Review of Showers Pass Elite 2.1 Jacket
I’ve now worn this jacket, daily, rain, shine, sleet or snow since October. Typically, I have it on for roughly 90 minutes per day. After all this time, I have no desire to find anything better.
There’s quite a bit to like about this jacket: coverage, venting, and waterproofness.
For a pricey item, there are a few shortcomings that need to be considered. First, the front zipper is lame. I find that it’s very easy for fabric on the right side of the seam to engage itself in the teeth, resulting in a tedious. slow motion zipup, with retreats, do-overs, and harsh words spoken. The other zippers on the jacket are excellent, though: front pocket, and rear pocket.
The rear pocket is an odd sized thing, but I have found it handy for holding an assortment of headgear accessible without having to dig into a pannier should I find it too warm or too cold. I stash a balaclava and wool beanie in that pocket, and swap out depending on ride conditions.
The neck closure is a bit dodgy. To be fair, I have a long thin neck, so I find there is too much fabric around the closure. On a person of average construction, it’s probably a good closure. Mind you, I’m usually so warm on my rides that I usually have the zip open a bit at the neck. The tabs on the zippers could be a bit bigger. I find that trying to adjust a zipper while riding with heavy winter gloves on is a hit-or-miss thing. Something beefier on the zipper pulls would be handy.
The DWR coating works well, but I did notice that upon its first exposure to real rainfall, it wetted out in several places. I promptly gave it a wash in Nikwax Tech Wash, followed by a Nikwax TX Direct bath. I’ve had no problems with water repellency with this jacket since. Note that washing this jacket in detergent is something I do not recommend, as it can negatively affect the water repellent qualities due to residues that allow water migration.
I chose the goldenrod version of the jacket, for visibility reasons. Knowing that I would be cycling through rain, fog, snow, in daytime and at night, I am going for maximum visibility. I also hang a small light off the loop on the back of the jacket, but as I have noted in another post, this can negatively affect the opening of the vent at the back. I’ve actually had drivers roll down windows at a stoplight to tell me how visible I am. That’s a relief!
I have to say that while I am impressed by how well the venting does work when not impeded by an extra weight, I am a little on the disappointed side with respect to the breathability of this jacket. It’s based on eVent, which has an excellent reputation. However, I have found that no matter how careful I am about base layering and midlayer insulating, I arrive at the end of my commute on the damp side. My expectations may have been set too high. Keeping the vents open when temperatures permit does help regulate moisture inside the jacket, however. I have been able to keep the vents fully open (pit zips, back vent) even in very heavy rains, and have experienced no leaks. This feature alone is enough to recommend this jacket.
All in all, I am glad I chose this jacket. It has minor irritations, only one of which I can really lay at the doorstep of Showers Pass, and that is the issue with the zipper. I give it four stars out of a possible five, allowing for something even better to exist out there of which I am not yet aware.