How obtained: review sample
Availability: online and retail
Sizes: S – XXL (men’s or women’s)
Colors: Neon green/black; neon green/silver
Material: Waterproof and breathable eliteTM 3-layer ripstop fabric with brushed lining
RBR sponsor: No
Time tested: 25 hours
Waterproof, Warm & Cozy – You Almost Don’t Mind the Rain
I was introduced to the Showers Pass brand at a breakfast meeting in their Interbike suite last fall. I wasn’t all that familiar with the brand since none of my local bike shops carry it, and the closest LBS that does is 20+ miles away. John Marsh gave me some background on his previous experiences with Showers Pass apparel and his overall very favorable impression. With all of this in mind, I was eager to test the new hi-vis Elite jacket. (I tested the women’s version, but it also comes in men’s sizes.)
Rain, Rain, Come Again
I kept waiting for the perfect opportunity to test the rain jacket and was worried I’d have to resort to standing in my bathroom shower. But then then one weekend this past fall the forecast was for 50 degrees F (10 C) and rain. Perfect!! I got my fat tire bike and headed to nearby trails. Mother Nature unleashed cold, horizontal rain. What I wouldn’t do for you RBR readers!
The Elite jacket did not disappoint. It kept me totally dry and warm. The seams are fully taped, so no wind or water penetrated. As I picked up the pace, I did vent the under arms a little with an easy tug on the zippers. I also stored my iPhone in the outside breast pocket – where it stayed completely dry and safe.
I also used the jacket several times on my Katy Trail trip, wearing it both in the rain and in cooler temps. This jacket is not a summer-weight rain jacket. I recommend using it when temperatures are below 60 degrees F (15.5 C).
It’s Not Just Good for Rain Rides
Last month, I went to an annual fat tire ride on the beaches of Lake Michigan on a windy, 16-degree F (-8.9 C) day. As I planned my layers, I figured the Showers Pass jacket would be perfect as a final layer. Its windproof fabric would help keep the chill out. Plus, if there was spray from the waves, I’d be dry, too.
I layered it over a base layer, thermal jersey and light jacket. The stretchable fabric kept it from being restrictive even with that much clothing on underneath. All in all, it ended up being a good call to wear it and I was nice and toasty on the ride.
What Comprises This Great Jacket?
There’s a lot of thought went into the design of the Hi-Vis Elite jacket. The side panels are made from the company’s new MapREflect™ fabric. It is unique because not only is it reflective, but it stretches, is waterproof and breathable. We learned at Interbike the interesting story behind the MapREflect design: The pattern is made up of 11 of the most popular cycling routes around the world. Can you find them?
Key features of this jacket include:
- Waterproof and breathable eliteTM 3-layer ripstop fabric with brushed lining for maximum weather protection and warmth
- Fully taped seams to make it wind- and waterproof
- Silver MapReflect side panels are highly reflective and waterproof. Also stretches for comfort.
- 4 removable Red LED Beacon Lights offer high visibility at night with 3 flashing modes.
- New YKK AquaGuard Vislon water resistant front zipper with storm flap
- Core Vents and large back vent for flow-thru ventilation. (If wearing a hydration pack or backpack it may interfere with under arm zipper vents.)
- Chest pocket with audio port and large back pocket
- Exclusive airflow–regulating cuffs
- 3MTM Scotchlite Reflective trim for maximum visibility
- Soft, moisture-wicking lining at collar
- Cinch cord at collar and double toggle cinch at hem
- Light loop on back vent
Hi-Vis Achieved in Multiple Ways
Shower Pass has designed the Elite jacket to be Hi-Vis in three ways:
1) The neon green fabric used on the main body provides daytime visibility
2) A Reflective MapREflect print on the side panels and cuffs provides visibility to motorists at night
3) Four integrated LED Beacon lights provide visibility from behind. For added visibility, attach your own rear light to the jacket using the built-in loop.
While I applaud Showers Pass taking their first venture into an on-jacket lighting system, there’s definitely room for improvement. The four beacons are located on the cuffs and back/side hem. The lights use a common 2032 battery, are 10 lumen power, and are designed to last 200 hours. There are three settings: slow flash, quick flash and constant red.
The Beacon lights can be easily turned on while riding, but you must turn each light on individually, then ask your riding partner if they are on, because the wearer can’t easily tell. Unfortunately, the lights are pre-programmed to turn off after an hour.
That’s perfectly fine for a commuter (with a commute of an hour or less), but not great for a road cyclist. Once again, you’d need your riding partner to tell you the lights turned themselves off. Also, the location and size of the lights were not ideal for visibility, especially the ones located on the cuff. And the lights are not very visible while riding a road bike, especially if you are in the drops. The last issue is that each beacon must be removed prior to washing. That’s just not very practical.
Optional Rain Hood
Showers Pass did not provide the optional waterproof rain hood ($25) for testing, but I checked it out on their site. It attaches/detaches to the jacket with Velcro. A built-in brim helps to keep rain out of your eyes. There’s a large portion of overlap between the collar and the hood to avoid water going down your neck. It’s designed to fit under the helmet. I think the hood would be great for a commuter rider, but I’m not sure it makes sense for a road or MTB rider.
You really won’t mind the rain (even a cold rain) when wearing the Showers Pass Hi-Vis Elite jacket. Its waterproof, windproof and breathable fabrics keep you warm as well as dry. The use of stretchable fabric also makes for a very comfortable fit no matter if you are upright or in the drops. The only shortfall I found was the new Beacon lighting system. It’s the company’s first attempt, and there’s room for improvement. But it doesn’t interfere with the functionality of the jacket. It’s still high performance, hi-vis and very well made. So be a kid again, and go out and play (ride) in the rain!
Sheri Rosenbaum regularly contributes articles and reviews products for RBR. She’s an avid recreational roadie who lives in the Chicago area and a major advocate for women's cycling, serving on the board of directors and volunteering with the Dare2tri Paratriathlon Club. Click to read Sheri's full bio or visit her web site sunflowersandpedals.com.