It was serendipity. The day the Showers Pass Elite 2.1 jacket arrived, I had ridden into work on a typical Portland February morning: cool and misty. If you aren’t from the Northwest you might have said it was light rain, but we don’t call that rain. I had worn a water-repellent high-visibility jacket that morning, and as it came time to commute home it was looking OK, so I stuffed the Elite 2.1 into my pack. As I saddled up, the mist became more determined. By half-way home, even I wouldn’t call it mist. Thus, the Elite 2.1 got wet for the first time. And I was glad to have it.
Since that first test of the Showers Pass Elite 2.1, I’ve worn the waterproof jacket a half-dozen times in weather ranging from solid rain to cool and not raining. Each time out I’ve been impressed. The Elite 2.1’s a very nice cycling rain jacket. Best I’ve worn, in fact. It’s clearly designed by cyclists, for cyclists, yet it can be worn for non-cycling activities as well.
Here’s the thing: normally when it is wet outside you have to choose between something that breathes well but gets you wet from the rain, or something that’s waterproof but gets you wet from your sweat. This has been true with my last two “breathable” membrane jackets. However, the Elite 2.1 comes close to freeing you from that Sophie’s choice; it is completely waterproof and breathes/vents remarkably well.
Make no mistake, the Elite 2.1 is completely waterproof – waterproof eVent fabric, taped seams, waterproof zippers – it just doesn’t feel like it. My evening commute features a steep 1,000-foot climb, so I sweat like a dog even in cold weather. The Elite 2.1 is the only waterproof jacket I’ve worn that isn’t dripping on the inside at the end of a ride. With that said, it still doesn’t breathe as well as a non-waterproof jacket, so I would choose other gear when there’s no rain in the forecast.
The Showers Pass Elite 2.1 is a purpose-built cycling rain jacket with features designed for commuting and touring, but it wouldn’t work as well for racers or non-cyclists. For example, the cut is a bit generous to allow airflow inside the jacket, which makes for a little flapping that might sap a hundredth off a time-trial split but really helps vent moist air. It also has a large vent across the back, zip vents on the sides, and the cuffs have a Velcro closure that can be left open enough to get some airflow up the sleeves.
Like any good cycling jacket, the Elite 2.1 has a low tail to cover your butt when you are on the drops, and a large rear cargo pocket. Raglan-cut sleeves and long arms make it comfortable in cycling position. I also appreciate some of the little details, like soft trim around the inside of the collar to prevent chafing and to soak-up neck drips, and glove-friendly pulls on the zippers. The lack of an interior lining is a blessing in some respects as well, as it keeps me from overheating, helps the jacket dry faster, and reduces the tendency to pick up body odor. Like most cycling rain jackets, the Showers Pass Elite 2.1 lacks a hood, because hoods become parachutes in the wind and restrict airflow around your head. However, you can buy a detachable hood separately if needed.
My only quibble with the Elite 2.1 is visibility. Showers Pass added some nice reflective trim strips, and the standard colors include red, school-bus yellow and bright blue. These are fine colors, and you might even say they are high-visibility when you see them in daylight through a car windshield that isn’t splattered with rain. But the Elite 2.1 is a rain jacket, so windshields will be splattered, and they’ll be splattered on short winter days that force you to commute in the dark. My favorite winter commute jacket is a Nike that uses half reflective fabric and half fluorescent yellow/green. It isn’t waterproof, but it is eye-catching on grey days, and it’s simply amazing in car headlights at night. I like the waterproofing of the Showers Pass Elite 2.1, but why must I sacrifice visibility for waterproofing?
With that quibble off my chest, the Elite 2.1 has become my go-to rain jacket. I don’t think you could do better. Until Showers Pass comes out with a high-visibility option, that is.
The Showers Pass Elite 2.1 waterproof jacket was provided for review. All opinions and words are my own and honest, and the article contains no affiliate links.