Review: Showers Pass rain gear from head to toe

Note: This post is part of a paid advertising partnership.

If you want to stand a chance at biking year-round in the Pacific Northwest, at some point you’ll have to face up to the fact that you need some quality rain gear. This was something I put off for years as I mistook light windbreakers for sufficient rain gear to get through Oregon’s rainy winters. I had simply come to terms with the fact that anything more than a few drops of rain would render my jacket completely useless.

So imagine my surprise when I found out that some people actually stay dry through winter! With the help of Portland-based rain gear company Showers Pass, I got to see what that experience is like.

When I first heard about Showers Pass (whom it turns out we first profiled way back in 2006) I didn’t really understand why it might be important to wear gear specifically tailored for biking. It seemed to me that any old raincoat and waterproof pants would do the trick. I expressed this skepticism to the staff when I visited their headquarters on SE 6th Ave, and they kindly explained why I was wrong.

While I’m a proponent of the idea that you can bike wearing whatever you want (you will not find a single piece of lycra in my wardrobe), I have to admit, clothing meant for cycling offers clear benefits when the weather’s miserable.

While I’m a proponent of the idea that you can bike wearing whatever you want (you will not find a single piece of lycra in my wardrobe), I have to admit, clothing meant for cycling offers clear benefits when the weather’s miserable.

First, there’s the matter of safety. The Showers Pass jackets are designed to prioritize visibility, with a bright color selection and reflective features. The reflective accents on all of their clothing are specifically placed to make you more visible to people driving. And then there’s the hoods, which are roomy enough to fit a helmet underneath and are fashioned not to extend past your face so you can maintain peripheral vision, which is very important while biking. Plus, the hoods are removable with velcro, so you can choose to abandon them entirely if you want.

Second is comfort. Biking can requires some physical exertion that can quickly heat you up. This makes it hard to regulate your temperature, especially when it’s both frigid and rainy. You might start out a ride shivering and shaking and then feel yourself starting to sweat and overheat after just a couple miles of pedaling. Showers Pass gear is designed to mitigate that discomfort with ventilation and breathable, light fabrics. Many of the jackets are also designed with a subtle “tail” that will keep your whole back covered when you’re in a seated position instead of riding up.

So how does their stuff work in the real world?

The Jacket

Let’s start with the EcoLyte Elite Jacket ($299), which I got in the color “Glacier,” a bright teal. (It also comes in a goldenrod called “Harvest.”) I am naturally inclined toward all-black outfits, but I will say I like sporting such a bright color — it makes me feel safer and more visible to drivers during the day. (However, the Showers Pass staff told me that the reflective accents are more important for visibility than the color, and they stock darker colors in other styles.)

Along with the nice ventilation and hood design I already mentioned, I’m a big fan of the pockets on this jacket. There’s one on the left side positioned near the chest that keeps your stuff nice and snug without drooping down uncomfortably. I found that you can’t really even feel the weight of what’s in the pocket while you’re riding, which made me nervous at first, but eventually I grew to trust it. There’s also a roomier back pocket (kind of like a reverse kangaroo pouch) — which actually doubles as a little stuff sack for the jacket if you turn it inside out.

The jacket (both the face fabric and lining) is made of 100% recycled polyester. It’s sturdy enough to keep you dry during a downpour but isn’t bulky. The downside of this, though, is that it’s not an extremely warm jacket. If you get cold easily like I do, I’d recommend sizing up enough so you can fit a heavier sweater underneath.

The Pants

Next up are the Timberline pants ($175), which I have in black. These are surprisingly easy to get on and off over your other pants, with a zipper at the base of the legs so you can get them off over your shoes. The legs are tapered enough that they won’t get caught in your chain. These pants consist of a 3-layer waterproof Artex fabric with nylon face fabric, and I found that even when it’s not raining, they’re really helpful to wear over your pants to keep you warm on a cold and windy day.

The employees at Showers Pass suited me in the men’s sizes for both the jacket and pants because I’m tall (5’10”). Other than the sizing, I don’t think there is a difference in the styles between the men’s and women’s jackets and pants — but I can at least vouch that in the men’s sizes, the arms of the jacket and legs of the pants were both long enough for my lanky limbs.

Base layer, Gloves, Socks

I also tried out the Apex Merino Tech long-sleeve shirt — a nice, breathable base layer. At $89, this t-shirt is definitely a splurge, but merino wool is a very high-quality material that will last you a long time and provides a lot of benefits as a base layer in rainy and cold weather.

Last — but certainly not least — for the hands and feet: potentially the most important parts of your body to keep warm during the winter. I think gloves are possibly the most important item of clothing for biking in the winter, and I have tried out a lot of different kinds over the years. My Showers Pass gloves are the the Crosspoint waterproof knit wool gloves ($47), which are slim and stylish and allow you to get a good grip on your handlebars. They function well in drizzle and dry off quickly, but these gloves will definitely get wet during a torrential downpour. They’re not necessarily warm enough for the really frigid temperatures we’ve been experiencing lately, but that’s a difficult feat to accomplish — when it gets below freezing, I usually have to opt for my bulky ski mittens.

I also tried the Crosspoint waterproof socks ($29), which would serve you nicely if you had to bike during an atmospheric river, especially if you weren’t wearing the most durable boots. These socks feel a little stiff to wear at first, but that feeling goes away after a while once you’re wearing them.

Final thoughts

Overall, I really like my Showers Pass rain uniform. And while some of their products are on the higher end of the price range than what some budgets may allow, they actually offer a pretty large price range. You can find their jackets from $139-$325 and their pants range from $95-$245. These are high-quality items that are designed and sold by a Portland-based company, which I think is pretty cool. And since having the right apparel makes such a difference for biking through the winter, I definitely recommend doing your research and giving Showers Pass a look.

And thank to Showers Pass for helping me achieve my Pacific Northwest winter style goals! If I can do it, I’m confident that even the most winter-averse riders can embrace the rain with gear like this.

ShowersPass.com

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Trike Guy
Trike Guy
1 month ago

I bought a full shower’s pass outfit when I started riding an upright on a multi-modal trip when we moved out here 3 years ago this month. Mostly in rainy weather (I ride my bents when it’s dry 🙂 ) – Ride to Beaverton TC, MAX to CTC and ride here – 9-10miles round trip.

The zipper on the chest pocket of my Elite jacket failed halfway through the first season. The zipper on the right pocket of my pants failed shortly after and the zipper on the left side halfway through the second season.

The jacket lasted 3 full seasons before the main zip failed (2 weeks ago). I just replaced it with a Transit. The pants are failing in an expected spot – the crotch is worn very thin – if it pours hard enough I can get soak through there.

So, 3 rainy seasons- 5,000 miles (approx) on my townbike (not my ‘bents) for the pants. I wore the jacket on my bents, so a bit longer on it.

That said – the fit is excellent, the protection is superb and I only get sweaty in them over 5 miles if the temps are above 50 degrees.

I used to have a Shower’s pass helmet cover, but managed to lose it.

Gloves are another issue – I didn’t care for my Shower’s pass gloves. They easily soak through in 5 miles and they usually don’t dry before I have to go home.

Basically, that type of glove I have to have 4pairs. I wear a pair in, another pair home, then the other 2 the next day while the first 2 dry.

I’m willing to spend $300 every 3 years for the pants/jacket, but maybe not everyone can?

Nick
Nick
1 month ago
Reply to  Trike Guy

Found any good rain pants for your recumbent? I find all the cold wind shoots right up my leg with most rain pants.

Tried some XC ski pants and they’re ok but not completely waterproof

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
1 month ago
Reply to  Nick

I’ve never found a great solution on my bents. In sub 40’s Amfib tights are decent – but not for the 15-23 miles I ride them.

That’s why heavy rain brings out the town bike for 5mi each way 🙂

The biggest problem on a bent is you really need an apron. I find that all the water that hits my chest flows down toward my lap. My legs below the knee are less impacted.

Gonna try some Rain Legz in the new year and see if that works.

Riva
Riva
1 month ago
Reply to  Trike Guy

You might already be doing this, but I’ve had really good results rejuvenating rain gear with the NikWax wash in coatings. I also hear good things about Grainger but they aren’t as readily available.

You can even add water resistance to your lighter jackets and jeans and things, it’s not perfect(something something microplastics) but if you are finding your old gear isn’t shedding the rain as well, that’s one thing you can do for a little cheaper than a new setup.

Won’t fix a failing zipper though, that’s a whole nother issue.

Todd/Boulanger
1 month ago

My family jumped on the BikePortland discount to buy a new jacket that replaced a two year old Showers Pass jacket that no longer kept them dry.

As a – former – long term Showers Pass owner…when I went to replace my third SP Elite jacket in 15 years via a shipped direct purchase, I was dismayed to find that SP had recently converted the zipper into a one-way zipper and flipped its zipper tab orientation. (Both which makes on the fly while riding jacket adjustments more difficult. Has anyone been turned off by these odd design for dedicated cyclist changes?)

David Hampsten
1 month ago

Any rainwear suggestions for those of us who are big & tall, not to mention morbidly obese? It’s easy to lose weight, I’ve done it hundreds of times, but it’s much harder to keep it off. Most manufacturers including REI and Showers Pass aim towards the physically fit rather than the much more numerous interested but concerned.

For the wet gloves, have you tried pogies yet – external neoprene shields that go around your bars and grips, to protect your gloves from the cold and rain?

Dawn
Dawn
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

I’ve had good luck with the extended sizing from Columbia. And I’m a year round commuter who has managed to stay completely dry year after year without a high end investment. Plus size can be hard to find and expensive to buy. I’ve found Columbia to be the only reliable source. Try to get a pass to the employee store in Beaverton for the best deals and to try on for best sizing. You can also order anything not available in store from their computer inventory while there.

joan
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Marley and Kailey with All Bodies on Bikes have some resources on their website specifically about larger sized bicycling gear.

Hotrodder
Hotrodder
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Boy, if SP doesn’t fit ‘husky’ frames, I don’t know who it fits. I’ve tried their gear a couple of times, and never came to like either the fit (boxy, flappy, ugly) or the finish (feels like mylar). Ended up giving the jackets away. And my legs get clammy just looking at those rain pants. Used mine cycling twice, and both times my legs were just as wet as if I’da not been wearing them, because of the condensation. (full disclosure, I did keep the pants with my emergency hiking gear. Figured I could always use another layer in case I have to overnight on the mountain unexpectedly).

I can’t offer any suggestions for your gear needs, David, I’m unfortunately thin and tall.

Keith
Keith
1 month ago

Bought a Showers Pass cycling rain jacket about 10 years ago (partially to support a local business). After 2-3 seasons, the waterproof/breathable coating began delaminating. Customer “service” was less than accommodating and had a “so what do you expect” attitude. I’ve moved on never to return to this brand.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
1 month ago
Reply to  Keith

I find that the 3 layer construction results in longer life than the 2 layer construction in cheaper brands. Not sure how long they’re supposed to last, but my elite was still protecting me in heavy rain, even at the seams, 3 years in. If the front zipper hadn’t failed I’d still be wearing it.

Wash them infrequently, in gentle/cold and hang dry and the middle layer (the membrane) lasts pretty well.

Charley
Charley
1 month ago

Gloves always seem to be the point of failure in my winter commuting kit. Now that I’ve got an e-bike, I might need to splurge on some heated gloves, or maybe some kind of mitten?

Ryan
Ryan
1 month ago
Reply to  Charley

My hands get cold very easy on a bike, especially on morning commutes, so gloves have been a big thing for me. Fingers would start hurting 30 minutes in, even with snowboarding gloves when the temps got below around 40. Found some Mountain Hardware mittens and they’ve helped a LOT. Try to get a pass to the Columbia employee store, makes them more affordable cuz they’re pretty spendy otherwise. But I went from frozen, painful fingers at the end of my 13 mile commute (each way) to toasty and even slightly sweaty sometimes.

joan
1 month ago
Reply to  Charley

Bike-specific pogies (also called bar mitts) are the best thing I’ve found. I can wear gloves underneath them, but keeping the wind off my hands does the most to keep my hands warm. And I’m using them on my ebike, too. I realized I don’t really need to look at the controller, which is under my pogie, most of the time.

Cleatus Duboise
Cleatus Duboise
1 month ago

Good product however they sell to bike shops and then undersell the same shops from the warehouse. Not a smart business decision creating a bad reputation in the local industry.

FDUP
FDUP
1 month ago

Honest question – did you pay for this gear or was it donated in hopes of some positive reviews and press coverage?

IMO that is not fully disclosed and/or sufficiently explained.

For comparative disclosures, please see any of BSNYC’s product reviews.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin
Reply to  FDUP

The gear was donated. I wrote a sentence right at the top saying this was an advertisement.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin
Reply to  FDUP

We did not pay for this gear. I assumed that making it clear at the outset of the article that it was part of a paid advertisement was enough of a disclaimer about what is going on here.

Riva
Riva
1 month ago

One feature of the Hoods I don’t see mentioned is the extra tensioning strap in the back, it helps the hood grab under the lip of your helmet, staying tighter to your neck.

The REI jackets share this feature, it’s my number one clue that a biking rain jacket is quality and shaped well and not just an oversized hood and some reflective stripes.

Still wish Showers Pass made a set of biking Waders though.