Review: bike-in-the-rain Minoru jacket

A long time ago, I made myself a cycling jacket, the Minoru jacket from Sewaholic Patterns.

I always meant to write up a review of it, but I put it off so long that eventually I forgot about it.

Minoru cycling jacket 1

Until Crystal left me a comment earlier this week asking how the coat turned out, and jogged my memory. This was my reply:

Hey Crystal–

I’ve always meant to write a review of this jacket now that I’ve used it for a while–thanks for jogging my memory.

I really like the jacket for light-activity rides, but I find that even if it’s super cold out I get way too hot in it. I’ve reverted back to just wearing some wool sweaters and a warm vest when it’s super cold (in Seattle, in Jessie terms, that means 30-40 degrees). There’s something about having my core warm and being able to regulate the temperature through my arms that just works out better for me.

The Silkara works well for a light drizzle, but I’ve been caught in heavy rain before and it didn’t actually do a lot for me. I could probably re-up the DWR finish, but it’s not meant to be totally impermeable.

Caroline of Little Package has a great guest post up on Sewaholic.net about sewing waterproof outerwear where she talks about seam finishes. You definitely want to check out that post if you’re going for fully waterproof.

In conclusion, I love the Minoru’s silhouette, and I get tons of compliments wearing it. But because I tend to ride hard and get sweaty even in the cold, I simply can’t wear a full coat comfortably except on local rides (within my neighborhood).

Definitely let me know if you make your own Minoru–it’s a rad jacket.

I wanted to repost it on the blog so that others could see it.

The Silkara fabric is proof against light rain, though not heavy rain. What it’s really great for is acting as a windbreak—this means that the jacket’s really quite warm, even though it’s lightweight.

The problem with being quite warm, however, is that if I’m riding more than a couple miles I overheat. Plus, if you want to ride most anywhere in South Seattle you’re either riding up a hill or hustling to dodge industrial traffic—not exactly the type of cycle chic leisure ride that I can do without breaking a sweat.

I tried the Minoru for my commute for a couple weeks, but eventually I reverted back to lots of wool jerseys and my fleece-lined vest (which I’ll be talking more about in Friday’s DIY tutorial). That works fine for the normal Seattle drizzle that doesn’t actually get you wet, though I do still need a waterproof layer for if I get caught in a downpour.

I’ve been thinking about trying to make a rain cape—something lightweight that can roll up into a small bundle. It would keep me dry if the rain started pounding, but still have enough ventilation that I wouldn’t get too overheated.

Thoughts? How do you stay dry in the rain?

10 thoughts on “Review: bike-in-the-rain Minoru jacket

  1. I’ve been experimenting with this too & have found that I’m happiest when I ride with a long-sleeve wool undershirt (my favorite is Smartwool, partly because of the color – teal, not black – and partly for the fit – it’s really long), and a wool sweater (hand knit, naturally). If it really starts to pour rain, I love my Outdoor Research Refelxa Rain Jacket. Of course I got the orange one. It’s actually waterproof, as opposed to the DWR REI one I had before. It’s really light and packs down to a tiny bundle to keep in my bag until it pours. I get too hot with it, though, unless it really is raining. My wool sweaters breathe and keep me much more comfortable than synthetics can. I’m also riding in temperatures between 30 and 40 degrees.

  2. Fantastic jacket – by the way! Well, I have a Patagonia Torrentshell that I use (bought on sale) that it fantastic if it ever rains here in Ventura (very rare) but I do use it with my brompton on my travels – ultra lightweight. However, that said – I LOVE the idea of a cape – I’m going to investigate some patterns – I would love to make one to wear myself. . . great idea!

  3. When I was visiting Cambridge, England recently, I saw cyclists in the rain wearing a cape that was longer in the front and had thumb loops fitted on the inside to keep it secure. Hooded, waterproof and still allowed air movement to prevent overheating. There seemed to be sufficient weight in the fabric to prevent it from flapping.
    Cape front extended over handle bars.

  4. It’s well into Michigan Rain Season, and I’m just now starting to work on the coat. I’m sure it will be 80 and humid by the time I finish it. Whenever it’s done, it won’t be “outdoor gear” the way you, as a biker, define it. It will get the most use covering me as I dart from building to car and back again as I go through my day. I still haven’t decided if I’m going to go through the trouble of waterproofing the seams. I probably should take the time to do it right. I’ve got my Tent Red Silkara and black/white giraffe print lining ready to go. I have to say, I ordered my Silkara from Seattle Fabrics. I ordered 3 yards and they sent me 2 2/3 yards. Thankfully, I’m super short and have to chop 4 inches off the body of the coat.

    • Hey Crystal–I can’t wait to see it, that sounds lovely! I wouldn’t go through the trouble of waterproofing the seams–Silkara is water resistant, but it’s not totally waterproof. Your seams might work great, but the body of the fabric probably wouldn’t hold up to a strong shower. :)

      What a bummer that they shorted you yardage! I’m glad it’ll work out for you, though. Please come back and post a link to photos when it’s done!

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