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Reviewed: Pactimo Hybrid Storm Jacket

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Naming a product should be pretty straightforward, unless that product doesn’t fit into any of the standard categories. That’s the case for the Storm Hybrid Jacket from Pactimo. It’s not a jacket in the traditional sense, but nor is it a thermal jersey with matching arm warmers. As the term hybrid implies, it is two pieces merged together to be incredibly versatile.

Trying to describe the Storm Hybrid is not easy. If you started with a thermal jersey, slimmed it down for a very close fit, added matching arm warmers and gave the whole thing a water shedding treatment, you’d end up with the Storm Hybrid. It’s purpose is to keep you warm and dry in a wide range of temperatures while not flapping around.

The Hybrid is made with Aerowind stretch thermal fabric that has a soft feel inside. The DWR (Durable Water Repellent) treatment gives the outside a slick sheen to it. It has reflective piping along the back, a full zipper and the three back pockets. All of this is very simple, but don’t that let you fool you into thinking it’s not effective.

The Fit

DSC01594To start with, when Pactimo says is a slim fit, they mean it. There sizing is more for pure cyclists, who tend to have smaller upper bodies than us buff triathletes. This means that the shoulders and chest may feel particularly snug. I was worried that I should have sized up to the large, especially when just walking around. But when hunched over on the bike the slim fit was not constrictive and felt fine. The thermal fabric had the necessary stretch and I had no issues with bunching. The drop tail gives a bit more coverage to your backside to keep you protected from road spray.

However, the slim fit is where the idea of a conventional jacket is thrown out the window. Most jackets easily slip over a jersey. While the Storm will work, the close fit means that if the jersey you wear under it is a bit baggy, the fit becomes awkward. This jacket is best used with a form fitting base layer or jersey. Like many jackets, the Storm is too bulky to pack down and fit in a pocket. Once you pull on the Storm, you are committed.

This is why using short sleeves and matching arm warmers is so important to the Storm. With arm warmers, you have options. On those days when you’re not sure what the weather will do, or for when you just want to be prepared, the more options the better. And of course the full length zipper also allows for temperature moderation.

The Test

The narrow canyon roads west of Boulder were the perfect testing grounds for the Storm Hybrid, where the temperatures vary based on the sun, wind, your speed and effort level. Open areas can feel nice and warm, but narrow, shaded miles can turn frigid. Plus, with the mix of working hard on the uphill and then descending, I knew I’d hit a wide range of temperatures and conditions on each ride.

What I found is that the Storm Hybrid is a unique jacket that can perform duties across a wide range. My first rides were on sunny days through mountains with temps in the low 60s and upper 50s. In the canyons, particularly earlier in the day, the air has a crisp bite to it, making it feel much colder than the thermometer says. When riding in the mountains in the late fall and early winter, going back and forth between being a little cold and a little warm goes with the territory.

Through the colder sections, the thermal fabric did a good job at balancing the competing needs of being warm but also breathable, which is very important when it’s cold. In the winter, if you end up soaking your jersey on the way up, it only serves to make you miserable on the way down. The age old technology of the zipper allowed me to easily control my temperature.

A small flap keeps what’s in your pockets dry.

Descending for 15 to 20 minutes straight after working up a sweat is a tough ask for any jacket. Riding at 25 to 30 mph and not working, it’s easy to get cold fast. The Storm performed very well, though it is not quite as warm as a pure jacket. There are ways to mitigate that as I’ll discuss below.

On another day, I rode the flats east of Boulder in the morning when I knew the temperature would rise as I went along. Starting out it was a brisk 45, but I knew the temp would climb to the 60s during my ride. Again, this is not an instance when I would wear a conventional jacket, but as I’ve said before, theStorm is not conventional.

As it did in the mountains, the Storm was up to the task. Early on I was plenty warm and again the zipper was put to good use. Towards the end of the ride I was feeling a bit too warm, so off came the warmers. The sleeves of the Storm are “Euro”, meaning that they are longer than what is standard and make perfect sense for a piece like this. Tucking the arm warmers, a vest or a bar into the back pockets is a bit tricky with the small overlapping fabric over the pocket openings. It’s not intrusive, you just have to feel around a bit more to make sure you get your hand in the pocket. This feature makes sense for this jacket since it is designed to be worn in wet weather and these flaps will protect what you have stowed away.

While the Storm is too bulky to take off and store, you can layer over it. As mentioned above, by itself the Hybrid may leave you wanting for a bit more on cold descents. Stashing a wind vest in the pocket added another layer of protection from the elements for cold descents and early morning rides. I even used it as a base layer with a shell over it for a ride in 25 degree weather.

The dry fall weather kept me from testing out the water shedding capabilities of the Storm. However, after pouring water on it and watching the water run immediately off, I’d have no concerns about wearing it if the weather called for rain.

Water beads up and runs off the Storm thanks to its DWR treatment.

There are some other products that try to straddle varying needs in one garment, mainly in the form of convertible jackets where the sleeves zip off. These types of jackets err on the side of providing more warmth and have a bit more bulk to them and fit a bit more loosely. I’ve also found them to less versatile, due to the fact that in colder weather when the warmth of the jacket is needed, you are much less likely to ever need to remove the sleeves. While it may not provide the same ultimate warmth, the advantage of the Storm Hybrid is that it excels in a larger temperature range and in a variety of situations. Another bonus over a convertible jacket is that the arm warmers that come with the Storm can be used without the jacket. I tucked them into my jersey on many rides when wearing a short sleeve jersey.

Final Impressions

I consistently found myself reaching for the Hybrid. The weather in Colorado can change quickly and I like to be prepared without loading my pockets with all sorts of different clothing. The Hybrid Storm handled the wide range of temperatures I rode in and proved up to the task. The fit, while close, was comfortable on the bike and I am a fan of the subtle styling.

Another big positive of this jacket is the price. At $175, it is well priced against other jackets, and lower than most. When you consider that you are essentially getting a jersey, a jacket and arm warmers, that comes out to an even better deal.

I may not know exactly what to call it, but if you need a single piece that can get you through a lot of different scenarios, check out the Storm Hybrid Jacket from Pactimo.