The Showers Pass Refuge Jacket is a do-it-all waterproof hardshell cycling jacket that’s also ready to handle winter sports like skiing and snowboarding.
To get us a closer look, Showers Pass sent Man Makes Fire a review unit. This is what we learned:
Showers Pass Refuge Jacket Review
Based in Portland, Oregon, Showers Pass manufactures high-performance apparel aimed at bikers, runners, and hikers and outdoor enthusiasts who want to keep going when it’s wet and rainy outside. Case in point? The Showers Pass Crosspoint Waterproof Beanie. Of course, not all Showers Pass products are waterproof . . . but most are.
With its Refuge jacket, Showers Pass created a waterproof, breathable hardshell jacket that can serve multiple purposes.
First, it’s a cycling jacket suitable for long pavement rides or everyday bike commutes. Showers Pass built-in 360-degrees of 3M Scotchlite reflective piping to increase nighttime visibility in automobile headlights. In daylight, the reflective fabric looks like an understated design element, but in headlights? It adds a nice bit of pop for safety. Also for biking, the two long vertical core vents are positioned more forward than typical underarm vents, which makes the Refuge vents easy to adjust while on the go.
Second, the Refuge is designed for off-road trail riders, too. The 3-layer Elite fabric construction is tougher than most typical breathable rain jackets.
Third, the material is also tough enough to make the Refuge a good winter shell for skiing and snowboarding. If you go down on an icy patch or clip a tree, the Refuge won’t easily shred. Plus, the hood is not only helmet-compatible with biking helmets, it’s sized right for snow helmets, too.
But wait, there’s more. If you want to wear the Refuge with a backpack, the shoulders are reinforced to reduce wear from backpack straps.
Finally, before I dive into more key features, let’s talk style: The Showers Pass Refuge is a damn fine-looking jacket. The fit and finish overall is excellent, and the cut is athletic and ready for action. Seriously, the Refuge looks great on, and it exudes a ready-for-anything vibe without being obnoxious. We’re big fans.
The Elite 3-layer waterproof fabric is seam-taped, which is what you want in every high-performance waterproof jacket. The Elite fabric is also breathable, which means that it will let vapor created by your own body escape. One of our Man Makes Fire gear testers was wore the Refuge in Moab on a drizzling spring day and came away impressed with the breathability and venting.
At the same time, the Refuge is windproof, which is critical if you ride in cold weather or hit the slopes on gusty days.
The Aquaguard Vision zippers are not fully waterproof, but they’re highly water-resistant. Most importantly, all the zippers are durable and work well. Interestingly, the main zipper pull is on the left side instead of the more traditional right side found on most men’s jackets. If you’re like us, you’ll be confused for a few seconds the first several times you wear the Refuge . . . and then your brain will learn and you’ll be fine.
The aforementioned vertical core vents are backed by mesh. They’re big, and they dump heat fast. On the ski hill, they’re much easier to open and close when you’re wearing gloves or mittens than typical under-arm vents.
Drop tail for extra backside protection.
You get one zippered external chest pocket with an audio port, a back pocket, an inside pocket, and two standard hand pockets, which brings up our only quibble with the Refuge. The lining of the hand pockets is a mesh fabric that’s just not fantastic. It works, it’s fine, but it’s slightly rough on our super manly man hands. More to the point, for winter use, we’d rather have the pockets lined with a microfiber material that would feel warmer on bare skin in cold weather. We understand that the mesh ensures great breathability in the pocket areas, but we’re willing to give up a bit of breathability in favor of cozy lined pockets. Showers Pass could use the same material that lines the collar and we’d be quite happy.
Here is a cool feature: Instead of an overly long backside found on some cycling jackets, the backside of the Refuge has a hideaway drop-down tail that helps protect your backside from road spray while riding — if you want it down, that is. Two magnets hold it up and out of the way when you don’t want it deployed.
Finally, the hood is roomy, adjustable, and helmet-compatible. Better yet, it’s also removable, which is great for all those days and situations where you don’t want a hood but you still want a waterproof, breathable rain jacket to shed water from foliage . . . or just handle a bit of light rain. You can stow the hood in the inside pocket to keep it with you.
Drawcord at hem.
Zippers are solid and very water resistant.
Excellent stitching and overall quality.
As noted above, the overall fit is cut fairly athletic — at bit slimmer overall with longer sleeves in comparison to most general purpose rain gear. We appreciate the longer sleeves especially when riding, and certainly when skiing and snowboarding.
According to the Showers Pass sizing guide, the Refuge is a ‘regular’ fit, but we think it fits slightly smaller than many typical hiking-style rain jackets.
Compared to most ski and snowboard shells, the Refuge definitely fits small. That said, most ski and snowboard shells are designed to fit looser than most rain jackets — to give you plenty of room for cold-weather layering.
On the other hand, for riding bikes, you don’t want a bunch of extra material getting in your way and generally creating drag.
So what does this all mean? Stick with your usual size for the best biking/hiking experience . . . but size up for the best snow experience.
All-in-all, the Showers Pass Refuge Jacket is a truly excellent and versatile waterproof breathable hard-shell jacket. It’s helmet-compatible and features long sleeves that provide great coverage while riding. Plus, it’s a surprisingly handsome jacket that looks great on pavement and rugged on the trail. If you’re looking for one waterproof jacket that can handle riding, hiking, and bombing down snowy runs, the Refuge should be on your shortlist. Highly recommended.