ION Products Shell Jacket Vario 2016 Mountain Bike Review

ION Products Shell Jacket Vario 2016

Reviews / Jackets

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At A Glance

The Vario promises to be everything you need from a winter riding jacket. As a full waterproof jacket it has taped seams, waterproof zips, plenty of draw cord adjustments and a hood that actually fits over a helmet. Vents are positioned on the back of the arms and two pockets, again with waterproof zips give space for stashing beer money and even feature a special goggle/glasses cleaning cloth. The material has a slight two way stretch which stops the jacket feeling stiff and adds to the overall comfort and fit. There is plenty of adjustment at the cuffs, hem and hood to allow for a snug fit and even some reflective detail to help be seen in the dark.

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On The Trail

The fit is comfortable thanks to the 2-way stretch in the fabric, which feels soft compared to other waterproof fabrics and doesn't feel like you are wearing a noisy plastic bag. The overall sizing is perhaps a little generous around the body, but this allows for full freedom of movement without the jacket riding up at the back. The sleeves are plenty long enough and overlap with gloves easily and neat Velcro closures keep everything tidy around the wrists. The hood is huge, and allows helmets to be worn easily without issue and the three draw cords keep it neat so the hood doesn't block vision. Recently, in my part of the world it has rarely stopped raining, which has given a perfect opportunity to put the Vario though it's paces, and as such, has been used for nearly every ride and has seen some serious rainfall. I can confirm that it definitely keeps the water out in all but the worst conditions, at which point water will always find a way in no matter what you're wearing! Even in torrential rain and gales, it did a great job of fending off the worst of the weather. The hood has been one of the best features of this jacket, allowing unrestricted riding whilst keeping hidden from the rain. It's really great to see a useable hood on a mountain bike jacket, all too often they are just too small to be useful. On the downside, when not in use it has nowhere to be stashed and can end up blowing around irritatingly in the wind.
With its lightweight, the jacket packs down small and makes it an easy decision to take it with you whatever the weather, safe in the knowledge you have somewhere to hide if it rains. The glasses cleaner pocket never really got a look-in as my rides have been too filthy and the cute little cloth just got damp and dirty once I opened the zip. The vents on the back of the arms are an interesting touch, but underarm vents would be a better choice for keeping the water out if you want to get some air circulating whilst it's raining. It has been washed repeatedly either by hose, jet-wash or machine and keeps coming up great every time with no mud stains or fading.

Overall

This is one of the best mountain bike specific waterproofs I have used, and actually lives up to its claims and keeps you dry. The fit may be a little generous, but with the great hood and smart features it combines to make an excellent jacket and its durability and styling just add to an already great package.

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By Ewen Turner
Ewen Turner is a self-confessed bike geek from Kendal in the Lake District of England. He runs a coaching and guiding business up there and has a plethora of knowledge about bikes with an analytical approach to testing. His passion for bicycles is infectious, and he’s a ripper on the trails who prefers to fit his working life around his time on the bike.

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