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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Review: Showers Pass Refuge Jacket and Pant–the Perfect Fat Bike Shell

After two solid years of year-round fat biking in Colorado, with seasons that seem to change quickly to bitter cold, I have been enthusiastically searching for the Goldilocks of shells to wear while riding my fat bike. My criteria: a lightweight shell that can handle the brutal minus-something cold of the Rockies, but versatile enough to be my go-to jacket for cool fall days. Last season I went to several stores and tried on countless jackets and pants, after making do with my snowboard apparel the previous season. I left all of those establishments disappointed.
Enter the Showers Pass Refuge series. While not specifically designed for fat biking, this jacket and pant are a product of forward-thinking garment engineers who obviously spend a lot of time in the outdoors. The shells are versatile enough to use for skiing or mountaineering, but with obvious cues to cyclists such as the drop down tail and reinforced seat and shoulders.
Breathable and flexible, the jacket is the perfect all around fatbike shell for use even on cool fall days
Breathable and flexible, the jacket is the perfect all around fatbike shell for use even on cool fall days
The Deets, From Showers Pass:
  • Featuring fully seam taped, 3 layer EliteTM waterproof-breathable hardshell fabric for exceptional breathablility
  • Reinforced shoulders protect the fabric from back pack straps
  • Extra long core vents prevent overheating
  • YKK Aquaguard Vislon water-resistant zippers
  • Ergonomic easy-grip zipper pulls
  • 360 degrees of 3MTM ScotchliteTM Reflective Material trim for maximum visibility
  • Removable, adjustable hood fits over a helmet and stows in inside pocket
  • Double toggle hem cinch for adjustability
  • Drop-down tail protects from road spray and wet stadium seats
  • Soft, moisture wicking lining at collar
  • Locker loop at collar
  • Front handwarmer pockets, back pocket and chest pocket with audio port
  • Two light loops
  • MSRP: $279
A closer shot of the vents in the Refuge Jacket, along with the side hand warmer pockets. The chest pocket zipper can be seen in the background. There is ample storage in this shell.
A closer shot of the vents in the Refuge Jacket, along with the side hand warmer pockets. The chest pocket zipper can be seen in the background. There is ample storage in this shell.
  • Fully seam taped, 3-Layer Elite™ waterproof-breathable hardshell fabric for exceptional breathability and total weather protection
  • Durable reinforced seat is perforated for breathability
  • Thigh vents prevent overheating
  • Articulated knees with reflective accents
  • YKK Aquaguard Vislon water-resistant zippers
  • Reflective trims for low light visibility
  • Hook and loop cinch straps keep pant legs away from chain and crank
  • Ankle zips for easy on-off over shoes
  • Thigh pocket is accessible while on the bike
  • Suspender compatible
  • Women’s specific pant available
  • MSRP: $225
    DSC_8923
    Drop down flap is perfect for commuting, or for the chairlift if you are skiing. The side pocket easily holds a few goodies. This flap snaps back up into the jacket
The Refuge Jacket and Pant were designed with what Showers Pass calls an Elite 3-layer performance fabric, which is fully seam-taped, stopping rain and snow from creeping into the zippers. This fabric, like other popular brands, is fully waterproof and breathable (not a spray on barrier), with  extra-long core vents. These vents are, in my opinion, the crown jewel of the shells, allowing a lot of good airflow in for cooling, with a thoughtful mesh fabric beneath the zippers to keep the zippers from coming open too wide. This mesh also prevents larger chunks of snow from sneaking into open vents. They are well-placed, but the one downside to them is that because of their length and reinforced seam sealing, they can be tough to zip up or down, especially while riding. It is a small tradeoff given the bombproof seams, and I see no way they could have been designed otherwise. These vents are equipped with what they call Aquaguard Vision zippers, and 360-degree 3M Scotchlite reflective trim–perfect for commuters or a ride home in the dark after coming off of the trail...

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