Review: Showers Pass Storm Pant
This winter finds me in Portland, Oregon – the wet and soggy center of all things bicycle related. I was told before we chose to settle here for a few months that it rained. Well folks, it DOES rain. A lot. Not always a pounding rain like you get in the South during the summer, but a constant drizzle, like Someone Upstairs forgot to completely shut off the faucet. The upside of all this is that it is the perfect environment to test rain gear.
Showers Pass is a Portland based company that has become the gold standard in terms of cycling rain gear. For those “in the know” mention those two words and you’ll get a lot of oohs and ahhs. Many Pacific Northwest cyclists who were disappointed that Burley stopped making soft goods, all looked to Showers Pass as the New Dry Hope. Is the reputattion deserved?
They offer three tiers of goods. The really spendy stuff, stuff in the middle and less expensive (but still not cheap) gear for the rest of us mere mortals that have the desire for perfection but have wallets with a hole. That is to say, because the gear is made by a reputable company, one hopes for a certain amount of quality transference from the top tier gear to the bottom.
I purchased their Storm Pant, which falls in their more affordable tier a few weeks ago after getting tired of looking like I wet myself when I was walking around after riding. I ended up with an XL after putting them on and riding around the block. It is admittedly a little larger than I like if I am just riding in biking shorts, but works rather well if you throw it over a pair of jeans or wool pants which was my main motivation for buying them. For any rain pant, I recommend trying them on and riding around the block.
The pant comes with its own mesh stuff sack that even at an XL is remarkably small and lightweight. It is small enough that there really isn’t an excuse to not always have it with you. You could leave it in your Carradice, pannier or in messenger bag ready to be deployed at a moments notice.
The Storm Pant is easy to get in and out of even with shoes on. Cycling shoes should have no problems. Keen sandal wearers may experience a little snaggage but you should be able to slide them on. Again, it helps to try them on in a store and test the ease of entering and exiting rain pants.
The Storm Pant is all black with no reflective striping or piping. There ARE, however, itty bitty reflective logos which are only slightly less useful than the KNOG cysts. While this works for the ninja aesthetic, it would have been nice to have something to increase visibility while riding in the rain. I’m primarily a bike tourist and commuter so having something functional at the cost of looking completely sleek is alright with me.
The Storm Pant has a drawstring at the waist, a small zippered mesh pocket in the back and two pairs of velcro straps. One pair is low and is about ankle height, the other is about mid-calf. They allow you to tighten up the lower leg portion so it isn’t billowy and won’t get eaten by the chainring. It may take a little experimentation to get the velcro just right so your legs are tapered but aren’t restricting movement.
I do wish that they used more aggressive and tacky velcro. The velcro patches are small and have a pretty weak binding strength. There aren’t a lot of whizbang components on these pants, so why go all cheap on the velcro?
The real test of rain pants, of course, is how they handle in the rain. Oh and I’ve ridden through a lot of it these last few weeks. Everything from a fine mist to sideways rain to snow. The first day I rode with the rain pants I had on some grey Rivendell MUSA pants underneath, which are great for riding in and also acts as a great litmus indicator for moisture. When they get wet, they turn dark grey.
I rode a brisk 6 miles (12 round-trip) to a fishing store to buy a fishing license. The pants felt great a little crinkly at times but no complaints. I felt a little coolness on my thighs and around the ankles that could have been moisture but I brushed it off thinking it was the wind. When I got home, I undid the velcro and pulled the pants off ready to be amazed at the absolutely dryness I was about to behold….but was disappointed.
The coolness I felt while riding was rain magically working its way through my “waterproof” pants. Now, I’m not sure what the definition of waterproof is in the Pacific North West, but it has very specific connotations from where I come from. Namely, you’re stuff should be dry.
I thought perhaps it was an issue of breathability, that I was just working too hard going my 12mph. The next day, I took another spin and was careful not to break a sweat or over-exert myself. When I got home and removed the rain pants I found that I was still damp.
Now to be absolutely fair, I was exponentially less wet than if I had not ridden with the Storm Pant. They provided a barrier and blocked out a lot of the water. It wasn’t necessarily an uncomfortable dampness just more than an annoying one. However, In these tough times $60 is a lot. If you’re a bike commuter and don’t have a lot of scratch and you buy rain pants from a company with a reputation such as Showers Pass, you expect them to keep you dry!
On the website, the pants are described as an “affordable, lightweight, fully waterproof emergency piece.” It is indeed affordable (relative to their other pants), it is lightweight and highly packable but it is not waterproof in the way I have come to know the word “waterproof” (i.e. keeping you dry).
So do I hate these pants? No. A little disappointed maybe. I have continued to wear them and think that they’re OK. I much prefer having them to not having them. I think they’re more effective than rain chaps. I’ll be wearing them this coming weekend on an overnight bike camping trip that will no doubt be a wet one. I’ll wear them knowing that I won’t get unreasonably wet but I won’t be exactly dry either. I think they’re passable for touring where you encounter the occasional storm. However, for daily commuting in wet weather such as Portland, I was expecting a lot more. Maybe in these strange times, that’s the best $60 will get ya.
-small pack size