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?