In this review, we look at two products from Showers Pass, the Elite Pro jacket and the Body-Mapped long sleeve base layer.

showers pass elite pro jacket

A rare moment of calm on a windy, cold ride.

If there is anything I struggle with, it is finding the right combo of features in a cycling jacket, especially for MTB riding, but for road riding as well.  In my part of the world, we have very little precipitation to worry about and it does not get extremely cold either.  But it gets cold enough and windy enough to where a cover-up is needed.  What we are faced with on a typical ride is finding that balance between not overheating on an hours long climb while still staying warm, and needing a good barrier from wind chill on the fast downhills.  And yes, it might, just might even rain a bit.  That is why I have enjoyed the new soft shell/windproof garments that are a bit of a cross-over between a jersey and a jacket, but they do not pack very small, or so it has been my experience.

So what I want is:

  • The ability to breath/vent well during hard, extended efforts without resorting to an ‘all or nothing’ approach…jacket off…jacket on.  Etc.
  • Good, lasting rain protection.  DWR type coatings wear off over time so I want built in rain protection, not just an outer treatment.  Yes, it might not rain much here, but I do not always ride ‘here’ and it does rain other places.
  • Visibility.  I want to be plainly seen by cars, hunters, etc, under the typical types of weather in which I would wear this.
  • Packability.  If this will not be a pure MTB application where you will likely have on a hydration pack, it needs to roll up and fit into a typical 3-pocket jersey.
  • A slim fit.  I hate flapping fabric.  It needs to allow for a base and jersey and that is about all I need.  This is not Minnesota winter Fat Biking here.

A garment that can tick off these categories is a useful thing indeed.  I would say that any cyclist that rides in three or more season weather, or endurance events, bike packing, touring, etc, has to have something like that.  Call it a ‘Core’ piece of gear.

Enter the Showers Pass Elite Pro jacket.  From the Showers Pass website:

Ride like a Pro with our lightest 3-layer waterproof breathable rain jacket.  Worn by Russian World Tour Team Katusha during the 2014 race season, the Elite Pro is super light weighing a mere 240 grams.  Made with lightweight three-layer waterproof and highly breathable elite™ Fabric, to keep you protected from the elements.  Softshell side panels offer a bit of stretch and allow this trim fitting jacket to fit like a jersey instead of a shell, while still offering fully seam taped weather resistant construction.   Fine tune your temperature with core vents, adjustable cuffs, a two way water resistant zipper and rear exhaust vent (at the base of the neck).  When the weather turns in your favor roll it up and stuff it into its own back pocket. The packable Elite Pro fits easily into a jersey pocket. Reflective trim on front sides and back.  The Elite Pro Jacket is worn by pro cycling team Katusha, triathletes, and runners alike.

showers pass elite pro jacketshowers pass elite pro jacket

Colonel Mustard Yellow…that is what I am calling the color of the jacket sample I have to review.  I like it, but I have to say it is different than the typical hi-viz colors.  Still, it meets one of the parameters I listed…you could see this on a foggy or rainy day. It also comes in black.  The Elite Pro jacket has no lining and is very simple in some ways in that there is no hood, the sleeves do not come off, there are no front pockets, and there is only one zipped rear pocket.  This allows it to pack pretty small and travel light, weighing in at 8oz/227g for a men’s medium. It does fit well in a typical three pocket jersey (the Elite Pro tucks into its own back zipped pocket if desired).  The cut is what I would call ‘slim’ or ‘trim’.  I can get a long shirtsleeve base and a mid weight wool long sleeve jersey under it and be just right, but anything more would be a bit restrictive.

showers pass elite pro jacket

DWR coating at work, backed up by a waterproof fabric layer.

It is made from Showers Pass elite™ fabric, a proprietary fabric that blocks water and should take care of any wind that comes along, yet is claimed to be breathable.  I have heard that before, but there are some features that should help the jacket vent well.  There are core vents, which are two zipped side openings right at your rib cage, and there is a zipped ‘exhaust’ vent right at the back of your neck/upper back area. The main front zipper is a two way deal, so it can be closed, yet you can ‘unzip’ from the bottom and the top at the same time or just the top or just the bottom, etc.  And to add to all that, the sleeve cuffs open up very wide to allow air to pass up the sleeves.

All zippers are the sealed kind and the main front zip finishes off-center and has a zipper porch and fleecy fabric to avoid annoyance with your neck area.  It comes up nicely high when fully closed, but not enough to feel claustrophobic.  There is reflective trim sewed into the jacket for extra visibility.

The Showers Pass Elite Pro jacket sells for a MSRP of $245.00

The first ride in the Showers Pass Elite Pro was a 7 hour, 55 mile loop with over 9000′ feet of climbing, all of that climbing in winds gusting above 30mph, mostly exposed and at elevation.  Air temps were in the 60s, but the wind dropped that to the 40s when we were up near 6000′.  At times I was completely sheltered from the wind and climbing and at times I was struggling to even pedal straight ahead in the wind…the only constant for the first half of the ride was a lot of uphill going on.  I wore a set of wool socks, Ibex wool 3/4 El Fito bibs, a Merino wool base shirt and Merino wool LS jersey from Rapha, and the normal rest of the gear.

Acton, CA the hard way.

Acton, CA the hard way.

I was completely impressed by how well I could regulate the heat build-up in the Elite Pro jacket.  The core vents at the sides were awesome.  The sleeves, with those wide openings that can be closed down with a velcro strap, were like air funnels.  I could feel the air blowing up my arms.  I actually was likely getting less of the full effect of all this venting as I was wearing a hydration pack which no doubt interfered a bit, keeping the jacket a bit close to me all the time, but with all the combos of zipped this and vented that, I never needed to stop and remove it until we were back down in town and no jacket was required.  Sometimes it was just cold up there, and the wind would actually stop me, turn me, and point me 90° away from the direction I wanted to go.  But if I battened all the hatches down, the Elite Pro kept me decently warm.

Crummy iPhone pic, looking behind.

Crummy iPhone pic, looking behind from whence we came.

I have worn it since then without a pack on a couple of road rides, and I purposely tried to get it to ‘flap’ on a long, fast descent, but no dice.  It never let out a ‘peep’ of flapping-ness.  What I also never was able to do was get it wet.  Hey, it’s So Cal after all and the timing of the review just fell in between the storms.  However, since Showers Pass lives and breathes inclement weather, I feel pretty good about this, but it is an unknown to me.  Still, I apologize for the less than complete review in that regard.

 The Good

  • Packable…meets the jersey pocket requirement.
  • Very flexible in venting options.
  • Water fastness with a permanent fabric, not just coating (although it is DWR coated as well), and sealed zippers.
  • Cool color…maybe.
  • Slim fit works well for roadie/gravel/fast XC stuff.
  • Simple design…just the necessities.
  • Not too expensive.
  • Nice long tail section.

The not so good

  • No hood, no liner, no pockets.  If you need a more ‘fully dressed’ option, look at the Showers Pass Elite 2.1 (slightly more deluxe) or the full-on Refuge jacket.
  • The zippers require two hands to operate (most of the time) due to the sealed type they are.
  • Un-cool color…maybe.
  • Slim fit…Clydesdales may need not apply.  I wore a LG and I am 6’2″ 185lbs.
  • No waist/hem draw cord to pull the jacket in close, not that I really needed it.
  • Requires good layers underneath to feel warm in it as it has no insulation or liner of any kind.

Final word on the Elite Pro jacket:  “A worthy item to have with you on a long day in changing conditions and a core item for XC endurance guys, gravel riders, and roadies.”

showers pass base layer panel cut

Body Mapped base layer:  What Spiderman wears for a base shirt.

From the Showers Pass website:

New Showers Pass Body-Mapped Baselayer!

Insulate for cool weather with this trim fitting lightweight baselayer.  This custom blend fabric utilizes Merino Wool, Modal, Nylon and Spandex for high performance and soft touch.  4-Way fabric moves with your body with less chafing due to seamless body construction.

showers pass body mapped base layer

Better keep it sucked in.

Key Design Features:

  1. Warm and Breathable
  2. Body-Mapped to coordinate with venting on our jackets
  3. Won’t itch
  4. Won’t stink after use
  5. Won’t shrink in the dryer
  6. No chafing seams
  7. Comfortable trim fit that is not restrictive

We spent many months refining the fiber content of our Body-Mapped Baselayer to achieve a garment that is soft to the touch thanks to Modal, form fitting with plenty of stretch thanks to Spandex, is warm but will not stink after aerobic activity due to Merino Wool, all while being strong and durable due to Nylon.

The venting design on Showers Pass Jackets is mirrored in the baselayers via an open knit pattern in areas you sweat the most: under the arms and down the middle of the back. This allows excess heat to escape from these areas more quickly. Multiple knit patterns are achieved without adding seams along the torso via a circular knitting machine originally designed for making socks. The open knit body mapping corresponds to the core and back vents featured on most Showers Pass Jackets.

Designed with a long torso, wide hem and long sleeves with thumb loops the baselayer works for cycling or any high output outdoor activity. Offering two sizes each in Men’s and Women’s styles, these long sleeve shirts feature a great amount of stretch and are designed to be form fitting.

I chose the LG/XL. At first I found this high-tech under-garment to be a bit much for me as it was VERY form fitting. In fact it felt overly so and was almost like a compression shirt.  It also felt a bit itchy.  Ok..I hand washed it and then wore it two more times.  Things got better on both accounts as the fit relaxed a bit, still being very snug, but not so claustrophobic.  I do not want to be ‘aware’ that I am wearing a base shirt as I ride and that feeling has pretty much abated.  It also feels softer now as well after the wash and wear.  Merino wool blends are pretty awesome and this one still has no body odor after several wearings.  Makes me wonder why sheep are stinky things, but I digress.

I cannot say that I noticed that the different panels were doing anything special for me.  Maybe they were.  Dunno’.  In any case, I did not notice that it let me down either.

It retails for $69.00.

The Good

  • Long sleeves (with thumb loops to help keep the sleeves where they belong as you pull on a jersey).
  • A proper cut for cycling, in that it feels kind of odd on you when you are walking around, but lean forward and extend your arms and it feels perfect.
  • Fits amazingly snug so there is maximum contact to the body for moisture dispersion.
  • Light weight, not sheer, but not a mid-weight either.
  • Feel like Spiderman, look like a superhero.
  • Merino wool blends are amazing…no stink, warm even when damp.

The Less Than Good

  • May be too snug for comfort depending on your personal preference.
  • May not be heavy enough for colder use.
  • You better not be the typical MAMIL, or you will look like an over stuffed sausage casing in this thing if you are seen sans jersey.  Ab work may be required.  Feel like Spiderman, look like Jabba the Hut.
  • Maybe not the most refined Merino wool blend, but only when compared to something like a Rapha wool base.  Still it seems to get better as you use it.

The last word:  “A well designed base layer with the magic of wool working for you, but do not buy too small a size and you better spend time with your Total Gym.”

Note: Showers Pass sent over their products  for test/review at no charge to Twenty Nine Inches. We are not being paid nor bribed for this review and we will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.