A Beacon of Light by Showers Pass

showers_pass_ls04This latest ShowersPass’s jacket is called the Torch, aimed at the commuter that wants the maximum performance and safety. Torch – also another word for the Flashlight. For the first few hours of use, the high reflectivity in this jacket had me thinking about lots of things, even some hearty emotions based raised to the surface.

My invisibility is not an option in this jacket
other cyclists notice me, a lot!
I feel secure
I feel conspicuous!

But, tonight I found out what this jacket is really about. It’s 8pm, Pouring down with rain and I’m headed to pizza, I realized this jacket is more than a list of features, it’s all about how it makes you feel. I call it ” The waterproof veil of confidence”. Yes,  It’s hard for cars to see you in the dark, and even more difficult if it’s wet or raining due to the contrast and reflection, but this jacket counters that with perfect confidence inspiring technology.

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When you are not wearing the jacket you can immediately notice the amount of reflective material, front, sides, and arms. Then throw on top of that the built in led flashers on the arm cuffs and rear of the back panel. Now add on top of that the Hi-Viz side panels and all you can think about is safety. In some ways, safety as seen in a neon construction jacket, that’a lot of safety. Functionally, The hi-viz panels are great because they add another layer of breathability, Hi Viz, it’s awesome in the daylight or dusk, but at night it becomes low viz. This is where having a full body wrap of reflective material comes in.

Tech: Hi Viz materials use inks in the fibres which absorb certain light wavelengths and reflect back wavelengths. These inks are optimized to “light science” –  light wavelengths have different “visibility impacts” or spectral sensitivities to the human eye. A colour with one of the highest power is Hi Viz Green – wavelength around 550nm This is the color where the human eye is using the  M & L cones in your eye at the highest sensitivity. (luminosity function)

The  body of the Torch is made with 2 materials – MapReflect Reflective material and hi viz trim panels from Elite brand fabric. The MapReflect material is highly reflective and bounces back light from motor vehicles and street lamps, so that you can be seen better. Nike has a similar material called Flash. In this case, the material also has a nice subtle street map print on it, made up for a combination of 11 cities (You can see Portland’s Ladd’s Addition in there really easily).

Tech: MapReflect this is the Elite Fabric with a new top layer. The layer is fully reflective, uses embedded glass beads and has a 2 way stretch, downside is it’s not quite as permeable as teh regular top layer of say Elite 2.1 jacket so it doesn’t breath quite as well. As a comparison to breathability performance, the regular Elite material has a rating of 15,000 and MapReflect  has 10,000 grams/m square / day.

I know the Elite brand material as high performing, highly waterproof while remaining breathable. (Showerspass have been using Elite in their line for a while). This particular mix of materials is for ultimate safety by using hi viz and fully reflective.  What this means is that the side panels and the underside of the arms are 30% more breathable than the main body. Both materials are highest rated in waterproofness both being in excess of 15,000mm. And of course, the jacket comes along with taped seams. Prior showerspass jackets I have owned used Elite (elite 2.0) and I can attest to the excellence of the fabric.

Tech: Removable silicone LED blinkey lights use a corebody technology with replacable batteries and are also easily removed from the garment. The flash is bright and lasts ~350hrs on blinking mode. The LED’s act as extra visibility indicators and have 3 modes, flash, rapid flash and solid on.

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A few other features that make this jacket stand out, get it? – are :

  • Integrated LED flashing Lights. Yes! lights that come with and clip into the jacket. The blinkeys are removable and positioned in key areas at the wrist cuff and lower rear hem for the ost visibility. These can be removed for jacket washing or replacement of led batteries and are secured in grommets in small velcro pockets.
  • Waterproof front pocket – great for your phone.
  • Large rear pocket – great for a spare pair of gloves or a small repair kit, I managed to get a smaller hand pump, tool roll and spare tube in there.
  • Very soft internal collar and upper zipper pocket – this means the material feels great around your neck and chin and the zipper will not rub against your beard or stubble. This sounds like a minor thing, but after having ridden jackets that don’t consider this, the ShowersPass Torch feels luxurious and anything to help take the edge off a rainy day commute is a great thing.

TECHNICAL FEATURES

  • Fully seam taped for wind and waterproof.
  • Elite Hi Viz fabric on side panels – great for dusk and dawn vizability.
  • 4 Red Integrated LED lights / blinkeys.
  • Aquagard front zipper.
  • Controllable side vents to regulate the heat on warmer days.
  • Rear upper back vent.
  • 3M Reflective trim around the front pocket.
  • Chest pocket with an internal headphone port.
  • Rear gear pocket, ideal for that spare pair of gloves.
  • Hood compatible attachment tabs (hood sold separately)
  • Toggle cinch cords at waist, hem and collar.
  • Plush collar lining
  • Easy to adjust velcro wrist cuffs.

TWO MONTHS ON THE ROAD

I have been riding in this jacket daily for the past two months of October and November here in Portland, with around 1200miles total, most of the time the temperature has been between 45 and 65 degrees, recently dropping to the high 30’s. Which means sometimes I have had multiple layers underneath and other times I have had the vents fully open. On chilly and windy days the windproof is appreciated and this jacket is perfectly windproof, even zippers and seams. In cooler temperatures, I would say sub 40degrees, you will need layers, this jacket is more of a thick shell or hardshell vs an insulated jacket.

Cruising to and from work at average speeds of 14/ 15mph is not a problem in the jacket, actually perfect. As soon as you turn up the pace to 16/17mph expect to feel a little hot, but to be fair, at average speeds of 17mph you are not commuting anymore, its more of a winter training ride. I mention the breathability in the section below.

Talking about wear and tear, my daily rides involve using a backpack which can show wear on garments at the shoulders and under the arm pits, so far I have not seen any visible wear on the material. For use on a daily basis, the details matter, attention paid to the details really matters because they get used over and over again, I found the soft lining at the neck  and the way the zipper lay never snagging skin a really nice touch, also the cuffs are large and easily adjustable, making for on and off easy, I actually liked riding with the cuffs large and over my gloves.

I spoke of this at the very beginning of the review, the reflect-y, flashy aspects,  I’m very impressed with this jacket from that regard. The jacket comes with flashing red LED blinky’s that attach to the jacket, but to be honest, most of the time I did not use these. The jacket is so intense already and I have blinky lights on my bike I did not feel the need for these. The blinkies are well designed and easy to use, they add extra piece of mind and are an impressive talking point – So yo need it all? – go all out, Showerspass gives you the tools to do so.

The niceties. I didn’t focus on it too much but the jacket has a map print on it. This is a top surface print on the reflective material, it’s interesting up close and adds a nice touch. You can see areas of Portland and when I investigated more it seems the map is a composite of 11 international cities known for cycling . This aspect gets chatted up when someone notices in the office and they can spot Ladd’s Addition.


TECHNICAL DETAILS

Waterproofness and Breathability

All around a very waterproof and windproof jacket. Some nice features ensure the rain will not get in such as taped seams and aquaguard zippers, along with construction of the zipper material overlaps. As for breathability, for a normal commute, lower pace, lower intensity this jacket is awesome, as soon as you ramp up your cycling intensity, though, your core gets hot, you start sweating and you need to get rid of that heat. The pit zips help a lot, but the main body of the jacket struggles to breath and turns into a little bit of a greenhouse. Not the worst greenhouse I have ever been in – think – non breathable Burly Jacket.

Visibility
One word – amazing the combination of MapReflect and Hi Viz is a winner. Early light, first light, low light, dusk or no light. This design keeps you visible.

Weight & Packdown
This jacket is no lightweight, but it wasn’t designed to be either. It weighs more than a typical high endjacket or  Elite 2.1 Jacket which I consider mid weight and I suspect it’s due to the MapReflect material. Given the intended use, I suspect weight is not an issue and this is certainly not an extremely heavy jacket. Likewise, this jacket won’t fold up small and go in your pocket, it does fold down and go in a pannier bag or backpack, but not super compressible or foldable, the reflective material tends to be a little thicker and stiffer.

Fit & Sizing
I tested a medium jacket. I’m 165 and 6ft 3 with pretty long arms and a slender upper, read small chest. The Medium Torch is similar in fit to my Elite 2.0 jacket. I would describe this as a “club” ride fit, ie it’s not a tight race fit but a more forgiving size, good for layering and the average build person rather than a skinny bike racer type.  The arms are a good length no problems, the tail is long to cover your rear a little. For a male with a 38-40″ chest, this is great.


GARMENT DETAIL SHOTS:

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SUMMARY :

Cost : $325 www.showerspass.com

A confidence-inspiring safety first commuter jacket with no performance downsides. If you do a lot of dusk or night time commuting could save your bacon due to the amazing reflective material. Well thought out features and smart ways of integrating technology make this jacket a true step in innovation. If you know someone who commutes a lot during the winter and dark days, this is an ideal holiday gift.


WOMENS ELITE HI VIZ with Beacon Lights

Shown below a few shots of the Ladies Elite 2.1 High Viz version cut specifically for the female anatomy in XS to L sizes. With high viz and map reflect side panels this is looking to be another winner from Showers pass. Currently, we are getting some miles in on this jacket, but the signs are good. We will report back soon.

https://www.showerspass.com/products/womens-hi-vis-elite-jacket-red-led-beacon-lights

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