In the spring an old man’s fancy turns to … windbreakers.
I don’t know why, but I must have a new one each spring. If spring ever comes, I must have a new garment for my (rapidly diminishing) activities of biking, kayaking and forced marches.
I do not need a windbreaker. I want a new windbreaker.
I have more windbreakers than anyone I know. I have so many in my house that the wall hooks will no longer hold them all. If you try to add another to the hooks, it will simply fall on the floor.
I have them in dry bags. I have them in backpacks. I have them in a bicycle saddle bag. I have them in my car. My latest purchase was a neon-yellow windbreaker to make my large frame even more visible to dim-eyed motorists from Massachusetts and New York. Truth be told, I have never had that screaming yellow jacket on my back. I have barely ridden my Trek 750 since I returned from Florida last year.
Florida has paved bike trails clearly separated from automobile travel. Maine does not, at least not on the midcoast. I often drive to Machias just to have a safe bike trip (plus strawberry pie at Helen’s.)
My shopping manias used to be confined to flashlights and camping knives. They are both scattered all over Cobb Manor, the bike and the car. It is better to have one and not need it than … well, you know.
Back to windbreakers.
If I ever launch the kayak or Trek 750 this spring, I will feel much, much better in a new windbreaker. Let’s check the luxury outdoor offering of Men’s Journal, one of the few magazines I actually read every month. This month I took an imaginary Triumph motorcycle trip through Cuba, thanks to Men’s Journal.
I knew they would have an array of windbreakers, which they call “ The New Shell game.”
Let’s check out the Columbia OutDry EX Diamond shell. You must know that most shells sandwich waterproofing between layers of fabric. Our OutDry shell has an exterior storm barrier that “repels more rain for a longer period of time.” This better work because the price is $400. Yup, $400. That costs more than my bike.
Let’s get a little more normal. The Velocio rain jacket offers a two-and-a-half layer membrane to deflect rain and wind. It offers a flexible fabric, a trim cut and sculptured arms, whatever that means. Reflective details will protect you from those speeding, careening New York drivers. If it saves your miserable life once, the $249 price tag will be worth it
Too much? The Mountain Hardwear Supercharger has sealed seams “to keep the squalls out” but weighs only 6.1 ounces. The extra big hood fits over your bike helmet and costs a mere $225.
Still not sold?
I offer the Mammut MTR 201 Rainspeed HS. I have no idea what any of that means, but this is supposed to be “the perfect just-in-case layer” for that sudden storm. It weighs only 7.1 ounces and packs into its own chest pocket. They are giving this away for a mere $180.
How about a jacket that weighs the same as a bag of M&Ms or an amazing 1.7 ounces? The Montane Featherlite 7 was designed for “the trekker who strips down to just the essentials to save pack weight.” Despite the light weight, the Featherlite “stands up to howling winds along ridges and can fend off a pop-up rain shower.” A mere $149.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t plan any hiking, biking or paddling in “howling winds.” I have a very close relation at L.L. Bean’s and I would not dream of spending that much dough.
Perhaps I will stick to the dozen-odd windbreakers and shells that I possess. Maybe I will even road test that neon-yellow number … if spring ever comes.
Emmet Meara lives in Camden in blissful retirement after working as a reporter for the Bangor Daily News in Rockland for 30 years.