Monday, May 1, 2017

Kit Review: Pactimo rain jacket and changing kilt

Today I'm introducing another kit review (you can find my previous kit review of the SheBeest Petunia bibs and Divine jersey here), this time of the Pactimo Ultra-Lite Women's Rain Jacket and their Quick-Release Changing Kilt. I bought both of these items with my own money; this isn't a sponsored review (although if anyone from Pactimo is reading this and wants to send me stuff to try, I will not turn you down!). I purchased these items from Pactimo about 2 months ago. Since then, I've had the chance to use the rain jacket twice, once in heavy rain, once in light rain, and the changing kilt half a dozen times.

Pactimo Ultra-Lite Rain Jacket (Women's)

This rain jacket keeps water out, which is its primary function. It breathes better than most of the rain jackets I've used in the past, but it still gets very sweaty inside. That wasn't so bad in cooler weather, when I had a layer of warm fabric between the jacket and my skin. But now it's warmer, and the material clings to my arms and exacerbates the sensations of heat and sweat. A few weeks ago, when our team ride ended up feeling more like a team swim, I ended up taking the jacket off because I got so hot; I wasn't sure if I would get wetter riding with it or without it. I got much wetter riding with it, to the point that my jersey was flapping at my armpits, it was so saturated from rain. So I regretted taking the jacket off. I didn't realize how much it was contributing to my comfort until it was gone.

The fabric of the jacket is thin and crepe-y, almost crinkly. The fit is very flattering for me. I didn't notice the jacket flapping down hills or at high speeds. The tail of the jacket is long enough to reach halfway down my hips, and has a silicone gripper to keep it in place. That keeps the jacket from riding up, but it also makes it difficult to access pockets when riding. I got the clear model so that I can use it for racing (that way you can pull the jacket on and officials can still see your number through it), but I think I would only use it in very heavy rain, or if the rain is cold enough that I'll be uncomfortable if I get wet. For light summer rains, it will probably be easier to suffer through the wet, especially since my races aren't very long in duration.


Pactimo Quick-Release Changing Kilt
I feel ever-so-slightly silly for spending $30 on what amounts to a very nice towel (or one of these), but I really like my changing kilt. The material is light and airy. It feels high-quality. The hook-and-loop (that's the generic term for Velcro, if you didn't know) makes it adjustable. It has a silicone gripper along with the elastic waistband for comfort and so it doesn't fall down and embarrass you. On that note, be careful on windy days with this product. Learn from my mistakes.

The silicone gripper may be gimmicky, or overkill, or the kind of thing that a brand puts into a product to make it appeal to cyclists who could easily wrap a towel around their waists and change that way. Maybe I'm a sucker for buying one. But I love mine and use it at every single race and would walk around in this and nothing else post-race if I thought I could get away with it.

Overall, I'm impressed with the quality of Pactimo's products. I like the fabrics they use; I like their attention to detail; I like the teams that they sponsor; I like that they offer so many products that are cut for women (most companies just have a unisex rain jacket, which will inevitably flap around my narrow shoulders and ribs); and I like that they've structured their minimums for custom orders to be especially favorable for mixed-gender teams. They seem committed to quality, with a manufacturing defect rate well below the industry average. They also have 5-piece minimums for custom orders, so if you want to get your own fancy skinsuits or jerseys with a custom design, or if you have a particularly small team, that's a low barrier to entry for customized kit.

Two other things they do that I appreciate are a loyalty program and custom content. Their Pactimo Rewards gives you points for purchases, for referrals, for liking them on Facebook and following them on Twitter, for writing reviews of their products, and as a little gift for your birthday. Those rewards add up pretty quickly, to the point that I was able to get $20 off on my first purchase just for committing to follow them through social media and e-mail. Without that discount, I may have been less inclined to give their products a chance. They also have  a library of articles, videos, and podcasts related to cycling and triathlon. It includes coaching and training tips, beginners' guides, and interest pieces. I appreciate that they're creating content to help people learn and improve, as well as high-quality products for sale.

I like this brand. I support it. Pactimo comes off as serious and committed without taking itself too seriously. I appreciate that they are going out of their way to have a two-way relationship with their customers; they don't just make and sell quality merchandise (lots of companies do that), but also seem genuinely committed to creating value within the cycling community. I like that. I'm looking forward to purchasing and reviewing some of their shorts and jerseys in the future.

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