What it is: All purpose jacket made by Ornot with Polartec material. It’s about $200 and comes in many sizes. With a slim designed fit, it wears like a tight fit jacket / jersey, it’s very stretchy, and has long arms and an on the bike cut.
What it is not, a ultra waterproof “shell”, its also not a flappy, shiny black, rubbish bag looking thing – you know what jacket I’m talking about here.
Let’s back up, You may have noticed a subtle change happening in the cycling clothing industry. Clothing brands are once again using proprietary materials for manufacturers that specialize in fabric.
Over the last six months, Polartec and Goretex have been the biggest manufacturers to note. Rapha recently launching a jacket that screams Goretex by printing the logo front and center on the arm. Castelli releasing hyper performance oriented designs – the ROS using Gore Windstopper. In short a new focus with companies using a range of more advanced fabrics.
Both Polartec and Gore are established leaders in the technical fabric industry. Both offer a range of fabrics aimed at different uses solving different problems. The Magicshell uses Polartec material.
Water resistance and breathability
This has been the age old mountain to conquer, so to speak. Theres a lot of evidence says you cannot have everything in one fabric. There are many shades of grey in science with regard to testing and how it actually lines up with real world use experience.
Water resistance is typically measured by the column test or Hydrostatic Head, where a water column is stacked on-top of a material to see at what pressure it seaps through (mm), some complain this is not a reality test as it doesn’t simulate the real environment.
Breathability is typically measured by – Moisture Vapour Transfer Rate (MVTR), which is that amount of vapour that gets transferred through the jacket membrane from the inside to outside. MVTR of 10.000 g/m²/day or less are not suitable for cycling activities while jackets with a MVTR of more than 10.000 g/m²/day are suitable for cycling but not at a very high output. Only jackets with a MVTR of more than 15.000 g/m²/day perform well for highly aerobic activities where breathability is key.
The Polartec NeoShell is highly breathable and rates at an MVTR of 30,000 MVTR g/m²/day which is scientifically pretty amazing. Translation : it breathes incredibly. The Hydrostatic head is somewhere around 10,000mm, that tells you that this is not a storm jacket, more along the lines of light – mid rain.
Materials and Cut
The jacket is made 100% from soft knit NeoShell. This is an advanced material, which is designed to be extremely breathable, water resistant (note I did not say water proof) and stretchy. NeoShell was originally designed for Alpine climbing, so mobility, breathability, and wind proofing are key features. The main zipper is a durable oversized nylon YKK two way zip, the rear pocket zipper is a smaller one way type.
The fit is like a jersey, the material is very stretchy. The arms are cut long and the body short / shorter. Im 6ft 3″ and 75Kg and wear a Medium in the photos. 36.5″ / 93cm chest.
I have been using this jacket for the past 11 weeks. From 28 to 55 degree temperatures in rain and dry. Due to the versatility of this jacket, it replaces quite a few of my existing garments and is in my regular rotation.
Versatility – The biggest thing is offering great protection that you can wear across a span of temperatures and changing weather. Start at 40degress and rain sprinkles, end at 56degrees and sun. The jacket material is fairly thin, so there is not a ton of heat insulation. Should you really overdress or choose the wrong gear, it’s small enough to put in your jersey pocket. This only happened to me once, but its highly windproof and reasonably water resistant, (note not a continuous downpour).
Breathability – This really contributes to above point, but it has to be noted that it rides like an ultra advanced jersey. The easiest example is breathes amazing on a hard full on uphill climb where it is essential to vent and remove heat then it blocks wind and stops you from freezing on the descent. Right there is some magic.
Fit and Look – This jacket fits snug, the arm and body are perfect length. Material is slightly matte, none of that shiny rubbish. It looks really classy.
Made in the USA ! materials are sourced from abroad, but design, cut and sewing is done in San Francisco, employing a local work force.
The Less Good
I didn’t find the single pocket in the back super usable, the zipper opening is smaller than the compartment it opens into. It looks great but has lower functionality than a traditional pocket design. You can keep a spare pare of gloves back, maybe a small pump and thats about it. Maybe thats all it was designed for. Its not a show stopper or me, but maybe exploration on other concepts could have found something more useful.
The jacket has only one reflective component, a tag on the back, its pretty minimal. At this moment its only available in Burgundy and Black material colours, I expect this is due to material and die limitations and could change in the future just like Gabba did. But, hey turn on your flashy light and you are alright.
Really, there is none. After a good amount of testing, I’m confident in saying you would benefit from this item in your cycling gear go-to pieces.
Ornot Magicshell here