Gear Review: Showers Pass Elite Pro
The Showers Pass Elite Pro rain jacket has the most superlatives in front of it than any other Showers Pass product, so it must be a good awesome product, right? In the spirit of lightening and optimizing our gear, I was on the search for a lightweight yet waterproof jacket. I have a Showers Pass Elite (sans Pro) jacket which I like for commuting in during the long wet and cold Portland winters. However, since we were heading off to New Zealand during their “summer” I wanted to find something that was a lighter weight, packed down smaller and was still waterproof.
The Showers Pass Elite Pro seemed to fit the bill (a very large bill mind you at $230 retail). Straight from the Showers Pass website, they describe the Elite Pro as “insanely light at 240 grams”. They don’t give the weight of the regular Elite, but to hold both in your hands the Elite Pro is indeed noticeably lighter. Now, it isn’t quite ultra-light backpacking vapor jacket thin, but the material, which is aptly referred to as “elite (TM) Fabric” is surprisingly thin for a cycling jacket. If you hold it up against a light you can actually see the light through it.
Showers Pass Elite on left and the Elite Pro on the right. Large weight and volume difference.
The Elite Pro, like other Showers Pass jackets is short on pockets. There is one smallish pocket at the tail that also doubles as stuff sack for the whole jacket. There is, however, an abundance of zippers. It has some nice large pit zips under the arms and another venting zip on the back. The front double zipper is asymmetrical and allows you to cape the jacket (leave the top zipper sealed and open up the bottom half) which I’ve come to think is an essential feature in any cycling jacket. Say what you will about breathable materials but nothing breathes better than an open zipper and the Elite Pro has got them in spades.
The jacket has velcro on the cuffs so you can adjust the fit at the wrists to keep the rain out or to tuck your gloves under. The jacket also has the tell-tale sign of being a Showers Pass jacket with the belly bridge. If you have a SP jacket, you know what I mean – the two inches of fabric missing at the waist to a) allow you freedom of movement when you ride and b) show off your midriff when you’re walking around town. Great for riding, mildly embarrassing walking down the street. There’s money to be made with a Showers Pass cummerbund to cover that area up : )
The fit of the jacket is slim, but it still does allow for adequate layering. On really cold and wet days on tour I’ve worn the Elite Pro with both an Earth, Wind, Rider long sleeve wool jersey and an Ibex sweater underneath. For what its worth, I wear the Large size of the Elite Pro.
While probably not intended to be a jacket for touring, I took it on tour anyway to New Zealand. Of our 90 days in New Zealand we only saw 20 sunny days. To say it got a lot of use would be an understatement. So how did it perform?
For the first few weeks it performed admirably. Water would bead up and roll off the sleeves like little translucent marbles. It was pretty well ventilated even during spirited riding. On cool days it was light enough to wear as a light windbreaker. When I wasn’t wearing it, it packed down small and didn’t take up half a pannier. I wore it on and off the bike since it was the only jacket I brought with me so I used it for hiking, walking around town, fishing and riding. I fished the Tongariro river in an absolute downpour for 8 hours over two days with a safari hat, the Elite Pro and a pair of shorts. I think it was during my 8 hour fish-a-thon that the jacket reached its saturation point and was no longer waterproof. Even during light rains, the jacket would eventually soak through. It wasn’t until I was able to hand wash the jacket in light detergent, sun dry it and then iron it on the lowest steam setting (a tip I learned from a friend and fellow SP jacket owner) did it become waterproof again.
No jacket is completely waterproof all the time unless you’re wearing a plastic bag. The Elite Pro is a good lightweight cycling jacket and for the most part fulfills its promise of being an “insanely light” jacket that repels water…most of the time. It will hit a saturation point sooner or later and you’ll have to clean it and treat it to bring back its water repelling properties.
It is ideal for those that count grams or where storage capacity is in short supply. However, its thinness can be a liability. The Elite Pro is definitely not as warm as the Elite. The material also seems like it would not be as crash or tear resistant. I wore it tromping through brambles to go fishing and knew I was asking for trouble. Granted, most riders probably won’t push it as hard as I did so for most normal applications it should be fine.
I got mine in black so I could wear it around town when we were off the bike and look normal. The giant Showers Pass logo on the side and belly bridge made it a little silly in town though. It didn’t seem as annoying when I was first trying it on but eventually grated on me over the next few weeks. In the end, I would recommend it for short tours where there is a possibility of rain and you want to bring a jacket that won’t take up half a pannier or for fast spirited riding.
-Lightweight and packs small
-lots of zippers and ventilation
-best for Spring and Fall use, a little too cool for the winter
-Showers Pass logo all over it (hey didn’t I already pay $230 why do I have to advertise as well?)
-will saturate over time and will need to be treated
-damned Showers Pass midriff UPDATED: Great feature on the bike, but not so good off the bike. Limits the jacket as a good all around bike touring jacket.
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