Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on January 30th, 2013 at 9:36 am
Portland-based Showers Pass launched a new line of gloves at the Outdoor Retailer trade show last week. It's an ambitious foray for the company, and it's just the latest sign of their growth into new markets and a transition away from their commuter jacket reputation. As sales manager Stephen Lederer said during my visit to their southeast Portland headquarters a few days ago, "We're branching out of commuter, into every aspect of bicycling."
A major part of this new direction for Showers Pass are the four glove models they unveiled last week; the Crosspoint Hardshell, Softshell, Wind Glove, and Liner Glove. The new gloves won't be in stores until fall, but I was able to check out some samples at the company's headquarters in southeast Portland.
The Hardshell, with an MSRP of $95, is the flagship model. Showers Pass says it is fully waterproof and breathable thanks to use of an "OutDry" membrane. OutDry™ is a patented technology (owned by Columbia Sportswear) that laminates a waterproof/breathable membrane directly to the outer layer of the glove. This makes for a water-tight seal between the inner lining and the exterior of the glove. Showers Pass says they're only one of two companies to utilitze the OutDry process (the other being apparel juggernaut Pearl Izumi). Operations manager Stephanie Leikas says it gives their gloves several benefits. "With other gloves, water can get trapped between the inner and outer layers, which makes your hands cold and makes a barrier that prevents breathability"
As for fit, I loved the feel of the Hardshell glove. I especially liked the snugly merino wool inner lining. They've got ample cuffs and the entire palm area is lined with a non-slip coating that makes them look like leather driving gloves. Another thing I like were the slight openings at the knuckles to give a little extra room when your hand bends. Combined with the Liner Glove, these gloves seem like they'd be an amazing set-up.
The first step down in the line are the Crosspoint Softshell gloves (MSRP $80). These also have the OutDry membrane and come with the "waterproof breathable" promise. They don't have the non-slip coating of the Hardshell model (or the merino liner), but they still seem like a very capable glove.
Next down in the line is the Crosspoint Wind Glove (MSRP $45). Unlike the top two models, the seams are not sealed; but Showers Pass says it's still made from a a windproof, waterproof material. Like the other two, its got good padding, reflective trim, a big area for wiping your face/glasses, and spots of silicone for grip on the fingers.
Showers Pass is also offering a Liner Glove. At just $30, this glove offers a little extra warmth on its own, or it can be used inside more heavy-duty gloves. The Liner Glove is the only model in the line that will work with iPhones and other touch-screen devices.
Overall I was impressed with all the gloves. Stephen and Stephanie said they spent about two years in development. "We wanted to get it right," Stephen said, "Everything we make is considered the best and everyone thinks of Showers Pass as being waterproof, so we had a lot to live up to."
This is a big move for a growing and successful local company. We're excited to see how these fare in the market when they come out this fall — and of course we're curious how they do in real-world conditions. Stay tuned for a test once the gloves are available.