A Rain Jacket so Good the Pros Will Pay

A Rain Jacket so Good the Pros Will Pay

A rain jacket is an accessory you don’t want to have to own. No one really wants to ride in the rain. And to be fair, for people living in the Pacific Northwest and a few other places, a rain jacket isn’t an accessory, it’s a requirement. But riding in the rain … well, it’s not why we started riding, is it?

I’ve tried numerous rain jackets over the years. Generally speaking, they did one of two things: Either they weren’t really that waterproof and you ended up wet after an hour or two, or they didn’t breathe well enough to allow moisture to escape and you ended up wet anyway. The difference between the two experiences was just the temperature of the water, so the more waterproof jacket usually won the day.

In 2014 Team Katusha went looking for a rain jacket that would get them through six hours of racing and/or training. That is to say the team wasn’t satisfied with what their sponsor was providing them and they were risking some hot water with the clothing sponsor to find something that would keep them dry in the rain. They ended up purchasing the Showers Pass Elite Pro Jacket to race in and the Elite 2.1 Jacket to train in. Purchased them. And then proceeded to wear them in races, including Alexander Kristoff’s win at Milan-San Remo and some nasty stages of the Giro.

The Elite 2.1 had Showers Pass’ regular cut, roomy for today’s average undernourished pro, but it was heavy, coming in a 417g for a medium jacket. By comparison, the Elite Pro weighed just 227g for a medium and had a proper trim cut to minimize material flapping in the wind. The lighter material also improved flexibility and fit. But it wasn’t waterproof enough to handle five hours of rain.

Fast foward one year. Katusha riders gave the development team at Showers Pass their feedback, which helped them develop a new jacket, which the team rode through the 2015 season, called the Spring Classic Jacket. Design-wise, it splits the difference between the Elite Pro and the Elite 2.1. It’s as waterproof as the Elite 2.1, weighs just 300g and maintains the trim cut of the Elite Pro jacket.

The Spring Classic Jacket is one of the two most breathable rain jackets I’ve ever worn. I’ve done four hours in a biblical, Noah-with-a-saw rain, with temps in the low 50s. I chose note to go race pace, but I kept the firm pace required to stay warm, and when I got home my core and arms were damp, but water wasn’t cascading down the inside of the jacket; perspiration has never condensed into whole drops to run down my back.

It comes in two colors, just-run-me-over-now black and cayenne. I went with the cayenne because survival. I’ve found the color to be one of a handful of times in my life that a red-orange didn’t make the item look like it should either have been red or orange, but not both. It’s an eye-grabbing hue that I appreciate as I ride through dark redwood forests.

The jacket includes one zippered pocket with a reflective strip on the upper flap, into which the jacket can be reversed and packed. It’s a great feature if you’ve traveled to a ride or event and don’t want the spray the jacket accumulated to get all over the inside of your bag and other clothing. The drop tail does help reduce the amount of spray that goes to your butt. There are three zippered vents, two in the pits and one at the top of the shoulders for additional venting should you be going race pace.

All this technology comes at a price—$289. Is it worth the investment? Last year, (had it been out), I’d never have used it. This year, I’m wearing it two to three times a week. Thanks El Niño.

Final thought: Who needs a stationary trainer?

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  1. Fuzz

    I can’t tell you how funny I found your comment about “just-run-me-over” black. I have never understood why anyone would wear a black kit (particularly in the summer), and yet they seem to be all the rage, like black bikes. Last summer while cycling on a rural road in filtered shade, I came way too close to hitting another cyclist in a black and white kit when I swung too wide in a sharp corner. I wasn’t worried about swinging wide, as I could see that the road was clear. Except it wasn’t. The cyclist in the filtered shade was like a CHP in a black and white sitting under an overpass. It was awesome camouflage, which is not what you want as a cyclist.

  2. LaTable

    This jacket sounds perfect for the deluges of rain we’ve been getting in Seattle! Dang it, it only comes in a men’s version.

    1. Author

      The big reason is zipper bulk—having multiple zipper pulls right below your chin. Ride with enough layers and you become conscious of too much bulk.

    1. Author

      Can’t say. I have asked to review one on multiple occasions, but until I get my hands on one, even if just for a few rain-soaked days, I won’t know. That said, the Gabba is pretty universally well-liked, which is the sort of reputation I think the Spring Classic will have with everyone who tries it.

    2. Grego

      The Gabba is a jersey for inclement weather, not a jacket. This is a jacket, so you put it on over a jersey. I expect if you had both on, you’d be very toasty, your bike would leave rainbow tracks and your chain would never wear.

  3. Spider

    ‘The Spring Classic Jacket is one of the two most breathable rain jackets I’ve ever worn’

    what’s the other to cue my curiosity!

    Thank you

  4. Chris

    At $289 it is going up against the new $300 Gore One jacket, with its “2 layers as good as the old 3 layer Gore-Tex” fabric, so it had better be awesome. Of course, the Gore is sold out, so their is a market window.

  5. Michael

    Been riding with the elite pro for a couple of years (one in rainy Ireland) and with a predecessor SP jacket before that. They work great as wind breakers too – I often use them when it is NOT raining as part of my kit, tuned for the temperature. If it starts to rain or snow, so what? I have my insulation needs already taken care of and the rain is kept out too. If I DO want to stash it, the Pro fits pretty easily in a jersey pocket, so perhaps it is yet a bit smaller in packing size than this new Spring Classic design.

    Oh, and I think that the SP soft shell gloves are the best out there for temperatures above -2 oC, up to about 5-7 oC.

  6. Davo

    I am a 52 week a year Seattle rider. The only people riding in January around here who aren’t wearing a Showers Pass jacket usually are riding a sting ray and have a cigarette hanging off their lips as they wait out their DUI sentence. My jacket is my uniform from late November until I fiddle with my clock in the spring. The only thing warm when it is wet is a hot tub. These keep you dry. You can’t stuff them but when it matters you’re dry. Big vents and solid construction. I fell and tore my jersey, base layer and fractured my elbow. Not a mark on my Showers Pass jacket.

    1. Tom in Albany

      Good review! I’ve never been a ride-in-the-rain kind of guy. However, now that I’m married with children, I’m trying to ride whenever I can. What do you all do for head cover? How about foot covers? Are there rain-proof shorts?

    2. Author

      The thing to do on bibs is to go for thermal; some are water resistant:
      Castelli Claudio Nanoflex Bibs
      Assos Tiburu Bibs

      I just wear a cycling cap most days, but I also have some thin, fleece skull caps. None of the booties I own keep my foot completely dry, but the Nalini ones are pretty good. We’ll be reviewing the Velo Toze soon.

    3. STS

      Hi Dave,
      great writing as usual. When did you fell and broke your elbow? Not recently I hope. If I didn’t know you I would not believe that the jacket survived a crash that tore a jersey underneath. See you in June in the Dolomites, so always keep at least a hand width of clearance between your knees and the road!

  7. Tman

    The offset zipper is a killer idea! I still own a 25 year old EmilyK cross country ski fleece that has this feature and always wondered why you do not see it more often?!?!?

  8. Michael Levine

    Showers Pass. Great kit for the worst of weather. Wore their earlier, slightly heavier version of rain jacket for a few years. it works just like you envision a rain jacket should. Dry, breathable, fits right for a layer or two so it’s good for variable temps, but not Euro Pro skinny; and has just the right amount zippers in useful places : cuffs, armpits, back of neck to let heat out. Very underrated company outside of the NW.

  9. Velociraptor

    The black version is currently on sale for 50% off ($144.50).

    This jacket looks impressive. It looks like it has long sleeves. I like the elastic cuffs. It has a long drop tail. It has vents. I like the idea of a big zip pocket.

    I just got a Sportful Fiandre NeoShell Extreme jacket a few days ago, otherwise I might get the Shower’s Pass. The Bontrager Velocis Stormshell jacket looks good too.

  10. Pingback: Rain Shells - Page 5

  11. Bart

    Patrick, I’m having a hard time deciding between this Showers Pass Elite 2.1 jacket and the Castelli Men’s Gabba 2 Rain Jersey. A few weeks ago I got caught out in 3 hours of rain and 50 degrees. I was miserable and realized I didn’t have the gear I needed. I ordered VeloToze and have those. Now I need something for my torso/core so I’m prepared for next time. Any suggestions on how to think about comparing these two items? Maybe I just need to get both and try them out but I’m hoping to figure out a way to narrow my choices ahead of time. Any suggestions are welcome!

    1. Author

      Dilemmas, huh? Under most circumstances, I’d default to a rain jacket. The thing about the Gabba is that with the pockets easily accessible, it’s perfect for racing or hard training rides because you can more easily access food while you’re riding. Most rain jackets (including the Showers Pass) don’t make getting to your food as easy as a three-pocket jersey. The other thing to consider is that if you’ll likely never be in rain colder than 50, the Gabba is great, but with a jacket you can layer more, keeping you more comfortable at colder temps.

    2. Bart

      I ended up buying both the Gabba and the Elite 2.1. I’ll give them a good look and see which makes the most sense. I’ll probably end up keeping both as that’s just the way things go…

      Thanks for the reply!

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