First ride and impressions - Showers Pass Elite 2.1 jacket

Showers Pass - Elite 2.1 jacket

Earlier in the week the weather forecast had looked a bit dubious for riding on Sunday (1st November 2014) but not wanting to cancel again G and I both decided to go ahead with it so as I lay in bed at 6am (after feeding my 7 month old daughter) listening to the wind gusting round the house and the rain pelting the conservatory roof I was glad of the 3-layer eVent waterproof hanging in the garage that would, hopefully, keep me warm and dry on the 30 miles around the north Hampshire roads.

Stepping back a bit....  I've got 3 cycling waterproofs (yes, 3!).  2 for the MTB; 1 is the old GoreTex XCR (the pre-runner to Pro shell) and is tough as old boots but not too breathable, and the other is eVent - a great jacket but too bulky for the road bike.  Both of these are around 10 years old now.
Then there's the jacket I used for the road bike - a hugely packable GoreTex Paclite shell.  A great jacket?  yes it was, but its also about 10 years old and as any GoreTex or eVent user knows it's pretty much had it's day (have a read here for some more info on shell jackets).

So, I needed a new one.  One that would actually keep me dry and not see me soaked through with sweat after a ride. My criteria were;

  • eVent (I've had some bad experiences with GoreTex and prefer the eVent system)
  • Breathable - see above
  • a "full 3 layer" jacket - not reduced spec 2 or 2.5 layer (paclite is a good example of this)
  • Lightweight - the above makes it slightly harder!
  • Visible - reflective areas for riding in the gloom, dark and rain
  • Drop-tail - I've got mud guards on the winter bike but the longer back (or skirt) makes a huge difference
  • Pocket - at least one
As I found out finding a road specific cycling jacket that's eVent is really hard - a lot of googling came up with jackets made by Sportful and a US company called "Showers Pass" all using eVent - a bit more googling ruled out the Sportful jacket and I was slightly downhearted as the Showers Pass Elite 2.1 jacket looked ideal, and ticked all the boxes on my (above) wish list but the main US website said nothing about the UK.....  Thank god for Google!

Website - Showers Pass
Full Specifications from the manufactures website are....

  • Waterproof and Breathable 3-layer eVent ripstop fabric for maximum weather protection 
  • Fully seam taped for wind and waterproofness
  • New YKK AquaGuard Vislon 2-way water resistant front zipper with Storm Flap
  • Core Vents and large back vent for flow thru ventilation
  • Chest pocket with audio port and large back pocket
  • Exclusive airflow–regulating cuffs
  • 360 degrees of 3MTM ScotchliteTM Reflective Material trim for maximum visibility
  • Soft moisture wicking lining at collar
  • Cinch cord at collar and double toggle cinch at hem
  • Hood compatible via hook and loop attachement points at collar
  • Locker loop at collar
  • Light loop on back vent

An online shop from a UK bike shop (with good ratings) had stock of the Elite 2.1 jacket and I opted for Blue - yellow being highly visible but a bit too much for me!

So on to the first outing......  G arrived at 7:30am as arranged and the sky, while dark and ominous, was clear of rain and the wind had died down considerably so we kitted up and headed off on our usual 30 mile circular route which took in mainly minor roads and a few "lumps and bumps" but no hills worth writing home about.

Then, 30 minutes in to the ride, just after Waltham Chase, the heavens opened...  Every time we thought the rain was heavy, it got harder, visibility was reduced to almost nothing, glasses had to be removed to see anything and then the wind kicked in - joy!  The bikes were almost aquaplaning on one stretch of road near North Boarhunt and all we could really do was to laugh and keep pedalling.
The rain kept up for the majority of the ride, easing for a time when we reached Bishops Waltham but starting again as we passed through Durley - a fact that I'm certain didn't help G as he clipped the edge of the tarmac on a single track section of road and ended up "arse over tit" on the road with a hole in his jacket and a fair few torn into his shorts.

So what about the jacket?  It was great, really good.  The fit was nice; the velcro closes around the cuff ensure that the warmth stays in and the water stays out and the lined collar is very welcome when water starts to try and find a way down from your helmet as it always does - I didn't use the elasticated closure on the neck but will next time.
The main zip was secure, waterproof and easy to use with gloves and the pit zips (again easy to use with gloves despite being taped) were a welcome addition as they allowed for easy venting when the rain eased off.

Taped seams on the pit zips and chest pocket
The reflective strips work don't they!
Snug enough for road riding and the velcro closes on the wrists keep everything watertight
On arrival back at my house I took the jacket off to see if any water had made its way through and was pleased to see that both my cycling jersey and compression base layer were both dry as a bone - the inside of the jacket wasn't suffering from the usual condensation from sweat that I'd suffered with on both GoreTex jackets.

All in all a great buy and I'd definitely recommend the Showers Pass jackets to any road (or mountain) cyclist, it's a shame that they're not more widely available or know about in the UK.

The very wet and windy 30 mile "test ride" route - via Garmin Edge 800 & Garmin Connect


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