Colors: Women’s: Blue, Neon Green
Men’s: Blue, Neon Green, Black, Red
Availability: company website, online
How Obtained: Sample from company
RBR Sponsor: no
Tested: Several months
Cold, Wet Weather is No Match for this Jacket
A year ago I reviewed the Showers Pass Hi-Vis Elite Jacket. It was my first experience with this brand, which is well-known for its high-quality waterproof, breathable gear. So I wasn’t surprised when the new women’s Refuge jacket performed extremely well in my recent test. The attention to detail and versatility makes this jacket ideal for cycling, commuting, hiking or spectating at your (grand)kid’s outdoor activities.
I tested the women’s version of the Refuge jacket that was launched late September 2017. There is a men’s Refuge jacket, as well, which has subtle differences that I’ll point out throughout this review.
Lock Out the Elements
This jacket truly provides you refuge from the elements. The design features include fully seam-taped, 3-layer Elite™ waterproof and breathable hardshell fabric. To prevent overheating, there are two extra-long zippered vents along the front sides. There is a mesh lining that prevents the vents from opening too much.
The placement of these vents is both good and bad. The good part is that backpack straps would not interfere with zipping and unzipping, unlike underarm vents (pit zips). And they are very easy to access when on the bike with or without gloves.
The bad part is that I kept unzipping the vents when wanting to open the side pockets. I did this every time I wanted to put something in or out of my pockets. There was no way I could unzip the side pockets with gloves on while riding. I would always need to stop, remove my glove and “hunt” for the pocket zipper. It would have been nice to have an outside chest pocket like the men’s version. That check pocket exists on the women’s version of the Hi-Vis Elite jacket, and I used it all the time for easy access to my phone.
Additional Features Add Versatility
Another nice feature of this jacket is the removable hood. It is easy to put on and take off using a zipper and some Velcro closures. The hood is large enough to fit over a helmet or, if you prefer, under a helmet. If you want to stow away the hood on a dry day, there’s plenty of room in one of the inside mesh pockets.
One of the nicest features on the Refuge is the magnetic drop tail. I used this on my first cold, wet ride testing this jacket. I had forgotten to put the rear fender on my fat bike and it happened to rain during that ride. With temps in the low 40s, the last thing I wanted was a wet backside from tire spray. All I had to do was gently yank on the tail tucked up in the back of the jacket and it dropped down.
The drop tail is nice to keep you dry when cycling on wet roads or trails, but I found it also added protection from the cold wind. If you use the Refuge jacket for hiking or other outdoor activities, the drop tail protects your backside from cold/wet when sitting on the ground or a stadium seat.
There is a difference between the women’s and the men’s version of the drop tail. The women’s has two reflective grommets that are compatible with optional Showers Pass Beacon lights. (Packet of 4 is $25. See photo.). The men’s version does not accommodate the beacon lights.
The collar has a soft moisture-wicking lining that adds to the warmth and comfort. And the jacket features Velcro closures at the cuff for a snug fit to keep the wind/rain out. If you are a commuter or backpacker, the jacket has reinforced shoulders to protect the fabric from pack straps.
The jacket has 360-degree reflective trim that provides visibility to drivers in low light or at night. This is a nice added safety feature. The men’s version also has two light loops for even more visibility.
Dial in the Fit
The jacket is roomy enough to layer with additional clothing underneath but fitted enough not to flap around in the wind. There are numerous toggle cinches positioned throughout the garment to dial in the fit. There are two on the hem, one on each side of the hood to cinch tight around your face, and one on the back of the hood to take up any unneeded volume.
Plenty of Storage
There’s no lack of storage on either the men’s or women’s version of the Refuge jacket.
The women’s version has two outside waterproof zipper pockets at thesides of the jacket, one inside chest pocket with audio port and two inside mesh pockets.
The men’s version has four outside waterproof zipper pockets (two at the sides, one rear, one chest). The chest pocket has an audio port. There are also two inside mesh pockets for hood storage and miscellaneous items.
Showers Pass’s tag line for this jacket says it all: Take Refuge from the elements in style.
In both men’s and women’s versions, the Refuge jacket definitely keeps you warm, dry and comfortable in all types of weather. I tested it on cold, wet rides and as added protection from the wind on a 25-degree (-4C) ride.
The waterproof, breathable fabric, removable hood and drop tail make it a great investment. Best of all, this jacket is perfect for multiple uses, including cycling, hiking, skiing, or just being outdoors in the the elements.
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.