I thought I’d make it through this winter without having to buy a new coat, but when the temperatures plummeted to below 20 degrees, I realized I was in trouble. However, what I needed more than anything was a coat I could also use as a final cycling layer — but no way did I want to end up with specialty clothing just for the coldest of temperatures. It just isn’t usually all that cold where Basil and I ride most frequently.
Plowing through the coat racks at a variety of stores, including REI, didn’t yield anything I thought would fit my requirements. On my way out of REI, though, I passed through the cycling section, which, for the last month, has been stocked with nothing but windbreakers and jerseys, in anticipation of spring. And there it was, looking oddly out of place: a trim, well-cut coat, looking interestingly as if it just might do.
It’s the Novara Edgewater, a water-repellent jacket with cyclist-friendly features, including reflective trim. See the cuff, right, in the photo? When the cuffs are turned back, the jacket just looks like a “normal” coat. Turn them out, and the cuff becomes a serious nighttime visual, as on the left. Ditto for the belt; turn the reflective stripe in, and you’d never guess that the other side shines like a beacon when light hits it. And, yes, that’s a double-vented flap in back — plenty of seat coverage, but lots of room to move, too.
The upper back is open, and mesh lined, for breathability, but this feature also increases mobility significantly. This is a very comfortable jacket to wear.
There’s a hidden (and large!) pocket at the center back, that I found surprisingly easy to use. I’m not much of a fan of branding, but even I was amused by the rear belt carriers: see the “N” for Novara? Nice, and understated (sort of!).
There are two front pockets, one with a media port, which I devoutly hope no cyclist will use. The zippers are “invisible”, meaning that they hide in the seams, giving the jacket a slim profile, even though the pockets themselves are generously sized.
Since the pockets are bagged, there are effectively two more pockets on the inside of the coat. Though they are open, they are deep enough that it’s unlikely that most items would fall out inadvertently, unless you were doing some serious coat-tossing. This colorway is called “Black/Radish” in deference to the unusual (and rather attractive) interior color.
The collar is pure genius. Unlike the way most coats are constructed, the zipper comes only to the collar seam, meaning that there is no zipper bulk against the neck or chin. Instead, the coat front is cut asymmetrically, which allows the collar to overlap to cover the throat area. As you move, the collar adapts without restriction, ensuring that the neck is covered at all times. I’ve folded the collar down in the photo above, to show the top of the zipper, and the generous overlap.
The inner facing is cut generously, too, so that there is no struggling with a skinny zipper flap, and the chest area, too, is amply protected against the elements. The entire coat is faced with a napped, slightly textured, lining, that, amusingly, really does evoke a bit of a radish aesthetic. Assuming there is such a thing.
This is by no means a winter jacket. Though the tags say it’s windproof to 60 MPH, and it is well-lined, it is not insulated to the extent that one expects in a winter coat. However, when I wore it out for the first time on a 21 degree day, layering my winter cycling apparel beneath (six layers!), I was very comfortable. I have not yet cycled while wearing it, but it is so easy to move while wearing this coat that I am confident that it will become a valuable part of my cycling gear through the cool seasons.
Normally, I will not buy cycling apparel that isn’t high-visibility. In this case, I will wear a hi-vis vest over this jacket, as its reflective qualities aren’t useful in the daytime, when I generally ride. In addition, I will probably make hi-vis sleeve covers, too, to ensure that my signaling arms are readily seen in daylight.
This purchase, though, seemed like a good choice because the coat will fill multiple roles. Fashionistas, and those who wish to preserve the illusion of riding in street wear, can enjoy the beautiful style and cut of this jacket while benefiting from its very functional attributes. Cyclists who care most about function will find nothing wanting here, either, and gain the added benefit of a comfortable, practical coat that can be worn whether cycling or not. Leave your cycle at home, and no one will guess that this is a sport-specific design.
A woman who was trying this jacket on at the same time I was said to her companion “This would make a great travel jacket”. She’s absolutely right, and I suspect it will become my go-to adventure coat. At nearly half the price of similar jackets, it’s a genuine deal for travel or for cycling.