Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Showers Pass Women's Portland Jacket

Showers Pass Women's Portland Jacket
When offered to review some products from the rain gear company Showers Pass, I immediately chose the Portland Jacket. Endowed with the technical features Showers Pass rain gear is known for, the Portland has the look of everyday apparel, while steering clear of extra frills and over-the-top urban stylishness. The combination could be just the thing for many bicycle commuters - particularly those whose definition of commuting involves spirited riding and roadbike positioning. Available in men's and women's versions, this review is of the latter.

Showers Pass Women's Portland Jacket
The Showers Pass Portland is made of a proprietary synthetic 3-layer softshell material with a waterproof breathable membrane and box fleece lining. It is made in Vietnam. The fabric is waterproof, but the seams are not sealed. 

The hem of the jacket hits around the widest part of the hips. The sleeves extend a couple of inches past the wrists. The stand-up collar zips up to the chin. The fit is quite slender, almost like "racing fit." If you want a relaxed fit for layering, I would suggest going up a size. The model pictured is a US Women's Size 4 and she is wearing the Portland in a Medium (over a t-shirt and a sweater). Branding on this jacket is minimal. 

Showers Pass Women's Portland Jacket
The light gray exterior features a subtle glen plaid pattern, with reflective piping along the seam at the shoulder blades in the back and above the chest in the front. The silver Showers Pass logos on the back of the collar and on the chest pocket in front are also reflective.

Showers Pass Women's Portland Jacket
The black fleecy interior has a soft, waffled texture to it that is pleasant to the touch. 

Showers Pass Women's Portland Jacket
The drop-down hem in the rear extends coverage and adds a wide reflective strip.

Showers Pass Women's Portland Jacket
A feature specific to the women's version of the Portland is the side zippers. The jacket can be unzipped to varying degrees on the sides to flare out at the hips. This is a clever and flattering solution to the problem of accommodating variety in waist to hip ratios among women. The wearer can unzip the sides a little, a lot, or not at all, depending on body shape, positioning on the bike, and the look they are going for.

Showers Pass Women's Portland Jacket
In front, there are two side pockets, tilted for ergonomic comfort, and a hidden chest pocket (with "audio port"). There are hidden armpit zippers for temperature regulation, which is also helped by the two-way zip feature of the main zipper in the front.

Showers Pass Women's Portland Jacket
The small interior pocket will fit a wallet or phone.

Showers Pass Women's Portland Jacket
Zippers at the wrists accommodate for variations in rider arm lengths, ensuring that the sleeve does not constrict the hand. 

Showers Pass Women's Portland Jacket
Prior to passing on the Portland to the model, I did a few commutes in it myself. Personally, I found the jacket not ideal on an upright bike, since it provides no leg coverage (as a trench-style raincoat would). But on a roadbike it made a lot more sense. I will sometimes commute on this bike when I want to combine roadcycling with photography work, and a jacket like the Portland is a good way to still "look normal" while dressing comfortably for a leaned over position and spirited riding. The fit and all the zip features accommodate road positioning excellently. Having worn the jacket in the rain for a prolonged period, it was indeed waterproof - though missing a hood. Possibly it is assumed that a helmet will be worn, with its own rain cover contraption. The internal soft fleeciness makes the jacket quite cozy to wear on those raw chilly drizzly days. Unlike many other rain jackets, the Portland breathes well and is fine to wear when it's not raining. I would basically call it an all purpose Spring/Fall jacket. Possibly it is also suitable for cold summer evenings in the North, but not so much for a New England winter. Having worn it once on a 35° F day with "only" two layers underneath, I felt underdressed for the cold. Worth noting is that this is not a pocket stow-away jacket; its folded-up size will require a bicycle bag or rack-strap system.

The model pictured is a cyclist who usually commutes to work on a roadbike in street clothing (typically stretchy jeans and sweaters). Like me, she finds the Showers Pass Portland jacket waterproof and breathable. And she agrees that the fit is ideal for road positioning. Even with her aggressive posture, the front of the jacket does not feel like a weight pulling down. Neither does it fold to dig into her middle section uncomfortably, or pull at the shoulders. The stretch of the fabric and strategic zippers make for a comfortable and flattering fit. The look of the jacket suits her casual personal style. 

The Showers Pass Portland is an attractive, functional and practical bicycle commuter jacket for cool and rainy conditions, priced at $200. It will likely be most appreciated by those who prefer a leaned-over posture on the bike and feel constrained by longer, trench-style designs. Personally, I would prefer this jacket with a hood and wonder whether a detachable one could be included in a future iteration. 

35 comments:

  1. I have the men's version of this jacket and absolutely love the look. Unfortunately I rarely wear it for cycling, because it retains the heat so well, and with it, i getoverheated. I don't run particularly hot, but the few times i wore this in the dead of winter with a thin wool baselayer on top, i was very warm -- i guess i could have unzipped the front, but then.. yeah, i then i was too cold. The pit-zips aren't particularly big, since they are there just to vent a little and didn't really work for me.

    But i have started to wear it for fall/spring walks and for very short bike rides (2-3 miles) and for that it works well. It's also very waterproof and have been happy. Without a hood, i need a hat of some sort, so you and I have the same issues.

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    1. Weird, weird. I was freezing in this jacket when I tried to wear it in the winter. But on warmer days the ventilation worked pretty well for me.

      Then again, your commute is what, 80 miles done at 25mph average? You must ride too fast for this jacket : )

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    2. This illustrates why I never put much stock in most product reviews. A couple times purchasing something based on positive review only to find that my experiences were quite different!

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    3. Same here, Anon. Nonetheless, I find product reviews useful at least for the extra bit of detail they provide, especially if the reviewer bothers to take pictures.

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    4. Photos can be descriptive, they can also be seductive...I take both with a grain of salt.

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    5. ha! it's more like 20miles at a leisurely 15mph.

      I think I just realized that this was not just a rain jacket, due to the extra thickness -- it also isn't a jacket you'd ride with and then want to pack away (or be able to for that matter)

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  2. How often do you commute on your Rawland and what do you usually wear?

    I would love an "anatomy of an outfit" post like you did over the winter for road and city.

    The jacket reviewed here looks okay. It is a little bland for my taste, but it's hard to please everyone.

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    1. Only occasionally. Plus it depends how you define commuting. When I ride it to take pictures I just wear my cycling clothes. If I'm meeting people and want to look presentable is when it gets complicated. I might do an "anatomy of an outfit" post for this, good idea.

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  3. Great, another gray jacket for cycling in the rain. Someone should let manufacturers know that it IS possible to make stylish city jackets in bright colors!!!

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    1. Well, it's got reflective bits.

      Also, I read somewhere (need to find the source) that a road cyclist is at their most noticeable to the driver when they wear all-black. In the daytime of course.

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  4. " I will sometimes commute on this bike when I want to combine roadcycling with photography work..."

    ^This represents today's installment of, I Told You So (vis-a-vis they're just bikes, ride them). I see hoods as inherently compromised in the 45 degree position.

    Shower Pass, OG company that it is, grew up before the transpo movement and the Dutchification of urban riders, so the trench thang is best left to the Naus of the world for that style of upright rider, unless they wanted to take a swing at it. The 45deg position builds heat in the back of the neck, for me, and the addition of a hood would trap more back there. Add the complexity of storing and attaching it, it doesn't override the drawbacks imo. A two piece system you can control ventilation, drip line with a specific hat, and clean up the lines of the jacket, making it more suitable for off-bike wear. Also hoodies are so 2011.

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    1. You are way too late to gloat about that. What can I say, it happens occasionally. The sky has not fallen.

      OG is 1997? I must be getting old, cause that seems like only yesterday.

      Also, your comment ended up in another post, so I moved it.

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    2. So much to gloat about, so little space.

      1997 - relativistic time compared to a number of your sponsors.

      Forgot to mention re: hoods - when you turn your head for a shoulder check and your hood stays where it was. That.

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    3. This is true. But in the product description the jacket is not described as roadbike specific. So I figure having a detachable hood would make it versatile.

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    4. I don't like the term 'road bike specific'; maybe that's why it wasn't used in the description. Using the term, as you know, would lead potential buyers immediately to think drop bars. It's more about torso angle.

      To me it looks almost identical to your classic road jacket, cut a little roomier with more gew gaws.

      A detachable hood would make it more versatile, but like I said above these guys have fine tuned their product for pdx and their riders, including a long history of road. Yeah 16 years of product devo is a long time in bike clothing.

      Try a hood on your road bike, check for traffic. Report back.

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  5. Those northwestern folks sure know how to make rain gear! Personally I dislike hoods on cycling jackets and think it's wiser to not have one attached.

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    1. I like the option of a hood. Detachable seems like best of both worlds.

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  6. What do I need to do to model for you? Is this a paid gig?

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    1. It is unpaid, but the model keeps the outfit. You need to be local and available on short notice. Email me if you are serious.

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    2. I hope this is not an intrusive question, but why is it you are using models now instead of posing yourself like before? Your models are great, but I found it endearing when you posed for the pictures.

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    3. Couple of reasons.

      First, when I started the blog my husband used to have different work hours that allowed him to help in some ways, including taking pictures of me. I've since tried doing it with a self timer, but it's not the same, especially getting the detail shots. Also, in the beginning of this blog I simply did not know anyone locally who was a genuine cyclist and would make an appropriate model. Now I have loads of cycling friends and acquaintances.

      Second, I make it a point not to keep products that are sent to me for review as gifts. This has proven to be more challenging than you might think. Some manufacturers not only do not want the product back, but do not want me to do a public give-away with what is essentially a used product. So I give those away informally to people I know.

      Using models makes all this very straightforward. They model for me and keep the product, win win.

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  7. I have been wearing the jacket. Here is a quick summary:

    - Rain jackets are usually super uncomfortable to wear with short sleeve shirts because they stick to your skin or feel plastic-y and cold. This one is opposite from that. It's cozy so I find myself wearing it to work and then staying in it, not wanting to take it off.

    - So far, I haven't overheated in it. And I have used it for these chilly days. I need to test it further but I like its weight and warmth.

    - It is so cute! It feels so feminine without being girly. The zippers are all so fun and the flair of the sleeves and waist are also really cute. Good jacket to review and you did a really nice job describing it.

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    1. Forgive me for this maybe inappropriate reply but the model is totally cute...and what a smile!!

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    2. I will delete if the model feels uncomfortable. But I agree, she is lovely!

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  8. "I will sometimes commute on this bike when I want to combine roadcycling"

    I see that the boundaries between transportation cycling and road bike cycling are starting to fuzz out a little. Is there a carbon CX bike with fender/rack eyelets and disc brakes in your future? (PS: They are perfect for winter commutes AND gravel.)

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  9. What is the cost of the jacket?

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  10. I wish they made them for dogs...

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  11. Hi Velouria! Glad you reviewed this jacket, which is one of my favorites for city cycling and it certainly would be great to use for long randonneurs as well. However, like the first reviewer, I find this jacket to be extremely warm--maybe too warm for the conditions that you prescribed. Depending on your underlayering, this jacket will do ANY temperature. Pair it with some nice sportwool and merino underlayers and go down to the 20s (why you would bike in conditions under that is beyond me, but that's puffy coat territory). Although the jacket has tech fabric that is completely waterproof, the interesting weave still looks fantastic and I get compliments on mine all the time. So I'd strongly recommend this jacket as a best buy for cycle clothing and just for plain old everyday clothing as well. With respect to the review, I disagree with smock-like trench coats and anything with a hood as this is clearly not a trench coat (which would probably get caught in my wheel) and people should wear a helmet while cycling, the helmet being even more important in the rain. I know you like to balance the reviews out, but just say no to irrelevant comparisons.

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  12. I wore this last season and have worn it a few times so far this season (bad winter here in Minneapolis, it snowed eight inches Monday night and is slated to be in the 70's this weekend!) and have found it to be an excellent jacket. I ride both recumbent and diamond frame and have found temperature regulation easy using the two-way zipper.

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  13. After bicycling in these intense midwest rains the last couple days, I could care less about what something looks like as long as it works. At least I had my smart wool on underneath my ineffective rain jacket, but finding something that keeps a rider dry when the rider wants to be dry is, i'm discovering, hard to do.

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  14. Velouria this jacket just, as most of your the items your blog centers around, costs big-bucks. Certainly you aware that many of your readers are suffering economically because of the economic down-turn. Don't you think some attention should be paid to those cyclists who see bicycling as way to cope with a diminished income?

    Al

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    1. There are many bicycling blogs out there, reflecting different themes and interests. This blog's focus is on products that are made by small, independent manufacturers, often handmade products. The pricing reflects how the products are produced.

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    2. Anon 3:35am,

      200$ is the retail, SP stuff goes on sale at the end of the season, I paid $75 the jacket in last years color. A good cool/wet day jacket, packs ok to the top of a Carradice bag.

      Scott G.

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