Castelli Idro Pro 2 Cycling Jacket Review
Gravel racing is a unique challenge and it requires unique equipment. The Castelli Idro Pro 2 jacket is a jacket that’s perfect for the challenge.
I don’t do much racing but in 2019 I took part in the Gorge Gravel Grinder. After that race I knew I wanted to talk about the Idro Pro 2 jacket as it related to gravel racing. In the fall of 2019 I spent months working with Castelli to make that happen.
Sometimes a product is so good it’s worth spending months to bring you coverage.
I am talking about this process because there are a ton of options when it comes to cycling jackets. The Idro Pro 2 is a jacket with a unique set of features. So unique that I was willing to spend months arranging things to bring you coverage. I rode with it a couple of times in the fall then I sat on the coverage until I had the chance to use it in the race and report back. Unfortunately, like every other group cycling event, the Gorge Gravel Grinder isn’t happening. There will come a time when group riding comes back though and when it does the Idro Pro 2 from Castelli is still the best option on the market. Also, if you are riding alone outside right now the temperature in my area of the world is perfect for this jacket.
The Castelli Idro Pro 2 is a bit of an old piece in the Castelli line up. It was one of the first products on the market utilizing the Shakedry technology from Gore-Tex. Shakedry is a material so thin it feels like the type of material you find used for packable emergency jackets such as the Sportful Hot Pack. Gore achieves the thin construction by removing any face fabric and making the Gore-Tex membrane the face.
By removing any face fabrics Gore has created an ultrathin material that brings the same breathability and water resistance Gore-Tex is famous for.
This construction makes the material thinner than anything else on the market. It’s also completely waterproof without relying on a chemical coating. It does make it somewhat delicate and without much stretch. In the Idro Pro 2 Castelli has balanced the need for stretch by incorporating another Gore-Tex technology. In key areas there’s a fabric called Topo. Topo retains the same water resistance and breathability but it’s textured in a way that allows for a mechanical stretch. Think of the way a folded piece of paper can stretch and you’ll get the idea.
The technologies from Gore-Tex make this jacket possible but it’s Castelli that makes the Idro Pro 2 unique. Castelli leans on extensive experience as a cycling company to design in the features that cyclists need. The fit is aero and there’s no errant flapping in the wind. At the rear you’ll find an extra long drop tail to help protect from spray off the rear wheel. At the collar there is a soft inner coating that feels good against your neck. The killer feature though, the feature that makes this jacket unique on the market, is a pair of external pockets.
Hardshell jackets are better at shedding collected mud.
I prefer a hard shell jacket for riding, and racing, on muddy dirt and gravel surfaces. I also prefer to keep my bike unencumbered by frame bags. This leaves me carrying everything I need in my jersey pockets. This set of desires is where Castelli and the Idro Pro 2 bring a feature no one else has. Pockets! The Castelli Idro Pro 2 is one of the only hardshell jackets on the market that includes pockets.
A big mistakes I made while racing the Gorge Gravel Grinder in 2019 was not eating enough. The Columbia River Gorge is famous for wind. If you are riding in the area it’s something you’ll need to contend with. During the race it’s essential to find a group and work with other riders. Even during a race I don’t want to be a selfish rider who sits on the wheels of everyone without contributing. I took my turns on the front and I stuck to the pack no matter how hard it was.
Jackets without pockets can leave food inaccessible while riding.
This kind of effort had me burning 900 calories an hour and I couldn’t get to my food. I had plenty of food with me but it was under my jacket, in my jersey pocket, and might as well have been in the car. The Castelli Idro Pro 2 has two pockets, with ample drainage, that make your food accessible. It’s the best jacket for gravel racing in bad weather.
I focused on gravel racing for this review. When you are racing there’s a lot less flexibility. Riding alone, or with a small group, you might stop and take a minute to get food out. When racing you don’t have that flexibility. That doesn’t mean the Idro Pro 2 is only good for racing though. Anytime you are riding in rain bad enough to overwhelm a softshell the Idro Pro 2 becomes a good option. Even when you aren’t racing the pockets give the flexibility to choose only a winter base layer, without pockets, under the jacket.