Showers Pass Refuge Collection
The COVID-19 lockdown continues in Wisconsin, but fortunately, our Governor sees the wisdom in getting outside, so with a lot of time and no-where-to-go I’ve been able to stack up some miles. Yet day to day operations without a firm schedule brings some challenges, and I’m challenged daily by many things. Did I match my socks correctly? Did I brush my teeth today? Does turning your underwear inside out and putting them back on count? Did I forget to let the dog back in? While these challenges are ongoing, one challenge I do not have to worry about is what to wear when Mother nature’s fury punches you in the face. That problem is solved by the Refuge collection from Showers Pass.
Showers Pass hails from Portland, Oregon. Famous for its foul weather. You may recognize the Showers Pass name from a review of the Crosspoint Knit Glove by Gomez back in November of 2019. While Gomez was giving the Crosspoint Knit Gloves the Gnome-Fu kick to see how they hold up under pressure, I was tormenting The Refuge collection to see how it can withstand the nastiest Wisconsin weather conditions. This is what I found.
The Refuge Jacket ($295)
The Refuge Jacket is on top of the Showers Pass food chain both in price and features. While designed for hard-core commuting, the Refuge Jacket serves as the Swiss Army Knife in their lineup suitable for other cold season mountain sports like mountaineering, snowboarding, and skiing. After a few months of wearing it, I will attest to its versatility both on the bike and off. Snowboarding? Yes. Snow-blowing the driveway? Yes. While too heavy for XC-Skiing, it is great for a multitude of outdoor adventures. Keep in mind this jacket has no fleece lining or insulation, but when layered with a fleece or down jacket, you can take on the cold with the utmost-confidence.
Out of the package, the Refuge Jacket feels like a hard-shell mountaineering jacket. It’s a bit stiff, and certainly not your uber-light-weight packable rain jacket. With that said, this thing is built for durability and protection. Available in a handful of colors, my test jacket came in Goldenrod.
I personally prefer darker colors to match my brooding personality, but I do appreciate the visibility this color offers. Apparently I am not alone because this colorway is sold out in all sizes on the Showers Pass web site.
Winter made an unwelcomed return to my clime after a handful of glorious 50+ degree days. Committed to riding under all conditions, this gave me the opportunity to give the Showers Pass gear one more ride before I store it away for the season. I started with a base layer t-shirt and a thermal long sleeve jersey for my foray into the 25-degree (F) weather. When I started my ride, the sky was dark and stormy. Something was brewing. Within minutes I was in blizzard conditions. Sideway winds and a complete white out. Perfect! I pulled the ample hood over my helmet and rode on. April 13? Seriously? Ten minutes later the sun was out, and the sky, a perfect blue. The day’s weather was like an emotional drunk. All happy and fun under most circumstances, yet capable of unexpected bursts of maudlin peppered with fits of rage. The Refuge jacket kept me warm and dry during the deluge, and once the sun made its triumphant return, I used the side vents to liberate some pent-up heat. The vents provide great air flow across the body, so you don’t feel like an Insta-Pot after a hard charge on the bike.
The Refuge jacket shines under cold and wet conditions. However, once the temps reach 50 Fahrenheit, you will want something a bit less formidable for your commute, or other outdoor aerobic activities.
- Fully seam taped, 3-layer Elite™ waterproof-breathable hardshell fabric for exceptional breathability
- Reinforced shoulders protect the fabric from backpack straps
- Extra Long core vents prevent overheating
- YKK Aquaguard Vislon water-resistant zippers
- Ergonomic easy-grip zipper pulls
- 360 degrees of 3M Scotchlite reflective material for maximum visibility
- Removable, adjustable hood fits over a helmet and stows in inside pocket
- Double toggle hem cinch for adjustability
- Drop-down tail protects from road spray and wet stadium seats
- Soft, moisture wicking lining at collar
- Locker loop at collar
- Front handwarmer pockets, back pocket and chest pocket with audio port
- Two light loops
- Weight is 19 oz in size medium
There is much to celebrate about this jacket. It is really tough, built for the long haul, and offers unparalleled protection for the worst weather conditions. There are plenty of pockets for storage, and a sealed rear pocket for protecting your phone, wallet or whatever. Vertical ventilation slots on the front of the jacket are easy to access and offer great air-flow. The detachable hood offers ample room for fitting over your helmet when things get super-nasty. The seam-sealed stitching provides incredible waterproofing even across all zipper areas. Another hidden feature is the drop tail that folds up into the hem of the jacket held by magnets. If you’re worried about that dirt stripe on your backside from rear-wheel spray you can put that to rest. Simply drop the back flap and your problems are solved.
The jacket is pretty stiff and dense. It will not serve well as a light-weight packable jacket for commuting or bike-packing. The vent zippers used for the front vents are long and add to the stiffness somewhat inhibiting movement. The zipper pulls are ample on the main zipper, rear pocket, chest pocket, and vents. However, the handwarmer pockets have no pulls making it difficult to access the pockets with gloved hands. I added my own pulls to solve the problem, but why not add them like the other pockets?
The Refuge Pant ($235)
The Refuge Pant is the most complete pair of foul weather pants I’ve ever seen. When you need a pair of pants for commuting or riding in embattled seasonal zones, you need something that allows you to say, “Tsunami? F*ck Yü! We ride!”. If that describes you, or you’re one to ride to work through all conditions year-round, you might need these pants. Here are the deets:
- Fully seam taped, 3-Layer Elite™ waterproof-breathable hard-shell fabric for exceptional breathability and total weather protection
- Durable reinforced seat
- Thigh vents prevent overheating
- Articulated knees with reflective accents
- YKK Aquaguard Vislon water-resistant zippers
- Reflective trims for low light visibility
- Hook and loop cinch straps keep pant legs away from chain and crank
- Ankle zips for easy on-off over shoes
- Thigh pocket is accessible while on the bike
- Suspender compatible
- Weight is 13.7 oz in size medium
The Refuge Pant is a hard-shell pant best suited for the worst of weather scenarios. I’ve been wearing them throughout the Winter riding months and into Spring. I find them to be incredibly well made, and capable of taking on anything. Rain, sleet, slush, road splash from cars…no problem. Concerned about protecting your Leopard print Dolce-Gabbana Silk Mikado pants during your winter commute? Worry not.
Let’s start with the good stuff. I already mentioned the bulletproof weather protection. But the quality construction and the well thought out details like the reinforced seat are worth mentioning.
It is not quite rubberized, but you can double your efforts knowing the seat section of these pants is not going to fail. After a couple hundred miles of use and abuse, they barely show it. These pants are great for commuting. Commuters need high-visibility. Showers Pass offers high-vis features to keep you safe from distracted motorists. For example, the legs have double reflective straps to cinch up the ankles, and reflective piping along the pockets and vents.
The seam-sealed zippers work effectively. Other features include a zippered rear pocket for easy access while pedaling, zippered side vents to let off a little steam, and Velcro loops on the waistband to allow the incorporation of suspenders.
Through experience with other cycling-specific rain pants, I’m used to tapered legs and more athletic fit. These pants are generously cut so there is a lot of material to bunch up and rub you the wrong way. I’m riding in a medium, and while the length and waist are spot on, the thigh width and seat area, in particular, seems to have more material than necessary. This may be great for lumberjacks, but my 6 feet, 170-pound frame doesn’t fit that profile.
I would prefer to see less material in the thigh and seat area, and a (more) tapered leg on these pants to keep the fabric from potentially catching in the chainring. To be fair, the pants have cinchable Velcro tabs on the calves, but even with them strapped all the way over I had concerns about the material catching in my chainring.
The Final Word
If you are in the market for a high-end kit for battling the rain, sleet, snow and spray from evil motorists you can do no harm by picking up the Showers Pass Refuge Jacket and/or Pants. You will be fully armored for the worst riding conditions imaginable. Partner this jacket and pant combo with the Crosspoint Water-Proof Knit Gloves and Wool Socks and you are ready for anything. Finally, I want to send a big “Thank You” to the team at Showers Pass for sending out this gear for testing. Stay safe friends.