At first glance, the Versa jacket from Sugoi appears to be a nice but by no means remarkable jacket made for cycling and aerobic outdoor sports. In old-school speak, the jacket is a “windbreaker,” with resistance to water (but not waterproof) and wind, and a breathable polyester fabric face. But wait! Are those magnets up its sleeves?
Indeed, one particular feature Sugoi touts — “removable raglan sleeves attached with magnets” — immediately caught my eye. I first saw the Versa at the Interbike expo in Las Vegas last September, where a representative from the company gave a type of striptease in the trade show booth to demonstrate the jacket’s unique functionality.
In short, when you heat up while wearing the Versa, its sleeves and a portion of the upper back area snap off and convert the jacket to a vest. Magnets hold it in place. The system makes for an easy-on, easy-off setup, letting a bike rider — with some practice! — “de-sleeve” the jacket while pedaling and stuff the arms away in a pocket without skipping a stroke.
I tested the Versa, which costs $120, while running and biking this fall. The jacket’s adaptability made it nice for cool days where you start out cold but then heat up fast. Breathability and fit were commendable, making the Versa my pick for high heart-rate workouts on cool days over the past month.
Taking the magnet-equipped sleeves off is a cinch. Getting them back on is at first more of a mystery. But Sugoi has nailed this design, and with a simple shrug of the shoulders the sleeves find their place and the magnets snap home. Slick!
The Versa is new for this fall, and it comes in men’s and women’s cuts as well as in several colors. There are three pockets and a splay of 3M Scotchlite reflective accents to make you more visible at night.
As noted, the jacket is water-resistant, but not waterproof, and there is no hood. The Versa is aimed at outdoor exercisers, and it’s not the best option for wilderness trips or multi-day rides.
But for cool-weather training on the bike or in running shoes — or for a strange striptease in a Las Vegas trade show booth — the magnet-equipped Versa stands alone.
—Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com.