By Ed Pavelka
If the Showers Pass Century Jacket were only a rain jacket, that would be good enough. It did a fine job of keeping water out and warmth in on a couple of two-hour test rides in 55-degree rain, and one drizzly 90-minute ride at 35 degrees.
But thanks to this jacket’s lightness and the wind resistance of its Pertex fabric, it also makes an effective shell for any ride when you need to cover up.
Pertex is claimed to allow 90% vapor transfer compared to uncoated nylon. This lets some body heat radiate so you don’t feel like you’re entombed in Saran Wrap. Helping ventilation are a double front zipper and large cuffs that let air flow up the arms
and exit through a 20-inch-wide, flap-covered, mid-back vent. Hook-and-loop straps on the cuffs can be closed down on colder days.
Underarm openings (pit zips) would do an even better job of letting in fresh air, but the Century Jacket’s system was effective. I could feel the coolness on my back in the vent area.
It’s impossible not to get damp on rainy rides. Even if a jacket doesn’t allow water penetration, sweat happens. But being warm and slightly moist is a lot better than feeling cold rainwater seep in. The Century Jacket has taped seams that are claimed
to resist a flow of 2.5 psi for 30 minutes. That’s the equivalent of being hit by a full-blast garden hose from about 12 inches.
Says Showers Pass owner Dave Morrow, “My chief pattern maker does not own a car. She bikes everywhere. To me, having someone who is actually using the stuff also help with the design makes all the difference.”
Light and Compact
The Century Jacket has no liner. This keeps weight down and allows it to be rolled small enough to slip into a jersey pocket. My size XL test jacket is just 10 ounces. This compactness is a big advantage that most high-quality rain jackets don’t have.
However, you notice the unlined material’s cool, synthetic feel on bare arms. It’s so light that it rustles like paper on fast descents.
The extended tail helps keep a rider’s butt and saddle covered. It’s not quite as long or effective as the drop-down tails found on many pure rain jackets. The Century has what Morrow calls a trim “athletic cut.” It’d be smart to order one size up to
enhance coverage. A new women’s model has an hourglass “princess cut” with a shorter torso and sleeves.
Other features include a removable hood, an elastic draw cord at the waist, and a deep, zippered rear pocket that extends fully across the back. The sleeves are made long to keep you covered when reaching for the drops or a water bottle.
At $159, you’d have to consider the U.S.-made Century Jacket an investment in year-round, all-weather riding. It does double duty as a rain jacket and a wind shell, and it’s well constructed for function and durability. I’m looking forward to using mine
right through Paris-Brest-Paris in August. It’s so versatile and easy to carry that I won’t be taking many long rides without it.