Sunday, December 20, 2015

Bontrager Lithos Stormshell Jacket

Just standing around in the rain. Nuthin' unusual!
A while back I told ya all that I picked up a Bontrager Lithos Stormshell Jacket and that my initial impressions were good. Well, after using it everyday since, here are my further impressions on this technical outer shell.

Visibility: First off, I got the "Firebrand" color which is pretty close to DOT Orange/Hunter Orange for those who need reference. I have been told by other cyclists that have seen me with it on during riding that I was immediately noticeable from a far distance. I have also noted that I have been getting a wider berth from motorists of late. So, if you are buying this jacket and want high visibility too, I feel this jacket delivers on that.

Rain-Proof: Now, I haven't been in a deluge with this jacket yet, but I have been in a few drizzles and one decent shower with this jacket. There was no question at all that it was keeping me dry. The hood is generous and nicely covered my Bell Super helmet, as seen in the image here, so you can keep your head dry. The draw strings on the hood really help to seal out the weather, by the way.

Breathability: The ever famous last words for any rain gear- breathable! Well, I can say that the Lithos isn't the most breathable jacket ever, but for a rainproof one, I have never been in a more comfortable jacket in terms of not getting overheated. That said, I haven't ridden in anything over 50°F, so Summer or Spring warm showery weather still may not fit this jacket's range of use, but then again, I don't think this strikes me as anything but a cooler weather jacket. You'll have to decide when/where you'll use it and make your decision based on that. All I can say is that in cooler weather it works really well in terms of keeping the perspiration at bay.

Deer hunter? Nope. FATBIKER!
Venting: A separate word on venting. In my initial impressions I stated that I wished this jacket had pit-zips. Yep.......still do. It would really make the jacket climate easier to manage, but give that two way zipper a workout and you can still do a decent job keeping your temperature in the zone where you won't sweat out. Wearing a hydration pack kind of makes things worse, what with something laying right on your back, which cuts off the air circulation. The chest vents work and I would add in that the pockets are really two more vents which happen to hold stuff. I've decided they aren't robust enough to be "real" pockets and will treat them in that manner.

Windproof: The jacket is excellent as a cold weather wind shell. This week our temperatures dumped and winds were pretty stiff, which tested this jacket out well. I found that I could keep warm with everything zipped up and use the pockets, chest vents, and two way zipper to manage temperature during cooler weather rides really well. Without a helmet on, it is tough to work around how enormous that hood is. You just cannot draw it down tight enough without it blinding your peripheral vision.

Fit: Finally, I want to add my two cents on the fit. I can use this jacket with layers and it isn't tight or restrictive. The arms are plenty long, even in a stretched out, cycling position for my 35" wingspan. I have the XL sized jacket, and it has a length that seems just right for me. Not too far down the butt to cause issues and it doesn't crawl up my backside when pedaling. I'm pretty happy with the, what I would term as, the semi-loose fit. Make no mistake- this ain't no skin suit! You will have a bit of flapping in the wind in the arms and lower torso at times. I'm okay with that. 

Impressions Overall: This is a spendy jacket designed for mountain biking. It was meant for folks who carry stuff in their hydration pack more so than in their jacket. I am a bit disappointed then that there are few good places to stuff things and that the two huge slash pockets aren't really anything more than two more venting options. Or.....maybe I am glad that they are two more venting options. There are no pit-zips, so those faux-pockets that are really vents are a good thing then.

Otherwise this is a great jacket so far. If it lasts longer than six months performing at the level it has so far I would be mildly satisfied. But for $300.00 retail, (I did pay less because I got the shop deal), you'd hope that the jacket had the weather-proof capabilities, the breathability it has, and some creature features. Like pockets and pit-zips. But I'm good with it so far. More on this Lithos jacket in a few months.......


Steve Fuller said...

The rain jacket I bought last year had pit zips in it and they were one of the most wonderful things about that piece of clothing. I have a cheaper windshell I bought that has them too. They MIGHT make the jacket a touch less rainproof, but their versatility more than makes up for it.

Guitar Ted said...

@Steve Fuller: Yeah, I think it was a serious flaw in the design process for this jacket to leave them out. Other than the faux pockets, (which aren't THAT big of a deal), this is my main beef with this jacket. I've no doubt I could wear it in warmer weather had they included those, and it would have made temperature control in the arm area much easier to manage.

That said, in all of my perusing of rain gear, almost every offering was deficient in some way unless you spent $400.00+, which for me is just too expensive considering the time I would use such garments.