O2 Nokomis Jacket and Pants Review

by Brian Mullin on September 9, 2011

These fine two products from the Minneapolis based Rain Shield’s O2 rain gear line are for the “hard-core” cyclist, and they offer excellent breathability and waterproofness, and have plenty of features that are functional, and very bike specific, and the material and build quality are outstanding. They are lightweight and highly packable, and they keep you dry and warm, even in torrential downpours, while retaining superb breathability characteristics for a set of rain gear. They both have great attributes, and the jacket’s highlight is its ability to convert to a vest, making it extremely useful as a windbreaker.

O2 Nokomis Jacket and Pants
The Nokomis series are designed with their 3Flow performance fabric, which uses a waterproof and breathable microporous film that is bonded to a nylon outer shell. This ultra-breathable fabric features millions of microscopic pores, and water droplets (rain) are large in comparison to the pores, so they get stopped from passing through to the inside, while water vapor (sweat) is smaller than the pores and can pass through to the outside.

The waterproof, windproof, breathable, and lightweight jacket and pants are made with 100% brushed 2.5 layer rip-stop nylon and have taped seams. The form fit jacket has welded zip-off detachable sleeves, and a cross shoulder venting and mesh back panel, welded back pocket and Napoleon front, and a full front zipper, and elastic cuffs with Velcro closures. In addition, it packs into its own back pocket, has a back loop for a light and has 360 degrees of reflective piping for safety. It comes in five sizes, S, M, L, XL and XXL, and two colors, Black and Hi-viz Yellow, and weighs approximately 14 ounces. The pants has an elastic waist band with a draw cord, elastic ankle cuffs with zippers for easier egress, and reflective logos for safety. It comes in five sizes, S, M, L, XL and XXL, and one color, Black, and weighs approximately 10 ounces.

Musings on Weather and Rain Garments
Even though Colorado is a usually dry place, when it decides to rain in the summer time, it comes down in torrents, and a piece of rain gear gets quickly put through a torture test. Every nook and cranny it going to be hit hard with wind, hail, rain, and the water will seek out any weak flaw in a design or material. This year we had storms that seemed to burst like crazy out of the sky, and then calm down, and drizzle for hours on end. Garment seams, zipper sections, the neck opening and the hydration pack zones, such as the upper back and shoulder straps get hit the hardest, and you’ll feel Mother Nature’s wrath quickly, and a sodden jersey can make one cold, wet and even hypothermic. The breathability is the passing of water vapor or sweat out through the material, and the waterproofness is the prevention of the penetration of liquid water, but in reality, waterproof breathable fabrics should really be considered extremely water-resistant. There’s a fine line between breathability and waterproofness in a garment, it can be greatly exacerbated by your core temperature and that of the outside environment, both of which can elevate overheating issues. It’s not comfortable when the piece of gear you are wearing to prevent you from getting wet, is making you sweat like a steam room on the inside, which is definitely counterproductive, and unpleasant. I don’t wish to overheat too much, nor get chilled, but there is always going to be some compromise between the ventilation, breathability and waterproofness, and biking inherently has moments of extremes, from cooling fast downhills to heat producing climbs.

I tested the Nokomis jacket by itself, and with the Nokomis pants, and almost always wore them with waterproof overshoes and helmet cover when the rain was heavy.

Impressions
I have gotten the system in quite a few heinous rain storms, and I was always able to stay nice and dry underneath the jacket and pants, and they breathed pretty well for rain gear. The jacket and pants were comfortable, lightweight, durable, with enough useful and functional features, while still retaining some simplification, especially the pants. They are so light and packable, that it’s easy to bring them along no matter what the current weather is like, which is a good thing since you won’t be caught with your guard down in a storm. The Hi-viz Yellow color will certainly let drivers, and other trail users know that you are there, but the light color did show some subtle pack stains from long term usage.

The jacket worked really well, and had a great combination of breathability and waterproofness, and the 3Flow performance fabric did an excellent job of not letting me sweat to death during downpours, even when cranking up long steep climbs, yet still kept me dry from the rain inundation. The jacket offered adequate length and roominess, but fit snug enough that it wasn’t flopping around in the wind nor on a ride. The form fit worked fine for me, and I was even able to wear a set of soft elbow/forearm guards under it. If you commute, you might want to get one size larger, for the varying thickness of street clothes? The length worked well in front, since it kept the jacket from snagging on the saddle when doing maneuvers on the bike. The diaper rear tail kept the water trickling down past your lower back and out over the saddle, and helped keep things covered when bent over the handlebars, keeping your butt drier, which was especially nice when not wearing the waterproof pants. The length of the rear droop worked perfect, since I didn’t have any snagging issue. The tall collar kept rain from creeping in, and the additional height towards the rear helped with the typical prostrate position on a bike. The jacket has two pockets, one large one at the lower rear, and a Napoleon. The rear pocket can also serve as a transportation pack, just reverse the pocket, and fold the jacket into itself, and then some handy Velcro straps allow you to fasten it to your seat post or frame. I never used this function, since I always carry a pack. The zippers are well sealed, and never leaked on me, and although they are robust, I found they have a tendency to snag and grab the adjacent thin material when using them. The zippers on the sleeves end right up where a pack’s shoulders strap hits, and on occasions, the small bump from the zipper slider can irritate the clavicle area, although moving them down slightly can sometimes alleviate the issue.

My favorite feature of the jacket, is that it can become a vest by unzipping the sleeves, and unsnapping the shoulders, which all comes off in one long piece, and can be stuffed into the rear pocket. I found it very handy for cooler days, evening rides, or when the air gets that chilled snap after a good rain, or when you just need something simple and light to take away the sting. An added benefit is the mesh section along the upper back, which does wonders for ventilation and comfort, and still keeps you warm.

The pants worked well, and didn’t adversely affect my pedaling, although on the right leg, I did need to use a Velcro leg strap on the lower calf to prevent the material from getting too near the drivetrain. They had a short zipper at the bottom to facilitate putting them on, and even my big fat mountain-bike shoes weren’t an issue to pull through the opening. The pants was simple, and besides the lower zipper, they had an elastic waist band with a draw cord and an elastic ankle cuff. They had a decent cut, being wide enough to give me room to be pedaled in and get my shoes on, without any noticeable bagginess. Like any pair of pants, they can droop somewhat, especially after they get in the rain, but a simple tug gets them back into position. I sat down plenty of times on rocks and the ground, huddled under trees during storms, and they were plenty durable and kept me dry.

Measured Specs:

  • Jacket weight (large) – 382 grams/13.5 oz
  • Pants weight (medium)- 221 grams/7.8 oz

Bottom Line
The O2 Nokomis Jacket and Pants are comfortable, with a great fit, and are extremely packable, breathable and waterproof. The jacket is full of features, the highlight being its switchability to a vest, which I used countless time in cooler weather and on evening rides. It has many other attributes, including the rear shoulder wide vent panel, excellent breathability for rain gear, a tall collar and a drooped rear (aka the diaper) for additional protection. The pants has a nice simple design, and there were easy to take on and off, even over mountain-bike shoes, and they had a great cut for pedaling in. To complete the ensemble, I recommend the addition of a good waterproof helmet cover, and perhaps some overshoes. This set did an amazing job keeping me warm and dry, and well ventilated in inclement weather, especially in some unbelievable ugly downpours.

I had a few minor quibbles with the jacket, such as the zipper’s snag on the adjacent material, and the sleeve zipper slider can irritate the clavicle area under the shoulder strap, and the front zipper’s bottom closure can come undone. I would love to see an integrated Velcro leg strap on the pants, which would add some great functionality to the product.

Their packability means “Don’t leave home without them!”. The jacket and pants are durable and have a great fit, and of course have excellent breathability and waterproofness, and have plenty of features that are functional, and very bike specific, and the material and build quality are outstanding.

Strengths

  • Breathability
  • Waterproofness
  • Comfortable
  • Durable
  • Packable
  • Jacket
    • Can switch to vest
    • Shoulder wide rear vent panel
    • Rear pocket
    • Good fit
    • Tall collar
    • Rear diaper cover
  • Pants
    • Easy on and off
    • Good cut for pedaling
    • Simple

Weaknesses

  • Jacket
    • The bottom closure of the front zipper can come undone
    • The detachable sleeve’s zipper slider can irritate the clavicle area under the shoulder strap
    • Hi-Rez color can have subtle stains under shoulder strap
    • Zippers snag on material
  • Pants
    • Need an integrated Velcro leg strap by drivetrain (more of a wish list)

Overall Rating: 4.5 Flamin’ Chili Peppers

MSRP: Jacket 189.95 and Pants $89.95

Nokomis Jacket Specs:

  • Visit the O2 Nokomis Jacket website
  • MSRP $189.95
  • 100% Brushed 2.5Layer Rip-Stop Nylon
  • Waterproof, Breathable, Lightweight
  • Waterproof, fully taped internal seams
  • Detachable (zip-off) Sleeves
  • Packs into its own back pocket & has attachments that strap on to the seat post
  • Cross Shoulder Vents and mesh back panel on gilet
  • Waterproof full-length front zipper with garage
  • Welded waterproof regular back pocket and Napoleon front pocket
  • Elastic wrist cuffs with Velcro closure
  • Lower back loop for lights to clip onto
  • 360 degrees of reflectivity for safety
  • Form Fit
  • Supreme Wind & Water Protection
  • Breathability: W/R; MVP: 15,000g/m2/D;
  • Waterproof: 15,000mmH2O
  • Weight: Avg. 14 ounces depending on size
  • Colors: Black, Hi-viz Yellow
  • Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL

Nokomis Pants Specs:

  • Visit the O2 Nokomis Pants website
  • MSRP $89.95
  • 100% Brushed 2.5Layer Rip-Stop Nylon
  • Waterproof, Breathable, Lightweight
  • Waterproof, fully taped internal seams
  • Elastic waist with draw chord
  • Elastic ankle cuffs with zipper
  • Reflective logos on front thigh and back calf
  • Supreme Wind & Water Protection
  • Breathability: W/R; MVP: 15,000g/m2/D;
  • Waterproof: 15,000mmH2O
  • Weight: Avg. 10 ounces depending on size
  • Colors: Black
  • Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL

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