Specialized Deflect Pac Jacket
A Rain Jacket That Packs a Punch
Mia Huth - June 22, 2021
For nearly every ride over the last two years, I have ridden with the Specialized Deflect Pac Jacket in my jersey pocket, seat bag or hydration pack. As often as I’ve pulled it out for the passing afternoon rain shower, I have worn it out the door on chilly morning rides and pulled it out of my pocket for the long dark ride home. It has taken me a number of tries to find a rain jacket that strikes a balance between water shedding performance, breathability and packed size. Without having to break the bank, the Deflect Pac Jacket is pretty darn close to that unicorn do-everything outer shell. If you ride in Colorado without a rain jacket, or if you are looking to refresh your rain gear, here is a review of a jacket that fits the bill.
In men’s or women’s, the Deflect Pac Jacket is cut to hug the body. We’re not talking skin tight, but there is not a lot of extra material to flap around in the wind. I like a slim fitting rain jacket when I’m using it for cycling because it takes up very little space in my pockets and it isn’t billowy on descents. I find this jacket gives me sufficient range of motion in the shoulders and it is plenty long in the arms, with a long-but-not-too-long back panel to cover the lower back. Consistent with slim-fitting apparel, size up if you have wide hips or shoulders.
Most packable rain jackets are sweaty and intolerable to wear under any condition that isn’t rain. Sure, I might overheat while wearing the Deflect Pac Jacket on a long, climb, but as far as lightweight rain jackets are concerned, this one breathes. I end up wearing it for wind protection or when the sun dips behind the mountains as much as I do for keeping the rain off my back. It is for good reason that Specialized calls this "the quiver killer." You don't need a wind jacket with the Deflect Pac Jacket around.
It Packs Really Small
The Deflect Pac Jacket’s most redeeming quality is its size! True to its name, the Pac Jacket easily rolls up into a pocket, straps to a frame with an Occam Strap (see title photo), or packs into a seat bag so you never have an excuse to be caught out in the rain without a jacket. Ever.
Two-way Waterproof Zipper
A zipper that opens from the bottom makes accessing jersey pockets easy. The zipper is waterproof, so you don’t get water seeping through your middle, but this zipper is stiff and can be hard to zip or unzip with one hand.
The color options are one of my personal frustrations about this jacket. Plum purple and olive green are beautiful, but I find they completely disappear into the backdrop of riding on the road. And black doesn’t have much going for it in terms of safety either. In a cycling specific rain jacket I am looking for colors that stand out from my surroundings—not quite fluorescent hues, but somewhere in the middle of blaze orange and solid black.
It’s Pretty Waterproof
In light rain the Deflect Pac Jacket is impermeable to water—mist and light rain beads and rolls off the material for over an hour, which is enough time to find shelter or for our short Colorado thunderstorms to pass. However, the Pac Jackets’ limits are met in an utter deluge. About 20 minutes into a torrential rain, I can feel water beginning to seep through the shoulder material. At about 40 minutes, my jersey starts to become noticeably damp. The Deflect Pac Jacket isn’t a great option if you expect to ride for an extended period of time in the rain—it is a pocket sized rain jacket priced at $150 after all. For higher level protection that you can pull out of your pocket in a serious downpour you’ll need to step up to mountaineering level materials. The Specialized Race Series Rain Jacket made of Polartec® Neoshell®, for example, retails for a whopping $375 and checks every box except affordability. In contrast with something more basic, Endura’s Pro Adrenaline Race Cape at $100 is affordable, small and waterproof, but lacks breathability almost completely, making it truly an emergency rain piece. With enough waterproofing for passing rain, or to get me to shelter in the worst of storms, offering the flexibility to wear it as a wind jacket, all without compromising packed size, I am happy with Specialized Deflect Pac Jacket’s performance. For the price, the Pac Jacket covers a lot of ground.
For versatility, size, fit and price, the Deflect Pac Jacket is at the top of its class, and like most gear, it has room for improvement. Here in Colorado, where not packing a rain jacket on a sunny summer day can lead to dangerous consequences (like descending 2,500ft in a hailstorm), I have learned the hard way to never start pedaling without a few pieces of emergency gear. The Specialized Pac Jacket is one of those pieces. In fact, I like it so much I would even recommend it in black. Just bring a good taillight along with you.
When Mia isn’t diving down bike and gear rabbit holes, you will find her on self-propelled adventures in the great outdoors. Fueled by pocket sized pancake pb&j's, her sense of wonder is satiated in the big, wide landscapes of Colorado.