November is National Cycling Jacket Month here at Gear Gals (in case the Pearl Izumi ELITE Barrier and Gore Element reviews didn’t make it obvious enough). Next in the line-up is the Canari Optima ($75). I don’t know if Optima is pronounced “Op-TEEM-ah” or Op-TUH-ma”. Maybe it depends on if you’re from the midwest, west coast, east coast, the south?
Anyway, the Canari Optima is a lightweight convertible jacket with magnetic snaps that make interchangeability between jacket, vest and arm sleeves/shrug well, a snap. A bit like the Sugoi Versa.
What I like:
- Easily interchanges from jacket to vest to shrug/sleeves
- Decent ventilation
- Rear zippered pocket holds detached shrug/sleeves and converts into waist pack
What I don’t like”
- Catches wind if magnets aren’t perfectly aligned
- Zipppers are low quality
Functionality: Switching from jacket to vest to shrug is simple. While wearing the vest, put on the shrug, hunch your shoulders and stretch your arms until you hear all magnets snap together. Lining up the magnets is critical. If they aren’t lined up perfectly the jacket peels open and catches wind.
Weathershedability: The fabric is a wind-resistant shell that works in light wind only. It is not water-proof and its water-resistance is limited to fog drizzle.
Breathability: A mesh panel on the back allows air to circulate when wearing as a vest. When wearing as a full jacket, the lightweight nylon fabric transfers moisture most effectively only when the cyclist is wearing with a breathable shirt.
Fitability/Comfortability: The collar has a fleece lining that absorbs moisture at higher exertion level while also providing a small degree of warmth on cooler days and lower exertion levels.
I didn’t find that it constricted my shoulders and the looser fit works well with shirt weights that range from the standard thin cycling jerseys to thicker merino wool long sleeved shirts.
The arms could be longer to fully cover my wrists while stretched over the handlebars. Since I live in a cold climate (Minneapolis, MN), this jacket definately will not be warm enough for early spring and late fall riding unless paired with a heavy baselayer. I found success with a really sweet Icebreaker Zone baselayer and a Kari Traa ST Jerna.
Packability: The jacket’s rear zip pocket can hold the detached sleeves when wearing as a vest. It can also hold the entire jacket and two integrated elastic straps transform the pocket into a convenient waist pack. Which, I think, is really cool about this jacket.
Final Thoughtabililty: For the $75 price point, I think it’s a decent jacket. Not great, doesn’t totally suck. It it isn’t suitable for cold-weather riding and the zipper feels flimsy and does catch quite a bit on the fabric.