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Assos Equipe RS Rain Waterproof Shell Jacket

19 Feb 2018
Verdict:

A technical, stylish and packable water and wind-resistant jacket from Assos, but it comes with a hefty price tag

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£255
For 
Visible, breathable water-resistant and comfortable
Against 
Two-way zip system seems superfluous, rather pricey

Buy the Assos Equipe RS Rain Shell jacket from Wiggle here 

Rain shells were once little more than the name implied, a thin barrier against a downpour without a hint of breathability. These days, though, lightweight packable jackets can be strikingly effective at diverting a deluge, and the the Assos Equipe RS Rain Jacket is the latest to take on the market.

Technology like GoreTex ShakeDry fabric have given way to a range of thin and light jackets that have impressive breathability and miraculous water-resistance –  the Castelli Idro, 7Mesh Oro and Gore ShakeDry One have all made a waterproof garment much more portable and tolerable.

Assos consider the SturmPrinz to remain toward the fully waterproof side (no jacket, of course, is truly waterproof) of the brand’s arsenal, and the type of garment that can just about be wedged into a rear pocket, but really not a packable option. The Equipe RS is a more portable water-repellent offering.

The Equipe RS was initially named the Schlosshund, and in some territories appears to retain that name. I’m glad that here in the UK the name has been simplified, which seems to be part of an effort from the company to make product names sound less like wifi passwords.

While the Equipe RS uses no patented GoreTex type fabric, it instead has its own Schloss Tex fabric that contains a hydrophilic membrane. In essence this performs exactly the same job as a GoreTex membrane would, of keeping out water molecules while releasing air and water vapour for breathability.

The Equipe RS also uses a DWR spray treatment to bead water on the exterior and further repel water.

The real sell of the Equipe compared to the previous arsenal on offer from Assos is that it is light, packable, and yet also fully capable of keeping a rider warm and dry in severe weather conditions.

Comfort

First and foremost, when wearing the Equipe there is a huge improvement in comfort compared to normal waterproof jackets. Essentially that’s down to the fabric’s engineered stretch.

At the same time, though, I did find minor quibbles with the cut of the jacket. Mainly the bottom of the jacket’s front cuts a little high – a typical feature for Assos’s sizing on a body of my length.

 

That is slightly worsened by the dual-zip system. I don’t see a massive need for the second zip. As the zip pull doesn’t have a locking mechanism, it did on one ride begin to float upward from the bottom of the jacket – leaving my navel a little exposed to road spray. 

The two-way zip does have one benefit when trying to gain access to the rear pockets – although Assos does shout about its pocket-cum-ventilation slots at the rear which allow access to pockets. So with that in mind, I’d personally prefer a single zip system.

Despite the minimal seams, the freedom of movement was such that I often completely forgot I was wearing the Equipe. So too does the breathability mean that the jacket can be worn during hard flatout efforts without becoming a boil-in-the-bag ordeal.

The final perk in terms of comfort, though not of the physical type, is that the Equipe doesn’t make noise. It does away with the rustling that we normally expect of the rigid fabric panels of waterproof jacket.

Waterproof

With the engineered stretch offered by the fabric, I expected the Equipe jacket to let through substantially more water than the SturmPrinz. I was really very surprised to discover it didn’t.

During severe downpours the Equipe held strong. The basic fabric itself holds off rainwater completely, it seems. It’s the seams and waterproofing behind the zip that really add to the effect, though. 

As any fan of waterproof materials will know, the fabric only plays one part in repelling water, and Assos has done a nice job of taping the seams, waterproofing the zip, and carefully designing elastic panels on the collar and sleeves to grip the extremities without being uncomfortable or letting in water.

What makes all that tech more impressive is that it all fits within the confines of a highly packable jacket. The Equipe RS fits easily within even a relatively tight rear pocket.

It isn’t quite as compressible as the Gore ShakeDry, which neatly tucked down into the jacket’s own invertible rear-zip pocket. The Equipe RS could probably benefit from such a inverse pouch to cut down the volume of the folded jacket. As things stand though, it’s certainly perfectly packable.

Visibility

Reviewing the Gore ShakeDry, my main complaint was that black jackets don’t suit rainy and poor weather conditions. The Equipe, by contrast, is extremely visible, glaringly so in fact.

I’ve always been a fan of fluoro red-orange over yellow, as it seems to offer a naturally more stylish hue compared to looking as though you’re mid-shift working on a railway track. That stylish and racey look is, for me, a big advantage over the rivals on the market.

Whether that warrants the premium in price (around £50 in RRP and more like £100 in realistic purchase price) over waterproof jackets on the market with Gore’s shakedry technology will be for the customer to decide. Undoubtedly this is pricey, but high-tech waterproof kit often is and for Assos the price does show more than usual value for money. 

The Equipe RS is one of those few garments that could serve very well as a permanent companion. Indeed I have been saved from severe weather shifts by the SturmPrinz and gore ShakeDry over the last few years, when a sunny day turned to sideways rain or when a warm climb turned to a damp and windy descent. 

For me, the Equipe RS could well usurp them both for that spot in my rear pocket.

Buy the Assos Equipe RS Rain jacket from Wiggle

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