Mavic’s latest Stratos H2O jacket uses a waterproof and breathable Cocona Xcelerator fabric (instead of Gore-Tex PacLite), which is quite different from most other cycling jacket materials, technically speaking.
Rather than a DWR coating, Cocona has a microporous internal membrane with a dense pore structure to wick away sweat, vapour and odours. This ‘activated carbon’ layer is made from recycled coconut husks and embedded into man-made fabrics to increase the surface area of the yarns — increasing absorption when drawing moisture and helping convert liquid into vapour to evaporate across the barrier. Since the technology is within the fibres, the manufacturer also claims washing will retain or improve performance throughout product life.
I’m always sceptical about bold waterproof fabric performance claims, but the Mavic jacket works exceptionally well for a high-output activity like mountain biking. As with any shell, heat and moisture will build up as you sweat, but (even with heavy-duty rain and splash protection) the inside dried quicker than any product in last month’s shoot-out, including Montane’s very breathable Pertex Shield+ fabric.
The articulated cut is superb — plenty of tail, a good length, and fitted Velcro cuffs in the arms afford total freedom of movement even with the body-hugging aerodynamic shape. A double-zipped front fastening allows you to ride with just the XL vent strip holding the jacket closed for extra airflow. The flimsy mesh keeps rider temperature well controlled on milder days, but can flap about your neck a bit when the front zips are fully open. There are also generous underarm vents, reflective strips, Mavic’s signature Pak Back opener to cover your pack if needed, and bonded scuff-guards at the elbows.
The Stratos H2O is one of the best waterproofs available in terms of fit, styling and function, albeit with a few caveats: it’s not cheap (or even quite affordable); after a 30°C wash, the expensive white fabric remained dirty where the pack straps had ground in mud (I’d prefer an all-black option for the UK); and the zip-off hood doesn’t quite cover an all-mountain lid. What speaks loudest, though, is that even with a huge selection of test jackets from last month still to hand, the H2O has become my undisputed first choice for winter riding.
specification Weight: 440g / Sizes: XXS-XL / Contact: mavic.com
Mbr rating: 9