Thursday, March 13, 2008

MEC Hydrocycle 1 Year Review

You can read my initial impressions of this jacket here.

I've been using this MEC Hydrocycle Jacket for the last year. Overall I'm pretty pleased with it. For $135 [now $99 on clearance @ ] I got a light weatherproof shell that fits me well and is reasonably breathable. The pit zips really help dump moisture when working hard and also let you fine tune the interior temperature nicely. They are positioned so they work fine on my recumbents and DF bikes. The Entrant DT shell material is holding up well, but I am notoriously kind to my gear so that is not unusual. As a point of comparison this jacket breathes much better than my North Face Hy-Vent hiking shell. The fit is very slim so it may not work for everyone. The extra long sleeves suit me, but they could be overkill if your arms aren't freakishly long like mine. The orange colour is easily visible without being so obnoxious you don't want to wear it around other people. MEC got the small details right on this jacket with waterproof zippers [great for bents since a flap over a regular zipper won't keep water out when you are on your back], two handy pockets, functional velcro at the cuffs and a reasonable amount of reflective material. Since there are no vents or pockets on the back of the jacket it is a good choice for recumbent riders.

I should note that several people on the BC Rando Mail List have totally slammed this jacket as not being waterproof & not being breathable. This hasn't been my experience, but there have been enough negative comments that I figured I should mention it. Keep in mind MEC will take back anything you buy [even on clearance] if it does not perform as expected.


runawayscreaming said...

Well, I'm gonna weigh in on this one since I sent MEC such a terrible review for this jacket that they refused to publish it on their website.

I'm a long-time MEC member and I buy a lotta stuff at MEC. My annual MEC patronage dividend is almost as high as my annual salary. I have several MEC cycling jackets and cycling jackets from other manufacturers. I don't own a car and I use a bike for transportation, holidays and recreational cycling. I cycle 10,000 to 20,000 km a year.

I was one of the first to buy the (orange) Hydrocycle jacket (because I thought it might be good for randonneuring). Although the jacket is advertised as breathable, I found it was not breathable at all. The material seemed to be as breathable as a green garbage bag. That is simply too dangerous for cold weather cycling in humid climates where there is a potential for hypothermia.

I thought perhaps the manufacturer of the jacket may have substituted a less breathable fabric than what was spec'd by the MEC buyer. I took the jacket to a Chinese fabric expert who could not figure out why MEC would make any breathability claims for it.

Normally I never return any MEC products (it's a co-op!) but I felt compelled to return that jacket. When I took it to the MEC staff member to explain why I was returning it she challenged me and suggested I did not know how to use a cycling jacket!

Bloody hell MEC buyers it's time to start taking feedback from members and from the staff in the stores that know the activities the products are being used for!

And MEC buyers, maybe it's time to think about the consequences of selling BLACK cycling jackets (no matter how popular black jackets are). You might just as well be stocking child-sized unfiltered cigarettes and hand grenades!

Eeeeeee!!! I'm going crrrrazy with rage!!! Help me MEC!!

Anyway Vik, In my experience all cycling jackets work better in Alberta, not just because Alberta is simply such a peachy place but also because Alberta is so dry, especially in the winter.

The other thing that can make the Hydrocycle jacket work better is if it's a bit loose so air can flow around underneath it and rinse away the condensation.

Vik said...


Thanks for the rebuttal. I think it is important to get both sides of the story out. Just one thing though I have two other jackets I've used for cycling [North Face Hy-Vent & older Banff Designs Gore-Tex jacket] and I get condensation with both of those yet none with the Hydrocycle under similar conditions. So for me at least it seems to breathe reasonably well.

jnyyz said...


I've also had a negative experience with the MEC Whoosh cycling jacket. Basically, the zipper started failing, becoming easily untracked, and the only thing the MEC offered to do was to change the slider, which they did, and this did not solve the problem. As far as their guarantee goes, there weren't willing to consider an exchange or refund. They did publish my negative review, although they edited out the fact that it was the TO store that was involved.

I have a Showers Pass jacket, which is nice and bright, more breathable than my Gore Tex jackets, and just great all around.

I won't be buying any higher end MEC brand stuff anymore.

Vik said...

That's interesting because all my experiences with returning stuff to MEC have been positive. I even accompanied a friend once who had damaged her new sleeping bag zipper and just wanted it repaired. She admitted it was her fault and the staff member quoted her $80 to replace the zipper then decided to cover it under warranty.

Pretty much all my experiences have been with the Calgary store - although I assumed it was a universally helpful attitude. Sorry to hear you had a negative experience.

Tanya said...

We haven't had agood downpour to test mine yet. How do you clean yours? (I seem to be good at unzipping pockets when I have grease on my hands) Although I definitely didn't find it very breathable today on a cold weather ride. I'm happy if its a bit sweaty though if it works well in the rain