TESTED: Louis Garneau Wind Dry F2 Jacket

WHAT: Louis Garneau WindDry F2 Jacket
WHERE: www.louisgarneau.com
HOW MUCH: $199.99

It's been a long, cold and wet winter. In fact, this spring has been one long, cold and wet winter. 55 inches of rain to date and summer isn't exactly promising balmy weather, blue skies and the like. Thus, I'm still rocking this neon green, piece of French Canadian cold weather fashion. Here's the basics: this jacket is one of the warmest, most functional jackets on the market (and, yes, it comes in more sedate colors, if you are so inclined).

Louis Garneau claims that the WindDry F2 is windproof, waterproof, stretchable and breatheable. After a few months of daily use, I can say the jacket delivers on at least 3 of those four claims.

Yes, the jacket is windproof. I routinely wear nothing but a lightweight, short sleeve jersey beneath this jacket and am as snug as the proverbial bug in the rug on even the coldest days. In fact, if I had to make one caution to prospective buyers it would be that they better reserve this coat for really cold weather—I found the WindDry F2 actually too warm on any day when the mercury raised its beady red head above the 50- degree mark. The whole wind-proof feature comes courtesy of an inner weather flap that prevents cold air from seeping through the front zipper (a very smart feature) and a 3-ply polyester, polyurethane-coated finish.

Yes, the jacket is waterproof. Water rolls off the jacket like water off a duck.

Yes, it stretches. This isn't one of those cumbersome, suit-of-armor type garments. The coat stretches and molds to your shape well. It also features silicone gripper material around the cuffs and waist that keep everything in place (the jacket never rides up your back, even after hours of hunching in the drops).

Breathable….Now, that's where I'm not so willing to agree with the folks at Garneau. The jacket does breathe a whole lot better than your average rain slicker. It also has several zippered, mechanical vents that allow you to let out a little heat (a good thing), but no, this jacket doesn't breathe as well as many of the latest soft-shell style garments. Long climbs in this jacket made me feel like a lobster two minutes away from the dinner plate. Fortunately, you can unzipper and detach the sleeves whenever the ride gets unexpectedly warm. I found the tiny zippers a bit tough to manage when my hands were numb, but the sleeves do come off in a snap, and can be stowed easily in a hydration pack.

The jacket has three large pockets in the back, which are large enough to accommodate powerbars, small bananas and the like. It also features two small front pockets, reflective piping and logo (something commuters will appreciate), and a full complement of sizes (from extra small to extra-extra large).

More fashion conscious types will be relieved to know that this jacket is also available in black with red highlights and dark blue with black highlights. While I recognize neon green to be one of the worst evils to have walked the face of the `90s, I appreciated its glare on my daily commutes. In my book, it's better to be seen and sneered at than to blend in and get pasted by someone in a mini van.

Would I recommend the jacket? I'd strongly recommend the WindDry F2 to anyone living in a truly cold region of the country. I'd have killed for this sucker when I lived in Buffalo. Yes, at $200, this is one pricey garment. Then again it's an incredibly sturdy jacket that shrugs off the worst cold and wet weather you'll ever dare to ride in. Folks living in Southern California or other parts of the country that consider a frosty morning to be “really cold” (you friggin’ pansies), are probably going to discover that this jacket is a bit overkill for such mild “winter” conditions.