RaceFace Agent Jacket
Rain city. Raincouver. The wet coast. Vancouver comes by its nicknames honestly, averaging about 4 feet of precipitation a year. This March, we had rain for 28 of 31 days. We are a sodden bunch. It's also relatively mild (by Canadian standards), so battling external as well as internally generated moisture sources can be a bit of a balancing act. As such, a decent breathable and waterproof shell is mandatory if you want to ride the non summer months with any semblance of comfort. Which brings us to the Raceface Agent Jacket. Is it up to this challenging environment? Lets find out.
Fit: This jacket has a nicely tailored, trim cut. At 6'-0" I fit the size medium perfectly - ample torso and arm length, but not too baggy around the core. Despite the lack of extra material, I found no areas of constriction when moving aggressively on the bike - functional fit. Though I'm a skinny bastard; girthier people may need to size up. Styling looks as good off the bike as on; back length isn't as exaggerated as some designs, offering a bit more street savvy aesthetic at the expense of less butt overlap. I'm ok with this; that's what waterproof shorts are for.
Unfortunately the hood doesn’t have enough height to accommodate a helmet comfortably underneath. It'd be nice to have this capability for serious monsoons. One could conceivably wear the hood under the lid, but it feels gross, and looks dorky. The hood does have a neat magnet detail that helps reduce flapping about, and the hood adjustments are effective at tailoring fit for those non helmeted moments.
Moisture management: the mid range 10,000g/m2/day vapor breathability, in conjunction with zippered front intake vents and a non securable back exhaust vent collude to purge internal heat and moisture quite effectively. A sauna suit this is not - though I'm not ordinarily the sweatiest of beasts. The mesh lined zippered front pockets can be used for additional ventilation as well.
The jacket has a 10,000mm waterproof rating - typically good for light water pressure, but it kept the outside out under the most biblical of deluges I experienced. I wash the shell nearly every ride, and the water repellency is still intact - though there are a few small areas starting to show signs of wetting out. Most of the shell is still beading nicely, but I'll be refreshing the waterproofing in a few more wash cycles. Of course, this is standard maintenance with any waterproof / breathable garment.
Wear and tear: Five or so months down the road, and the jacket is showing a couple signs of wear. The RaceFace front logo has come completely off in the wash, and the front vent & pocket zipper seam tape is starting to peel off in a couple locations. This has no structural consequence, but it's going to allow some water in through the exposed stitching. The internal seam tape is all still intact however. The zipper has popped open at the bottom on one occasion - I managed to unzip & re-zip without issue, but it may be indication it's wearing out.
The shell material is relatively lightweight, so can be stowed with minimal volume. Of course the flip side is reduced abrasion resistance. I haven't had the opportunity to properly yard sale the jacket, but it's endured a couple minor offs unscathed. So far so good.
Final thoughts - I like the styling, fit, and performance of this shell. At $220 CAD, it's reasonably priced for a functional waterproof / breathable piece. Construction is on the lighter side, however - if you tend to wear your shell hard, and / or with high frequency, this may not hold up to multiple years of use.