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.
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.
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.
The black fleecy interior has a soft, waffled texture to it that is pleasant to the touch.
The drop-down hem in the rear extends coverage and adds a wide reflective strip.
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.
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.
The small interior pocket will fit a wallet or phone.
Zippers at the wrists accommodate for variations in rider arm lengths, ensuring that the sleeve does not constrict the hand.
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.