The Showers Pass Utility Waterproof Backpack is expensive but it's a very useful piece of kit for hardy winter commuters. It's not especially attractive, but what it lacks in form it certainly makes up for in function.
When I first started using the backpack I wasn't too sure I would be able to give it a full review, given that we were in the middle of a heatwave. However, Great Britain managed to deliver and I have used it in torrential rain and even ridden it through a thunderstorm – twice, all in the name of a thorough review.
Given this effort, it is worth starting at the biggest selling point of the backpack: waterproofing. It manages this impeccably, with nothing inside the bag getting wet despite my best efforts. At one point I even chucked it in the shower to see if I could get anything to go through it, but still nothing. The reason for this is Showers Pass using a fully welded construction, with a single-side TPU coating on an "840-denier 100% Ballistic Nylon". It honestly lets nothing through at all, even when I was trying to test it to failure.
It is worth noting that although most of it is waterproof (essentially the bits that are meant to be), there are three compartments on the outside of the bag that let water in, but have drainage at the bottom – so water just flows straight out. These are two bottle holders and a quick access pocket on the front of the bag. Elsewhere there seem to be pockets and sleeves for everything – hydration bladder, laptops, tablets, valuables, glasses and tools. All in, I counted 11 not including the two included on the removable waist strap. It means that although it has a claimed 26.8 litre capacity, it feels like you can fit in considerably more. There are also several loops on the front for attaching things and a strap for the same reason, further increasing capacity. I tested it by taking a week's worth of equipment and clothing, all of which fitted in easily.
There are some nice touches across the bag too, such as the fleece lining on the glasses, valuables, laptop and tablet pockets. Each of the zips is also fully welded and taped while also having a secure and quality pull, giving the entire bag a sense of sturdiness and suggesting that Showers Pass has really put effort into the finishing quality of the bag.
It has comfortable, easily adjustable straps reinforcing the straps on the shoulders to help take the weight of heavy loads. The buckles are all made of high-quality aluminium, so you're unlikely to break them by mistake (something I have done several times in the past with other bags).
Another nice touch is that the waistband can be removed if necessary, and even worn as a separate utility belt – if you have a small amount of things to take with you, or you like pretending to be batman... This is something that has bugged me with even my favourite backpacks, I generally don't like using waistbands on the bike, so they just get in the way. There are also some aluminium loops on the straps for hanging things, and a chest strap to help keep the shoulder straps in place.
Showers Pass has used 3-D Mesh spacer back panels to help wick moisture, speed up drying and allow for air to circulate. It works pretty well, although not as effectively as the tight netting construction that some backpacks have employed recently. However, it seems to do everything that Showers Pass wants it to, allowing a certain amount of air flow, and it also dries quickly. This construction also helps keeps the weight to 1630g, which is pretty good when you consider that it's a fully waterproof backpack with loads of pockets.
Also included are some decent safety features, not least the beacon lights that fit into the grommets on the bag, two on the front and one on either side. It makes you more visible than just high-vis elements, though there are some of these too, on the straps and the logo on the front.
The backpack is honestly one of the most practical pieces of kit I am currently using; it's incredibly well made and Showers Pass seems to have thought of everything. The only drawback for me is that it isn't the best looking. I would say that practicality outweighs looks, but given its size as well it makes me look a little like a kid at school. The large pocket on the front looks a little bulbous too.
The price tag of £160 is steep for a backpack, but given the quality I think it's acceptable. You can get others that are waterproof, but few with the same kind of quality and number of features offered here.
Overall, I was really impressed with this backpack. It's obvious that a considerable amount of thought has been put into the design, and the finishing is top quality. The looks aren't going to be for everyone, but for those looking for a waterproof, practical and high quality backpack it's definitely one to consider.
An excellent bag – if you can get past the looks and the price
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Showers Pass Utility Waterproof Backpack
Size tested: 26.8L
Tell us what the product 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?
A multi-function, waterproof backpack.
Showers Pass says: 'The Waterproof Utility Backpack offers plenty of storage space for all your adventure essentials. Made with ballistic strength Nylon for exceptional durability, strong welds and anodised aluminum hardware to withstand the rigors of daily use and abuse.'
It manages to achieve everything that Showers Pass aimed for.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
* 100% waterproof, fully welded construction with a single-side TPU coating
* 3-D Mesh spacer back panels wick moisture, dries quickly and allows air circulation
* 840-denier 100% Ballistic Nylon is durable
* Adjustable padded hip belt buckles out of the way or can be removed and worn alone as a hip pack
* 3M Reflective trim is visible from all angles
* 2 Side pockets designed to hold water bottle and U-Lock
* Front pocket with side zippers and stretchy mesh gusset is designed to hold quick access items
* Front Webbing designed to clip on lights and quick access accessories
* Sternum strap clip is adjustable and can be removed completely
* Separated hydration bladder pocket with waterproof zipper and hanging clip
* Sold with 4 Red LED Beacon Lights
* 14.5" width, 19" height, 5.5" depth
* Fleece lined laptop compartment fits up to 15' notebook and is designed to not touch the ground when backpack is dropped
* Fleece lined iPad compartment fits up to 10' tablet
* 4 nylon compartments with elastic openings fit water bottles and other essentials
* Fleece lined media pocket inside backpack with Anodized aluminum key fob
A really well constructed bag, strong zips, total waterproofing and aluminium hardware is all top notch.
Performed superbly, no water got in, it's comfortable on the back and has loads of storage.
Well made and good material choice means that it is likely to last a long time.
Certainly not the lightest bag, but a decent weight considering everything it offers.
Comfortable straps, reinforcement to keep everything in place, and relatively good air flow across the back.
Expensive, but the pricing is about fair for what it offers.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well, no water got through and the hardware used is top notch.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The waterproofing, which is pretty amazing considering the number of zips throughout.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The looks didn't blow me away.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, if they weren't too fussy about looks.
Use this box to explain your score
A really strong performing waterproof backpack that does everything it should and is incredibly well made.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Evo 6 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
George spends his days flitting between writing about data, running business magazines and writing about sports technology. The latter gave him the impetus (excuse) to get even further into the cycling world before taking the dive and starting his own cycling sites and writing for Road.cc.
When he is not writing about cycling, he is either out on his bike cursing not living in the countryside or boring anybody who will listen about the latest pro peloton/cycling tech/cycling infrastructure projects.