Since I wrote the below updated review of the Showers Pass Elite 2.1 jacket (quick summary: thumbs up!) we’ve had another visit to the Showers Pass offices in Portland. My replacement jacket was a lovely electric blue colour, but while cycling down the Pacific Coast I felt a little invisible, so wondered if I could swap it for a brighter colour. No problem, was the answer, as I was presented with the NEW Women’s Elite 2.1 in a quite delightful shocking pink colour (I appear to be having my ‘pink phase’ later in life, though my mum reckons I did have a flirtation with a pink tutu aged five – but we won’t go into that). If pink isn’t your bag there is also a nice bright gold colour, or the electric blue.
More importantly, I was very pleased to see the updated features of my men’s jacket had made it to the female-specific design, such as the sensible (non-neoprene) cuffs and heavy-duty waterproof zip. And the staff at Showers Pass were as welcoming and helpful as ever. I’m really impressed with these folk and their passion for their jobs.
Next stop: New Zealand, and we understand they are no strangers to wet weather at present. I’m looking forward to putting my new Elite 2.1 through its paces to see how the DWR coating holds up. One thing’s for sure: no one will be able to argue that I’m invisible. The pink bird has landed!
ORIGINAL UPDATED REVIEW : It’s been a while since our visit to the Portland headquarters of Showers Pass to discuss my initial review of the Elite 2.0 jacket. You can read my review and about Showers Pass’ impressive response to my concerns, here. Kyle from Showers Pass gave me a replacement jacket (a men’s size medium rather than women’s large) to test on our ride down the Pacific Coast from Portland to California, and encouraged me to send updates from the road. So, as we’re currently taking a break in San Francisco (awaiting our first 4 July celebrations!), this gives me the perfect opportunity to update you on the new jacket’s performance.
Since Portland, we’ve covered almost 900 miles with nine days of rain. Most of this rain has been of the light, drizzly variety, with some heavy showers thrown in. A common feature of the rain – especially on the Oregon Coast – was that it was incessant (and yes, we had been warned!). It wasn’t unusual to wake up to the drumming of rain on the tent, pack up in the rain, ride all day in the rain, and at the end of the day, pitch the still-wet tent… you get the picture. Perfect conditions, I hear you cry, for putting new rain jackets to the test!
As I said here when I updated my initial review after our trip to Showers Pass, lots of the niggly failings of the jacket have now been sorted out: the cuffs are now simple eVent material with velcro fastenings rather than the neoprene which soaked up water; the main zip is of a more hardy construction; the collar (on the men’s medium I was testing) is more roomy and comfortable; the fabric overlap on the rear vent is deeper and water is less likely to be blown through it; my new hood is slightly more roomy so I can close the velcro around my chin (it’s still a snug fit, but it’s much better). The jacket also dries much more thoroughly overnight in the tent vestibule than my original one, due mainly to the neoprene-free cuffs. Thumbs up!
The main problem I’d experienced with the first jacket was with the waterproof coating – this had worn off far more quickly than usual meaning the rain soaked into the fabric rather than beading up and rolling off. I also suffered badly from condensation building up under the jacket, especially in the sleeves and across the chest.
So far, the new jacket has performed well in the waterproof stakes. Rain does bead up and roll off and has certainly not passed through the fabric. I’m also experiencing less build-up of condensation under the jacket, which is probably due to the fact that there is less of a temperature difference between the inside and outside of the jacket than we experienced in South America. I’m still slightly damp after a day’s riding in the rain, but not uncomfortably so. (A tip I’ve learned is to dry off any damp merino wool baselayers in the bottom of my sleeping bag overnight – they’re almost bone dry in the morning.)
So far, so good. I’m delighted with the improvements to the design and happier with the performance of the fabric.
One thing I would alter about the new version of the Elite 2.1 jacket is to do with the new fabric ‘gutter’ behind the full-length zip. I really like the new heavy-duty YKK Showers Pass now use for this closure, which is a big improvement on its predecessor. On this jacket, though, it’s stitched too close to the rain gutter which runs underneath the zip. Zipping up the jacket is usually easy, but when I try to unzip it I almost always get the teeth caught in the gutter, usually at the neck, and have to tug out the fabric, or deliberately hold the fabric away from the zip when unzipping. This could be easily solved by increasing the distance between the zip and the fabric gutter by a few millimetres.
We were recently discussing my original review with our friends Joth and Emma, who were the inspiration for our tour in South America – they’d done the Carretera Austral on their tandem a few years ago. We were reflecting on why the waterproof coating on my first Showers Pass jacket might have given up the ghost so quickly down there. We resolved that this probably had a lot to do with the extreme winds and dust/ash-filled atmosphere in those parts. I often wore the jacket as a windbreaker in dry, but very windy, conditions. The DWR surface therefore took a regular battering from very strong 30-120kph winds. Add to that particles of dust and ash from the ripio roads and the local volcanoes, and it’s probably not the best recipe for keeping your DWR intact. So, to lengthen the lifespan of your waterproof when touring, it might be worthwhile carrying a cheap, light windproof layer to use in such conditions.
In summary, I’m pleased with how the new Elite 2.1 has performed on the Pacific Coast (and I’m aware that no jacket is going to keep me 100% dry). It’s had quite a lot of wear since leaving Portland, and we still have a lot of riding ahead of us! I’ll be interested to see how the waterproof coating continues to hold up as we continue our journey.
4/5 oinks for the jacket and 5/5 oinks for Showers Pass’ impressive customer service