Hannah has been out in Idaho at the Impact Sun Valley media event to check out a bunch of brands and products. Here, she finds out a bit more about the Showers Pass brand and products.
I’ve had the pleasure of testing and reviewing a number of Showers Pass items before, but it’s the first time I’ve actually met anyone from the brand. Started by two brothers Kyle and Fraser, they’re a transatlantic venture, with Fraser being based in the UK while Kyle and the rest of the Showers Pass crew endure the wet lands of Portland, Oregon. Jeremy, the marketing manager, talks me through their range of products and some of the stories behind them.
Dry and Bright (Not the weather forecast)
The damp climes of their home base are revealed in the fact that they produce a strong range of waterproof items. I’ve previously reviewed the IMBA waterproof jacket and Crosspoint waterproof gloves, and in fact I’m wearing my jacket when I meet Jeremy – Idaho in June proving to be a little showery. My jacket is much less orange than it was when I first got it, and I’m offered a new IMBA one – which I decline, since it’s still waterproof and nothing stays bright and new with me for long.
Although I’ve not written a review, I’ve found their Crosspoint waterproof socks to be the best I’ve found. I’m told this is due to their construction – there are no seams anywhere in the socks. The middle waterproof membrane is formed around a sock shaped mould, as are the fabric inner and outer layers. These are then heat sealed together to form a complete sock. To make the socks look ‘right’ (I’m imagining a sort of fabric/condom/fabric sandwich otherwise) the outer layer is printed with ‘fake seams’ and other patterning that gives the illusion of a knitted sock.
Along with wet often comes dark, and this is reflected (sorry) in the inclusion of light-reflective elements – and sometimes actual lights – in many products, even when not designed for road use. The Beacon lights are available to fit to a number of bags, as well as to jackets like the Torch which I previously tested. The light weight IMBA MTB shorts have reflective tabs on the thighs to help with visibility on the ride to and from the trails, and are floaty light enough it’s easy to imagine using them for swimming or on long tours where quick drying products would be welcome. These are still on the shorter side of things and, while longer than their XC shorts, they are not enduro baggies. When I wonder out loud who likes their shorts so short but not lycra, it turns out that it tends to be warmer and more humid on the East coast, so short shorts are more popular there, with longer ones worn more on the West coast. Although they’re floaty light, they still have a tougher rear to them to withstand plenty of seated pedalling.
From Coast to Toast
Apparently wearable on both coasts of the USA, the Apex merino t-shirt – which has a lovely drape to it – has subtle reflective shoulder tabs front and rear. The main body is 50% merino, while the side panels are 87% merino – concentrating the magic merino smell repellent effect around your under arms. I’ll be able to wear this at all hours of the day and night in an effort to check out the stink preventing qualities of merino.
Also promising stink free wear is the Trailhead hoodie, made from a bamboo and merino mix. Jeremy adds this to my box of samples in place of a new waterproof jacket, and on putting it on I’m instantly pleased. It is super cosy, with a zipped kangaroo pocket to the front and small credit card pocket to the rear. Designed more as post ride snuggle wear rather than energetic active wear, putting it on I’m inclined to think that if I turned up at home this soft and cuddly there’d be some energetic snuggling going on pretty soon. You know that ‘yoga wear’ that is really just for lounging seductively in before assuming a few crucial positions? This is that sort of gear. Anyway, let’s move on before we get too hot and bothered and test out those stink repellent claims…
Back to waterproofing. Much less sexy, but very practical. There’s a new 3 litre Rainslinger hip pack that promises to be waterproof at a surprising $69/£59. Apparently it’s caught the eye of the photography crowd, who see it as being ideal for carrying smaller camera items. At that price, I can see it catching the eye of plenty of riders, and I’m looking forward to testing mine (though, I’m happy to simulate wet weather with a nice warm shower if needs be).
In the pipeline is a larger waterproof hip pack with a capacity of 7 litres. I raise an eyebrow that something so large could be held securely while riding, but Jeremy assures me that it will stay in place. This new pack is due to arrive in Autumn (when I’m more prepared to accept real life wet weather testing), however newly introduced trade tariffs mean it’s not likely to be quite so price competitive as the 3 litre version.
Their 2 litre dry bag has been a surprise hit at £13 – made from recycled waterproof fabrics and available in bright ‘find me as I float away’ orange or ‘bad choice for body parts’ black, the colours are chosen for manufacturing simplicity rather than fashion.
More Stuff, Less Impact
Showers Pass is keen to produce goods that last – they say their warranty rate rate has dropped even as their business has grown – and they have a strong sustainably statement. Increasingly Showers Pass products are made under the ‘Bluesign’ scheme, which has a set of standards for the textile industry around traceability, chemical usage and sustainability. Particularly with hi-tech fabrics such as waterproofs, it’s worth giving this some thought – chemicals may have kept the rain off your back, but what did they do to the water supply where it was made? Showers Pass also aims to keep the social responsibility going closer to home, with 5% of money from the IMBA shorts and jackets going to local trail groups.
I’m in the bike industry partly to escape mission statements and corporate plans, but this one seems worth mentioning, it’s ‘The Long-Range Plan: Showers Pass Sustainability Goals for 2025’:
- 100% of our products will be made with a minimum of 50% or more recycled content.
- All Apparel will be made with bluesign® approved dyes in bluesign® approved factories.
- 100% of wool will meet the Responsible Wool Standard, and be sourced from farms that treat animals humanely, where mulesing is not practiced.
- Showers Pass US will have a product end-of-life recycling program.
- All Showers Pass packaging will be made from Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood or recycled material, and have the ability to be recycled or composted.
- Showers Pass’ US headquarters will be carbon positive, generating more energy than it consumes and we will encourage factory partners to get at least 50% of their energy from renewable sources as well.
In a capitalist and consumerist society, it’s good to see this broad consideration for environmental impact across the business. Perhaps sustainable growth can be a thing? It certainly chimes with some of the efforts we’ve made at Singletrack of late to be ‘green’.
With its fairly limited colour range and emphasis on functionality, practical pieces for commutes and all weather gear for weekend mountain bike miles, Showers Pass is a brand that likely speaks to those for whom bikes of many sort are a way of life. And if bikes are a way of life, then there’s a good chance you’ll also appreciate the sustainable aims behind the brand. How can anyone ride anywhere without noting and appreciating the world around them and wanting to look after it? OK, maybe that’s pretty hard to do on a midwinter commute with rain lashing your face – but at least with some Showers Pass kit there’s a good chance you’ll be dry on the inside. With that new drybag I’ve got to try out, I’m certainly hoping my change of underwear gets to work un-dampened!
Hannah’s travel and accommodation was provided by CrankTank/Impact Sun Valley.