Ground Effect delivers on women’s winter wear promise
- by Tracey Matthies
- Published: 8 July 2014
Ground Effect’s women’s winter range makes some big promises which I was really hoping they could meet. In past years there have been winter mornings when I’ve arrived at work, enjoyed a long, hot shower, dressed in warm winter clothes, downed a bowl of hot porridge and steaming cup of coffee, and turned on the fan heater tucked under my desk. Yet hours later I’m still shivering because I had truly become chilled to the core. With the weather forecast telling me to expect really cold mornings with lots of rain, I was very keen to try the She Shell rain jacket and Ice Queen pullover when they arrived.
I’ve always worked on the layering principle, but the long sleeved, fleecy-lined jersey of dubious heritage and the various spray jackets and raincoats that I have used in the past just weren’t doing the job. The jackets may have kept the rain and wind out, but they would leave me a dripping, sweaty mess in no time at all. At least my merino undershirt provided a good base layer.
For my situation and climate, Ground Effect recommended their soft shell, fleece-lined Ice Queen pullover with WindFoil protection on the front, sleeves, and shoulders to tackle the cold, plus their lightweight, waterproof-breathable She Shell rain jacket. Armed with this combination, I confronted the elements.
First up, let me talk about the Ice Queen in Cobalt Blue, size WXL – it’s warm and the sleeves are long enough to avoid that wrist-chill that comes when sleeves and gloves don’t overlap far enough. The Ice Queen more than holds its own on mild days of between 10 to 14 degrees Celsius with only a regular jersey underneath, and I was able to easily regulate my temperature with the extra long front zip which features a windflap to prevent cold spots.
As the temperature dropped to upper single digits, I added my merino undershirt and still felt warm enough without overheating. Understandably, at the four degree mark I was looking for another layer for my arms, but the Ice Queen was still meeting my key requirement of protecting my torso from becoming chilled.
The Ice Queen has two forward-facing pockets described as ‘backpack-friendly’, hipster security pockets, as well as the obligatory Ground Effect secret tube repair patch (also found in the She Shell rain jacket). The Cobalt Blue color is confined to the areas of the pullover protected by the WindFoil material. On the review garment, the remainder of the pullover is a dark grey, although the back-warming WhaleTail has reflective flashes. Despite the grey, I haven’t experienced any close shaves, SMIDSY’s, or other driver behaviours that suggested I was any less visible than usual. I had no such visibility qualms with the She Shell rain jacket in Red Hot!
The She Shell performs exactly as promised on the Ground Effect website, repelling rain and wind with its lightweight, waterproof-breathable HydroFoil fabric, fully tape-sealed seams, and Whale-Tail back. Other features include a full length zip and storm-flap with a Velcro closure to keep the rain out, thumb loops so your sleeves never ride up your arms, and a skullcap hood worn beneath your helmet.
I’ve worn rain jacket hoods under my helmet in the past, but never for very long because they tend to slip as I turn my head and end up blocking my peripheral vision. The She Shell hood fits snugly, but without feeling tight, and never moved. It also kept my ears warm without significant hearing loss. With the zipper fully closed and the hood on, there was no chance of rain getting down inside the front of the jacket either.
The other clever thing about the She Shell is that it becomes its own bumbag. The She Shell folds into its back pocket where an adjustable belt with buckle resides. The bumbag has enough space to carry a banana or other snack, keys, and phone.
I have a couple of decent hill climbs on my 30km commute, and I work hard enough to build up a sweat; the chunky underarm zips are easily operated by one hand, so the She Shell didn’t turn into a sauna suit. And it was simple enough to zip up again to keep the wind out on the downhill fly.
I tested the She Shell in a WL size and, while it performed well, for my wearing comfort I would have preferred a WXL. Guy, from Ground Effect, says there are no plans at this stage to make the She Shell in a WXL, although they are always reviewing their options. Check out the sizing chart and, if necessary ladies, step up to the Storm Trooper in L or XL. Guy says the only compromise is that the sleeves may be a bit longer than necessary. In my opinion, that would only be a compromise if the sleeves were shorter!
The Ground Effect Ice Queen windproof winter riding pullover is available in WS, WM and WL sizes in Agent Orange and Cobalt Blue, with WXL offered in Cobalt Blue only for Aus $179.00.
The Ground Effect She Shell rain jacket is available in three sizes, WS, WM and WL, and four colours, Agent Orange, Azure Blue, Bowling Green and Red Hot, for Aus $269.00
Photos © Justin Matthies