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Product Review: Showers Pass "Portland" rain jacket

Posted by Jonathan "J.R" Reed on September 10th, 2009 at 12:49 pm

worstday2009
Showers Pass CEO Ed Dalton sporting
the Portland jacket at this year's
Worst Day Ride
(Photo © Elly Blue)

Showers Pass, a local cycling gear company, has been making waves with its "Portland" rain jacket since it was introduced in 2008. The jacket is notable for crossing technical outerwear with vélocouture flair resulting in a handsome daily commuter piece which serves you well on a fast commute and isn't an embarrassment to sport on date night.

During last week's rainstorms I took the Portland for a test ride and appreciated its thoughtful features and subdued appearance. It's a stylish commuter rain jacket that has a fuller cut so that it looks like a regular jacket when you aren't on the bike.

Despite its deviation from the tight and racy cycling jacket norm, the cut is well-suited to a bent-over road bike riding position. The sleeves are long, the front hem is short and the retractable reflective tail flap offers desirable coverage when one is leaning over the handlebars.

Showers Pass Portland Jacket for men
The "Portland" rain jacket
(Photo by Showers Pass)

The stiff yet soft wind/waterproof outer shell is bulky compared to many other cycling rain jackets but the look and feel are what make the Portland unique. While you can't easily wad it up and stuff it in your purse or hip pocket, you are unburdened by day-glow colors and the constant on/off necessary with some rain gear. I liked the style, and wanted to wear the jacket longer under more conditions, especially social conditions where dressing like a Gloucester fisherman is less than cool.

The two way front zipper, along with underarm and cuff zips are tabbed, easy to reach and are all key elements for regulating body temperature.

The lightweight fleece-lined pockets are a cozy feature off the bike and the zippered breast pocket is ideal for keeping the phone away from the keys and close to your ear so you can hear it ring when riding.

The Portland also has two internal open pockets which greatly increase its load capacity, a hem drawcord for fit adjustment plus some subtle reflective piping that add nighttime visibility without losing daytime style points.

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There is also a headphone port stealthily built in to the breast pocket which I might use while commuting by bus but I still can't bring myself to wear headphones when commuting by bike.

Showers Pass Portland Jacket for women
The forthcoming women's Portland
(Photo by Showers Pass)

All this adds up to a unique looking, durable and very practical piece of outerwear best suited for cold weather and less than torrential rains like those we frequently have in the jacket's namesake city.

This season, Showers Pass has announced they will release a women's version of the Portland, featuring fitted size gussets.The women's jacket will be available in late October and comes in a light gray/lavender color called Pretty Plaid.

Both jackets will feature improved interior seam finishing over the original version.

The price remains unchanged from last year at $200.

The women's Portland will be available from the following retailers starting next month:
Team Estrogen
Bike Gallery
Clever Cycles

The men's version comes in brown pinstripe or beige plaid and can be found at the following
Portland area dealers:
River City Bicycles
Bike Gallery
Clever Cycles

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Comments
  • redhippie September 10, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    Showers Pass is the standard by which all other cylcing outerwear should be measured.

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  • meh September 10, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    Yeah, but you still get the skunk stripe without butt protection. So I call this design, 'meh'.

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  • Nick V September 10, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    "The jacket is notable for crossing technical outerwear with vélocouture flair resulting in a handsome daily commuter piece...."

    Roger that. My yellow Burley jacket does NOT work in my favor at business meetings.

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  • Jabin September 10, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    I picked up this jacket at river city (on sale for $150) in preparation for the coming rainy season. I haven't gotten the chance to put it through it's paces yet, but i'm looking forward to it and definitely like the look.

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  • Andrew Holtz September 10, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    I considered this jacket... but on dark or foggy commutes I need maximum visibility. So I went with the Double Century jacket instead.

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  • Brian September 10, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    $200!! If I had that kind of money I'd be driving a car!

    I'll keep my 3-year-old, $20 hooded sweatshirt, thank you!

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  • Hillson September 10, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    A $200 car will not improve your commuting experience.

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  • Paul Cone September 10, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    Maybe it's just me, but if someone is going to judge me because my Burley riding jacket is yellow, I don't really need to be associating with them anyway.

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  • beth h September 10, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    @ #3: Your Burley is still on the road, a testament to its durability and quality. Too bad Burley doesn't make rainwear anymore, it was the best in the industry, IMHO.

    That said, yes, $200 is steep for a bike-cut rain jacket, but this does have an ability to work in other situations. Not sure how much more that's worth but it's worth noting.

    I finally replaced my 15-YEAR-OLD Burley rain jacket with a Showers Pass Touring model (womens' cut) last spring. I don't realistically expect it to last quite as long, but it would be great if it does.

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  • Joel September 10, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    Hey Ed, looking good!

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  • f5 September 10, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    Meh: fenders.

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  • redhippie September 10, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    Burely Vs. Showers Pass.

    The design of my old Burley was pretty close to the SP Elite 2.0. Big difference is fabric. The eVent is pretty amazing addressing moisture management. It is hard to appreciate until you go back.

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  • Kronda September 10, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    I don't mind spending $200 on a good rain jacket as long as it lasts 5 years or more. My old Burley lasted 8 years.

    I'm happy with my Showers Pass Elite jacket (going on it's 3rd season) but annoyed that the women's versions always seem to be a) an afterthought and b) stupid colors. And that goes for most sports gear, not just SP (I'm looking at you Keen).

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  • Dianna September 10, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    I second Kronda on the "stupid colors" remark. The dudes get a classy brown pinstripe and the ladies get only lavender plaid? I must protest. There's plenty of silly lavender ladies' clothing out there, but a distinct lack of classy brown pinstripe cycle jackets.

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  • beth h September 10, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    I seriously would've saved up for the Portland jacket if the ladies version came in brown pinstripe. And yes, too many womens-specific things come in foofy colors that I wouldn't be caught dead in. We're not ALL into lavendar and pink, folks.

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  • Ivana Tinkle September 10, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    I LOVE Shower's Pass gear, I have the ladies Century jacket ---wouldn't trade it for anything! BUT this jacket is too gray, during the gray days of winter, the rider would be practically invisible.

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  • Jabin September 10, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    @meh: "retractable reflective tail flap offers desirable coverage when one is leaning over the handlebars"
    Their is a flap that unbuttons from the inside of the jacket and hangs down to cover your butt as well as provide more reflective material for a dark and wet ride.

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  • sabes September 10, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    For technical + fashion, I like Nau stuff. http://www.nau.com

    The rainproof gear often has an extended backside to help cover up when you're on a bike.

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  • heather September 10, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    One more vote from the ladies in the "please, clothing companies, what the hell is up with the lavendar?" category. It would be nice to see cycling clothing companies making a FULL range of women's gear comparable to the range of men's gear, and in decent colors. Chicks dig tweed. Pink is already out there aplenty.

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  • Dianna September 10, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    Heather #19: "Chicks dig tweed."

    *applause*

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  • Donna September 10, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    What a bummer for Shower's Pass, as I could actually afford this jacket. I'd never use a lavender jacket in the winter. It would show too much filth and I look better in brown anyway. Unfortunately, the SP men's cut was not meant for the hips that my female genetics bestowed upon me.

    On the plus side, there will be $200 more for my savings. :)

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  • John Lascurettes September 10, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    I like the cut of the design, but I don't like the fabric colors—neither in the men's or women's styles.

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  • PBoT Fashionista September 10, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    Paul #8 - "but if someone is going to judge me because my Burley riding jacket is yellow, I don't really need to be associating with them anyway...."

    Paul, consensus is that yellow jacket of yours is waaay ratty. Now that you're leaving, can i have your cubicle?

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  • Kronda September 10, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    Hey all,

    I wrote to Showers Pass about the color of their new lady-jacket and I'd encourage anyone who feels inclined to do the same. Their email is info@showerspass.com.

    Here's my letter:

    What's with the CRAP LADY COLORS?

    I thought you guys might be different. Last summer when I went to the Oregon Manifest show, one of your reps very excitedly pointed out the new Portland jackets. The tweed look was cool and the features seemed nice, but I put one on and it was like I stole my boyfriend's coat. I was bummed to learn that a women's version wasn't available and he couldn't tell me when it would be.

    Today I read the nice article about the jackets on Bikeportland.org and saw the women's version will finally arrive next month...in lavender? I hate to unleash my pent up frustration at sporting good wear companies in general on you guys but PLEASE! Has it ever occurred to a marketing person anywhere that perhaps women (especially the sporty, year round commuter types who might purchase your clothing) might want nice tasteful stylish colors just like the men enjoy? WHAT YEAR IS THIS?

    And yes, there are plenty of women who like pink or lavender or whatever the girlie color of the moment is, but why not at least give us a choice?

    I love my Elite jacket and I've enjoyed nothing but great customer service from you in the past, but I'm really upset and disappointed. I'm sick of being an afterthought and/or a cliche when it comes to good quality cycling gear. If you check out the comments on the Bikeportland story, you'll see I'm not alone. I hope you'll reconsider and/or expand color options for the women's line of jackets.

    Sincerely,

    Kronda Adair
    N Portland

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  • -b September 10, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    i'd like to see a review for the SP hybrid jacket.

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  • sabes September 10, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    Nice colors for women's technical jackets: http://tinyurl.com/mwy3p4

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  • Kronda September 10, 2009 at 10:46 pm

    @sabes,

    *Very* nice, and a stylish fit too, but $325 is a little steep for me, unless it's guaranteed to last at least 10 years.

    Maybe I'll splurge when I get a job (someday...)

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  • Jr September 11, 2009 at 7:03 am

    Nice letter Kronda. Couldn't agree more.

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  • Dave September 11, 2009 at 7:18 am

    I know there's this weird irrational fear by some people of looking like a cyclist when they are, in fact, cyclists but the color of this thing is taking it too far--that's one fucking stupid color
    to make a cycling jacket in! I'm a neon yellow man and not ashamed of it.

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  • Paul Tay September 11, 2009 at 7:58 am

    I am interested in a technical skirt or big flowery, floppy dress for rain and snow.

    Has to flop in the wind. Big floppy, Aretha Franklin-esque hat that attaches with velcro over helmet would be soooooo kewl.

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  • beth h September 11, 2009 at 9:16 am

    Here's another, albeit sadder reason to give women a choice:

    Several excellent guides for women cyclists published in the last 15 years (including the standard "Cycling For Women" published in several subsequent editions by the folks at Bicycling magazine) all suggest that looking less feminine on the bike is a deterrent to would-be aggressors, especially when riding alone on tour or in snarly traffic after dark.

    These guides suggest shorter hairstyles, slightly baggier jackets and pants that don't accentuate breasts or hips, and the avoidance of pastel colors in cycling attire as ways for women cyclists to look less obviously female on the bike.

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  • Lazlo September 11, 2009 at 9:42 am

    Velocouture.
    The word should be banned. Except, perhaps, in the world of rolling dandy perches.

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  • davidr September 11, 2009 at 10:09 am

    My century jacket's zipper failed after one season and the glue on the chest pocket separated. I was not incredibly impressed.

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  • Boneshaker September 11, 2009 at 10:45 am

    I'm with Dave, though perhaps not as adamant. Beige and brown are not visible in the fog and what's the point of being dry if you are not seen? They offer lots of hi-vis jackets though so maybe it's not meant for that situation.

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  • chelsea September 11, 2009 at 11:17 am

    I agree with the other ladies on color complaints. Bright colors are practical and safe. Deep, rich colors look good. I will take either. I will not, however, do pastel. Don't like the look and it will only get worse once it is splattered with rain and road filth. Looks like a nice jacket though. How about red?

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  • Argentius September 11, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    My female cycling friends pretty much all agree with all above -- they don't want fru-fru pinks and purples as their only choices.

    That said, I've been digging my Portland, rode it all last winter in lots of PNW nastiness, it did great. Follow the link for my writeup...

    http://argentius.blogspot.com/2009/02/product-review-showers-pass-portland.html

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  • Toby September 11, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    I just got a Shower's Pass Elite. Between the pitzips, back vent, and eVent, it's cool, though the slightly baggy cut reminds me of my old Burley. The Portland is an interesting idea, but while the natty color and hand of the fabric may impress dates and coworkers, I'd prefer to impress SUV drivers in a downpour, myself. So it's bright yellow for me.

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  • sabes September 11, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    @Kronda - they have a long warranty, essentially for the life of the jacket. Just as long as you don't use it as something other than it was designed for (e.g., using the jacket to tie something to the roof of your car), then they'll replace it for free.

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  • Brad September 11, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    Don't like the colors? Blame the buyers at your bike shops!

    Color decisions are not made in a vacuum. Key influential retailers see a selection of colors at trade shows and at "pre-line" showings about a year in advance of the product's debut. The sales reps and the product developers put a bunch of stuff out on the table and then the buyers pick and choose what they think looks good and/or will sell. Afterwards, they huddle back at HQ with all of the comments and suggestions that they gleaned from the meetings and then decide what will move to the next phase.

    But wait! The final samples are then paraded past nearly all of their customers at some point and those choices get whittled down to the two or three options that actually get enough pre-season bookings to justify production.

    So, ultimately, the retailer's buyers and merchandisers determined that their women consumers really wanted the "girly" hues and if they sell out those jackets during the season, then they were right about selecting lavender.

    Instead of complaining to the manufacturer, suggest to your local LBS that you would like to see more offered in _________. That's who really drives merchandise selections.

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  • Patrick Valdez September 11, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    I have long dreamt of the day that I can possess some of the great gear that Showers Pass sells. I have seen it and it is definitely quality and worth the price.

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  • wsbob September 11, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    Mighty nice looking gear for people with a fair amount of disposable income. It makes me think though, that people with thinner pocketbooks will be hopping over to their local Target.

    That chain store is carrying Champion athletic wear. Hanging on the racks right now, is a jacket by Champion that looks not unlike the 'Portland' pictured in the above article; similar fit, color, somewhat different color detailing, water resistant, partial fleece interior, $30...maybe $40. Doesn't have the butt flap; you'd have to improvise something there.

    By the way, did our intrepid gear reviewer ever give the 'Portland' a rain and breathability test? It looks like a garment that's not well designed to vent out body heat and sweat...maybe the thinking is that it's sufficient for commuters.

    I'm all for local manufacturers though...if you got the money, definitely consider buying Showers Pass's product.

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  • steve September 12, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    Showers Pass has their garments manufactured overseas, Bob.

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  • wsbob September 12, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    "Showers Pass has their garments manufactured overseas, Bob." steve

    steve...good point. Now that you mention it, I kind of recall something about that having been noted in the past here on bikeportland, but I've since forgotten. Others here probably appreciate the reminder as well.

    But when you say 'manufactured', are you thinking that individual garments or perhaps the entire garment line is conceived of, designed and product tested from start to finish overseas, or rather, that overseas manufacturers are provided with patterns and orders which they use to assemble garments for Showers Pass? In simple phrase, 'outsourcing'? I don't mean to defend or commend the company's business practices, at least not here and now. Just trying to get straight what exactly it is that Showers Pass does locally in terms of manufacturing garments for consumers.

    I would think the company still is likely to be legitimately considered a 'local manufacturer' if some of the manufacturing process, such as design and r&d, is done locally.

    However the company brings their gear to the consumer, I most likely won't be buying any. It's way out of my price range. Champion gear, also assembled overseas I expect, is much closer to what I can afford. Columbia Sportswear too: recently Fred's had Columbia rain jackets on sale for about 30 percent of original price...from $45.00 down to $12.50. Sure, they weren't yellow with underarm zips, but even Showers Pass seems to think that's o.k with some of their customers.

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  • eli bishop September 13, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    oddly, not all commuters are trim, either: i have yet to find a good jacket that fits my substantial hips. i'd love to buy this jacket if they made one that fit.

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  • beth h September 14, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    @ # 44 --

    This is an all-too-common complaint from our customers who are big-bodied. Bicycle-specific rainwear simply doesn't offer an extended sizing range that will meet the needs anyone over about 180 lbs, especially if they are also under 5' 10". People over 180 lbs DO ride bikes. And most whom I have talked with are more than willing to spend money on bike-specific gear, if it would only fit them.

    As the buyer for a local bike shop, I am continually frustrated by manufacturers' unwillingness to deal in realities. In addition to the lack of extended sizing ranges, manurafcturers also insist on size labeling, particularly in womens' apparel, that is completely unrealistic.

    Example: I am 5' 7", 165 lbs and am fairly well-endowed. Womens cycling jackets that fit me properly are often labeled XL. In womens' specific rain pants I can barely squeeze into an XL in most models, and they aren't always long enough for my legs, to boot.

    Cycling jerseys are even worse -- in most womens specific jerseys I take somewhere between a 2X and a 3X!. Sorry, but I don't think I'm all that large. OR fat.

    I don't have body image issues per se, I'm pretty happy with my body most days. However, MANY women do have these issues, and they are fueled in part by womens apparel that is sized for the skinny and petite among us. I sure wouldn't want to have to tell a woman my size that she takes an Extra-Large in anything!

    If you're not convinced, compare womens' sizing ranges with the same products made in Mens or even "unisex" sizing. I could easily fit a Mens' medium in most rain jackets, including those made by Showers Pass -- if not for my womanly hips.

    This problem has gone on a LONG time. Few sportswear manufacturers are actually paying attention, and fewer still are trying to do anything about it. Simply making "womens' specific" garments is not enough; manufacturers must also research real-world body sizes and reconfigure their sizing ranges to fit real-world bodies -- IF they want those bodies to get out and ride bicycles more.

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  • wsbob September 15, 2009 at 10:33 am

    Yes, there is a lot greater variation in people's body sizes than standard apparel sizing recognizes, and yes, 2X and a 3X sizing designations do not necessarily mean 'fat' It would be great if manufacturers and retailer made available a host of additional apparel sizes that would better fit non-standard body sizes. Probably, the simple reason manufacturers and retailers don't do this is that its a money losing proposition.

    Not enough people stepping up to buy garments cut with additional dimensions at hips or/and chest. If there, would that stuff move, or would it just sit on the shelves?

    "I could easily fit a Mens' medium in most rain jackets, including those made by Showers Pass -- if not for my womanly hips." beth h

    How about the sleeves? Unless you have long arms, I'll bet sleeves on mens garments are too long for your female arms. Standard sized womens garments tend to have shorter sleeves than mens. Shorter torso dimensions too.

    One thing I think manufacturers and retailers might be able to do fairly easily and cost effectively, is in the case of an expensive jacket such as the Showers Pass 'Portland', include the offer of alteration service with the cost of the garment.

    I'm not sure what their arrangement is today, but years back when I bought a sport coat at Nordstroms, slight alterations were a part of the deal; take it in here a little, take it out there a little... . Perfect fit...or at least much better!

    Manufacturers would have to plan for this in advance, allowing extra material at key points in garments produced to allow for this alteration. The extra material would cost a little more money, but would be cheaper than producing an entirely separate garment for non-standard sizes.

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  • Paul Cone September 16, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    Timo,

    Unlike you, I see no reason to hide my jealously behind an alias. I actually own TWO yellow Burley jackets (both made locally in Eugene instead of "worldwide" as the Showers Pass jackets are), and I will be sporting one soon, now that fall is here. And since I intend on staying... where does that leave you?

    Paul

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  • Dianna September 17, 2009 at 9:05 am

    wsbob: "shorter sleeves... shorter torso dimensions"

    ...which just goes to show that every sizing strategy is a problem for someone, somewhere in the size spectrum. I routinely find that the range of women's sizes for a given brand will cover all ground from "correct width" to "fits three of me side-by-side" without ever getting long enough in the torso and arms. Often the same company (e.g., Showers Pass) will list in its size chart a men's extra-small that looks like a perfect fit for me, but isn't offered in the items (e.g., the Portland) I'm looking for.

    I like the idea of included alterations. I'm pretty sure it would require me to adjust my ideas about how much to spend on things and how many things I can afford to have, but it could well be worth it for the privilege of not looking like a scarecrow wearing all the wrong sizes.

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  • Loud & mostly dry September 23, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    I broke down a while ago and bought a screaming yellow J&G (made in Oregon, thank you) rain jacket. I'm 5' 3" and 115 lb. and at least now I'm visible. I figure the raincoat says loudly what the helmet-flattened hair suggests, and I no longer care what anyone thinks. Then again, I work for the state, and no one cares how we dress or look. (I would like the thing to fit better - the company lists an XS which they no longer carry, and a unisex S means a men's S which is none too S.)

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  • Kevin Dalton October 28, 2009 at 11:40 pm

    Very disappointed with the Portland Jacket. Okay, I felt ripped-off. It was a very stiff jacket to begin with but I thought it would soften over time, however, I didn't keep it long enough to find out. Read the fine print. This jacket is NOT waterproof!! It's made so that you "look good" but performance was an after thought. The jacket leaks at ALL the seams.

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  • Jason February 6, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    I found sizing a tad challenging. I bought one a Summer ago at Bike Gallery on clearance, (M) $100.00. That became a gift to a friend as it fit for the bike but not to layer underneath. The (L) is a bit big, but feels more like a casual jacket, I guess that is the point. I am 5'10" 165 so likely just one of those on the cusp guys. Cool style for city wear, spin to the market, or the Tweed ride!

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