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|The STORM-FIT rain jacket by Nike is as water proof as it is good looking. (Courtesy of Nike Golf)|
To 25 mph
-- Farmingdale, N.Y., June 20, 2009
These words adorn the front of the sleek packaging that contained the new Nike STORM-FIT rain gear and Zoom Bandon shoes that recently arrived at WorldGolf.com HQ.
The box was also adorned with an action-shot of Nike Golf staff player Lucas Glover, who was wearing all of this swag when he won the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black.
The rain gear is the lightest yet warmest introduced to date by Nike, the only golf equipment company that put as much engineering R and D into its apparel as it does its clubs and balls.
While Nike's new rain wear stood up to unseasonably cool and wet summer weather at Bethpage, we decided to put it through the wringer in even the worse conditions.
Given that October was the second-wettest and coldest on record in my neck of the woods, the arrival of the STORM-FIT sample was eagerly anticipated.
And to be honest, the 61 degrees written on the box sounded pretty balmy as I donned the red full-zip jacket ($300), the matching Elite pants ($200) and headed out to walk nine holes in 45 degrees with steady 15 mph winds and a relentless, soaking drizzle.
Along with the rain gear, I also laced up a new pair of the Nike Zoom Bandon wet-weather golf shoes ($176) to try to keep my feet dry against the standing water on many of my home course's fairways that day.
There was a time when the rain suit I owned looked like a hazmat suit. The STORM-FIT Elite is about as far away from that old mess as a Lexus is from a Yugo. The highlights of Nike's newest offering include four-way stretchable material and no-sew bonding of the seams. The result is a lightweight yet very breathable, comfortable and non-rustling jacket.
My favorite features, though, were the three-way adjustable cuffs on the sleeves and the completely waterproof pocket zippers - along with the fact that it looks really, really sharp.
The Elite pants have even more design bells and whistles. Again, there are three-way adjustable cuffs for a snug fit to keep water out while tromping through the high grass. There are also zippers on the cuffs reaching up to mid-shin for easy access to shoes.
The waist has a zipper, snap and drawstring for achieving just the right fit while at the same time making pit stops less awkward. The front pockets are zippered, with access through to inside pants pockets. And again, no-sew, fully waterproof, four-layer construction makes for a comfy, warm, dry feeling all over (unless you completely goof up that pit-stop).
If you're really hardcore, you can also get matching Nike Cold-Weather mittens that will fit nicely over a pair of Nike All-Weather golf gloves. These All-Weather gloves provide a tacky grip when they get wet - in fact, the wetter they get, the better the grip. And the mittens, well, they're just cozy. (So cozy, in fact, that mine were immediately stolen by my father-in-law, whose hands don't work so well below 60 degrees. Now he'll be playing all year.)
There is an old saying that if you keep your feet happy, the rest of your body will be happy. Nike's new Zoom Bandon All-Weather golf shoe is the absolute pinnacle of wet-weather foot wear.
The shoe features a seam-sealed synthetic upper as well as a waterproof lining that provides both completely waterproof protection and a breathable barrier to moisture. More flexible and durable than leather, the unique seam-sealed synthetic technology won't stretch out or break down over time, resulting in a more flexible and durable shoe that offers comfort, fit and performance round after round.
Another essential feature is a magnetic "zipper shroud closure," which keeps water out and laces dry. The overall cut of the shoe is reminiscent of a mid-height high-top basketball shoe and is intended to block water from entering at the ankle line.
In order to test these top-shelf kicks under realistic conditions, I purposely hit a few balls into the woods and long grass of my home course. (Got that? It was on 'purpose.' That's my story and I'm sticking to it.) After several field-trips into the tall cotton and gnarly underbrush, it was quite clear than no matter how much time I spent in there, my feet, ankles, and legs were going to stay dry.
Nike has developed a veritable dry suit for golfers. Heck, you could probably wear this get-up surfing and stay pretty warm and dry.
But how about the No. 1 complaint I have about every rain suit I have ever tested: Breathability. Some rain suits are so air tight that you end up getting wetter from sweat than you would from the rain. The Nike STORM-FIT, however, actually lives up to its promise of allowing moisture out but not in. Although I did feel a bit damp after walking nine holes, I was far less so than I have ever been in any other rain suit - even on days when I have been riding in a cart.
As for the Zoom Bandon shoes, I did feel a bit of rubbing above one heel after walking nine, but given the rather odd place the semi-high-top shoes fit around my ankle, that's not bad. The shoes kept my feet dry as a bone, but the height of the shoe made them feel somewhat boot-like.
I often have trouble remembering to shift my weight (i.e. roll my left ankle) when I swing, and the extra ankle support provided by the high tops made it even harder to do so. By the end of my half-round, though, I was starting to learn how to adjust.
All in all, Nike's ultimate all-weather gear is the top of its class in style, comfort, design, performance and - on the down side - price. But in this case, you get even more than what you pay for.
For more information, visit www.nikegolf.com.
November 13, 2009
Kiel Christianson has lived, worked, traveled and golfed extensively on three continents. As senior writer and equipment editor for WorldGolf.com, he has reviewed courses, resorts, and golf academies from California to Ireland, including his home course, Lake of the Woods G.C. in Mahomet, Ill. Read his golf blog here and follow him on Twitter @GolfWriterKiel.
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