By Brandon Bilyeu
- Waterproof and extremely breathable
- Very light and packable, fits in jersey pocket
- Does not wet-out like DWR treated garments, just shake the water off
- Rear vents double as jersey pocket access slots
- Long drop tail protects backside
- Available in men’s and women’s versions
- Black is the only color available
- Tight elastic wrist openings
How obtained: review sample from company
Available: retail, online, 7mesh website
Colors: Any color you want as long as it’s black
Website: 7mesh Oro Jacket
RBR Sponsor: no
Tested: 30+ hours
Reviewer Measurements and Fit Comments: 5’10” (178cm), 150 lbs (68 kgs), 33″ (84cm) waist, 33″ (84cm) inseam, 37″ (94cm) chest. Based on the size chart I ordered a size small and found the fit to be very good. The Trim Fit version of this jacket leaves room for layering underneath while minimizing excess material that can flap in the wind. There is no elastic at the waist and the jacket material does not stretch, so if you need extra room, you may need to size up.
7mesh Takes Full Advantage of SHAKEDRY Benefits
The Oro jacket has been around for a couple years, but I was excited to test it out because it is made with GORE-TEX ACTIVE SHAKEDRY fabric. I had heard lots of good things about SHAKEDRY and wanted to see for myself how it performs.
To understand the benefits of SHAKEDRY, it helps to look back at the previous waterproof technology. There are many manufacturers that make waterproof / breathable membranes and a three-layer integration is standard with the waterproof membrane sandwiched between a protective inner layer and an outer face fabric. The face fabric is treated with a non-permanent durable water repellent (DWR) finish. While the membranes always stay watertight the DWR face fabric would eventually ‘wet-out’ (become saturated with water) and once this occurs all breathability is lost. While the garment is still technically waterproof active users like cyclists can quickly overheat and get wet from sweat that can’t escape.
SHAKEDRY eliminates the face fabric and puts the waterproof, breathable, and windproof membrane on the outer surface in direct contact with the elements. The benefits of this design include no loss in breathability due to wet-out, no need to reapply DWR, and a much thinner material. A current technical limitation exists regarding color in that black is the only option. But with further development, hopefully GORE can find a way to add bright colors without hurting the membrane performance. While black is not an ideal color for a foul weather garment, the availability of excellent bike lights mitigates this issue somewhat.
7mesh took these SHAKEDRY advantages and produced a fully waterproof, breathable, and windproof jacket that weighs less than 100 grams for a size medium. To achieve this weight, the Oro doesn’t have much in terms of extra features, but was still thoughtfully designed. To minimize weight and bulk, patterning was optimized to reduce seams (sealed with tape of course) but still achieve a good on-bike fit.
Rear vents to help with cooling airflow are strategically placed low on the back to allow access to your jersey pockets underneath. Inside the left front is a single small pocket that doubles as a stuff sack for the jacket. The full zip front has a waterproof zipper with a storm flap behind. The wrists are elastic, but the waist hem is not, instead getting a raw edge with reflective tape all the way around.
SHAKEDRY Lives Up to the Hype
Since receiving the Oro jacket for testing I have taken it out with me on every single ride. This includes wet rides where it was my waterproof shell, cold rides where it was wind protection, and warm rides where it was packed in a jersey pocket as an emergency shell. And it excelled in every situation.
In the rain it is indeed 100 percent waterproof. Not a single drop got through after multiple rides in endless rain. SHAKEDRY is an accurate description, as water just runs off and a quick shake sends all the droplets flying.
Breathability is also very impressive — much better than any other waterproof jacket I have ever used. The full zip front and rear vents also allow dumping heat quickly. Certainly you can ride hard enough to overwhelm the breathability and become a sweaty mess, but the threshold is impressively high.
The elastic wrists are very small and tight making it difficult to put the jacket over gloves. This is problematic as any glove worn over the jacket will have water funneled into the glove. Also, the fabric clings to wet skin so pulling the wrists on/off wet hands can be a bit of a struggle.
Wind protection is also top notch. While the thin fabric has no insulation properties it does keep the cold air out, which is a big factor in staying warm. The cut of the jacket is 7mesh’s Trim Fit, which sits slightly off the body leaving room for insulating layers underneath. The Trim Fit combined with no elastic at the waist does mean that you only have limited room to stuff your jersey pockets.
7mesh also sells most of their cycling apparel in a tighter fitting Skin Fit and a looser Relaxed Fit, giving you lots of options.
I found that with the Trim Fit, I had to carefully choose my pocket contents to make sure I could still zip up the jacket (consider sizing up if you need extra room for gear fill pockets). Fit on the bike was non-restrictive and comfortable, which is impressive considering there is no stretch in the fabric. The close fit also reduces excess material and I didn’t experience any bothersome flapping.
As an emergency shell the Oro packs up very small into an integrated stuff pouch, but mid-ride it is usually much easier to just fold it up and shove it into a jersey pocket. Lots of packing and stuffing has had no ill effects on the performance and the thin fabric has held up surprisingly well. That said, this jacket is probably best suited for road riding only. Once you head off-road I don’t think the material will hold up well to snagging on bushes and tree branches.
Simple to Care For
As mentioned above, one benefit of the SHAKESRY material is that there is no need to constantly refresh the DWR finish with either wash-in or spray-on products. Washing the Oro is as simple as zipping it up and throwing it in the garment bag that comes with the jacket. Then machine was cold and hang to dry (or just shake it!).
The Oro jacket is very minimalist in design, but I have found it to be an incredibly versatile piece of kit. It is as light and small as any emergency shell I own and has better waterproof/breathable performance than anything I have ever worn.
The price is high, but you will likely spend that much buying separate rain / wind / emergency jackets. My pre-ride routine of trying to decide what the wear and bring with has been greatly simplified because for almost any weather situation the answer is the 7mesh Oro. If the extreme minimalist design of the Oro is not for you, there are several other cycling brands using the SHAKEDRY membrane that might be good options also.