Overall: Five Stars for a unique design that allows you to don and remove a highly water-resistant windshirt without removing your pack. Only caveat is that it’s not an all-purpose windshirt for touring, since removing your pack is more cumbersome once the Flash Competition Anorak is already being worn. Plus for two-person team races in cold and/or wet weather, unless you and your partner get the black color, then you might have trouble regrouping because almost everyone else will be wearing the same orange Flash Anorak (seriously).
Background on product familiarity: For three seasons so far, pretty much whenever I’ve worn a lycra race suit for training or racing, I bring along the Flash Anorak, usually clipped around my waist. I’ve also used it a few times for touring situations with more regular clothes. Sizing for CAMP clothing is somewhat of a mystery, but the size Medium seems to have just the right relatively loose fit on me (at 5’8” 145lb, with 37” chest and 33” sleeve).
First, the first impressions out of the box: The weight is unexceptional (since some windshirts weight less than half this), but the design is truly unique, as it can be donned and removed without accessing your pack. And in nifty little attention to detail, small covered slits are provided so that you can poke through your hydration tube and bite valve from your pack underneath.
The buckle for the elastic waistband is small, but still okay as it needs to be accessed only at the very beginning and end of any outing. The partial zipper is fairly long, which is a plus for venting, although combined with a relatively high collar, unzipping it from the very top is a two-handed operation (as otherwise the material is too floppy to unzip with one hand).
Second impressions, in use: The ability to don and then remove your windshirt while still skinning (slowing down only slightly and briefly) is not only a major timesaver for races, but also helps to remove another little annoyance while training. And the extra protection from the elements is just perfect for when your lycra race suit isn’t quite enough, with good breathability. The hood fits fine over a helmet. For touring though, I use other windshirts when I might need to access my pack for other reasons, since otherwise I would first need to remove Flash before removing my pack.
The only problem with donning the Flash Anorak is that the design entails lots of Velcro, which can lead to some brief entanglements. And when I wore it over just a regular shirt for a long tour in a wet snowstorm, I was definitely pushing its water resistance limits.
Third impressions, for long-term durability: My only problem so far has been that the rather small yet critical Velcro tabs in back started to curl up, hampering closure with cold number fingers. I solved this just by sewing on larger more aggressive Velcro from a hardware store.
Deployed this halfway up the second of three ~2,000' vertical laps at a race this past weekend when the winds really starting blowing even more (while the sun was still hiding, and the summit -10F temperature not budging) -- barely had to slow down my skinning pace while securing this!
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