Have you ever needed to get a long slow run in but the weather just isn’t cooperating? It has happened to me many of times. For a short run, if you really don’t feel like getting rained on you could always go to a fitness centre or may be lucky enough to have a treadmill in the basement. A “TRUE” runner wouldn’t care. They would just run and get drenched. I like to think of myself as a “TRUE” runner but I must admit the idea of running, being wet and cold just doesn’t motivate me to get up early and run. Now imagine if a company was able to design a product that would allow you to run in the rain, but actually protect you from the elements. No, I am not talking about a garbage bag. Those may keep you dry but I would keep a garbage bag for pre race events only. The other issue that garbage bags have, as well as most rain jackets, is they don’t breathe. This leaves you just as wet due to sweat in the humid non breathing environment you put your body in. I am happy to tell you that Sugoi has developed a rain jacket for runners! It is called the Hydrolite Jacket. The Hydrolite Jacket is sold at Running Free for $109.99 which isn’t exactly cheap, but it does work well. I have been on three long slow distance runs now while wearing mine. The longest was a 45K run where 40K of it was raining pretty hard on a fall day. During that time I was amazed that even though every other part of me was soaked, my arms, chest, and back were completely dry. I found that my shirt underneath was damp, but not due to rain, rather sweat. Wearing the jacket kept me warm and dry. I found the Hydrolite Jacket also did an excellent job blocking the wind. These features make sense since HydroLite is an intelligent fabric that activates when water touches the surface causing a reaction to the molecular structure of the membrane. This creates a barrier that blocks out water and wind although it is not technically waterproof or windproof but rather water resistant and wind resistant.
Now for the but…even though Sugoi did find a way to create a jacket that will protect you from the wind, keep you dry in the rain, and still be breathable due to the large venting holes under the armpits, the jacket isn’t perfect. The first time I used the Hydrolite Jacket in the rain for a run, it only rained half the time. As such I pushed the sleeves up and unzipped the jacket. When I got home and took the jacket off, I noticed all these black marks everywhere. At the base of each sleeve is a black elastic part to keep the jacket in position and protect you from rain. The colour ran from there and left the markings on the sleeves at the level I had them pushed up to. I spoke with the owner of Running Free who wore the same style of jacket during the same run. With his jacket, he didn’t push the sleeves up. He did notice a bit of black leakage by the wrists. We both washed our jackets. His came clean but mine still had the marks. I thought this might have just been a lemon so returned it to the store and had it exchanged for a new one. As I mentioned, I did my 45K run in the rain and it performed wonderfully. At the end I noticed that this jacket did the same thing. The black from the sleeve band ran. This time it didn’t seem as bad since I didn’t roll the sleeves up. I hung the jacket up to dry but unfortunately I discovered the next day that the jacket had fallen. When I picked it up, my jacket now had black marks at the shoulder and behind the neck. I washed the jacket but the black marks still didn’t come out. It could be that I am not washing it properly, but that leads me to a few recommendations.
My first recommendation to Sugoi would be to put cleaning instructions with the jacket. Next recommendation would be to add some pockets for storage. They should be able to put some material so that is still stays rainproof. If the jacket had a pocket where you could fold it into itself, that would be ideal! The jacket can be scrunched into a small ball, but if you aren’t wearing a belt that has a decent size pouch in it, you would have to put it around your waste or tie it to your belt. I would also consider a different colour (maybe black to match the wrist area where the colour runs). I had one person mention that the jacket was designed more for biking which to me doesn’t matter. The fact is if you run or bike in the jacket, it should still protect you and not allow the black wrist areas colour to run when it gets wet.
In conclusion, the jacket did what the manufacture claimed. It did protect from the rain, wind, and was breathable. It is a great jacket for that in-between weather where a long sleeve just won’t cut it but a bulky thicker running jacket or shirt is just too much. For me, I just can’t justify spending over $100 that after one use is marked up due to the colour running. I am interested if any others who have purchased this jacket have experienced the same thing.