Sunday, April 1, 2012

2 Raincoats: Nau Succinct Trench and Lululemon Ride On Rain Jacket

It's been raining here all week, so the timing seems right to review some raincoats. For three years now I've been looking for a lightweight, waterproof, breathable raincoat that works well on a city bike, but found nothing. Now I've suddenly come across two. On the left is the Succinct Trench by Nau, purchased by me a few months ago via a discount website. On the right is the Ride On Rain Jacket by Lululemon, sent to me for review by the manufacturer. Both raincoats fit my requirements well.

Lululemon Ride On Rain Jacket
The Lululemon "Ride On" Rain Jacket is a rather avant-garde looking raincoat that hits a few inches above the knees in the front and an inch or so below the back of the knees in the rear. It has the same Edwardian theme as the blazer reviewed earlier, but here it is consistent and harmonious throughout the garment. The jacket is very thin and feels suitable for temperatures in the mid 40°s - mid 70°s Fahrenheit.

Lululemon Ride On Rain Jacket
The jacket is waterproof and breathable, lined with a soft, thin fabric throughout. Lululemon uses cryptic proprietary names to describe their fabrics, and the stuff this jacket is made of is called "atmosphere." It is crinkly and easy to scrunch up and stuff into a pannier when not in use. It weighs very little.  An inner drawcord at the waist makes the fit of this jacket adjustable. Overall the fit is pretty loose, but tightening the drawcord gives it a tailored, flattering look. Another drawcord controls the hem.

Lululemon Ride On Rain Jacket
When the hem is let out, it is pretty flowy. Tightening the drawcord offers better protection from the rain.

Lululemon Ride On Rain Jacket
The sleeves are extra long, featuring cuffs with reflective detailing. 

Lululemon Ride On Rain Jacket
There is an inner and an outer zipper, the purpose of which I do not entirely understand. Lululemon calls this a "double zipper." However, neither of them are two-way, and the jacket cannot be unzipped from the bottom. 

Lululemon Ride On Rain Jacket
The front pockets have smallish zippered openings outlined with reflective ribbon They are very roomy inside and are lined with a soft, pleasant fabric. There is also an inner pocket.

Lululemon Ride On Rain Jacket
The collar zips up high and can be used in leu of a scarf. The hood is large enough to fit over a bicycle helmet, of so desired. It is is adjustable via a drawstring, but is not detachable.

Lululemon Ride On Rain Jacket
The Lululemon "Ride On" Rain Jacket works well for cycling because it is lightweight, waterproof, breathable, stretchy, makes minimal rustling noise, has longer than standard sleeves, and provides good rain coverage via a combination of its length and drawcord hem. At the same time it is sufficiently elegant to wear as part of an everyday, non-technical wardrobe. As far as criticisms: I found the fit of the hood to be less than optimal, with a slight tendency to obscure my peripheral vision unless I move it out of the way or push it back a bit. Hi-viz lovers might be disappointed by the subtlety of the reflective details, but this jacket is also available in orange (and black). The $298 price tag may or may not be a deal breaker, depending on what you are used to. And of course the flowing, Edwardian style is not everyone's cup of tea. Would I have bought this jacket for myself? Not at full retail price, but yes if it went on sale and if I did not already own the Nau trench (see below). After this review I will be giving it away locally. You can read another review of this jacket by Dottie on Let's Go Ride a Bike.

Nau Succinct Trench
The Nau Succinct Trench resembles a classic Barbour-style English field coat. It hits mid-thigh and is gently tailored at the waist. Made of an ultra-thin shell material, it is waterproof, breathable and lightweight, suitable for temperatures in the mid 40°s - mid 70°s Fahrenheit. The fabric is described as "recycled polyester."

Nau Succinct Trench
The jacket shown here is the 2011 model and the colour of the current model is a little different: The latter has black buttons instead of silver and a very subtle black-on-black plaid pattern. In all other ways they are the same (I asked the manufacturer).

Nau Succinct Trench
The Nau trench is simple, compact and decidedly utilitarian in design. Those who do not like to fuss with drawcords and adjust things back and forth, will enjoy its intuitive versatility. 

Nau Succinct Trench
The two-way zipper and rear vent make it easy to adjust the width of the hem for pedaling, walking, and other activities . 

Nau Succinct Trench
The roomy, covered pockets feature both zip and snap closure, allowing both easy access of weather-proofing.

Nau Succinct Trench
The stand-up collar can be buttoned up to protect the neck from rain and wind, or let out.

Nau Succinct Trench
The waist is adjustable. 

Nau Succinct Trench
Only the upper 3rd of the trench is lined, reducing weight and bulk.

Nau Succinct Trench
The detachable, visored hood features both a zipper, snap closure and a hidden draw-cord, allowing for a number of micro-adjustments for optimal fit.

Nau Succinct Trench
The Nau Succinct Trench works well for cycling because it is lightweight, waterproof, breathable, easy to move in, makes minimal rustling noise, has longer than standard sleeves, and provides coverage of the derriere and upper thighs. A classic design, it is sufficiently elegant to wear as part of an everyday, non-technical wardrobe and is unlikely to go out of style over the next few years. The detachable hood offers extra versatility, and does not obscure peripheral vision. As far as criticisms: Making the trench slightly longer would provide better rain coverage for cyclists. Adding a few reflective elements will be attractive to those who require that their rain jacket be hi-viz. Personally I would love to see this jacket in a classic colour other than black - for instance olive green. The $275 price tag may or may not be a deal breaker, depending on what you are used to. I bought mine for 40% off via a discount retailer at the end of last season, and those who find the retail price too high can always wait, stalk, and do the same.

I find both the Nau Succinct Trench and the Lululemon Ride on Rain Jacket to be flattering, practical, and cycling-appropariate, assuming that you ride an upright bike and are looking for a raincoat that is suitable as everyday clothing. The Lululemon jacket is probably the more stylish of the two considering current trends, but it is also the more likely to look dated a couple of years down the road. For me, that skews things in favour of the Nau trench, but others' preferences may differ. Both raincoats are good examples of cycling-appropriate apparel. By comparison, my older raincoat is considerably bulkier and more constricting on the bike. I am glad to have finally found a replacement.

42 comments:

  1. Okay so what's the discount website? I would go for it at 40% off, but not for 300 bucks sorry! I do like the look of both jackets and your descriptions sound good.

    Nellie

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    1. I bought mine at moosejaw.com but it has since sold out, so I cannot provide a link. There are a few of these sites, including departmentofgoods and backcountry and sierratradingpost and you just sort of have to keep an eye out. Nau also has sales once in a while. They currently have this cold-weather trench on sale, that cycler reviewed earlier.

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  2. Wow, a little out of my price range! I got rid of the car because of the expense and only need rain protection about twenty days out of the year while on the bike. A cheap and ugly cape fits over my more stylish clothes and easily stuffs into panniers when not needed.

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    1. Price is relative. When we started cycling, my husband bought one of those $5 waterproof cycling capes. I believe it started falling apart after the first ride. What a waste of labor and materials.

      I paid good money for my previous trench coat, and I've had it since 2003. Still intact, just isn't ideal for cycling. By the looks of it, the Nau trench is equally durable, though time will tell.

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    2. You're right...My cape was purchased around 1995 and was about forty dollars. Still works even if it's unfashionable.

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    3. The 1995 detail adds a new dimension to it. It is near impossible to find anything well made in that price range today, fashionable or not.

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  3. I continue to really like my Nau "shroud of Purim" trench. I do wish it were lighter though, so I could wear it year round. The longer length keeps me covered to the knees, which is really handy, as often that's where my skirt stops, so the only part of me that could get damp is my tights, which dry quickly. It's just too warm for year round use though.

    In my dream world it would have a zip out lining so it could be used year round, and would have some kind of nicely integrated reflectivity- piping along the back seam for example.

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    1. Could not decide between the Shroud and the Succinct trench and was waiting for this review. I agree that the trench would look great in a dark green or olive. Maybe they'll read this and offer it next year :) I also really like the Lululemon jacket. Which would you say is lighter and more breathable?

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    2. They feel equally breathable to me. Pretty sure the Nau trench is a bit lighter, just by virtue of there being less fabric.

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  4. I'm a rain cape guy, but Gina is not too pleased with her current cape (one of those cheap ones). I think she'd like the style of the Nau, but what about the thighs? Do you have to wear rain pants? Bearing in mind that when it does rain in CA it tends to rain pretty hard, and Gina likes wearing pants tucked into Wellies in winter.

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    1. I've learned that I am just not a rain cape person, whether high end or low end. I get tangled in them, they make me nervous. Also I prefer something more versatile for off the bike.

      I don't know what it is about me, but my legs do not usually get all that wet in the rain if my coat covers at least my upper thighs. Maybe it billows out as I lean forward a bit, frankly I don't know. But 3 years of daily cycling now and I've just never felt it was a problem.

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  5. I like that black jacket a lot! I am ready to max out my credit card on good quality cycling clothes like this with the first company to make them in genuine plus sizes. If you are a fat lady cyclist, you can buy some uninspired lycra jerseys and shorts from Team Estrogen and that's about it. There are a lot more of us out here than you think, and so if any cycling clothes manufacturers are listening, please consider it.

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    1. Agree (1)

      Anne in Geneva, IL

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  6. It did look to me that both hoods wood have peripheral vision problems. I cringe whenever I see someone cycling with a hood. Safety should be number your first concern.

    They both looked quite fashionable, but the black one appeared to have better details.

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    1. But you wouldn't wear the hoods as shown while cycling; you would cinch them around your face using the drawcords. The Lululemon one interferes with my peripheral vision a wee bit even when cinched (unless I push it back on my head, or tuck the edges behind my ears), while the Nau hood does not.

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  7. oh my goodness! i would buy that Lululemon Ride on Rain Jacket right this second if it came in a larger size. pickles!

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  8. I love the diptychs you've been posting! What program are you using?

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    1. I think the one I used in this post is actually called Diptych. But I've also used Frametastic and a couple of others.

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    2. I had to look up diptych, which I originally parsed as dipstick. Damned lysdexia.
      That said, it seems to me that the two reviews are sort of like a textual diptych, if you leave out the pictures, not to suggest that dem pix ain't an integral part of the presentation. Yet while I might call the visual content whimsical, I would definitely call the texts arch. Texts L and N are almost the same, except when they aren't. I can't tell if this means that the garments are almost fungible, or you were trying to come up with an inclusive and neutral template, or if you were Using layers to emphasize what differences there were or you were jjust in a hurry or if I'm doing an Oakland and seeing stuff that isn't there.

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    3. Wow. I don't know, but will try to search deep within my psyche for the answer...

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  9. Jennifer in ScotlandApril 2, 2012 at 2:03 PM

    I have been tempted to buy the rain coat by UK brand called 'Water Off a Duck's Back'. I've heard great things about their trench and I love the classic styling. It would be lovely with my Pashley! The thing that puts me off is that it looks like it would swamp me length-wise and I would almost certainly have to roll up the arms, thus defeating the purpose of the reflective cuffs. I might have to reassess the situation as we get towards Autumn though as I really like it. If anyone's tried it, I'd be interested to hear what you think.

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    1. A pity those only come in black! I have also been looking at the Cambridge Raincoat Company. Has anyone bought from them?

      Ashleigh

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    2. Jennifer in ScotlandApril 2, 2012 at 6:36 PM

      The Cambridge Raincoat Company coats look lovely, especially the contrasting polka dot lining. That's my kind of coat. Shame it would probably come down to my ankles (unless their model is very small, which seems unlikely).

      The Water of a Duck's Back coat comes in a colour called 'stone' too. It's the colour I would get.

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    3. I tried to buy a Cambridge Raincoat a year ago. I believe they cost considerably less back then, maybe an introductory sale. I ordered a coat, but they were having supply problems and eventually my payment was refunded. It looks like they've since resolved whatever issue they were having. The coats do look nice.

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    4. I have the 'Water Off a Duck's Back' coat. I havered over whether to buy it or not for ages too, as for someone on my income it was a huge amount of money and there was no opportunity to try it on before buying. To be honest I was quite disappointed when I got it, as though the length was fine, it seemed huge(I'm 5'6" and wear a British size 8/10). I also find that it flaps open a fair amount in the wind, even with the bottom stopper closed. Although the outer fabric is marketed as breathable, I'm pretty sure the lining isn't, which sort of defeats the point. I emailed the manufacturer and said I wanted to return it, and she told me to just send it back in the original condition and I would get a full refund. In the end I just decided to keep it - imperfect though it is, it does keep me dry and is still better than anything else I've seen (I can't justify the expense of a Cambridge coat). The stone version is currently on sale from Evans Cycles...http://www.evanscycles.com/products/water-off-a-ducks-back/cycle-macintosh-ec028306?query=water%20off%20a%20ducks%20back

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    5. Jennifer in ScotlandApril 6, 2012 at 3:54 PM

      That's really useful feedback. Thanks!

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    6. I bought a raincoat for myself and my husband from Water off a ducks back and they did not fit so I returned them ... but that was the very last thing I heard. They do not return your money or phone calls or emails. I have even got my sister in the UK to contact them with the same result. DO NOT TRUST these guys, I am about 400 UK pounds poorer now and seriously put off buying on the internet.

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    7. I also returned a jacket to Water off a Duck's Back. It was poor quality and did not fit. Despite an email acknowledging my return, five weeks later I'm still waiting for the money (£155) to be refunded. Repeated emails and phone calls to MD Antonia Maybury and her assistant Sarah have been ignored. My bank is now pursuing this to try and reclaim the money. I agree with the poster above - do not trust this company.

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    8. I had a similiar experience with Water Off a Duck's Back. I returned the coat because the bottom part was voluminous and it blew open if it was windy or I was going even a little fast (there is a snap, but that still didn't seem to hold the bottom of the coat together). When I sent it back, it got stuck in customs. I contacted the company several times (through email and phone calls) asking them to verify for the UK Post that the garment originated in the UK. Almost all of my contacts went unanswered. After several weeks, I called the UK post and asked them to send the coat back to me. In the end, I donated it, but not before removing the reflective material. I plan to have it sewn onto another regular trench coat I found that works on the bike. Because of the price and the poor customer service, I would caution anyone about ordering from this company.

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    9. I wouldn’t touch Water Off A Ducks Back with a bargepole. Two months waiting for a mac that never came and two weeks after cancelling, still waiting for my money (£140) to be refunded. I don’t think I’m going to see it again. Absolutely appalling. And I live in the UK.

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  10. Great meeting you at the RSC Rando event. I can't wait to see the pictures. The ride I led on Sunday was about 13.5 mph, but I will probably slow it down even more in the coming weeks as it was a bit hard to keep the group together. I will not be leading this weekend, as I have other plans, but will likely be leading on 4/15. Great site and I look forward to the pictures from this weekend,

    Jason

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    1. It was good to meet you too Jason, and I lost your card of course.

      13.5mph? Damn, I should have gone!! I will be posting about the event tonight, hopefully.

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  11. I thought that the string of photos in this entry was really neat, except for the one above "The collar zips up . . . ", which was a clear ripoff of Congressman Rush. If I'm wrong and it was an homage, please Accept my apologies.

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  12. i don't understand the need for cycling specific trench coats for commuting. i just add reflective tape to the back of my regular trenches and wallah!

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    1. Some regular trench coats constrict movement, and the sleeves are not long enough. It depends on what kind of coat you have of course.

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  13. Somewhat OT but don't expect there's a better spot to mention it.

    Recently discovered the Hermes scarf in the "Les Becanes" pattern. I got my sweetie one at the thrift (not thrift priced) but it would seem they are always on ebay & ebay.fr. Many colors available and even though they were printed in 1957 and 1973 most are sold new and unworn. Look at completed listings for real prices, the high asking prices are not serious.

    Just a lovely bikey thing.

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  14. Thanks for this post!

    A friend in Seattle started her own company after facing the challenges of biking in the rain so often. She won the Daily Candy's Start Small, Go Big contest last year. The company's called "Iva Jean."

    She makes a rain coat that covers your hands and your legs while on the bike, and it's stylish and lovely. Designed by women on bikes for women on bikes. How much better does it get than that?

    Check it out. http://ivajean.com/

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    1. I reviewed the Iva Jean Cape here earlier. It is very nice indeed, but I am just not a cape person.

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  15. Just a plug for the quality of Nau's stuff: I've had a Nau "Urbane" jacket for almost 3 years and it looks brand new. However they make that recycled poly shell, it's amazing: it just doesn't seem to show wear.

    It's not specifically sold as a cycling jacket, but the Urbane has a subtle tail like a motorcycle jacket and the sleeves are a bit long, so it works well in that role. The stand-up collar is not snug to the neck, but that's good: in cold weather there's just room to wear a lightweight scarf, or a fleece vest that zips up to under the chin, and still button up the stand-up collar.

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  16. Take a look at Cleverhood.com. I just saw their solution at the New Amsterdam bike show and I think its quite innovative (not to mention unisex).

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  17. I have the Patagonia rain shadow trench it looks similar to the Nau succinct but is simpler in design, though still tapered at the waist and is quite a bit longer. I use it on my bike all the time, the hood has 2 bungees for fine adjustment and stands up well to a headwind, and sits snugly on the head so that looking over your shoulder doesn't mean looking at the inside of the hood. I can't fault its waterproofness but though it says its breathable, it isn't 100% - does that actually exist? All in all I'm super happy with it.

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