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REVIEW

Giro Chrono Pro Neoshell Rain (& No-Rain) Jacket

Words Andrew Major
Photos As Noted
Date Dec 10, 2020
Reading time

4-Way Stretch

It's somewhere around 4°c and absolutely torrential, even under a heavy forest canopy. I slowly reach my right hand across my chest, grab a fistful of my left sleeve, and twist assertively. A surge of water bombs out and is visible through the sheet of rain all the way to the rock-armoured ground where it rebounds back with a notable sploosh. I repeat with my other arm, sploosh. My riding companion, aged six, looks over at me incredulously and says: "that rain jacket is not very good for rain is it?"

Argh! I've been sitting on my hands for weeks when it comes to writing this review of the Giro Chrono Pro Neoshell. You see, it's my favourite rain jacket of all time but if I can't defend it to a kid who's witnessed me wringing out the sleeves on more than one occasion how am I going to explain it to the critical collective of NSMB.com readers? The silent, 4-way flexibility! The general wearability! The Polartec Neoshell breathability! The tight roadie fit? Oh, wait a second...

I had two challenges in presenting this piece. Firstly, it's not the answer for the crowd that wants a jacket to be waterproof like GoreTex Pro, breathe like a fishnet tank top, and feel comfortable like an old hoody. There is no jacket that will satisfy that crowd. And for the record, this is also not it. It does a pretty good job of fending off wind and rain while at the same time being as comfortable, and breathable, as any softshell I've worn.

Second, the Chrono Pro Neoshell is only currently available in a fairly tight roadie cut and, as with fishnet tank tops, I'm the last person in the NSMB.com stable who needs to be photographed wearing a sausage casing - see Survival Of The Fattest. That's not to say the Chrono is uncomfortable. That's not to say I don't happily wear it all the time. It's just a bit on the tight side - in a size large - when my lunch muscle is in Deniz's camera sights.

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The Chrono is super comfortable but the tight roadie cut isn't my favourite. I'd still buy the piece every day but a little looser mountain bike cut would rock. Photo: Deniz

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Excellent reflective details for those that will also use it to commute. The stretchy fix works very well in terms or getting the bike rolling. Photo: Deniz

In many locales, the Chrono has the potential to be your true two-in-one jacket. On the North Shore, for mountain biking, we only get so many days that are cold enough - but also dry enough - to warrant a proper softshell jacket for riding. On the road, that's a whole different matter and frankly, if you're sharing kit between road and mountain applications this is an easy, easy choice.

The Polartec NeoShell membrane is the most breathable I've used. As I've noted many times in past reviews of other garments, NeoShell is nowhere near as waterproof as GoreTex with the tradeoff being significantly increased breathability. Polartec claims it's the "world's most breathable waterproof fabric technology:"


For years the outerwear industry has prioritized excessively high waterproof ratings that sacrifice the breathable performance needed during physical activity. Neoshell® provides the strength and durability of a weather protective fabric, while still allowing dynamic air exchange and comfortable full range of motion.

""

I really like the term 'weather protective.' The 7Mesh Guardian is, for example, much closer to being truly weatherproof - while being fairly quiet and breathable at the same time - but as flexible as it is, it doesn't come close to the softshell feel of the Chrono. The Chrono Pro, on the other hand, is significantly less weatherproof on a long and relentlessly torrential ride in the rain. The sleeves get inundated fairly quickly, where the core seems to hold out much longer. That softshell feel is exactly what every brand should be going for, frankly. It's literally like wearing any nice softshell jacket in terms of that second-skin stretch and feel but adds the NeoShell membrane and seam taping to make for a weatherproof product.

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It does get too hot for the Chrono Pro. No doubt. But it is also rideable - climbable! - in many situations where I'd overheat otherwise. Photo: Deniz

Maybe the price of living in Hollywood North has massively skewed my sense of value, but 300 USD actually seems borderline reasonable for high-performance weatherproof-breathable outerwear. The fact that it's a unique piece only adds to the value in my mind.

It's 100 USD more than the Race Face Conspiracy jacket which I consider a value leader amongst rideable rainwear. My Conspiracy is absolutely sh*t-kicked but still totally rideable. The underarm gills make it quite pleasant for a jacket that's not manufactured from a high-end membrane. It's pleasantly stretchy. But, the Conspiracy - though I use it regularly due to where we live - is still a rain jacket in every sense. I take it off as soon as the droplets give way to just being atmosphere and I'd sooner just wear my GoreTex vest if it's only a risk of showers.

I think the Conspiracy hits the sweet spot in fit, flexibility, weatherproofing, breathability, wearability, and all without being so much money that crash-ability becomes a big concern. I've even been known to wear it trail building. But, it's still a put-it-on-when-it-rains jacket and that's where the Chrono Pro Neoshell eats its lunch for an extra c-note. Especially for the rider who doesn't have the storage capacity to strap the Conspiracy to their hip pack or backpack mid-ride when the taps turn off.

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It's the most comfortable rain jacket I've worn when it comes to busting out the body-English. Photo: JacVenture

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I haven't had a really hard crash in the Chrono Pro NeoShell, but the softshell material inspires crash-ability a lot more than some of the engineer stuff kids wear. Photo: JacVenture

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I've been wearing the jacket constantly in our recent rains and also when the rain turns out and everyone else demands a coffee break. Photo: JacVenture.

It will take a few years of hard use and regular washing to comment on the Chrono Pro jacket specifically, but one thing I have noticed with NeoShell jackets in the past - mine and friends - is the membrane itself will not last 'forever' the way a well-maintained GoreTex jacket will. No one said choosing a high-end weatherproof piece for mountain biking is easy! Personally, as someone who runs hot, the ability to just leave the jacket on and ride my bike adds enough value to the purchase that I can accept the jacket's membrane only lasting five years or so and still give it strong marks in the value department.

I have completely wetted out the Chrono Pro NeoShell a couple of times but the body does, for whatever reason, keep up the defense against wind and rain significantly longer than the sleeves. Even once the core is fully saturated, the wind-blocking qualities make it better than any other breathability-focused pieces I've worn. What I'm saying is that if you're a sweaty person - there's a women's cut for the NeoShell Chrono as well - and you want an ultra-comfortable, very breathable, and 'weather protective' rain jacket then I don't think you can beat this one. If you're going to get all whingey about soaking through much, faster than a GoreTex jacket then buy the GoreTex jacket and deal with the fact it's much less breathable.

It's okay if you don't get the Chrono Pro NeoShell jacket. The taped seams and NeoShell membrane make it significantly more weatherproof than a standard softshell with a DWR coating but they give up some breathability versus a product that's more tailored to dry-cold. It ramps up breathability compared to a GoreTex membrane at a cost of being much less waterproof on a truly torrential day.

Buying a rain jacket for mountain biking you have to recognize whether you're someone who's balanced towards breathability or weatherproof-iness. If it's maximum breathability, and max wearability, even on a cold day when the rain turns off, I think this is the winning piece. It's the only jacket I've been wearing for cycling for months, whether it's on my commuter bike to repel the wind, on my mountain bike because it might drizzle later, or out in a wall of rainwater getting a lap, this is the current champ against which I'll gauge other mountain bike jackets.


Giro sells the Chrono Pro NeoShell jacket in men's and women's cuts.

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Comments

danimaniac
+1 Andrew Major
danimaniac  - Dec. 10, 2020, 6:41 a.m.

You might try the Specialized Trail Series Jacket? That's a bit less of a lunch-muscle-hugger and uses the same polartex neoshell stuff.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 10, 2020, 9:41 a.m.

Cheers! I’ll check it out.

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GreyHead
+1 Andrew Major
GreyHead  - Dec. 10, 2020, 8:50 a.m.

Looks very interestingI sweat like a pig at the best of times. Any chance of a link to where one can purchase it here in Vancouver or  Canada? the website it sends you to (https://www.giro.com/p/mens-chrono-pro-neoshell-jacket/350250000800000031.html)  doesn't appear to accept Canadian addresses.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 10, 2020, 9:37 a.m.

Technically any shop in Canada can bring them in but the distributor is out of stock.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 10, 2020, 8:52 p.m.

I tried to follow up for you with a couple of Giro stockists I know and it appears that the Canadian distributor does not currently sell this jacket to shops. It should still be possible to special order. 

It's bizarre. I'd put myself out there as saying this is the single greatest piece of apparel in Giro's entire clothing line. I would have figured that On The Rivet would be stocking size runs of the men's & women's versions for the roadie and groadie crowds.

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andy-eunson
+2 Andrew Major danimaniac
Andy Eunson  - Dec. 10, 2020, 9:01 a.m.

A long time ago a good friend of mine who was a buyer (now retired) at MEC told me that to a certain extent, waterproof breathable fabrics were overkill. They all rely heavily on a DWR coating. If the fabric has a solid DWR, it sheds rain well enough that water doesn’t get in. If a fabric wets out, the most breathable membrane can’t breath. I have two Neoshell jackets. An Acre jacket with a poor DWR and a Sugoi with a fantastic DWR. The Sugoi is still fantastic. Thing is, I’ve rarely seen a DWR coating that is perfect so my friend’s theory is flawed. You still need something to keep out water when the DWR fails or is overwhelmed. 

People often judge waterproof breathable jackets incorrectly. They’ll have the jacket in a pack in case. They are dressed comfortably in a breathable jersey with an undershirt. Starts to rain. Put on the jacket but don’t remove an under layer so now they are sweating profusely and blame the jacket. Be bold, start cold with the jacket on. No waterproof breathable garment breaths like a wool jersey.

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AndrewMajor
+1 Andy Eunson
Andrew Major  - Dec. 10, 2020, 9:41 a.m.

I find with a lot of jackets that I leave cold and then get cold & clammy. That’s the beauty off NeoShell to me and this has been the best NeoShell jacket I’ve used (I did LOVE my Mission until it died). It’s still not as breathable as a jersey but it’s a lot better than most jackets.

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andy-eunson
+1 Andrew Major
Andy Eunson  - Dec. 10, 2020, 1:31 p.m.

Same here. I sweat a lot. I have a Mission Steppe hoodie which is water resistant and sort of wind resistant too. It’s great for Nordic skiing in misty or light rain conditions but even then it gets clammy for me. A bit cool when I go downhill at speed. It’s really good for fall riding though because I don’t as fast off road as I do skiing Nordic trails.

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khai
+2 Andrew Major Andy Eunson
khai  - Dec. 10, 2020, 7:28 p.m.

Interesting... I had a Gore jacket that delaminated so I've replaced it with a 7mesh Skypilot. Lighter and supposedly more breathable than the Revelation (the Guardian being phased out), but has no ventilation - it relies 100% on the fabric. If I don't open the main zipper on the climbs I'll sweat more than the textile can handle - but with a merino base it's better than anything I've ever tried in the past. I think a key problem that we have in the rainforest is that all these membranes rely on a pressure and humidity differential to work properly. When it's just as humid outside as in the jacket, I'm not aware of any fabric that can transfer that moisture. Still, the fit is excellent, the rain shedding of the DWR top notch, and the breathability "pretty darned good". I'd prefer if it had pit zips and/or a vent in the back, and a Napoleon pocket - but other than that it's getting close to perfection.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 10, 2020, 8:57 p.m.

I still wear the Guardian I previously reviewed all the time if I'm leaving how in a downpour and I'll be doing some out-in-the-open pavement work (commuting or riding a solid to the trails). I also wear it ~ every day it rains, that it's clean, for day-to-day living on the Shore. It's a great piece. 

There is no pure mountain bike ride I've been on since the Chrono Pro arrived where I haven't chosen it over the Guardian - and I've never regretted the choice.

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Kenny
0
Kenny  - Dec. 10, 2020, 8:58 p.m.

I had a neoshell mission workshop jacket and it was prone to wet sleeves. Apparently they use Toray now but haven't tried it. 

Nowadays guardian with a thin Merino long sleeve underneath wins. Avoids the clammy factor. On the warmest rainy days the setup is a little much, but very small percentage. 

I agree it's 90% the DWR. Exception being shakedry. Been thinking about trying an arcteryx norvan or 7mesh Oro for days that are both warm and wet.

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khai
+1 Andrew Major
khai  - Dec. 10, 2020, 9 p.m.

That's a hearty recommendation.  Too bad about your comment above that no-one seemingly stocks it?!

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 10, 2020, 9:10 p.m.

Yeah, someone(s) done f'd up there, particularly since Giro won't ship cross-border for online orders. My advice to anyone in Metro Van who's Chrono-Pro-curious is to call/e-mail On The Rivet. In my experience, as a clothing-focussed cycling store, they tend to have the drive to make special order stuff happen. It helps that they sell a lot of Giro soft goods too.

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khai
+1 Andrew Major
khai  - Dec. 10, 2020, 10:22 p.m.

That's probably a great option - I mean, what can't Ed do?!

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neilBar
+1 Andrew Major
neilBar  - Dec. 12, 2020, 3:33 a.m.

Hey Andrew, that’s a tempting jacket you're describing. Strange that they call it 'waterproof' when the sleeves get soaked through, but your recommendation on breathability goes a long way. It can get sweaty in the woods in Goretex, even the Active version. 

Did you get the Giro recommended size? L is stated there as 41'43", whats your chest measuremement dude?. A roadie cut is plainly super snug and that fit looks good on you.

I was wondering about sizing up to give a bit more of an MTB fit and leave room for a thin fleece layer over the merino base too.  I'm about 38-40 so bang on for M which means L might suit.

Have you looked at the Fox version, with vents and hood it seems a bit. more suited to our activities. You fellow NSMB journo A.J. seems to like it a lot - it’s a lot more costly tho! 

Of course, I wonder how much the fabric relies on the inevitably "wash-off" DWR coating, which never seems to be fully replenished by spray on DWR's like Nikwax. 

Thanks man, its that season.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 13, 2020, 8:15 p.m.

I ride in all conditions so I haven't met a jacket that's actually usable for riding that didn't wet out eventually - including my much more weatherproof Guardian. 

I also should have noted that I always find that sleeves wet out faster than the core. It could be that I wear a pack and body English compresses the shoulders squeezing water into the sleeves? It could be that I'm forever bumping them on wet trees and bushes? It could be the location or loading on the seams? It could be something to do with the softshell material? - who knows - but I hadn't considered that that wouldn't be common for everyone as it seems to be the case with every jacket for me. 

There is a wide-open world in terms of what folks call 'waterproof' or 'weatherproof.' In my experience NeoShell jackets - whether hardshell or softshell - wet out faster than GoreTex from the outside in but breath much better from the inside out. 

I like hoods - particularly hoods that fit over helmets - but I also like the fewest number of zips and pockets possible. I haven't checked out the Fox clothing line for years. 

I'm generally large in anything North American that's road-cut and I'm bouncing between medium and large for mountain bike-cut tops (more often large these days). Often gear fits me in the chest but not the shoulders - single speeder problems maybe. 

Unless it's a downpour, my go-to winter setup is usually my GoreTex vest (a GoreTex ActiveWear waterproof jacket converted to a vest) with a merino layer underneath. When it's warmer I just run a base layer (short sleeve or long sleeve) and this time of year I usually run a merino hoody. 

Cheers!

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neilBar
0
neilBar  - Dec. 13, 2020, 11:56 p.m.

Hi Andrew 

Very helpful, thanks lots. 

Good to have your tips. That jacket seems a good choice  

N

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boomforeal
0
boomforeal  - Dec. 14, 2020, 4:33 a.m.

i was looking at these last year. riding on the east coast, and more groad than trail these days, a goretex shell is never really called for. i ended up buying an ornot magic shell: same materials, about 2/3 the cost of the giro, made in NA, climate neutral certified; mostly because giro is worst-in-class for durability ime. neoshell seems like the ideal balance of water resistant, breathable, and windproof. quiet and comfy; snug roadie cut still makes me a bit self conscious, too, but whatever

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 14, 2020, 7:28 a.m.

I’ll check out the Ornot - thanks.

I’ve had good results with Giro jackets and flat pedal shoes; less good results with gloves and clip-in shoes. What have you tried?

Chrono Pro seems very well made and has been excellent thus far, but for a jacket at this price I’d expect to get a couple or few years of hard use minimum and can’t speak to that yet.

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boomforeal
+1 Andrew Major
boomforeal  - Dec. 14, 2020, 2:37 p.m.

i'm probably overstating my bad experience with giro. but for the (premium) price i expect them to last longer than they tend to. i've had shoes, jerseys, winter gloves, and shorts fall apart quite quickly, enough to make me leery of buying anything from them without a first-hand inspection. on the other hand i keep crawling back because the fit is so good: my 2nd pair of privateers just lasted a third season of everything-but-fatbiking use, and i'm on my 3rd pair of dnd gloves because black and i keep losing them before i can wear them out

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 14, 2020, 2:52 p.m.

I get it; have a buddy who had like 53 pairs of clipless shoes delaminate in ways/situations that were hilarious to his friends but not at all to him. 

Always warranty. But that doesn’t really help when you’re standing on 7th Secret in the snow begging strangers for zip ties. 

So yeah, he’ll never own another product they make. 

I’ve had mixed but mostly positive experiences. This jacket being one of the best ones!

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 14, 2020, 7:34 a.m.

Too bad Ornot does do a more casual cut too. Very good price for Made In California NeoShell, but I don’t think it is going to be (this) dadbod compatible.

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neilBar
0
neilBar  - Dec. 14, 2020, 5:08 a.m.

boomforeal, 

wow that really IS a roadie cut, more lycra top than jacket. Good to have your opinion, I'd not realised Giro are worst in class for durability. That’s important for a jacket taken riding in the woods.

I read about a Sugoi RSX Neoshell that may be promising too. Seems to be no longer available. Drat

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seabird55
+1 Andrew Major
seabird55  - Oct. 6, 2021, 1:16 p.m.

any update on how this jacket has performed and durability?  for a cold day would this work well as a mid layer with goretex over top or would this be too hot?

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Oct. 6, 2021, 7:26 p.m.

It’s a great piece of kit. Actually just headed out for a night ride in it right now. I think it’s accurate to say it performs as new. 

I’ve never tried a full shell over it. I did a days with my (modified from a shell) GoreTex weatherproof vest over top of the Chrono in really frigid rain and it was great.

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seabird55
+1 Andrew Major
seabird55  - Oct. 6, 2021, 8:14 p.m.

nice...just back from a night ride as well up at SFU.  I'm looking for a soft shell for nights like tonight where a goretex shell is just too hot but theres still a chance of rain.  i'm juggling between the chrono or the gore wear phantom infinium that is also a soft shell with rain resistence and also has the sleeve that can zip off in warmer weather which is a nice option....any thoughts between these two?  thanks !

also, i'm 5'9" and about 175lbs with 34" waist and 40" chest...would a Large be the right size for the chrono?

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Oct. 6, 2021, 9:39 p.m.

I've got a few pounds on you at the same height and I'm in a large. My guess would be that would be the better fit for you for mountain biking. 

I haven't checked out the Phantom. I've had great experiences with Gore Wear quality-wise and I've had hit-and-miss experience with their fit. That's where my first GoreTex vest came from. I love-love vests but I'm not a fan of modular systems for jackets. I've never had a good experience. 

I rode up to Fromme, pedaled up No Quarter on the SS, and then rode down and home and the Chrono was perfect for this evening. Maybe a bit sweaty on No Quarter wearing my pack - I unzipped the jacket. It's my go-to for nights like tonight when it may or may not rain but is only spitting a touch when I roll out the door. 

Hope it was a great ride!

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