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Beta Editors’ Choice: Specialized Trail Short Sleeve Rain Anorak Jacket

No sleeves, no problem

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We were at the Beta Tests when I saw it in the box. I was so excited. It’s like Specialized had read my mind. A pullover hooded rain jacket. It’s seemed too good to be true. 

It was. 

As I tore into the packaging, grabbed it by the shoulders, and gave it a good crack to unfold it I couldn’t believe what I was seeing: There were no sleeves. Yep, a short-sleeve rain jacket. I looked back at the empty packaging thinking that maybe there were some sort of space-aged removable magnetic sleeves in there. Nope, just everything I ever wanted in a rain jacket except for the damn sleeves. 

Finally, the confused silence was broken by a roar of laughter. We all laughed. For the rest of the trip and anytime it rained, we joked about the sleeveless rain jacket. But secretly I had grabbed it and stashed it away for the day when I might wear it. I figured, there must be a reason it exists. Perhaps there’s a perfect weather situation that called for such a garment.

The Jacket was nothing more than the butt of the joke for an entire calendar year. And then I rode with it. You know those days when it’s raining, but not really—it’s more of a heavy mist? The ride starts off cold, but you quickly heat up and start sweating. And the trails are wet, so you still need something to prevent getting soaked from below. Just a classic Pacific Northwest day. It was one of those days when I pulled out the sleeveless rain jacket from the back of the closet.

And that’s where the story gets weird—I actually liked it. Somehow the logic behind this strange jacket began to make sense.

It all came into focus as I started on the climb. On all my other rain jackets—you know, the ones with sleeves—the arms do tend to overheat. Moisture pools inside the forearms and around the gloves. The heat just can’t escape, but you still need a waterproof layer to keep your core warm and dry. That’s where the short-sleeve rain Anorak jacket shines. 

The gusseted half zip allows for venting without the collar flapping in the wind.

Despite the lack of full coverage, it’s a techy piece of kit. Three-layer waterproof fabric with taped seams keep the water off your back from tire spray. The hood is helmet compatible if it is raining. Perhaps my favorite feature is the half zip on the neck. I run it fully unzipped most of the time, but the neoprene fabric keeps the neck in place while still venting heat when you’re pedaling hard. The neck comes up quite high as well. I don’t know what technical benefit this gives other than it feels cozy and stylish. 

Always integrating, Specialized includes a side zipper for access to items stored in SWAT bibs.

On the topic of style. I really do think this brings a touch of style to your kit. It’s unique and I love that it’s not trying to be a tech road piece, or a neon moto-inspired monstrosity. It’s just a damn cool mountain bike jacket with no sleeves, because apparently, we never really needed them for days like these anyways. I can’t say that folks looking at me on the trail with my short-sleeve rain shell are thinking the same thing, but I love the way I feel when I wear it. Look good, feel good, ride good, right? 

For how much we all scoffed at this jacket when we first saw it, I can’t imagine this winter riding without it. At $150 dollars it’s a big no-sleeved investment, but it’s become my go to piece of kit for winter riding in the Northwest. And no, I don’t care if you think it looks strange, the Anorak rules.

The Anorak even folds up into a neat package that can be carried like a hip pack.

Photos: Anthony Smith