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The Showers Pass Ultralight Wind Jacket ticks every box for staying warm while dodging showers in the shoulder seasons. Light, trim-fitting, tiny when packed and budget-friendly, it's hard to see how it could be improved on.
Showers Pass is based in Portland, Oregon, which has twice the annual rainfall of London, so its designers get to experience plenty of cycling in the rain and cold.
We've reviewed a fair bit of Showers Pass kit recently, and typically it gets around the 3.5-4-star mark – in other words, technically and fit-wise it's proper kit, usually only marked down on price which typically reflects the quality and materials in use. In other words, you get what you pay for. To get five stars in a road.cc review the price has to beat the pants off the logical competition, while winning in every other category at the same time. It's a very tough ask, hence why five star reviews are few and far between.
Out of the box, I loved this jacket. Firstly, it was a very small box. The Ultralight squishes into a stuff sack not much larger than my fist, and disappears into any jersey pocket, awaiting the call to duty.
The build quality is top-notch; the seams aren't tape-sealed as it's not a 'waterproof' but they are doubled over and then stitched through, meaning they should withstand prolonged use. The cuffs are sealed with a firm elastic to keep chills out and to stay in place when pulled over gloves. The YKK zip ends with a shaped toggle made of a rubbery grippy material that's easily used with gloves on, and ends off to the left of the neck, keeping the zip and its garage comfortably away from your adam's apple and chin. The 2in-high double-layer collar fitted snugly around my 14.5in neck, the Elite Wind Fabric soft against the skin. Inside the collar there's a generous hanging loop.
3M Scotchlight reflective rubber inserts run down from the collar to the armpits on either side, complementing the Showers Pass logo on the drop tail, which features a silicone grip-strip.
Under the arms, running from the hem up to the armpit and all the way down to the sleeve cuff is a black, highly-stretchy fabric insert. This gives the Ultralight a snug, flexible fit – aiding breathability while not exposing frontal or upper faces to any wind or rain. Fit-wise the size medium tested was perfect for my 6ft 73kg frame (it's not me in the photos). Particular joy was had on discovering the sleeves were of perfectly-generous length – some cycling garments run short on my long arms, but no such issue here.
Lightweight garments at the lower end of the price spectrum often suffer fit issues, where cheaper fabrics tend to be stiffer with less attention paid to the cut. Showers Pass has done a cracking job with the Ultralight. Hunched in the drops, descending flat-out, the Ultralight was dead quiet: there's no flapping to be felt or heard at the back of the arms or around the shoulders, both prime areas for fabric to bunch up.
The Elite Wind Fabric is highly breathable while blocking wind, and the durable water-repellent finish sheds light rain and drizzle. While the Ultralight is not marketed as a waterproof, the combination of fabric and DWR (durable water repellent) finish means after a few minutes under the kitchen tap, water is still beading off with nothing getting through.
Out on the bike in mist, light rain or drizzle, the Ultralight kept any feeling of wetness at bay. Mind you, if you're working at more than 80-odd per cent of max heart rate chances are you'll be damper from sweat than anything soaking through a material. In this regard the Ultralight with its mesh panels struck the perfect balance – I never felt overheated or chilled while nipping up and down Perthshire's glens of an autumn Sunday morning. Not recommended for obvious reasons, but perfectly do-able thanks to the decent zip, is donning or removing it while underway – just get started before you crest the summit and things start to go increasingly downhill...
Showers Pass stands behind its kit with a two-year warranty, including a once-only option to exchange it for something more suited to your needs (sensible T&C apply). The warranty included a 30%-off replacement discount should your jacket be destroyed by a fall to the pavement, an unexpected branch, or a recalcitrant puppy (yes, puppies are included in the small print).
With pretty much every brand offering a packable windblocker jacket there's a fair old spread of price and quality out there, from sub-£20 to well over £100, with all manner of fabric, construction and feature on offer. Value is inevitably in the eye (or jersey pocket) of the beholder, and as price increases beyond mid-range it becomes a balance of perceived value vs cost, with a hefty dollop of (un)willingness to compromise thrown in for good measure.
The bounds of material science still pretty much restrict you to some broad assumptions: compact or feature-packed, durable or lightweight, breathable or cheap. In plumping for five stars, I'm saying the Showers Pass Ultralight Wind Jacket has struck a perfect balance between all the desirables while avoiding the pitfalls, with not a single thing I'd consider improving upon – especially the arm length.
A perfect balance of features and performance for the price, that you'll relish pulling on
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Showers Pass Ultralight Wind Jacket
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the jacket is for
This jacket's for riding fast uphill then staying warm riding down, for brushing aside a passing shower, or for the end of a long day as the temperature drops.
Showers Pass says:
This flyweight jacket blocks wind and shrugs off rain for the perfect equilibrium between weather protection and lightweight packability.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Showers Pass lists:
Elite Wind Fabric blocks wind and light rain while letting excess heat escape
Jacket weighs only 5.8 oz /165 g (in size medium)
Stretchy and seamless underarm side panels provide a comfortable trim fit
PFC-free durable water repellent finish (DWR) sheds light rain
3M Scotchlight Reflective Material for visibility at night
Silicone grip on dropped tail
Asymmetrical front zipper for comfort
Stuff sack included for easy packing
The seams, the stitching, the cut – all excellent.
Putting it on at the start of a descent was like wrapping a blanket – and once on the flat, in a cooler state, it could stay on and not make you hotter than comfortable.
Looks like new after a number of washes.
Given it's not 'waterproof', it punches well above its weight, beading and keeping water out for longer than you'd expect.
The fabric and the underarm/side vents do a great job of preventing clamminess.
For me, it's perfect. Arms, shoulders, chest, waist – all spot on. Showers Pass call it 'Trim Fit' – its most athletic.
For me it sized perfectly.
It weighs less than many mobile phones.
It's like wearing a second skin – on the hoods, the feel and fit is perfect.
For £65, I rate this excellent value. The performance cannot be faulted, there are no shortcomings, the warranty is first-class and it's the price of a decent meal.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
It's a simple machine wash with normal liquid – not even a wool wash needed.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Can't fault it. Supremely comfortable, snug, temperature-regulated and compact when not in use.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
The sleeves – love the fit.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes
Would you consider buying the jacket? Yes
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
The combination of features, performance and price come together to present a perfect garment for riding fast in questionable weather. I can't fault it.
About the tester
I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking, Dutch bike pootling