As a cyclist, you’ve at least got to have a “go-to” lightweight shell for both wind and weather protection. On long rides in the mountains, there’s bound to be a thunderstorm that will appear out of nowhere — that’s when the Hincapie Elemental Rain Shell comes in handy.

Hincapie Elemental Rain Shell Features:

  • Lightweight E5 2L Barrier Rainshell™ material is windproof and highly water-resistant.
  • Soft and pliable, tightly woven 2-layer ripstop fabric creates a quiet outerwear garment.
  • Weather protective front placket hides the front zipper.
  • Weather protective cuffs and collar and critical seam tape seal out the elements.
  • Generous, water protective, zippered back pocket protects contents.
  • Reflective treatments for high visibility.
  • Weight: 220g (size medium)
  • Colors: Black or White (tested)
  • MSRP: $100

Hincapie Elemental Shell - Black

The Elemental is Lightweight and Packable

Revised for spring, the Elemental Shell retains all of the lightweight goodness, but with a few twists (which I’ll cover). At its core, the Elemental is a super-light shell that’s easily stuffed into a back jersey pocket for those “just in case” moments. Once rolled up, it’s about the size of a can of soda, so it’s a no-brainer to bring along.

I’d put the fit a tad on the generous side. All lengths are perfect in a size medium (I’m 5’11” – 170 lbs), but since the fabric does have a bit of stretch to it, the sleeve and torso cuts could be a little more svelte. As-is, there’s no constricted movements whatsoever, but you do have to deal with an excess of wind flapping — so much that I sometimes thought there was someone or something chasing me down from behind.

Hincapie Elemental Shell Review

The first ride was on a cool, blustery 45-degree day.

I’ve put the Elemental to the test on cold and windy rides and also light rain. Slapping this on top of a long-sleeve jersey and long-sleeve base layer resulted in a comfortable ride in low 40-degree temps. Wind and weather protection has been great, but at this price, you don’t get the best breathability. If you want a super-versatile shell that will breathe, you’ll have to pony up for the Hincapie Edge eVent Shell or, my favorite, the Sugoi RSE NeoShell (at almost three times the cost). But, at $100, the Elemental performs as I’d expect. To improve breathability, Hincapie designers should build in some vents or mix up with some breathable materials in key areas.

The simplicity of the Elemental is great and again, the price is easy on the wallet. For this spring, the front zipper and collar got some revisions. The zipper retains the ability to be zipped up from the bottom — facilitating access to rear jersey pockets (a nice touch). But, the weather flap has now been placed outside the zipper instead of being inside. While this improves the water resistance, it makes reaching the zipper much more difficult — particularly when wearing cold-weather gloves.

Hincapie Elemental Shell Review

Moisture build-up inside the jacket, tall collar height and elastic sleeve cuffs keep sleeves in place.

The collar height is very tall, which retains heat and increases protection, but does interfere with helmet straps. The diameter of the collar is perfect so as not to restrict movements as well. Sleeve length is good and the simple elastic cuffs stayed put atop my gloves for an excellent windproof barrier. The elastic hem and drop tail also maintains coverage, but could use some grippy rubber to stay put a little better.

It’s nice having a rear pocket, which I used for my iPhone. You could fit a few things in there, but don’t count on accessing them while on the bike. I’m not adept enough to do it and that’s why I prefer vertical zippers for rear jacket pockets.

The Good

  • Lightweight and packable
  • Excellent weather resistance
  • Bi-directional front zipper improves jersey access
  • Hi-vis white color is easily seen
  • Soft hand that’s also pretty quiet

The Bad

  • Breathability could be improved with vents
  • Fit is generous and flaps in the wind
  • Zipper is difficult to access on-the-fly (due to outside placket)
  • Rear pocket is hard to unzip (vertical zippers are preferred for rear pockets)

The Bottom Line

The Hincapie Elemental Shell is economical and packs down to a very small size for the protection it provides. There are a few nit-picks and breathability could be better, but it’s certainly an option worth considering in the $100-or-less price range.

Buy Now: Available at CompetitiveCyclist.com ($69.95 as of publish time)

About Author

A Seattle native, Jason developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 --sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.

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