The sub 100g Rain Jacket
Until recently, sub 100g rain jackets were unheard of. The inexorable advance of fabric tech combined with increasingly clever design means that they are beginning to appear on the shelves now. Although they are currently the preserve of premium garment manufacturers, they will probably become increasingly commonplace as time goes on. Until then, the choice is slightly limited. Unsurprisingly, 7Mesh are in the vanguard with the stunning Oro Jacket (Oro). Could they have made the best rain jacket to date? We were about to find out.
The Oro uses Gore-Tex Active ‘Shakedry’ technology. The main point to take away is probably that anything made from Shakedry will be very different to the ‘run of the mill’ waterproof. The Oro uses the same fabric as the Gore Wear C5 1985 Shakedry Viz which, also retails for £250. However, 7Mesh have designed the Oro to be as light as possible. At 93g for a men’s size medium, it is 36g lighter than Gore’s own Shakedry jacket.
How minimal? For a start, there are no pockets. Instead, there are two ‘pass-through’ vents to allow access to your jersey pockets. Cleverly, they also double up as ventilation. Gore’s ‘Viz’ in contrast, has a single zipped pocket but no easy access to your jersey pockets. While the Oro may win the prize for minimalism, it also scores highly because it is more practical in use.
A shortcoming of the Active material is that it cannot be dyed. Gore get around this by adding hi-viz panels to their garments. Of course, as this adds weight, 7Mesh keep the fabric au naturel. Reflective detailing is minimal with only a hi-viz strip around the hem and two small, reflective, logos front and rear.
Inside the jacket is a small stuff pocket. What I love is that once you have stuffed the Oro away, you will barely notice it in a jersey pocket.
Let’s talk about fit
In the nicest possible way, its fair to say 7Mesh are quite obsessive about the fit of their clothing. The team toil away over every product they develop, creating 10’s sometimes 100’s of test iterations before they settle on a production model. You will not hear anyone at 7Mesh declaring “That’ll do”, because that phrase is just not in their vocabulary.
As with all 7Mesh garments, they will not feel ‘right’ when you are standing up. This is because they are designed for use on the bike. Once you adopt the riding position however, the fit is perfect.
I would describe the fit as ‘generous racer’. It is not super tight but there again, it does not flap either. Indeed, compared to most rain shells, the Oro is almost silent.
It is worth noting that the arms are cut slightly slimmer than you might expect and the cuffs are elasticated making it a little more difficult to get your hands through them. At the rear, the hem has a generously long drop which is exactly what you want in a rain jacket. There is nothing worse than a wet bum.
A note on sizing
7Mesh sizing policy is diametrically opposed to the infamous Italian style. Maybe it is something to do with their North American heritage. Shall we say that is is ‘generous’? I am 11st and 5′ 11″. While the medium fits me comfortably with room to spare, a ‘large’ would definitely be baggy.
It is reasonable to expect a waterproof to keep the rain out but it is equally important that they breathe. You really do not want your jacket to be a portable sauna.
The Oro is probably the most breathable waterproof jacket I have tested to date. The inclusion of those pass-through vents gives it an advantage over the Gore Viz as the heat and moisture to escape through the holes, not just the fabric itself. Eventually though, even ‘Active’ can be overwhelmed. If you work up a proper sweat, you might simply generate too much sweat and the fabric will wet out. On the bright side, the Active material helps keep any chill at bay, even on descents so at least you will keep warm after that monster climb.
Not just a waterproof
Which leads to another facet of the 7Mesh Oro. It is also pretty good as a lightweight windproof. Anyone at this years Dirty Reiver will remember that while it was perfectly dry, the bitterly cold wind cut through almost any clothing. The Oro however, kept me warm and dry (no sweating) throughout the ride.
If there is one problem, Gore-Tex Active is incredibly delicate. Snag it on a thorny hedge and it will tear. Treat any Active garment with kid gloves and it will give you many years of reliable use but a moment of carelessness and it will be toast! Think of the Oro as the ultimate packable, emergency rain jacket or race cape. If you want something for general use, the more robust 7Mesh Rebellion jacket will be a better choice.
£250 is undoubtedly a lot to spend on a rain jacket. But if you want the lightest, most breathable waterproof available today, this is it. The 7Mesh Oro really is the best ultralight waterproof.
Whether you want a race cape or an ultra light jacket to fit in your frame bag, you won’t beat the Oro.
Last modified: 6th May 2019