Review: Pas Normal Studios Essential Shield Waterproof Jacket

Premium waterproof cycling jacket

Feature type Review

Read time 6 mins

Published Jun 23, 2023

Author Chris Hunt

Photographer Ben Wormald

Chris Hunt BASE Editor and Bristol-based adventure writer with a penchant for travel by bike, interesting coastlines and adventures that end in the pub.

The Verdict

A sturdy, dependable and well vented waterproof cycling jacket with a more casual fit ideal for winter layers.

RRP £340
Fabric 3 layer waterproof
Features Underarm vents, dual back pockets, extended back flap


  • Smart, clean aesthetic
  • Nice functional design and cut
  • Constructed using sturdy materials


  • Very expensive
  • Large pack size

What I’m looking for

I’m a bit of a self-confessed fabrics nerd, particularly when it comes to waterproof shells. And I’ve got one suited to most different occasions. As I spend a large amount of my outdoors time perched upon a bike saddle, that also means I’ve got several bike specific jackets.

So what makes a good bike jacket? Ultimately, as is the case for all outdoor rain shells, it’s about striking that desired balance between protection and breathability, suitable for the job at hand. Secondly, comes fit. A jacket that doesn’t quite sit right on the bike will soon become a nuisance. I want something that doesn’t flap about wildly in the wind but that I can fit several layers underneath still. I’m also pretty broad shouldered – a lot more than the typical bike rider many brands base their kit around – so a bit of extra space inside is usually pretty welcome. And thirdly, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love a 2-way zip. They’re great for comfort, easy access to other layers and pockets and of course dumping excess heat and moisture.


First Impressions

I love the colour, and the outer material feels like a satisfying mix of being robust and also soft enough. All over, the zips feel reassuringly chunky with nice long toggles that’ll be easy to grab with or without gloves on. There’s a really large drop tail on the back which is great for those filthy winter roads but without a waste draw sting let’s hope that doesn’t become clumsy during rides.

There are to side vents which is great to see – I’m always surprised cycling specific coats aren’t more liberal with ventilation – and there are two really nice discreet and roomy back pockets. There’s a nice sized chest pocket and also a bit of a random pocket on the upper left hand sleeve. Not quite sure what this is for more than aesthetics, perhaps it’ll come to me out on the road…

The logos are the iconic Pas Normal Studio stamp on the chest and across the shoulders and the general feel of the jacket is one of quality – looking forward to getting this on in some grim weather.

Who is this jacket for?

It’s not super easy to place exactly where this jacket should sit. It’s not super tight fitting for shorter faster riders, nor is it advertised as super breathable for high intensity rides either.

At the same time the shape and aesthetics definitely pin it as a cycling jacket. I wouldn’t for example look to wear this jacket in any other circumstances but with a bunch of other cycling kit.

It is however, super versatile in terms of what you can layer beneath it and with more than ample storage space, it lends itself well to longer rides where snacks, additional layers and a whole bunch of potential unknowns are par for the course. Personally for a bikepacking trip or for longer rides like audaxes, I’d probably look for the inclusion of a helmet compatible hood. To me a hooded rain jacket becomes infinitely more versatile and looks more normal off the bike.

The Test

I’ve taken the Essential on several local rides towards the tail end of winter here in the UK, but I hadn’t really felt I’d gotten a chance to put the jacket through its paces. That was until the forecast appeared for a mid-March 230km Audax around peripheries of Bristol.

I woke early for a 7am start. It’s pitch black and absolutely pissing down with rain and to make things worse, just a few days previous, carried away with the first rays of spring, I had removed my mudguards. The long day ahead would be the perfect opportunity to put the Essential Jacket through the works.

Anyone who rides throughout the winter in a farmed region can attest to just how grim the roads can get. So I was super thankful for the solid protection the jacket could give me. The looser fit and ventilation meant I didn’t have to keep swapping out layers and the extra pockets means I could rotate gloves and snacks throughout the day. Perfect.

The best kit as they say is the stuff you’re able to forget about. In reality, that’s much easier said than done when it comes to bike specific waterproof jackets. Sweat soon builds up and the feeling of being wet both sides is a pretty miserable one. So I usually find myself rotating through various layers on longer rides like this. But almost for the duration of the day (about 11 hours in total) I was more than happy to keep the jacket on.

Lends itself well to longer rides where snacks, additional layers and a whole bunch of potential unknowns are par for the course 

What Stands Out


Initially I thought the Essential rain jacket was too baggy for the rest of the style of the jacket – i.e. it looks like something that would traditionally fit much tighter. Especially when worn with the rest of my cycle kit. But actually for winter rides where you’ll likely want to squeeze in layers underneath, it’s great. The extra room keeps excessive sweat to a minimum and with the drop tail it just protects more of your body keeping you warmer and drier for longer.


The cuff design is really unique. Working in much the same way as velcro, small plastic dots connect with each other to bond. Velcro on bike kit often gets filthy and can become fluffy very quickly while also having a tendency to stick and damage other fabrics in the garment. That’s not the case with these. You do however need to be quite assertive with making the cuff connect.

For me, the actual connecting material of the cuffs is quite thin which means there’s not much of a chance to tailor the shape of the forearms.


Constructed with a three layer membrane, this is a highly waterproof jacket and also seems to be plenty breathable (helped of course by the vents). Even after riding all day, it didn’t seem to get overly damp inside, even wearing several layers. Cheaper jackets I’ve had in the past are awful for this.

But what fabric is this exactly? I’d love to know. There’s no detail on the website and no reference to a third party material – something like Gore-Tex or Pertex for example –anywhere on the item. Which at this price point is something I’d expect to find.


Surprisingly quite a lot of cycle specific rain jackets don’t have pockets on them. This has plenty. That might not be to your taste, but they are also really subtle, at least on the rear – and fully zipped, rather than having the traditional 3X open pocket akin to a jersey.

Value for Money

Pas Normal Studios are known for their expensive garms and the Essential is certainly a reflection of that. Retailing at £340 it’s nearly a full hundred more than the Albion Zoa, which in my mind is a jacket that occupies a similar space, that also comes with the added confidence in Pertex fabric technology. The Zoa, also becomes a much more versatile option off the bike too, which can’t be said for the Essential.

BASE Bottom Line

If you’re after a super lightweight packable rain jacket for the bike, the Essential probably isn’t the one for you. Looking to Gore-Tex’s Paclite or Shakedry ranges, there are certainly lighter jackets available in much smaller packages.

What the Essential does provide is a really aesthetically pleasing, clean cut rain jacket. While it’s not necessarily the most versatile, it does make a dependable and really practical option for longer days riding in severe weather.

There is however a lot of competition in this space and for me, I’d probably look to save at least a £100 by exploring those options.

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