The weather in Seattle just absolutely sucks right now. Straight up miserable. Every day it’s the same thing... rain, giving way to showers, or maybe dialing right back up to rain again. It’s been like this for six weeks, and it isn’t about to change. We actually set a Seattle record for wettest month ever in October. Think about that one for a second.
Fall is about racing cross and not caring how muddy I get... then spending the rest of my bike time trying to stay sane. Commuting in the rain isn’t a big deal, and training rides don’t stop for bad weather often either. But there are degrees of wet, and that’s where a good set of rain pants come in.
I’ll have to say, until I got a pair of the Showers Pass Refuge pants, I don’t think I ever really thought much about rain pants. A pair of knickers and leg warmers was usually enough for me. I have cycled through some lycra-esque full pants — just long bike shorts. But not true rain-repelling bottoms. My complaint is simply that I don’t like loose material when biking, except around my neck. So I came into this review a bit clueless and skeptical.
I get it now.
The key specs are as follows:
- Harsdhell three-layer fabric that’s incredibly dry yet breathable;
- A coarse, reinforced seat layer that prevents slipping on your saddle;
- Side-of-the-thigh vents to counteract one of the biggest complaints with hardshell rain pants, overheating;
- A back of the thigh pocket;
- Reflective material including a three-piece ankle array; and
- Bullet-proof seam-taping and water-resistant zippers to stop any leaks.
The essential function is staying dry, and it’s kind of uncanny how well they work. I’ve worn them on short commutes (they live in my commuter bag when not on my body); longer rides; standing around at kid soccer games; and the ultimate test, mushroom picking in the forest. At no point did I get even a little wet. Combined with some decent shoe covers (or boots for the off-bike stuff) and a Showers Pass jacket, I’ve achieved complete head-to-toe coverage for my standard rainy rides. After so many wet days, it’s kind of hard to believe.
As for warmth, overheating isn’t an issue. I’ve actually worn them on cold days (e.g., low 50s) with just underwear and felt perfectly warm. If it got hotter, I’m sure the thigh vents would make a difference, but these aren’t plastic pants that sweat you out and leave you damp from within.
The other factor that impressed me is just the usual Showers Pass style of bringing everything they’ve got in making a quality product. This is an Oregon company that has migrated over to the U.K., in case you weren’t already convinced that they know how to deal with rain. You get what you pay for, which is important because you are paying a pretty good chunk (retail is $225 USD but they’re on sale on the website for $168.75 today). They are high-functioning, high-quality, and I’ll be taking a hint from their website where you can see someone using them on the ski slopes. The ankle zips seem like they’d fit with ski boots no problem. Suspenders are sold separately, and worth adding here.
Apart from price, I’d definitely offer a word of caution about sizing. IMHO they run large, so what should be my size is actually a bit bigger than I’d prefer. If you buy them online, you might want to inspect the sizing chart closely before choosing a size. Or find a retailer nearby and try them on.
Another strong buy recommendation, if they’re in your price range.