I can’t say I enjoy cycling in the rain, but I seem to do it a lot anyway—a good ride in the rain beats a day in the office anytime. In the past ten years I’ve probably purchased a dozen rain jackets for cycling, but most of them fell short of my expectations. A few years ago I read one blogger who said that if you ride in the rain very often you will end up with a Showers Pass jacket, but you will probably waste a lot of money on inferior jackets before you do. Last year I bought a Showers Pass Touring Jacket and liked it so well that I later bought a Showers Pass Elite 2.0 Jacket as well.
When it comes breathability in a rain jacket I don’t think you could find anything better than a Showers Pass jacket. On a breathability scale of one to ten, where a one is a plastic trash bag, I’d give a Showers Pass jacket a ten and most Goretex jackets an eight. The breathability of this jacket comes not only from the eVent three-layer fabric, but also from the numerous venting options built into the jacket. This jacket has fully taped seams, 11-inch pit zips under both arms, large gusseted cuffs, and a very large back vent for flow-thru ventilation. There are elastic cinch-cords on both the collar and the hem—you can open them for added ventilation or close them the keep the heat in. The back of the jacket is extra long to keep your backside dry in pouring rain (and it works well).
The front of the Showers Pass Elite 2.0 jacket seals up with a water-resistant full length two-way zipper. There is also a roomy chest pocket (a Napoleon pocket) with an audio port that allows you to keep your iPhone or other audio device dry in the pocket and run a headphone cord up to your ear. The collar on this jacket is made of soft Micro-fleece and is very comfortable. Around the neck is a series of Velcro attachment points so you can attach a rain hood (sold separately). For your safety there is a substantial amount of 3M Scotchlite reflective taping on arms and back (the best I’ve seen on any jacket), and light loop in the middle of the back so you can attach a small LED flasher (I wish all cycling jackets had light loops).
When I reviewed the Showers Pass Touring Jacket I questioned the sanity of anyone who would buy a black cycling jacket. However, as you can see in the photo above, I ended up buying the Elite 2.0 in black, so let me explain why. First, I would never ride on the road in a black jacket, even with the 3M Scotchlite reflective taping. I did not buy this jacket for road cycling—I bought it mainly to use as a shell for winter cycling. On snow-covered off-road trails a black jacket is fine—black fabric has a tendency to attract heat better than other colors and it also contrasts well against the white snow. In addition, when I ride on muddy off-road trails in the rain the black jacket cleans up better (i.e., after clean-up you can’t see the dirt you missed as easily as you can on brighter jackets). I’ve used this jacket as a shell for winter cycling over an Under Armour compression shirt and a fleece jacket and this kept me warm down to about 10 degrees (Fahrenheit).
The only thing I don’t like about this jacket is the slanted zipper on the back storage pocket. The pocket itself is waterproof and very roomy, but I just don’t like the slanted zipper! To be fair, Showers Pass is not the only company to offer rain jackets with a slanted zipper, but I have trouble opening these pockets while riding and I hate to stop when it is raining.
The Showers Pass Elite 2.0 Rain Jacket retails for $240 and if you ride in the rain very much it is worth every penny. This men’s jacket is available in four colors (Black, Chili Pepper Red, Electric Blue, and Goldenrod) and comes in five sizes (S thru XXL). The women’s jacket is only available in three colors (Chili Pepper Red, Crystal Blue, and Goldenrod) and comes in six sizes (Extra-Small thru XXL). I found this jacket to be a little larger than advertised. For the Weight Weenies among us, the large jacket weighs about 13.5 ounces.