Review: O2 Rainwear’s Calhoun Jacket

We showed you the O2 Rainwear “Calhoun” jacket in a teaser a few months ago…and at the time, it was dry and hot here in Ohio. Well, as many of my neighbors told me it would, the rainy season set in around mid-October and hasn’t let up. Being cold is tough for a longtime Florida resident. And, as a Florida resident, I’ve gotten caught in many a rainstorm, but our rainy season there was during the heat of summer, negating the need for stifling raingear. Being cold AND wet is about my least-favorite sensation, and since it seems to rain about every other day here, the Calhoun received a thorough test before I put my thoughts together for the review.


Let’s recap a bit with a list of the details of the jacket, straight from O2’s website:

Product Details
100% 2.5Layer Rip-Stop Nylon
Waterproof, fully taped internal seam
Waterproof, Breathable, Lightweight, Compact
Supreme Wind & Water Protection
Waterproof, full length front zipper with garage
Reflective elements for low light visibility
Welded waterproof front Napoleon pocket
Form Fit
Pit Zips for additional ventilation
Breathability: W/R; MVP: 10,000g/m2/D
Waterproof: W/P: 10,000mmH2O;
Weight: Avg. 13 ounces depending on size

Normally, I wear a size small in cycling wear…as I mentioned in our sneak peek, Adam Ziskin, the owner of O2, sent me a medium based on my dimensions. As it turns out, the medium is just right — roomy enough to fit over an insulating layer on truly cold days. Thermal cycling jerseys/baselayers or even a fleece jacket fit under the Calhoun with no problems. Of course, like any self-respecting cycling jacket, the Calhoun has an extended tail to keep your butt dry in the rain. Off the bike, the jacket feels boxy…not particularly form-fitting and with gorilla-length arms. Once I got onto my bike, the genius of this jacket’s “cut” was immediately apparent: the jacket’s arms are long so that your arms are still covered when in the drops of a road bike, and there is no bunching or restriction as you stretch out into riding position. It’s still not a body-hugging fit and there is some flapping of the jacket’s material in the wind, but nothing I couldn’t live with.


The fit can be tailored somewhat using the hidden drawcords at the waist and neck:


The sleeve cuffs have simple hook-and-loop fasteners with enough adjustability to fit over heavy gloves or mittens…and help seal in the warmth.


Because extra visibilty is key when the weather turns nasty, the Calhoun comes in neon yellow, and it has effective reflective accents on front, back, and sides. For those of you who don’t want that screamingly bright color, the Calhoun also comes in blue. Seriously, though, being seen by motorists when the rain is blowing sideways trumps fashion any day…yet it’s nice that O2 offers a choice.


One thing that surprised me is that the Calhoun jacket doesn’t feel clammy when I put it on. I’ve worn some inexpensive rainwear over the years — you know, the stuff with the thick polyurethane lining or the rubberized fabric ponchos popular with campers. The Calhoun simply feels like a quality jacket. The interior of the jacket has a slick look to it, but it feels good against the skin, for what that’s worth. I can’t tell you how breathable the 3Flow Performance fabric is with any concrete quantifiers, but I never felt like sweat was bottling up inside the jacket. Granted, my rides have been in the teens to the low 40s and I just don’t sweat at those temps. When I did feel like I was starting to get a bit too warm, the pit zips did the trick to cool me down a bit. Simply unzip them, pull the main zipper down a bit and flush out the excess warmth before zipping it all back up. Worked like a charm!


One of my favorite features is that the Calhoun packs up small…about the size of a big burrito (but perhaps a bit lighter). When the weather is iffy, the jacket can be rolled up and carried along in a jersey pocket, pannier or bag. A more practiced hand could probably roll this thing up even smaller!


After all this, you’re probably wondering, “well, how does it work in the rain?” Rest assured, this jacket is waterproof to a fault. I still hate riding in the cold rain, but the Calhoun makes it substantially less miserable. And, the jacket’s fantastic windproof ability also makes it my go-to choice when it is clear and chilly. Take a look at the picture below — the coldest bike ride I’ve been on in 25 years or more, with starting temps in the low teens and highs in the low 20s. I was rocking a thermal jersey and baselayer, fleece-lined bibtights, wool balaclava, shoe covers and lobster gloves. I was afraid I looked like Randy from the classic “A Christmas Story”. What can I say? I ain’t designed for cold weather. Anyhow, the jacket accommodated all those layers and kept the heat in where I needed it. Thumbs up all the way!


Perhaps my only gripe with the Calhoun is that the one chest pocket is nice, but I prefer to carry things in a pocket on my back. Perhaps I am just used to having jersey pockets for long rides, but a heavy smartphone just felt weird in that chest pocket. After a short time, I transferred the phone to my saddlebag. Luckily, O2 has other jackets to choose from that have other features you may desire. Also, I must say that at first, I was thinking, “gee, I really wish there was a hood on this jacket”, but I understand that hoods can be more trouble than they’re worth. I DO need to figure out a decent technique for keeping the rain out of my helmet, though.

The Calhoun jacket has an MSRP of $119.00. That’s pricey, but I feel you get what you pay for — this is a quality jacket that performs admirably when the weather turns sour. It looks nice, it has good features and visibility, and it is packable enough that there’s really no excuse not to bring it with you when you ride. Check out O2’s full product line by clicking here.

Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.


  1. Elizabeth December 27, 2011 8:05 am 

    I love the hi-vis and placing of the reflective accents on the shoulders and at the hips. It’s nice how small it packs down; this jacket seems more packable than the more “commuter-oriented” jackets I’ve worn that have a mesh liner in the jacket – which does keep moisture from your skin or inner layer if the wetness does creep through or you heat up more than expected.

    +1 on the need for a back pocket… I know plenty of folks who commute with non-cycling specific jackets, especially for a commute, but for a longer ride – that rear pocket is so nice — like a rear kangaroo sack! :-)

    Great review… question O2: how long does it maintain its waterproofness and how do we care for it to prolong the waterproof properties?

  2. Ghost Rider December 27, 2011 8:13 am 

    E, since this is a barrier fabric rather than a coating, it should remain waterproof indefinitely. I’ll forward those questions to Adam — might make a good post (caring for waterproof gear) for the future!

  3. Don December 28, 2011 11:17 am 

    Before I got the above I sometimes used a showercap. That works too. I still keep a showercap stuffed under my seat to keep my seat dry while locked up on rainy days.

  4. Elizabeth December 28, 2011 1:07 pm 

    The last helmet cover I got was way too big for my helmet… and it was black with only a bit of reflectiveness on it.

    I would get one if in hi-vis yellow or orange. But now I have my light attached to the top of my helmet, so a helmet cover doesn’t work for me. I’ve opted for a visor cap — my current choice — the Pace Reversible Wool Hat:

  5. Ghost Rider December 28, 2011 3:57 pm 

    Thanks, Don and E…I’ll look into those.

  6. Jon Karak December 30, 2011 5:46 pm 

    How is the neck cinch? I can’t make out where the excess cord comes out. Does it tuck away nicely or does it drape somewhere? Is the cord itself elastic like the waist cinch?

  7. Ghost Rider December 30, 2011 6:14 pm 


    the neck cinch is hidden in the collar…it’s all self contained with cordlocks behind a small panel, and yes it is elastic. It’s so discreet that I didn’t even notice it for the first couple weeks I had this jacket!

  8. beth January 4, 2012 3:29 pm 

    As with the similarly-priced ($110) Showers Pass Club Pro jacket, the O2 Calhoun does not have mesh lining. While that makes for a lighter, more packable jacket, the absence of the mes liner also makes for a shorter lifespan of both the fabric and the waterproofing properties.

    Before Burley stopped making rain wear 6-7 years ago, they offered a Rain Rider jacket (waterproof, not breatheable) for under $100 and an Ultra Rider jacket (waterproof, breatheable) for around $125. Both jackets came with a full mesh liner, and both jackest were long-lasting and durable. You just can’t get that kind of value anymore unless you are willing to bite the bullet and pay $300+ for a good Gore-Tex jacket.

  9. Ghost Rider January 4, 2012 4:12 pm 

    @Beth — adding a mesh liner certainly kills the packability of a jacket, but I DO like the way a mesh liner feels.

    How does the mesh increase longevity of the fabric itself, and does a mesh liner really incur that much more expense?

    In the meantime, the Calhoun is hanging tough despite being packed repeatedly. I will say a little prayer that it lasts well into the future đŸ˜‰

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