Race Face Agent Softshell Jacket
Size Tested: Medium
- 10,000mm/10,000m2 membrane rating.
- 100% Polyester 2.5 ply fabric with custom printed membrane.
Intended Use: wet weather riding
Reviewer: 5’9” 155 lbs
Test Duration: ~10 days
Test Locations: British Columbia; Montana
Some clever person once said, “There’s no bad weather, only bad clothing,” and apparently Race Face subscribes to that mentality. I’ve spent time in an assortment of Race Face rain gear in the past, and for the most part, I’ve been pretty psyched on it. Most of the Race Face gear I’ve ridden — including the Agent jacket — was pretty clearly made by people who spend a lot of time riding when it’s wet.
Race Face makes a bunch of jackets for riding when it’s crappy out, and the Agent falls into the middle of the men’s lineup. At the lighter end is the Nano jacket, and at the burlier end is the Team Chute jacket. I’ve spent a lot of time in the Team Chute, and it’s been my go-to rain jacket for riding for a couple years now. So I wanted to see how the Agent compared.
The Agent is made out of a mid-weight material that has a good amount of stretch to it. A soft lining makes the inside of the jacket comfy, but it’s not insulated at all (which is great, since insulation would be miserably hot).
Like the Team Chute, the Agent has a non-detachable hood, but the hood on the Agent is a lot less bulky, and it bothers me less. It also has a slick little magnet that keeps it tucked out of the way, and prevents it from becoming a parachute when speeds pick up.
The Agent has the same 10,000 mm / 10,000 m2 waterproofing rating as the Team Chute, and for more info on what those numbers mean, check out our Outerwear 101 article.
In the grand scheme of things, a 10,000 mm rating is at the low end of waterproof gear, but as I noted in the Team Chute review, higher waterproof ratings also come with a higher price tag, and for most damp rides, the 10,000 / 10,000 rating works fine. I’ve done a lot of wet riding in the Team Chute and it’s kept me dry, and so far, a few wet rides in the Agent jacket have been similarly successful. In a short but torrential downpour the other day that had me contemplating building a boat (we’re talking 1” of rain in 15 minutes), the Agent kept everything dry.
Unlike the Team Chute jacket that uses pit zips for venting, the Agent jacket has two zippered vents in the front, and a tacked flap across the shoulder blades.
Those two zippers that look like they could be breast pockets? Those are the front vents. On the trail, that system worked surprisingly well — with the vents open, I got a noticeable amount of air flowing through and out the back flap. The only downside here is that it won’t work nearly as well with a pack on — the pack will close off the rear vent.
The hip pockets on the Agent are pretty straightforward and functional. My only complaint with regard to the Agent’s pockets is the lack of a good place to put sunglasses.
The Agent fits fairly slim throughout; while it’s not tight, it’s definitely not bulky. I rode in a size Medium, which I’d say is on par with most other companies’ Medium sizes. The cut is pretty long both in the torso and the sleeves, which means the jacket doesn’t creep up at all while in the riding position. That said, the Agent also works fine for walking around town; the fit isn’t so riding-specific that it was uncomfortable or looked weird in off-the-bike scenarios.
Durability and Packability
Somewhat as expected, since the Agent sits in the middle of Race Face’s lineup; it’s almost in the middle in terms of packability and durability. It won’t cram into a pack as easily as the Nano Pullover, and the material isn’t as stout as the Team Chute’s.
I don’t yet have enough time in the Agent to make any long term conclusions about durability, but so far, it’s taken normal trail riding abuse in stride. I also have a lot of days in the Team Chute jacket, and if that jacket is any indicator, the Agent will hold up just fine.
I’ve spent time in the Agent jacket running lift-served laps in the Whistler bike park, pedaling around valley trails, and standing around in post-ride rain showers. In all situations, I’ve been impressed — it’s breathable enough that it’s comfortable to pedal in, the fit is perfect for all manners of riding, and most importantly, it’s kept me dry and comfortable. Like every rain shell I’ve ridden in, it definitely gets hot if I’m really exerting myself, but I’d say the Agent is on par with the more breathable and better ventilated options I’ve tried. The fit definitely works well for riding, and it has enough room that I can run some layers underneath it if necessary.
Long story short: my time in the jacket wasn’t memorable at all, and that’s about the best thing I can say for a piece of clothing that I’m wearing in crappy weather — I’d only notice it if it isn’t working right.
The Agent is an awesome riding jacket, and aside for wishing for a better pocket to stash sunglasses in, I don’t have any complaints. If I was looking for a jacket to wear while primarily riding chairlifts or running shuttles, I’d probably still go with the Team Chute, since packability is less of an issue, and the thicker fabric will ward off crashes better.
But if I was looking for a jacket to throw in the pack for a long backcountry ride, or if I just wanted a jacket that was a bit more versatile, I’d take the Agent; it can handle a real storm better than the Nano Pullover, but it’s more breathable and more packable than the Team Chute. Compared to any number of other PacLite hiking jackets, it’s comparable in terms of waterproofing, maybe a bit more breathable, and more than anything else, the cut works better for riding.