The Showers Pass men's Hi-Viz Torch jacket is a super refined, weather cheating model that meets its multi discipline design-brief without feeling overly generic. However, though breathability is far from poor, it doesn't rival more sophisticated fabrics.
That's perhaps because the MapReflect fabric that comprises the main body of the Torch isn't claimed to be breathable. Only the side panels are made from breathable fabric, Showers Pass's elite, cloth which is a rip-stop three layer polyester laminate. It's 100% waterproof, yet still permeable, so rider generated heat and sweat can escape.
There's also some rider-tuneable ventilation. Despite being less extensive than some, the back vent and two zippered sides do an excellent job of scooping cooling air in and allowing heat to escape when temperatures and rider efforts fluctuate.
Showers Pass acknowledges breathability isn't comparable with others in the range. Nonetheless, at this end of the market, many riders will be looking for super-efficient wicking prowess too.
A brushed nylon lining also retains warmth. Wearing a medium weight long-sleeve jersey and base layer, I've felt perfectly comfortable in temperatures between -2 °C and 10°C for two hours or more and at a steady 18-22mph.
On a commuter/touring jacket I like hip pockets for carrying keys, and parking hands on cold days when mooching about. Given the slightly 'everyman' design-brief, I was slightly surprised to discover Showers Pass have stuck to the more typical cycling jacket combination of chest and rear (diagonal) poacher pockets.
Both are very sensibly proportioned. The chest easily manages a long travel zoom compact camera or 5 inch smart phone and average sized wallet without feeling overburdened. There's also an earphone port, if you like a bit of musical accompaniment. The diagonal poacher is smaller than some but still swallows a medium sized mini pump, spare tube, keys, multi tool and a banana.
On paper, taped seams sound less desirable than taped and welded seams. My experience with similarly priced competition suggests this is academic in practical terms and the water repellent YKK zipper rounds things off nicely.
I had no problems with water getting through during heavy downpours, or when blasted at close range with garden hose. A thin pile fleece collar with drawstring keeps the neck area snug, preventing rain, sleet and snow from slithering inside.
I rode long, steady miles without mudguards on plenty of waterlogged roads and found the back provides excellent protection to the lower back and buttocks.
Sizing is crucial and in this instance, medium, rather than my large default, was best. There's plenty of room around the shoulders and when shuffling around mid-ride but no danger of blustery winds inducing annoying, energy sapping flutter either.
Descending at 30-plus mph in these conditions, I've been inclined to draw the zippered sides up a bit but haven't felt unduly warm when things turn milder. Really hammering along, or in stop-go town centre sprints, some warm clamminess kicks in, lingering for moderate periods before the fibres do their thing.
Retro-reflective silver bodies, rather than logos and detailing are becoming more popular. Showers Pass MapReflect fabric combines this with a street map of cycling friendly cities, which softens the technical look sans bike without diluting its potency along unlit roads. Friends reckon they could spot the jacket from a good 300 metres.
Day glow panelling along the sleeves and removable LED lights with three flashing modes take care of murky conditions. Well sealed, the lights are fuelled by the single CR2032 cells commonly found in bar mounted computers, heart rate straps and tiny on-bike lights.
The original cells only lasted a few hours and had leaked though fortunately without damaging the contacts. This is an expensive way to power lights compared to having a single rechargeable main battery unit, though CR2032s can be found at sensible prices on line if you buy in multiples. However, this configuration is simpler, especially when it comes to removal for washing.
Need more light? There's a dedicated LED loop sewn into the upper back, brilliantly positioned for hooking driver attention, especially bus and HGV drivers. However, it could do with a steroid shot; all but the lightest blinkies tended to bob about, whacking me in the back as I rode.
Ultimately, I've been impressed by the Torch, which does everything it's supposed to and very competently. In many respects, it's all the cycling jacket I could want for general riding and weekend touring.
Good, rather than great breathability might not be a problem in the depths of winter but for me personally (and I suspect this goes for a lot of riders) at this end of the market, I'm expecting something that protects and breathes equally well.
Impressive overall but breathability is good, rather than great and disappointing given the price
road.cc test report
Make and model: Showers Pass Mens Hi Vis Torch Jacket
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the jacket is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Showers Pass say
"Hi-Vis Torch Jacket - Our Most reflective and visible cycling jacket day and night. The new Men's Hi-Vis Torch Jacket employs 3 methods to keep you visible on the road:
Reflective Silver MapReflect Fabric on the main body to keep you highly visible to motorists at night
Highly visible Neon Green elite fabric down the sides for daytime visibility
4 integrated LED Beacon lights to keep you highly visible to pedestrians and motorists
Unlike other reflective jackets on the market the Torch Jacket is fully waterproof, stretchy and does not sacrifice breathability for visibility thanks to our new Mapreflect Fabric. Neon green side panels with our highest rated performance Elite fabric offer improved breathability and daytime visibility. Additionally the Showers Pass venting system offers tune-able cooling with core vents, back vent and adjustable airflow regulating cuffs.
The MapREflect fabric design is made up of 11 international cities known for cycling. The streets literally light you up for maximum visibility as headlights approach. In addition to being reflective, MapReflect fabric is waterproof, slightly stretchy and features a brushed lining for comfort and warmth.
4 red LED Beacon Lights seamlessly integrate with grommets on the cuffs and back of the jacket to provide high visibility at night. Beacon lights are easy to remove and the batteries (CR2032) are replaceable. Battery life is approximately 200 hours on flashing mode."
My feelings " A very comprehensive and thoughtfully designed jacket but with a price to match and though breathability is good, it's not on par with other 3layer models of similar specification.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
* Waterproof MapReflect fabric on main body for high visibility to motorists
* Waterproof and Breathable eliteTM 3-layer ripstop fabric on the side panels with brushed lining for maximum weather protection and warmth
* Fully seam taped for wind and waterproofness
* 4 removable Red LED Beacon Lights offer high visibility at night with 3 flashing modes.
* New YKK AquaGuard Vislon water resistant front zipper with storm flap
* Core Vents and large back vent for flow thru ventilation
* Chest pocket with audio port and large back pocket
* Exclusive airflow–regulating cuffs
* 3MTM ScotchliteTM Reflective trim for maximum visibility
* Soft moisture wicking lining at collar
* Cinch cord at collar and double toggle cinch at hem
* Hood compatible via hook and loop attachment points at collar (Rain Hood sold separately)
* Locker loop at collar
* Light loop on back vent
* Regular fit
Very well made.
Generally very good, although waterproofing is superior to its breathability.
Well made and rugged. Should last many years with basic care.
As waterproof as most of us will ever need.
Good and in line with expectations generated within their spec sheets but lags behind some more sophisticated fabrics.
Close but not "racing snakes" snug, which permits layering. Fitted me and the design brief handsomely.
Relatively generous sizing meant that medium was perfect for me.
Felt lighter than 577g might suggest.
Great in colder, wetter weather; good when conditions turn unexpectedly milder.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
So long as you remember to whip out the LED lights and pop on at a 30 degree cycle, it should emerge looking pristine.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, I've thoroughly enjoyed the Hi Vis Torch jacket. Protection from the elements is superb in colder, wetter weather and at a steady 20-25mph. Breathability is also very good for the most part, although when milder conditions and temperatures strike, performance lags behind Gore-Tex and other, more sophisticated three-layer laminates.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
Innovative design that is attractive and laden with useful features.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Breathability wasn't on par with waterproofing but by no means poor. While good value, the standard of performance, relative to asking price (doubtless influenced by exchange rates) makes it hard to recommend over those made from more sophisticated fabrics.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes
Would you consider buying the jacket? Yes, but not at full rrp
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Certainly worth a look but there are models offering superior breathability for less money.
Use this box to explain your score
Innovative and very comprehensive jacket for commuting, general riding, possibly touring too. However, breathability and price put a dent in the overall appeal.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)