Remember that high school buddy who souped up an old Datsun 510, then went looking for suckers to race? The Taku is his kind of jacket. At first glance this 2005 Gear of the Year pick is just another storm shell, but a closer look reveals a whole lotta functional horsepower.
1. The co-op deploys both "hard" and "soft" fabrics in all the right places, tapes all seams, and pulls off impressive abrasion resistance throughout. Swaths of ElementsREI's three-layer waterproof-breathable fabricshed Cascades-grade deluges on hood, shoulders, and cuffs.
2. An inside zipper flap shuts out drafts and keeps this jacket looking sleek, while rubberized pulls make opening and closing effortless, even with chubby gloves.
3. Thanks to stretchy, snug-fitting side panels, the Taku's hood cinches around both your head and face for a fit that feels custom-molded. Even in the whipping wind at Point Reyes National Seashore, the hood stayed put, my peripheral vision remained clear, and I could actually hear what my friend was saying.
4. A single sidepiece, span- ning from waist to wrist, prevents the Taku from riding up when you reach, midcloudburst, to clamp your bike down on the roof rack. Near-invisible core vents, positioned out of the path of pack straps, afford full access to your base-layer pockets.
5. Go ahead, layer it with a deep-pile fleece. The Taku's well-tailored, articulated designseven fabric panels per facing sidewon't make you feel like you're wearing a snowsuit.