Capsule Review: Orion Jacket

The charm of winter is long-gone, and we’re here freezing our you-know-whats off in anticipation for an end to snow and frost.  In a bid to help keep you warm and dry in the meantime,,  our friends at Mission Workshop came up with the Orion Jacket.  We had our dutiful mechanic Chris Harris wear it around for a while so that he could grace us with an eloquent review.   And now, without further ado…

Mission Workshop’s Orion Jacket is an expensive piece of apparel that, though there are plenty of cheaper alternatives, is nonetheless worth what it costs.  The fit is perfect for cycling: full enough for a heavy wool or synthetic shirt underneath but without any excess to flap to let in a draft.  If the sleeves were a little longer, I would think them faultless, but I don’t imagine most will want to change them—my arms are particularly long, and the Orion is one of the only jackets I’ve worn whose sleeves cover my wrists without the chest being too large.

The material, Schoeller c-change, is remarkable.  So far it has been completely waterproof and impervious to wind, as promised by Mission Workshop.  Not long ago, I left work in the middle of a heavy snow shower, and by mid-town on the Westside Greenway path, there was two inches of snow on the asphalt.  My pants were soaked with black filth, and I was upset to think that the back of my new jacket looked the same.  At home, I spread the Orion out on my desk—it was spotless.  Whatever salt, water and sludge that was sprayed on my back and backside (covered by the jacket’s long cut) during the commute had rolled right off.  My khaki pants, however, were ruined.

In addition to repulsing the elements, the fabric acts as a kind of permeable membrane that mimics “a fir cone opening and closing in response to different weather conditions… Not only temperature but also air and body moisture are balanced out (schoeller-textiles.com).”  I cannot claim to have noticed this microscopic cone-action, but I have not once felt humid or overheated when wearing the Orion.  Warm and dry, that’s it.  Of the features, I think the removable hood is fine, and the breast pocket is smartly done.  The large, zippered pocket on the back is particularly voluminous and useful, and all of the pockets are lined in the softest, most accommodating fleece I’ve ever felt.  But it’s the fit, cut just for cyclists, and the innovative fabric that make this jacket a good buy in my mind.

And it’s made in Canada.

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