Having agonised over the difficulty of giving the totally impartial review, I find the more I think about things the only possibility is to emphasise the personal experience. So with this in mind here is my take on the Hincapie George Signature jacket.
As reminder, I’ve been on a quest for a jacket that fits tight, that does not balloon up when riding. After all, rain is not a freak event and putting a shell jacket on shouldn’t mean you look like the Michelin Man just because it’s wet outside or you’re descending a long mountain pass.
First, does the jacket pass the flapping test? I’d say partially, it is a tighter fit and the sleeves are small but still have room inside. You can see from the photo above that the sleeves taper and are larger around the biceps. That’s to be expected, a jacket has to fit many from climbers to sprinters to weekend warriors who work as lumberjacks during the week. I’ve tried the jacket at 100km/h – the things I did for research – and it did not flap loudly in the wind.
The price has to be mentioned early, it retails at US$299. That’s a lot for a rain jacket… but I found this was a lot more than a rain jacket.
Try before you buy and aim for a small size. I used an XS size and but it fitted well for two extra reasons. First it has a high collar. Look at the photo and you’ll see what I mean. It’s not a turtle-neck but the collar was a good fit with a small fleece-like band and this stops wind getting inside when you’re going downhill at speed. It’s also good on a cold day at keeping your neck warm. Second the sleeve collars have some small elasticated cuffs which again keeps the wind out. A downside to this is that it makes removing the jacket whilst you’re riding a bit harder because the cuffs are not loose nor very elastic, you can’t just pull off the jacket in one go, it takes a moment longer.
But this isn’t a light jacket to take on and off on a showery day. Instead the Event fabric is a little thicker but above all a lot warmer. The thickness means the jacket can be rolled and stored in a jersey pocket… just. The warmth is the impressive bit, the fabric feels thin to touch but seems to have big insulating powers, it’s worth about 8° for me, for example I can dress for 18 °C (65°F) but put this on and if it’s 10 °C (50°F) I’m fine. Now you can get some very cheap rain jackets, the ones that are so unbreathable they are warm. They’re quite useful if you go up a col and want something warm on the way down, on the condition you remove them the moment you start pedalling again. This Hincapie jacket is a lot more expensive and you rightly expect more. I think you get a lot more, the fabric is breathable. I’ve tried climbing in this and if it gets hot, a lot of sweat manages to evaporate. Not all but you’re kept warm. Is this worth the price, well that’s dependent on your personal finances, no?
Taste varies but I like the look of this, the red looks good in real life and it’s stayed red too. I’ve used this a lot and washed it even more often. I wouldn’t wash a jacket after every ride but tried to put this one in a few more times and it seems fine. The material doesn’t really crease. In daily use the zip works fine and all the seams are taped. Upon arrival I checked every seam and stitch and it was flawless, it remains the case after many washes and being stuffed in a pocket.
There is a big zipped pocket at the rear. It is deep but I found access hard, the aperture isn’t that big so riding one handed whilst pulling something out isn’t the in-and-out quick move, I was adjusting my elbow to get my hand in, no big deal but a second or two longer. Talking of the back the skirting along the bottom of the jacket has a gripper and is elasticated at the rear and it helps hold it in place, so it does not ride up at the back.
From afar this might look like a normal jacket but it’s a lot more. Warm and dry, breathable and light, this jacket surprises because if it feels light in your hands and can fit in a pocket yet it is warm to wear. But you expect this for US$300, it makes a five dollar milkshake look cheap but it’s a substantial addition to your cycling wardrobe. If anything I wish this was much cheaper so more people could get their hands on gear like this.
As winter has crept up I’ve been able to ride some higher mountains and pedal in the clouds and this is the value of good clothing, it lets you ride when you might be tempted to stay indoors. Maybe my wardrobe is getting old, maybe the act of reviewing sent me outdoors when the weather was bad but this jacket let me ride comfortably in cold and damp conditions.
Good: the warmth, Event fabric is lightweight and breathable, the high collar works well.
Bad: the price at $300, the pocket is hard to access.
Review disclaimer: this jacket was sent free by the manufacturers for review. I have additional rain gear to review which will appear here in due course.