The Showers Pass jacket is designed as a multi-purpose, do-it-all jacket, with more than a few nods to mountain biking in particular. It’s made from ‘Ultralite-Elite’ three-layer performance fabric with fully taped seams – so, as you’d expect from a jacket like this, it’s waterproof and breathable. No fully waterproof jacket is completely non-sweaty, especially when you’re working hard, but some fabrics are better than others. There is also the usual water-repellant coating on the outside to help water to bead off.
The sizing generally is pretty good. I usually go for XL sizes to make sure I’ve got the appropriate sleeve length, but that normally leaves me with an enormously flappy, billowing, midriff of material, which naturally slows me down on descents, parachute-like. Or at least that’s what I keep telling myself. But the Refuge has sufficiently long sleeves that I was fine riding a large. The cut was therefore close, but not terribly so – there was plenty of room underneath for some more warm clothing without it becoming billowy.
And it’s got a hood. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of hoods, although many people are. I seem to fall somewhere in between sizes on this jacket but I found that the hood was still just voluminous enough for a helmet. I tended to remove the hood (easy to do with the zipper it’s attached with) to avoid flappage, but I still took it with me – it was very handy to have about if I was stuck on my bike in a rainstorm while someone fixed a puncture.
There’s a storm flap which clips up when it’s not in use, and there are loads of zips and pockets, all rendered weatherproof with impressively sturdy Aquaguard zippers. The Napoleon pocket even has a small hole suitable for threading a headphone lead through, if you’re in the mood for a little music while you ride.
There are also the usual subtle reflective bits and pieces, and a couple of light loops – one bizarrely near the collar, and one more conventionally on the back. I find that hanging lights directly on the jacket is a bit of a pain, especially if you’re wearing a backpack, but it’s nice to have the option.
My test jacket is extremely rugged-feeling, and gives off an impressive air of invulnerability. When you first put the jacket on, it feels ‘solid’, for want of a better word – although the jacket isn’t heavy. It’s not one of those ‘stick it in your pack for if you need it’ kind of things; it’s an ‘it’s beyond hideous out there but I’m going anyhow’ jacket. You zip yourself into it, and head off into the maelstrom.
I think a lot of that psychological heft is caused by the zips, which are pretty substantial and offer a certain amount of resistance when you’re taking the jacket on and off. Happily, though, should you need to adjust ventilation, it’s fairly straightforward to do so with one hand. The side vents themselves are excellent – they’re placed a bit lower down than others I’ve tried, so that they still have some function if you’re wearing a backpack, although if that is the case you can’t undo them one-handed.
But given that many jackets’ vents don’t work at all with a backpack, it’s a small price to pay. The fabric itself is actually fairly soft and allows a good degree of movement, helped by the loose, but not baggy cut.
The jacket kept me as dry as you’d expect/hope (the holes in the jacket to let my head, legs and hands out can occasionally let water in too, annoyingly…) and to my surprise the beading is still doing its best to slough off water even once the jacket’s been through my washing machine a few times. I don’t make a habit of washing my jackets, but eventually they get so extremely grubby that it’s almost embarrassing to show up on rides; I find that putting them through the wash without any detergent gets them clean enough without completely killing the water beading properties of whatever they’ve been treated with, but even so they need re-treating eventually.
To my surprise though the Refuge is still doing its best to slough off water even after the jacket’s been through the washing machine a few times. It’s holding out as well as any I’ve previously tried (and better than many), but re-treating it is a simple matter in any case, particularly if you have access to a tumble drier.
This is a very well-made, sturdy-feeling and excellently featured jacket with some very nice touches.
|From:||Showers Pass, showers pass.com|
|Tested:||by Barney for seven months|