Showers Pass Men’s EcoLyte Elite Cycling Jacket
441g (inc. Hood) XL Harvest (as tested) £245
The Showers Pass EcoLyte Elite Jacket is a lightweight, highly packable, breathable, waterproof cycling jacket, aimed at the multi-day rider or the weight-weenie heading into wild-country. The price may make my other half cringe, but the protection is top-line and the jacket is just as good off the bike as on it.
Women, the Showers Pass Refuge Jacket is similar, and, comes in a wider variety of colours – envy that!
Pros: excellent protection and breathability, great sizing suitable for layering, detachable hood, looks good away from the bicycle.
Cons: limited rear view with hood up.
With a lining and facing fabric made from 100% recycled polyester with a waterproof and breathable polypropylene membrane sandwiched between, the Shower Pass Ecolyte
Jacket offers a high level of performance for those who want a packable jacket for multi-day expeditions. It certainly is not a micro-jacket beloved of weight-conscious roadie racers, but it does pack into its own back pocket (just make sure it is properly dry if storing like that).
From the top down. Hoods are not universally popular with cyclists, but this one can easily be detached if you are amongst the nay-sayers. Velcro patches secure it, including those on each end which are snuggled away in a sort of ‘hood tab garage’. Cords on each side allow the hood to pull tight, and here’s another at the back, too. Getting these adjusted correctly can make it easier to take a good look over the shoulder when manoeuvring.
The softly-lined collar stands high around the neck to keep the elements at bay. There’s a zip garage to prevent chaffing.
Next, there is a yoke vent on the back. With a mesh panel within, this provides helpful ventilation. There’s an external hook, which is perfect for hanging up to dry after a wet ride. More ventilation comes courtesy of two, zipped underarm vents.
There’s one chest pocket and a traditional rear pocket with a zip and external baffle. This runs horizontally, which I find preferable to the angled pocket on the Elite 2.1 Jacket. The main zip at the front has a solid internal baffle.
The hem, including the drop back, can be tightened with two toggled draw-cords
The arms are more than sufficiently long enough to deal with all riding positions. Cuffs are part-elasticated, and Velcro-free.
Limited reflective detailing is provided by a strip along the rear pocket and the Showers Pass logo below it. The jacket is also available in Glacier – ice turquoise.
With a preference for generously sized garments, I went for the XL. Sizes on offer go from small to XXL.I could, probably, have squeezed in to large. So, I’d say that sizing seems pretty much spot on. Just check the on-line guidance. Given the touring audience the Ecolyte targets, layering and flexibility are key features. The XL size certainly allowed a couple of layers to be warn, and I could have added another. For context, I am six feet tall, with regularly proportioned back and leg length, and weigh in at fourteen stone. Drop-back length was spot-on, too, although not as exaggerated as some.
This is top line. Hours of fine drizzle or thundering stair-rods driven by squally winds have been seen off. The latter caused some very minor ingress at the cuffs, but everything not covered by the jacket was sodden within a minute, or so. That included the water-resistant Showers Pass Skyline Trousers.
Once again, this is outstanding. There’s more to breathability than raw numbers. Fundamentally, with a garment like the Ecolyte you can expect to cruise along steadily and feel comfortable and dry: say a nice touring 12-15mph. Of course, working hard when hitting really steep hills and you’ll tax just about any garment to the limit. Even in that 1:4/25% slope context, sweatiness dispersed after a few minutes of gentler work when things flattened out.
Contexts and performance 5/5
The Ecolyte has accompanied me on my ten-mile commute (one-way), on several day rides, and along the Devon C2C cycle route. There have been a few frosty mornings, but the majority of weather has been on the mild side, with plenty of rain in all its myriad forms. Whilst the commute has a couple of short, steady climbs, the bulk of it is flat. Much of the Devon C2C is flat or on railway gradients. However, there are some notable exceptions with long grinds of Devon lumpiness mixed with some truly shocking 25% climbs.
Performance in all situations has been excellent. Rain has been kept at bay; moisture has been expelled – even if this takes a little while after major climbs – certainly. There was no clammy chill on the descents.
On frosty mornings, when railway cuttings and forest kept the rising sun at bay, I found the jacket sufficiently warm over a long sleeve jersey, such as the Light Blue Classic Long-Sleeve Jersey. Mind you, there was the certainty that things were going to get warmer. Had that not been the case I’d have opted for a technical base-layer, too.
Although the underarm vents were not especially easy to adjust on the fly, they certainly aided climate control, as the hills came along or the sun drove the early morning chill away.
As I stated earlier, I am not a great fan of hoods on cycling jackets. Mind you, under the helmet, it certainly helped to keep the rain out. However, even pulled tight, I found the field of vision, when looking over my shoulder, quite limited. Certainly, I didn’t feel one hundred percent confident that I could see other road-users when turning right (this is in the UK). Fortunately, the hood is easy to remove. Mind you, it would not be a deal-breaker for me, as I tend not to use it when on the bike and it is certainly very useful when away from the bike.
It is crucial to avoid too much heat which could have a detrimental input on the membrane sandwich. Grainger’s Performance Wash, or something similar is ideal for washing technical clothing like this. Whilst I’d not plan to wash it in the middle of a tour, you can get small bottles of technical washes – or just decant some.
Cool or cold wash settings are best. Drip-dry, too. Fabric softeners are a no-no and bleach should be avoided at all costs. Do not tumble dry, although you might get away with a cool setting. Personally, at £240 a shot, I’d stick to the script.
Drying times are highly dependent on conditions, of course. As you can’t put it over the hotel radiator, finding the most convenient spot to allow it to line dry is your best bet. Think overnight in good conditions. On the bike, after heavy rain, it’ll dry much quicker – say an hour or so after heavy rain ceases.
Personally, on a multi-day cycle tour, in variable weather conditions (precipitation and temperature), a jacket like this is invaluable. Having said that, £240 sounds like a lot. However, for a top-line waterproof jacket it really is well within the norm. The 7Mesh Skypilot has many similar features as well a similar design brief. It comes in around £300.
Its packability, hood, and breathability make it a better touring bet than its Elite 2.1 stablemate, which has accompanied me on tour in the past, and is, itself, a very fine jacket.
I certainly prefer it for cycling compared to a pricier Paramao cycling jacket – although the latter is of ver useful on longer absences from the bike or for multi-activity trips. Truth is, you can find waterproof cycling jackets across the price range. However, this is a top line touring jacket, and despite the price tag strikes me as very good value. For commuting you can go cheaper – and still tour, although with fewer features and lower comfort: for speed you’ll need to pay a good deal more for similar comfort at higher speeds.
Horses for courses, as they say. In this case the course is cycle touring and the Showers Pass Ecolyte Jacket will certainly be competitive for those looking for a thoroughbred classic. Having spent many a day getting drenched, I’d opt for this over any other cycling jacket I have owned. I’d wear it on the commute, too, but it is not really necessary, and limited reflective suggest better options. Above all, I like the fact that it offers so much flexibility, whilst being highly effective in a variety of situations: that is key to the best touring gear.