POC GUARDIAN AIR JACKET REVIEW
Review by Sourpatch | Photos by Max Rhulen & Drew Rohde
A wind breaker can make riding in dry but cool conditions much more comfortable, typically breathing and moving considerably better than a waterproof alternative yet keeping the wind-induced chill away. As POC continues to develop their ride wear range, they’re adding more options for intermediate conditions to their lineup, offering nearly full-body coverage using their items. The Guardian Air windproof jacket is one of those items, which we’ve been putting to the test over the last couple wintery months, to find out how it performs.
The Guardian Air Jacket is essentially a fancy, lightweight wind-shell from POC. For comfort and mobility, the jacket uses a 4-way stretch fabric throughout, blended with Cordura to add a layer of durability. High-wear sections and areas of the jacket that are likely to brush against the environment have added Ripstop reinforcement for extra durability. There’s an under-helmet hood, which is stowable for the times it’s not required, and an elasticated hem to keep the jacket in place when riding. To aid in keeping the rider dry in light rain, a Fluorocarbon-free DWR treatment has been used, and POC added permanent underarm ventilation to help prevent overheating. When it comes to storage, a pair of zippered pockets can be found on the left chest pocket area and left flank area. These two pockets are relatively small: big enough for car keys or a pack of Sour Skittles, and maybe a flip phone if you haven’t indulged in mobile technological improvements, but nothing much bigger.
POC’s Guardian Air Jacket is available in 3 different colorways: Moonstone Grey, Uranium Black and the Axinite Brown tested. On the sizing front, the Guardian Air Jacket comes in 6 sizes ranging from XS all the way to XXL, and it’ll run you $160 or £150.
The large POC Guardian Air Jacket offers a decent fit on my 6’1” chassis. I might prefer a traditional hem on most tops, but the “cyclist” cut aids in comfort, preventing any bunching that can happen while hunched over on a climb. I commend POC on choosing the sleeve length that they did, whether scrunched over the cockpit or extended yanking on a jump, the cuffs stayed steadily in place, secured over the top of my glove’s cuffs. POC designed the jacket with an under-helmet hood, a style I’m not a big fan of, thankfully, the hood was JUST big enough to kind of cover the Fox SpeedFrame helmet I was wearing.
I typically paired the Guardian Air Jacket with one of my favorite thermals as the temps were less than desirable during the test period, somewhere around the 40-degree mark. The thermal I run keeps me on the over-warmed side with most jackets, however the POC jacket counterbalanced the heat thanks to its breathability, making them a perfect combo for the near freezing temperatures. The Guardian Air Jacket does a fairly decent job of fending off excessive wind, without giving many of the “boil in a bag” sensations that a waterproof jacket at this price point often produces.
During a video project, we tried to race incoming rain and unfortunately didn’t meet that goal, putting the jacket to the test. What started out as a light, consistent drizzle turned into a much heavier rainfall short of torrential. During the beginning of the storm, the Guardian Air Jacket’s DWR coating did an okay job fending off the precipitation and remaining dry inside. However, after being in the increasingly heavier rain for about 30 minutes, it proved too much for the coating. The sleeves, shoulder and back area all started to let the water soak in, allowing for my thermal base layer to begin holding water. POC only claims that the jacket is capable of fending off a light rain, and sure enough that’s about all it could do.
The Wolf’s Last Word
In typical POC fashion, the Guardian Air Jacket tips the price scales on the higher side for a wind jacket at $160. It has a comfortable fit, solid construction and hosts a number of well-considered features, I just don’t know if it’s enough to justify the price tag even with the light DWR coating. That said, if you’re a rider looking for a minimalistic yet feature-packed wind shell and don’t let price play a factor, the POC Guardian Air Jacket is an option worth looking at.
Colors: Moonstone Grey, Black, Brown
Sizes: XS – XXL
Disclosure: Our team selects all of the products we review and do so with honesty and objectivity in mind. Some of the products we receive come directly from Competitive Cyclist, who also value our readers and have offered them a 15% discount (exclusions apply) on their first purchase by using LOAMWOLF15. Through this program we may also receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thanks for your support, TLW.