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Cafe Fashions: Showers Pass Metro Doesn't Sell Out Performance

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Remember this? In January Showers Pass, makers of ubiquitous cycling outerwear, migrated over from their rock-solid base of practical, high-performing rain jackets into something a bit more... chic. The Metro Jacket was born. Shortly after mentioning this to you guys, Showers Pass sent me an actual Metro, and then... well, it stopped raining for a while. The good news? It has started raining again, or it did long enough for me to try this thing out, and the results are in.

It's a rain jacket. A really dry, lightweight and well-made rain jacket. And while they may have intended this for wearing around town, it works best -- nay, kicks ass -- as a jacket for riding your bike.

Backing up: the top end rain cape makers have generally found ways to keep you really, really dry -- using material that blocks out water without hermetically sealing in your body's heat. Showers Pass uses ARTEX Hardshell 2.5 fabric, which is more than clever enough to block the elements from getting in. But it's the 2.5 layers, and how they interact with your body, that make it a truly effective coat. All over the interior are nearly microscopic dots and "s" shapes, which create an undetectable measure of lift off your skin, enhancing the interior breathability of what was already a very breathable jacket. So yeah, the Metro comes in at the high end of dryness.

But the whole point of a jacket is to provide overall comfort and function (along with the style), and dryness is only one way in which Showers Pass makes you enjoy wearing their stuff. Here's a list of other features meant to make you love this coat:

  • Venting. In this case, at the back of the neck and two in the front, covering your core. Note the lack of armpit vents... Showers Pass locates its vents in positions where you won't get "billowing."
  • Zippers made tight and rubberized to prevent leaking.
  • Back pockets: two small ones, zippered, and not sitting on your spine.
  • Fleece around your neck, for comfort and at least psychological warmth. It may not literally be warmer than having your neck wrapped in the outer fabric, but it feels that way.
  • Articulated elbows and extended back panel -- basically, the jacket is meant to fit your riding position.
  • And my favorite... the main front zipper veers off to the right a bit. It's not sitting on top of two other zippers, from whatever you're wearing underneath! Why didn't anyone think of this sooner??

Showers Pass Metro tech

To test all this out, I wore it last week on an all-day ride that started with about three hours of steady rain. Temps were in the 50s so I wasn't expecting too horrible a day, but I did bring an extra base layer for when the one I started with soaked through. Never happened. First off, the rain stopped about a third of the way into our day. But despite being warm, and my staying zipped up for hours on end, I never felt wet from either the rain or perspiration. The feel was totally comfortable. The trim fit made me want to keep it on, since it wasn't slowing me down. And the front zip not sitting directly on top of my throat made me forget it was there.

Eventually it warmed up, but I was the last to remove my jacket, long after my riding partners had. When the temps hit 60 as we were heading up a ten-minute climb, I finally decided to strip down to the minimum. But no sooner.

As for the Metro's other purpose, looking good? Personally I like it. It's a step up from the usual yellow Uber-Fred look. Is it a huge step up, all the way to club attire? Nope. But on an organized ride a la last weekend, when I spent a while trying to spot my teammates in the sea of yellow jackets, I appreciated not blending into the Fredscape. I'd wear it to dinner -- though in fairness, I live in Seattle, where people wear fleece to job interviews. But it's nice enough, and not quite so obviously performancewear.

Like I said, though, the not-quite-performancewear look is mere deception. Performing is what the Showers Pass Metro Jacket does best, and really, really well.