too!)
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